Best Time to Apply to a B-School?
Early action, Early Decision, Rolling Admission, Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, next year – the number of options in terms of when you can submit your admission application can be overwhelming. We recommend a simple yardstick to determine when to apply – “WHEN YOUR ADMISSION APPLICATION IS READY.”
While some schools do publish guidelines on when to apply, in general, candidates are not very sure as to what that means for their acceptance chances. Our experts have analyzed application success rates across multiple rounds and have found no discernible patterns which stand out. However, we have developed a broad set of general principles that you should bear in mind while deciding on when to apply.
Apply when your application is ready:The overarching consideration for when you should apply is the state of readiness that your admission application is in. You should apply when your application is ready. No point applying in an earlier round with an ‘imperfect’ application. Similarly, if your application is ready, there is little merit in pushing it to the next year as against applying in a Round III.
Acceptance rates across different rounds do not suggest preference of one round over another:We have analyzed acceptance rates across different rounds for top rated business schools and have not seen a marked preference for one or the other round .
Round wise Applications, Acceptance Rates for 2012-2016, Top 10 US Business Schools
%Applied %Accepted Round 1 30% 35% Round 2 50% 45% Round 3 20% 20%
Apply in Round 1 if you can commit to a school without looking at others:The only real fear with Round 1 application is that you get an admission! This means that you potentially have to forego other great schools which might offer you a potential scholarship. Successful Round 1 applications would lock you in with Early Action Caveats. This restriction is only worth taking for your ‘dream school.’
Apply in Round 2 in normal circumstances:Please note that Round 2 gets the maximum number of applications and also has the maximum % Accepted figures. (See table) Acceptance rates are typically at par with other rounds, and admissions team are relatively fresh and have the energy to look at a high number of applications. Hence, If you are ready with your application, do apply in this round.
Apply in Round 3 over and above pushing your application to the next year:Round 3 is specifically great for ‘unique circumstances.’ If you have started preparing your application late, or if your employer could not approve your application earlier, or if you were otherwise busy elsewhere – if you have a convincing argument as to why you could not apply to an earlier round, then Round 3 is definitely for you. Far better than pushing your application to the next year! Admission committee usually is trying to build out a cohort (and not just recruit a candidate) and usually would have some spots left over for specific kinds of candidates that they might not have found in Round 2 – minorities, people with unique and differentiated profiles, or even general candidates where they could not find enough good applications. Remember Round 3 is there for a specific reason and they are still accepting candidates.
There are a lot of myths around the timing of a B-School Admission Application. Many candidates have come to us and with the fear that if they were to apply in Round 1, they would be bunched together with a lot of very smart and competitive candidates thereby reducing their chances of getting an admission. Some of them think that it is better to apply in the next year rather than applying in Round 3; even if they have a convincing reason as to why their application got late. Some others have committed to Early Action decisions only to forfeit potential tuition waiver scholarships.
Yours is a unique application. And there are no generic rules that would govern how it would fare. Apply when you are ready. Put your best effort forward. And that would determine your acceptance. Not the timing of your application. All the best!
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