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I will be applying to USC and UCLA for their Fall '06 class but am curious about when I should actually submit my application.
USC has 5 rounds (with the last one being rolling admissions) and UCLA has a total of 4 rounds (all rolling??). Since both schools do not have the traditional three rounds, does it make sense to apply in R2? Like most schools, I've heard that they both get flooded with first-round sharks. I was thinking of applying in R1 for both schools but wanted to get your professional advice before doing so.
GPA - 3.6 (private + JC)
WE - 8 years IT / Operations
GMAT - 686 (taken over 5 years ago). I'm taking the GMAT in 2 weeks and am expecting a score somewhere in the 600's (hopefully in the high 600's).
In the case of UCLA, although the school has 4 rounds the first round is actually rather late in the admissions season for R1 (at the start of November rather than the end of October as at many schools). Off the top of my head I cannot recall the new deadlines for USC, but last year it was in December (!). Waiting for the second round at these schools would just place you deeper into the admissions season.
The risk of applying the second round is that a large number of seats could be taken already in the first round. Without getting too much into applicant psychology remember that the students with the strongest applications often start by applying to the ultraelites in R1 and then trickle down the "lower" clusters by R2 or R3. Thus, you could find yourself with many disappointed sharks applying to the elite and transelite clusters in the later rounds.