Rescue Your Round-One MBA Application (Part II)

As Part II of our series "Rescue Your Round-One Application," Anna Ivey and Marlena Corcoran continue their Q&A. (Read Part I here.)

Couldn't people put this all off for a while, and apply in Round Two or Round Three? Do they really need to go for Round One?

Marlena: Round One, hands down. Admissions officers who are asked this question are quick to say, "Apply when you are truly ready." Well, sure, but my advice is, "Get ready for Round One."

Just think about it. If enough great candidates apply in Round One, a lot of slots are filled. We're not just talking absolute numbers, but kinds of applicants. A committee cannot accept a class composed entirely of, say, engineers. And if they already accepted a large number of engineers in Round One, you may apply in Round Three with engineering qualifications that are just as good, but you're going to need some major sparkle to make the committee say, "Move over, we've got another great engineer."

How about schools like LBS and Columbia that have rolling admissions?

Marlena: If you're applying to a school that has rolling admissions, bear in mind that with every week that passes, you must be more impressive than every candidate they've seen so far—and distinctive enough to create a slot for yourself.

Now, I did not say that every program has a quota. I am saying that the next time you listen to an admissions committee member waffle on this one, you should put on your common-sense spectacles.

But what about European MBA programs? Aren't they geared toward a more leisurely schedule?

Marlena: There's no need to glorify procrastination by dubbing it "Euro-chic." If you're putting off the GMAT now, you may find yourself putting it off six months from now.

Yes, it is worth noting that INSEAD admits two classes per year. Also, INSEAD has three rounds for the January intake and four rounds for the September intake. You may have overheard the INSEAD rep at the AIGAC [Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants] conference in New York last week sigh, "There is never a time when we are not reading." This is a lifesaver for applicants!

But remember: INSEAD is the exception. "Rescue Your Round-One Application" is a series for applicants who are aiming at the top U.S. MBA programs. I think you would agree, Anna, that when it comes to those schools, there is no doubt about it: Submit your application in Round One.

Not only will you be on time for the U.S. schools, but you might make the first-round deadline at INSEAD, too.


Dr. Marlena Corcoran studied for two years at the Ecole normale superieure in Paris and holds a Ph.D. in English from Brown University. She has held research appointments at Harvard, Princeton, and Brown Universities, and at Wolfson College, Oxford. She has many years' experience teaching and has also worked in the business world. In 2004, she published two novels designed to help non-native speakers improve their English. In 2003, she received an award from Brown for her work with the international community. Marlena speaks fluent German and French in addition to her native English.

Former Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago Law School and a recovering lawyer, Anna Ivey founded Ivey Consulting to help college, law school, and MBA applicants navigate the admissions process. Read more admissions tips in The Ivey Guide to Law School Admissions, recently updated and available as an e-book. Follow Anna on Twitter (@annaivey).