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Before we get into if Round 1 is better than Round 2, or vice-versa, it is important to understand how Top B-Schools and MBA Programs evaluate candidates and offer admissions. It is important for each program to maintain a healthy diversity when it comes to the class composition, as diversity allows a wider exchange of ideas and benefits the growth of the students. When you apply, your application is put in with a bucket of people with a similar profile. Colleges mostly have quotas that they have made and look to fill. International Students – 25%, Finance – 15%, Women – 30% or something similar.
So, when you apply in R2 after the R1 offers have all been rolled out, there’s a slight chance that they might have already exhausted the numbers for the bucket you’re in. That is the only significant way your chances of being invited for an interview are affected adversely. Having said that, if you have a great profile, most colleges will not care if you’re applying in R1 or R2.
Scholarships are another criteria to consider when deciding between R1 & R2. Most Universities has earmarked their merit scholarships for R1 Applicants. So, if you’re planning to apply for scholarships, you HAVE to apply in R1!
Now, speaking about the 2020-21 admission cycle, COVID has cast doubts over the global economic conditions. This has caused a LOT (20% – 25%) of admits to defer their place to the 2021 intake. Based on conversations with admissions teams across colleges, there will be lesser seats at most programs this year, as compared to last, as a chunk of seats are blocked for the deferred applicants.
This could disadvantage R2 applicants in case colleges get a good quality batch of applicants in R1 and offers are accepted, reducing the number of seats for Round 2 applicants.
Thus, if you have already made up your mind on an MBA in 2021, apply in Round 1!
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