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Posted by Chioma Isiadinso
The end of October is upon us, and Round 1 deadlines for pretty much all MBA programs have passed. Are you thinking about applying to business school in Round 2 – or wondering if you should even bother?
It’s completely natural to feel intimidated by the idea of applying in Round 2. The competition is serious – there are more people applying, and schools have already filled many of the spots for the incoming class.
But there are two ways you can deal with your concerns: you can give up, or you can use the additional time to make yourself an even stronger candidate. The fact of the matter is that schools admit candidates from Round 2 every single year. “Intimidating” doesn’t mean “impossible”. It just means you need to work harder to help your MBA application stand out.
In fact, applying in Round 2 can be an advantage if you approach it with the right mindset. What matters is understanding your story, and taking the opportunity to improve. There are many different reasons people don’t end up applying in Round 1: low GMAT scores, tardy recommenders, problems at work, uncertainty over whether it’s the right time to go to business school, and plain old procrastination.
So, get honest with yourself: Why didn’t you apply in Round 1? What can you do now to improve your application and tell your story in a more compelling way?
If you have concrete issues, like a GMAT score that could be better, an undergrad GPA that was not so stellar or weak on quantitative courses, or a recommender who couldn’t get your recommendation in on time, there are concrete steps you can take to improve.
I have worked with MBA applicants who took the additional time to really focus in on studying for the GMAT, and they often saw improvements of 30 points or more. Going from a 700 to a 730 can make a difference in your application – I’ve even had an applicant who was able to go from a 590 to a 740, and you can imagine how much more attractive that application looked in Round 2 than it would have in Round 1.
Similarly, if your undergraduate transcript is not as strong as it could be, look for ways to show that your core skills – and particularly your quant skills – are stronger these days. You may be able to take additional courses online or at a local college, or this may be an area where additional GMAT studying will benefit you.
Finally, if you had a recommender who couldn’t, or wouldn’t, get a recommendation in on time in order for you to apply in Round 1, I would strongly recommend you find a new one. MBA recommendation letters are extremely important to the admissions committee, and if someone isn’t engaged enough in the process to complete their letter by the deadline, it’s highly unlikely that their eventual recommendation will be filled with detailed and specific praise for your abilities.
For some people, getting an application completed in Round 1 has less to do with concrete issues, and more to do with a sense of uncertainty. If that sounds like you, then applying in Round 2 can be a real advantage – it gives you the time you need to do some deep thinking and figure out what you really want.
I’ve talked a lot about the importance of doing your research when it comes to applying to business school. If you were struggling with uncertainty about your MBA application, it’s likely you didn’t really dive in to what your target schools offer.
Now’s the time. Read as much as you can about the school, the curriculum, the admissions process, the global opportunities and out-of-class experiences they offer. Watch the webinars the admissions committee puts out. Connect with current students and alumni to learn about their experiences. Try to visit the campus. Really get to know the school.
This is also the time to get to know yourself. You need to do some soul-searching about why you want an MBA, and why the time is right for you to go to business school. Give yourself the time and space to get honest about what you want. Focus on your story – what in your background, both work and personal life, has led you to this moment.
When you truly have a deeper understanding of your personal brand and your target schools, it will make completing your application much, much easier. Instead of feeling like you’re blindly guessing at what the admissions committee wants to hear, you’ll be able to tell your story with confidence, to show the adcom what you will bring to their school.
If you’re ready to apply in Round 2 but still a little apprehensive about the process, you don’t have to go it alone. EXPARTUS has helped hundreds of MBA applicants develop a strong application profile to apply to top business schools in Round 2. Our tried and tested methods will help you complete the process with confidence, not with stress. Get in touch today to learn more about how we can help.