There have been a number of questions regarding which application round is the best.
Some applicants have presented elaborate timing strategies to me based on the perceived strategic behavior of other market actors. While I will gladly listen to new strategies, I take a dim view of most timing strategies I have come across in the past since they sound a little too much like something concocted by Vizzini in the Princess Bride (but the hard core candidates will know that I know that they will apply in the second round, so clearly they will not apply in the second round . . .)
A few points to keep in mind:
1) Often international candidates MUST apply to one the earlier rounds
2) Scholarship programs often require that the student apply in one of the earlier rounds to be considered
3) What institutions say/believe they do and what they actually do can be very different things
Based on my own analysis of admissions practices, I have found that the majority of the class is often selected in the early rounds. Penn's site, among many others, substantiates this finding.
General Rule: Ceteris Paribus, Apply to the Earlier Round
However part 1- If your application will improve significantly between rounds, consider waiting until the next round (this is a basic CBA calculation: be honest in your assessment of how much the application will improve).
However part 2: For the diligent candidate, the application should not improve significantly between rounds since s/he has planned well in advance. In reality, of course, this level of planning might not be possible for some candidates. Nonetheless, most candidates should be able to plan well in advance.
Here are some of the statements on this subject by business schools.
"We encourage applicants to apply in the first or second round, as space in the class may be limited by the third round."
University of Pennsylvania
"First-time applicants. We strongly encourage you to apply in Round 1 or 2. The first two rounds will have no significant difference in terms of level of rigor; the third round will likely be more competitive as we will have selected a good portion of the class. However, there will be sufficient room in Round 3 for the strongest of applicants."
University of Pennsylvania adcomm blog
http://adcomblog.wharton.upenn.edu/admi ... _strategy/
Is it best to apply in the early deadline or later deadlines?
It is to your advantage to apply as early as you are ready. The admissions committee cannot predict the quality of future applications, and is therefore inclined to admit well-qualified applicants early in the process. In addition, early application ensures that you will receive a decision earlier. However, it is important not to rush your application. We encourage you to take the time necessary to submit a thoughtful, well-prepared application. Regardless of the round in which your application has been submitted, the admissions committee will give full and fair consideration to your candidacy.
Since space is limited, we encourage you to apply early. Later rounds become highly competitive.
http://www.marshall.usc.edu/web/MBAadmi ... doc_id=148
Q: Is there any advantage to applying in an earlier application round?
No. We seek outstanding candidates regardless of the application round and operate on a rolling admission basis throughout the year after the first decision deadline. However, space and merit-based financial aid are limited, so it is wise to apply as early as possible. Applying earlier means that you will receive an admission decision earlier, leaving you more time to plan your transition to the Vanderbilt MBA program.
http://www.owen.vanderbilt.edu/vanderbi ... /index.cfm
University of Washington (UWBS)