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Admissions Tip: Managing Round 2 MBA Deadlines

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. See just how many deadlines overlap in our handy chart of Round 2 MBA application deadlines.

To help this year’s Round 2 applicants avoid the classic time crunch, we’ve compiled some basic advice on how to approach the MBA deadlines at a reasonable pace.

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 chart, 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 compared to someone targeting Harvard, Stanford and Wharton. 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 Wharton and HBS, 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 away from their work desk 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 or via Zoom. No matter the setting, present them with an outline of the deadlines and the process. It’s then a wise idea to meet again shortly thereafter, as many applicants will then be 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!