Have you been entertaining the thought of an MBA but don’t know where to begin? Pursuing an MBA is a great way to increase your business knowledge and advance your career. While there are dozens of different rankings and school recommendations, in the end, where and when and you apply is your choice.

With the many MBA program options, however, come a plethora of deadlines that you need to know about before you apply.

Conventional wisdom insists that the early bird catches the worm. This is a good mantra to live by, but it is not always completely true. While applying early generally offers less competition, you still stand up to a business school’s set guidelines and admissions requirements. Make sure that you do not apply until you can put your best application and résumé forward.

Admissions for MBA programs are either round-based or rolling. Rolling admissions allows applicants to apply whenever they are ready. Admissions for a given year only closes when the admissions committee has selected a desired number of applications to admit, and each seat has been filled. Meanwhile, round-based admissions relies on three to five specific deadlines that applicants must submit their materials by.

Most top MBA programs rely on round-based admissions. Round one can be considered similar to non-binding early action applications for undergraduate institutions. It offers the least amount of competition – but be sure that you are set on applying to that program. Give yourself enough time to tour the school and don’t jump to any conclusions, or you may regret it. It may also be a good idea to wait until round two if you think you can improve your GMAT scores by retaking the test in the fall.

Round two will offer less competition as well, but rounds three and four should generally be avoided due to the larger number of students who inevitably apply during this period. If you do, you will still get a fair review of your application, but simple math indicates that more applicants seeking fewer seats can only mean more difficult standards for admissions officers to require of their applicants. Also remember that international students are generally excluded from the fourth round of applicants.

Try not to get too stressed over impending application deadlines. If you are working too hard to try to meet an early deadline, it might be wise to step back, slow down and wait to submit until a subsequent deadline.

About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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