December/January are exceedingly difficult months in the MBA application universe, with Round 2 deadlines flying at applicants day after day. If you are targeting Round 1, you need to have made progress on certain components of your MBA application and if you haven’t made adequate progress, you need to decide to readjust your application strategy to Round 3 or for the next intake.

Before we get into these components in detail – let’s start by taking a look some of at the published Round One deadlines for the top MBA programs:


School Second Application Deadline
Emory (Goizueta) Nov. 11, 2016 (Preferred deadline for one-year program)
NYU (Stern) Nov. 15, 2016
Cornell (Johnson) Nov. 15, 2016
Univ. of Washington (Foster) Nov. 15, 2016
Washington University (Olin) Nov. 15, 2016
INSEAD Nov. 30, 2016 (Round 2/Sept. ’17 Intake)
UNC (Kenan-Flagler) Dec. 2, 2016
Southern Methodist (Cox) Dec. 5, 2016
Michigan (Ross) Jan. 2, 2017
Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) Jan. 2, 2017
Babson College (Olin) Jan. 3, 2017
Harvard Business School Jan. 4, 2017
Northwestern (Kellogg) Jan. 4, 2017
Chicago (Booth) Jan. 4, 2017
Columbia Business School Jan. 4, 2017 (Merit Cutoff)
Dartmouth (Tuck) Jan. 4, 2017 (January Round)
Duke (Fuqua) Jan. 4, 2017 (Round 2)
London Business School Jan. 4, 2017
Emory (Goizueta) Jan. 4, 2017 (Round 3)
UC-Berkeley (Haas) Jan. 5, 2017
Pennsylvania (Wharton) Jan. 5, 2017
UCLA (Anderson) Jan. 5, 2017
Indiana (Kelley) Jan. 5, 2017 (Priority)
Georgetown (McDonough)< Jan. 5, 2017
IESE Business School Jan. 5, 2017
USC (Marshall) Jan. 5, 2017
Cambridge (Judge) Jan. 6, 2017 (Round 3)
Oxford (Said) Jan. 6, 2017 (Stage 3)
Vanderbilt (Owen) Jan. 9, 2017
Rice (Jones) Jan. 9, 2017
Virginia (Darden) Jan. 9, 2017
Southern Methodist (Cox) Jan. 9, 2017 (Round 3)
Stanford GSB Jan. 10, 2017
Yale SOM Jan. 10, 2017
Cornell (Johnson) Jan. 10, 2017
Texas-Austin (McCombs) Jan. 10, 2017
Notre Dame (Mendoza) Jan. 10, 2017 (Round 2)
UNC (Kenan-Flagler) Jan. 13, 2017 (Round 3)
NYU (Stern) Jan. 15, 2017
Univ. of Washington (Foster) Jan. 15, 2017 (Round 3/Final for internationals)
Indian School of Business Jan. 15, 2017
MIT (Sloan) Jan. 17, 2017
INSEAD Jan. 25, 2017 (Round 3/Sept. ’17 Intake)
Washington University (Olin) Jan. 25, 2017 (Round 3)


So what should you be doing right now?

  1. Finalizing your target school list:Don’t make the cardinal mistake of fixing a target school list solely in accordance with your GMAT/GRE test scores. Your school list has to be based on schools that are a best fit for your academic/professional profile and enable your career goals. Test scores are a function of the school shortlist. Once your list of schools has been finalized, you need to create a test taking strategy and attempt to get a target score that meets the median scores at your desired schools
  2. Taking the GMAT/GRE.Lots of students tend to leave taking the GMAT/GRE till tmid December. This is exceedingly counterproductive because if you get a lower score than your test target score, you have to readjust your application strategy/timeline. If you are towards the end of your GMAT/GRE preparation, now is the time for you to start taking mock tests to ascertain if you are achieving your target score range. If not, then you can either postpone the test to meet Round 2 deadlines or reconsider your target schools, or both.
  3. Working on improving your academic record: If you believe that your academic record is a potential weakness, a higher GMAT/GRE score is a great way to allay concerns about your ability to handle an intellectually rigorous program. You can also look at taking MOOCS to showcase your analytical ability. Take a relevant course or two, complete it, and have an A or two to report to the adcom as evidence of your ability to excel academically.
  4. Enhancing your leadership ability: Whether or not you have a formal leadership role, you can always find ways to exercise informal leadership. A great way of showcasing leadership without having a formal leadership title is showcasing how you have gone above and beyond your brief via determination and innovation. Examples could range from convincing senior management to approve a proposal, collaborating with diverse stakeholders for a project, to creating performance improvement metrics. You also need to share your personal interests – the activities you do to have fun, to relieve stress, and to grow outside of the work environment will definitely make you a more interesting candidate. In determining which extracurriculars to elaborate on, choose those that involve leadership responsibilities or impressive projects that you took an active role in (these examples could also easily go in any essays that ask for examples of leadership, success, or failure).
  5. Creating your Resume: Your resume is a snapshot of your entire MBA application. It is crucial to give your resume the attention it deserves as it plays a vital role in giving your application a frame of reference – now is the time to finalize your resume
  6. Finalizing your Recommenders: While you might not want to approach your recommenders unless you have a final GMAT/GRE score and your application essays ready, create a list of potential recommenders right now. Weigh the pros and cons of various options, and enhance your positive visibility to them.

These months are going to be very busy,and you need to  make sure you devote time to working on your MBA applications in the evenings. You need to split this month between resume drafting, essay writing, recommendation coaching, GMAT prep, school research, and more.

With proper planning and discipline, you will be able to crack your R2 application timeline!



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