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Earlier Round 1 MBA Application Deadlines/Notification Dates 0

Several top MBA programs have released their 2009-2010 application deadlines and essay questions, and I am noticing an interesting trend for those programs that have three rounds. Harvard, Wharton, and Stanford have all moved their Round 1 deadline to the first week in October and their Round 1 notification date to mid December.

2009-2010 Round 1 Deadlines

School  Deadline Notification Date
Harvard Oct. 1 Dec. 15
Stanford Oct. 7 Dec. 16
Wharton Oct. 1 Dec. 18

The earlier round 1 dates have several implications for the schools and applicants. For the schools:

  • The admissions committee staffs can go on their holiday break knowing that all round 1 files have been read and decisions released. They really get a break.
  • They may move recruiting activities a little earlier.
  • While not all schools have changed their deadlines (Kellogg for example), I belive that additional schools will do so, especially those who release their questions in June and early July.

What does the change mean for you, the applicants? Opportunity. Here's why:

  1. You can apply Round 1 and know before the year is out where you will attend, if accepted. You can go into the holidays without worrying about applications, interviews, and the rest. You can plan the next nine months knowing where you will be in September.
  2. While #1 is nice, the biggest benefit accrues if you are rejected. You will have at least 2-3 weeks to submit applications to additional programs This is powerful flexibility.

Very few applicants are strongly competitive in all areas. Many, many more applicants have a chance at the most competitive programs, but cannot be confident of acceptance. This group will benefit the most from the earlier deadlines and notification dates. They can apply to elite schools during Round 1, and if accepted they will celebrate their December holidays with more joy. If rejected, then can implement their Plan B and apply to programs that still support their goals and are somewhat easier to get into.

If you are going to take this approach, you should not wait to hear from your Round 1 programs to decide which schools belong on your Round 2 list. You should be ready to move the minute you determine you are rejected at all your Round 1 schools. In fact, you shouldn't even wait until the Round 1 notification dates pass to start working on those Round 2 applications. Depending on the number of schools you intend to apply to during the second round, the exact deadlines, and your ability to adapt essays (NOTE: I wrote "adapt," not "cut and paste") from round 1 applications to round 2 applications, start working on your round 2 applications before the round 1 notification dates. The quality of your Round 2 applications will suffer if you attempt to crank out four thoughtful, polished applications between the Round 1 notification dates and the Round 2 submission dates. Don't let it happen to you.

What do you think about the earlier schedule? Will it change your application strategy? If you have an opinion, please comment below.

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