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Admissions Tip: Managing the Many Round 2 MBA Deadlines

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Anyone who’s familiar with the MBA application process knows that December moves forward at an accelerated pace, mixing work with holidays and application preparation. Come the New Year, Round 2 application deadlines come swiftly. To help this year’s Round 2 applicants avoid the classic time crunch, today’s blog post offers some basic advice on how to approach the Round 2 MBA deadlines at a reasonable pace.

Let’s start by taking a quick look at some of the earliest deadlines for the top MBA programs:

January 3, Columbia (Fellowship Deadline), LBS, Rice / Jones

January 5, The Consortium, CMU / Tepper, USC / Marshall, Indiana / Kelley, Rochester / Simon

January 6, Harvard, Dartmouth / Tuck, Duke / Fuqua, UVA / Darden, Michigan Ross, Georgetown / McDonough, UNC / Kenan Flagler, SMU / Cox (R3), Vanderbilt / Owen

January 7, UPenn Wharton, Chicago Booth, Yale SOM, Texas / McCombs, Toronto / Rotman, Notre Dame / Mendoza

January 8, Northwestern / Kellogg, Cornell / Johnson, UCLA / Anderson, IESE, Washington Foster

January 9, Stanford, Berkeley Haas

January 10, Emory / Goizueta (R3), Oxford Saïd

January 13, Cambridge / Judge

January 15, NYU / Stern (R3), INSEAD, CEIBS, ESADE, Washington / Olin, UMD Smith (R4)

January 21, MIT Sloan

You can also view our handy deadline chart here.

Plan to be busy in December.  

If you are not bogged down by professional obligations in December, this makes for a great opportunity to devote time to working on your MBA applications in the evenings. The last weeks of the year can easily be split between résumé drafting, essay writing, recommendation coaching, GMAT prep, school research, and more.

Think carefully about the timing of the R2 MBA deadlines.

Looking at the deadlines above, it becomes clear that some deadlines may be easier to make than others. A candidate applying to NYU Stern and MIT Sloan could have a more leisurely December when when compared to someone targeting Wharton, Booth and Harvard. Assuming about three weeks of research and writing for each school’s application, take a look at the deadlines and count backwards to determine a start date for each. It is entirely possible to meet same-day deadlines, such as UPenn Wharton and Chicago Booth, but doing so requires a well-planned schedule and consistent progress.

Consider taking some time off from work.

We realize that many MBA applicants work 70 hours/week and haven’t had a day off in months. For such applicants, a day or two out of the office can really do wonders for focus and organization.  Applying to business school is a serious undertaking, and in the long term you won’t regret having given yourself enough time to prepare strong applications. Many successful candidates take a week off in December to make the final push. It’s not a glamorous way to spend your vacation time, but an offer to attend a leading MBA program can make the sacrifice well worth it.

Get your recommenders on board early.

It’s always a good idea to engage your recommenders early and inform them about the process and your timeline. Sit down with each recommender, perhaps over lunch or coffee. Present them with an outline of the deadlines and the process. It’s then a wise idea to meet again, a short time later, by that time many applicants are in a position to share their background materials (a résumé, career goals essays, etc.) to help their recommenders understand—and support—their message.

Happy planning!

Lauren Wakal
Lauren Wakal has been covering the MBA admissions space for more than a decade, from in-depth business school profiles to weekly breaking news and more.