MBA Applications in Round 1 | Deadlines, Requirements, & Why Not to Wait for Round 2

This is video on both why you should apply to business school in round 1 and how to do it. Two topics, one video, double the knowledge! Angela Guido covers when to apply to business school, when to take the GMAT, when to write MBA essays, when to contact recommenders, if you need to take time off work for the MBA application and more!

Looking for all the MBA deadlines? Find them here!

MBA applications are always difficult but they don’t need to be stressful. If you stick to this schedule, you should be able to hand in those applications well before the round 1 deadlines. Good luck!

YouTube video

Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

Welcome back to MBA Monday! I'm Angela Guido, the founder of Career Protocol, an MBA Coach, a Career Coach, and the person who's here to make sure you get everything you want out of your MBA journey, including hitting round 1 deadlines without stress.

Why You Should Apply In Round 1

Okay, before we talk about applying to round 1, let's talk about why you need to apply in round 1. There's a lot of information on the Internet about which round is better. Round 1, round 2 (almost nobody thinks round 3 is better) and you may find differing opinions on this. I'm just going to share my opinion and the advice that we give to our clients — because I do think this is probably the way it really works in the MBA admissions world — and that is as follows: In round 1, the class is entirely empty. There's no one in it. So if your school extends 1000 invitations to join their class, 1000 invitations are up for grabs in round 1. By round 2, at least some of those spots have been taken, and we don't really know how many because schools don't really publish their acceptance, their admittance rates in the two different rounds. You may get some insight into it, but they're usually not laying all their cards on the table. But for sure, some people have been invited to join the class in round 1, so by the time you get to round 2, you are competing for fewer spots. It's just that simple. It's a little bit of a kind of a Monty Hall problem in reverse, you're competing for fewer spots in round 2. So that means that all of the advantage, if there is to be said to be an advantage in this process, is going to be in round 1. Add to this the fact that most schools, if they're not 100% sure about your candidacy in round 1, or if you're applying from a big demographic and they want to wait and get everybody from your demographic together to make a decision, they're not going to reject you in round 1. They're going to either waitlist you, or defer you to round 2. So in a way, you get a bonus chance if you apply in round 1 and you're not a straight reject or a straight yes, then the school will push you to round 2 and give you another chance at admission.

From our perspective, at Career Protocol, we are always encouraging our clients to do everything that they're going to do to apply to all of their schools in round 1 and the only situation where we'd really consider very seriously having a client instead applying round 2 is if their test score is not in order. There are other reasons, like someone just changed jobs, they're getting promoted, they're moving into a new geography or new company and they need a little bit more time to develop a track record in their current role before they apply, but even that's not always black and white. Frequently, those candidates are still better off applying in round 1. So, keep that in mind as you are constructing your applications. Your best bet is round 1. That doesn't mean that if you miss round 1, you have to wait till next year. You can still apply in round 2. In fact, for most schools, the majority of their class is being admitted in round 2. So round two is still a perfectly fine place to be, but given that you're watching this video in May, your best bet is really to aim for the September deadlines for the round 1 deadlines for your target schools, and really for all of your target schools. And that's because if you're admitted to any schools in round 1, you'll be required to make a decision on those schools before you learn about the results of round 2. So getting into some schools in round 1 and some schools in round 2 is actually kind of a crappy problem because you've got to make a decision on round 1 before you can figure out what happened in round 2, and most people like to know what all the options are before they commit and pay their deposits. So again, your best bet is to really do everything that you're going to do in round 1.

6 (ish) Steps To Get You Through Round 1

Now, how to reach round 1 — we're talking early to mid-September deadlines — in the next, what is it, four months with no stress? Six steps, I have six steps for you. Now I'm assuming that you've already done the work of choosing your target schools, researching them, getting to know the programs, getting to know people at those programs, visiting campus if appropriate. That's all really important stuff to do and I'm assuming that you've already done that. If you haven't already done it, it's something to continue doing in parallel with everything I'm about to lay out today.

1. The Test Score

Step number one is focus on that test score. If you don’t already have your GMAT or your GRE score, please do it now. Get it out of the way. Ideally, you want to try to take the test for the first time by June, if possible, or July. You always want to give yourself time to take it a second, even a third time, because most people see their scores go up when they take it again. They're just less stressed and more experienced. So, if you're still in the middle of the test score, really dive deep there. Invest your time and effort there so that when it comes time for step three, you can start your essays. I'll get to step three in a minute.

