Congratulations on successfully submitting your Round 1 MBA applications! It is not an easy process, and you deserve a lot of credit for getting your applications in on time. For many of you, now is the time to start preparing for your MBA interviews; we have provided you with some interview guidance in part one of this blog post.
Although interview prep is always valuable, you also need a strategy for applying to additional MBA programs in Round 2 in case things don’t work out as you had hoped. Here are some tips to help you begin this process.
1. Get ready to be disappointed.
Soon you will learn whether you landed an interview or not. Even if you know the numbers—with some schools awarding an interview to only one in three or even one in five applicants—not getting an interview still stings. That is why now is the time to have a Round 2 application strategy in place, if only to lessen the disappointment by knowing you are already working on Plan B.
2. Get existential.
Now that the smoke from Round 1 has cleared, take a step back and ask yourself, “How serious am I about actually going to business school?” If you do not get into any of your Round 1 MBA programs, what would you do? Would you wait a year and reapply? Would you wish you had applied to other places? Or would you give up the dream completely? Knowing the answer to these questions will help you formulate a strategy for Round 2.
3. Add more “likelies.”
In an age when even a top 50 MBA program is accepting fewer than half of its applicants, there is no such thing as a “safety school.” However, there are MBA programs where you really do have a better shot based on your above-average GPA or GMAT or your compelling work history. If you have decided that you want to be in business school come next September, now is the time to figure out which MBA programs are for you, get to know them, and then produce great applications.
4. Shoot for the moon.
We all have dreams that have been pushed to the side because of extenuating circumstances. For you, it might have been not applying to your dream school in the first round because you had to spend your time on MBA applications for schools at which you actually had a shot at being accepted. Well, Round 2 is exactly the right time to admit that even though you might not have a real shot at some schools, you want to apply to them anyway because it is your aspiration to attend those programs. In that case, go for it! Who knows—sometimes lightning does strike!
5. Consider “might-as-wells.”
Through your research, you might have come across some MBA programs whose essays and applications look an awful lot like those of schools to which you have already applied. In that case, it might just be worth it to throw applications their way. Sometimes it is easier to repurpose some essays and complete one more application than to think about whether you want to attend. It is amazing how the world changes when you are holding an acceptance letter in your hand—or maybe even a scholarship offer.
Of course, there is one big constraint when thinking about applying to many more schools, and that is your recommenders. As you probably know, writing a recommendation is a lot of work, and asking a recommender for even one more—let alone a lot more—is a big ask. Only you can gauge which recommenders would be up for writing additional recommendations. If the answer is none, now might be the time to find other folks who can be your champions so that you can apply to as many schools as you want. Of course, only you can say if it is going to be one more school or ten more. Some schools now ask for only one recommendation, so maybe that becomes a factor as well.
Most importantly, do not consider applying in Round 2 as a defeat. Realistically, Round 2 might serve you even better by connecting you with the school that is right for you—a place not only that you will like but that will also like you. It is still possible to find such a place during Round 2. You just have to go out and look!