From The Staff of MBA Admit.com
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Differences Between R1 and R2
There are several key differences between applying in Round 1 and Round 2. Below is some general advice on how to time your application right.
The main difference between the two rounds is that in Round 1 more seats are available and the profile of the class has not yet begun to take shape. Thus, your odds of admission should be higher in Round 1 at many schools. Also, many top business schools receive a greater number of applications during Round 2 because candidates often choose to work on their applications during winter vacation when they are able to take days off from work. Thus, for many candidates, a Round 1 application is ideal for increasing odds of admission.
The same logic holds true for re-applicants. If you applied in Round 2 and were rejected, you may find that you will have a better outcome if you apply in Round 1 the next year. This is simply because you will be applying when the most number of seats are available in the top MBA programs.
However, there are several instances when waiting for Round 2 will better strategically serve a candidate. For example, if you have limited work experience and you need a few more months to add specific examples of strong performance to your application, Round 2 might be best for you. If you initially scored lower-than-ideal on the GMAT and need a few months to bring up your score, you may also have good reason to wait for Round 2. If you simply won't have time to produce excellent essays in Round 1 given work demands, it is likely best that you wait for Round 2. The quality of your application should always take precedence: use time to present an outstanding application rather than a mediocre one.
Whether you, in particular, are better off applying in Round 1 or Round 2 will depend upon the specifics of your candidacy. If you are a very strong candidate, you likely won't be affected by the timing. Some candidates are so highly qualified that they will have high odds of gaining admission regardless of whether they apply in Round 1 or Round 2. But, if you come from a highly competitive profile – for instance, if you are a male Indian engineer who will be applying as a foreign national applicant – there are some schools where the timing of your application will make the difference between acceptance and rejection, with your odds much higher for acceptance in Round 1. Please note that this is not true for all schools, but only for a few specific schools.
Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA Admit.com