Every year, many qualified candidates approach me unsure about whether or not to apply in Round 2. There are several reasons for their concern. First, MBA programs will have already offered admission to some Round 1 applicants. Hence, there will be fewer overall seats to compete for in Round 2. Second, in Round 2, the number of MBA candidates applying for admission to full-time MBA programs tends to be higher than in Round 1. This is partly due to the fact that many applicants want to take advantage of the free time that they have off from work during the winter holiday – time they use to prepare MBA applications for January deadlines. So this also means that competition will be very keen.
My response to the question of whether you should apply in Round 2 is this: every year I help many candidates gain admission in Round 2. It is true that many applicants will have waited to prepare and submit their MBA applications until Round 2, because the winter holiday period gives them valuable free time to focus fully on preparing applications. But, business schools are cognizant of this and they also realize that some of their best candidates will apply in Round 2. As such, most business schools leave a healthy number of seats available for Round 2 candidates.
In spite of the concerns about it being too competitive, I have worked with candidates with low GPAs – as low as 2.8 and 2.7 – to get into some of the top schools like Stanford and Wharton in Round 2.
It is fine to apply in Round 2, but take care to prepare excellent applications because, as compared with Round 1, you will be competing with a higher number of applicants for fewer available seats. Be particularly careful to convey through your essays what you offer to the school. Make sure that your recommendation writers do the same. By Round 2, the shape of the incoming MBA class has begun to be formed already, given the Round 1 admissions. So, with a Round 2 application, pay particular attention to communicating what makes you a great choice. That is, why should the admissions committee add you to the students they have already admitted? How can you distinctly add to the mix?
To do this best, be sure to research the school, how your interests relate to the school, and what attributes you offer that would make you a unique and exceptional addition to the school. Your job is to present very compelling reasons why you will be an outstanding student, both inside and outside of the classroom, and a great future alumni member.
Good luck in the admissions process!
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)