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Admissions Tip: Planning for Round 2

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Now that the bulk of Round 1 decisions are in, we wanted to take the time and look ahead to Round 2. The advice here is relevant for both Round 1 candidates who are considering additional applications in Round 2 as well as for those looking ahead to a later round.

As most applicants are targeting multiple schools and still working to narrow down their school selection for Round 2, we wanted to take some time today to stress the importance of taking a deep breath and a step back in order to formulate a general timeline for the coming weeks. Establishing a set of incremental goals with regard to school selection, essay composition and recommender management at this point in the season will help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensure that your aims are realistic.

Make your list and check it twice…

In terms of refining your selection of target schools in Round 2, there are several things to take into consideration. First, select an appropriate “range” of schools to apply. This includes:

  • reach schools (a school or two which might, at first glance, seem to be a stretch)
  • realistic schools
  • safety schools (a school or two that appear to be easier to gain admission for your profile)

Targeting a group of schools across a range of admissions difficulty is important as it will ensure one can maximize the opportunity to gain admissions to the best program possible. Of course, keep in mind that it is also critical to only apply to schools that you would absolutely be willing to attend. Another thing to remember is that researching programs now will pay dividends later – if only because that research may ultimately help you to limit the number of schools you consider (e.g. those programs which are a great fit for you and your goals). As such, we recommend that you visit the schools (if possible), comb their web sites, talk to alumni, and review other resources (blogs, online forums, press) that will help you get an intimate understanding of the schools on your initial wish list. Clear Admit School Guides can help in this step of the process – especially if you are short on time. Beyond that fact that this level of research may help you to narrow your list and focus your efforts on the group of schools you truly wish to target, it’s important to mention that understanding the unique aspects of your target schools is actually critical to your success with each school’s application. Taking these steps will ensure that each of your applications, essays, recommendations and so forth, can be as tailored and well developed as possible.

One school’s essays at a time…

Once you have your refined list of target schools, you will begin to focus on the application materials – and the admissions essays will be a major part of that. One of our most important pointers pertains to the process of writing essays. The urge to make progress on multiple fronts leads many applicants to work on essays for several schools in parallel, an approach that can be problematic. One reason for this is that when one spends time immersed in three sets of essays at once, it’s easy to lose sight of the full picture he or she is presenting to any one school. While it’s important to be oneself in the application process, it’s also crucial that an applicant tailor his or her materials to each school, a process that is made harder when constantly going back and forth among responses for various programs. Another issue is that it’s easy to waste time implementing the same edits across documents for multiple schools, or to lose track of what one has changed in which essay. For these reasons, we generally recommend focusing one’s full essay-writing attention on one program at a time.

Make time for a final review…

Of course, your writing and story will improve with practice, and the last application you finish will likely be your strongest: a tricky situation, given that most applicants take care of their top choice school first to ensure that they’re able to submit in the earliest possible round. With this in mind, we recommend that you build space into your timeline to allow yourself to revisit and revise each set of essays before submission.

The order in which you tackle tasks will naturally depend on the deadlines for each school.

Therefore, let’s take a look at a selection of this winter’s deadline calendar, not forgetting that Columbia and HEC Paris use “rolling admissions” which means that the sooner you apply, the better:

School Round 2 Deadline
Michigan / Ross January 2, 2017
CMU / Tepper January 2, 2017
Babson / Olin January 3, 2017
Harvard Business School January 4, 2017
Northwestern / Kellogg January 4, 2017
U. Chicago Booth January 4, 2017
Columbia Business School January 4, 2017
Dartmouth / Tuck January 4, 2017 (January Round)
Duke / Fuqua January 4, 2017
London Business School January 4, 2017
Emory / Goizueta January 4, 2017 (Round 3)
Berkeley / Haas January 5, 2017
UPenn / Wharton January 5, 2017
UCLA Anderson January 5, 2017
Indiana / Kelley January 5, 2017 (Priority Deadline)
Georgetown / McDonough January 5, 2017
IESE January 5, 2017
USC Marshall January 5, 2017
Cambridge / Judge January 6, 2017 (Round 3)
Oxford / Said January 6, 2017 (Stage 3)
Vanderbilt / Owen January 9, 2017
Rice / Jones January 9, 2017
UVA Darden January 9, 2017
SMU Cox January 9, 2017 (Round 3)
Stanford GSB January 10, 2017
Yale SOM January 10, 2017
Cornell / Johnson January 10, 2017
UT Austin / McCombs January 10, 2017
Notre Dame / Mendoza January 10, 2017
UNC Kenan-Flagler January 13, 2017 (Round 3)
NYU Stern January 15, 2017
Washington / Foster January 15, 2017 (Round 3)
Indian School of Business January 15, 2017
MIT Sloan January 17, 2017
INSEAD January 25, 2017 (Round 3)
Washington U. / Olin January 25, 2017 (Round 3)

Best of luck to all of our readers who are presently working their way through the lengthy application process!  Once you’ve applied, head over to MBA LiveWire to add your status. Stay tuned to Clear Admit for additional tips, news and notes as the admissions season unfolds.

Alex Brown
Alex is a co host for Clear Admit's Wire Taps podcast. He has spent 30 years in the MBA admissions industry, and authored the book: Becoming a Clear Admit: The Definitive Guide to MBA Admissions