2. Discovery

First step two, and that is discovery. Our discovery process is really involved. It's in depth. It takes a lot of time and energy on your part to explore your stories and get to know yourself better before you start to put together the story that you're going to tell for your MBA essays. The good thing about discovery is that it works well in parallel with testing. It uses a different part of your brain, it's a much more creative process and frankly, much more pleasant than studying work problems. So it's something you can kind of do while you're still working on the test score. If you need a place to get started on discovery, check out the blog posts we have linked in the description below, and you can also watch our Five Questions to Answer Before You Apply to Business School video to get the ball rolling on your own discovery process, provided you decide you don't want to work directly with us, which of course, if you want to work with us, you can request a call anytime.

3. Start Your Essays

So step one is a test, step two is discovery, step three — and this you want to be beginning around June — is to build your essays. Most of our clients need between five and ten drafts of an essay to get it to the point where it's as awesome as it can possibly be. As the great Roald Dahl once said, good writing is essentially rewriting, and MBA essays are no exception. It doesn't mean you want to overpolish them or overengineer them or get the input of too many people in how to finalize the essay. All of those things are a bad idea. But if you're trying to tell a truly authentic and meaningful story, especially for the top-ranked programs that are so competitive, it's going to take you time to really discover what that story is. You're not going to nail it in your first draft. You're probably not even going to nail it in your fifth draft. So you really want to give the essays time and iteration to work through. So that's why we recommend beginning the essays in June. Most schools don't even release their questions until June, and there's not too much that you can do towards your essays until the questions come out so work on discovery, and then just worry about the essays starting in June. There's no need to start the essays really sooner than that.

4. Resumes & Recommendations

If you want to parse the other big parts of the application, we really recommend working on the resume and the recommendations in July. For most recommenders that are going to write your recommendations, they only need a handful of hours to get the job done. They don't need months and months of time. Most of them are going to sit down on a Saturday afternoon and bang them all out. Don't forget to reference our resources elsewhere on our YouTube channel about guiding your recommenders and getting them to write great testimonials. But part of your job is going to be corralling them, making sure they do what they said, following up, and ensuring that they complete the recommendations on time. So the right time usually to request the recommendation and get your recommenders really working on their testimonial is July. You can start sooner, you can certainly request sooner that they write your recommendations, but for most recommenders July, August is when they're going to be actually doing the work.

5. The Final Push

Step five is really the final push. The final push includes tying down your resume, circling back with recommenders, getting your applications ready to submit, finalizing, proofreading, fixing your essays so that they're ready to go, and all of that you're likely going to do towards the end of August. So most of the application process does not cram very well. You could finalize your resume in one weekend, but trying to churn out many essays in one weekend or even in one week is probably not the best way to go. So, when our clients are saying, oh, I'd like to take a week off and just really focus on my applications, in my opinion, the best time to do that is towards the end of August, when you've already done most of the legwork on the essays and the recommendations. You're just going to put the finishing touches on the application and get it ready for submission. That's probably something you're going to want to do close to the deadline, so mid to late August would be the best time to finalize the application package. And again, if you're going to take time off of work, that's probably the best time to do it.

And then step number six, which is actually part of step number five but I'm going to put a plug in here for this one just to make sure that you don't forget this, and that is the short answers. It's the online component of the application. Questions like: Where do you work? How much money do you make? When did you get promoted? What's your bonus? What's your biggest accomplishment in that job? Different schools have different questions. Some schools have a lot of questions, and among those questions, some of them are even a little bit tricky. It's not as straightforward as answering a number or somebody's last name, you have to really think about the answers. So, completing the short answers is something that is more tedious than tough. It will take time, not as much brain power as the resume and the essays, but you will need to really answer them carefully and think thoughtfully about your responses. So I usually recommend that people begin the short answers sometime in August and look to complete them in that last week when you're putting the finishing touches on your application. Just don't forget them. That's why that comment is there. A lot of people forget them until the last minute and then you find yourself scrambling with 3 hours of work to do, right up against the deadline, and that's the last thing that you want.

6. Don’t Submit At The Last Second

Okay, final tip to hit round 1 with no stress is to aim to hit the submit button at least a few days before the deadline. Most of the top schools have tech issues at the last minute with 500 people trying to hit submit at the same time. Their servers get overloaded, the form malfunctions, and although they usually do make accommodations if this happens, you don't want to be in that position after all the work you're putting into that application, you don't want to hang in limbo hoping that they got it on time because you got stuck in a queue of other people submitting their application. So try to submit it at least a few days before the official deadline and that is the last piece of advice I have for completing your applications in round 1 with no stress. We're really rooting for you we're rooting for you to create amazing applications to get into your favorite schools and to do it all while having a little bit of fun in the process. You're working so hard on your MBA applications you deserve to enjoy the journey so follow these tips to reduce your stress. Have fun and I'll see you next week on MBA Monday.

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Angela Guido

Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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