Guide to MBA Applications • MBA

MBA Admissions: Why Round 2 Applicants Have an Edge

POSTED ON 05/29/2023 BY The Red Pen

Student ready for round 2 application

Should I apply to an MBA Programme in Round 2?” As MBA admissions consultants, we hear this question every year. It is generally believed that submitting your application as early as possible is the best option. 

The MBA admissions processes at Columbia Business School, Duke Fuqua School of Business, or UVA’s Darden School of Business begin with Round 1, where seats and scholarships are up for grabs. Some schools, like Imperial College Business School, encourage applicants in the early rounds to increase their chances of being considered for scholarships. For those from overrepresented industries like consulting or investment banking, applying to business school in Round 1 provides the best opportunity for consideration in a competitive pool.

But applying in Round 2 is not a lost cause. As seasoned MBA admissions consultants, we recommend you apply to business schools only when you have created your strongest application. Admissions officers know that qualified candidates will be seen across all MBA application rounds, and awarding deserving applicants scholarships or financial aid is not limited by when applications are submitted. 

Between 2014 and 2018, an analysis by the popular MBA forum GMAT Club shows only a slight variation in acceptance rates at top US MBA schools between Rounds 1 and 2. It revealed a slight increase in acceptances for international students in Round 2. 

Round 2 lets MBA applicants develop a more robust application 

Delaying your application to Round 2 lets you enhance the quality of your application. If you have been steadily working on your application for several months but still feel it requires improvement, don’t rush into the Round 1 deadlines in September-October. Instead, fine-tune your material for the Round 2 deadlines in January. Round 2 deadlines may be ideal for working professionals as job commitments tend to wind down around the holiday season. You can use the extra time to do the following: 

1) Improve your GMAT score for MBA admissions: 

MBA application deadlines for Round 2  give you the extra time to retake the standardized test and push your score. This is especially important if your GMAT score is lower than the average of your target schools. Even if you have a satisfactory GMAT score, improving it can help you win scholarships and save money.

2) Enhance your school research for MBA admissions:

Take the extra time to improve your understanding of business schools on your shortlist. Attend virtual and in-person events, connect with more alumni members, and engage with student clubs. Additional research will provide more significant insights, enabling you to craft targeted goal statements and a more meaningful application for the Round 2 deadline. 

3) Polish your application for MBA admissions:

The additional time between Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines offers an excellent opportunity to reevaluate and rework your essays to include new information. You may also refine your resume and request additional letters of recommendation. 

Round 2 can boost an MBA applicant’s professional profile 

As MBA application consultants, we recommend waiting for the Round 2 deadline if you are expecting a job promotion. Adding a promotion will strengthen your application, especially if your new role is a leadership position. Besides elevating your resume, you can use the experience gained in the new position in essays and recommendation letters.

Round 2 enables MBA applicants to redefine strategies 

Your strategy for Round 2 will depend mainly on the outcome of your Round 1 applications. Here’s how you can leverage Round 2 deadlines:

1) Learn from Round 1 deadline for your MBA Admissions: 

Don’t give up if you applied in Round 1 and were rejected by a business school.  Use your Round 1 results to identify gaps and incorporate improvements for Round 2. Our MBA admissions experts find that reflecting on what went wrong helps applicants refine their pitch to business schools. Use the time between Rounds 1 and 2 to objectively evaluate your application material with an experienced MBA admissions guide or contact admissions officers for feedback on your application. Use their perspectives to strengthen your application. Round 1 rejections can also mean that you need to recalibrate your expectations and aim for a different set of schools in Round 2.

2) Aim higher MBA admissions with Round 2:  

If, on the other hand, you are admitted to your target school in Round 1, you can use the Round 2 deadline to aim higher. You may even apply to a business school you thought was out of your reach. A secure admission in Round 1 allows you to expand your horizons in Round 2. 
Therefore, depending on your situation, Round 2 can offer several benefits. You may read our 9-Step Guide to MBA Applications and our blog on 7 Points to Check Before Submitting Your MBA Applications. If you need some assistance with the MBA application process, please get in touch with us. Our experienced MBA consultants look forward to hearing from you.