Today, Scott of MBA Game Plan noted that there is no noticable difference in applying to Round 1 or Round 2. I agree with this completely. I would like to add that there is really only one huge advantage in applying early. That is for those schools that have "Early Application(EA)" rounds. In my research with schools, students and Alumni, I've concluded that ones chances look something like the following when applying in the various rounds-- For schools without an EA round, the graph should look something like the second graph.
Let me be clear though, it's not a black and white issue (no pun intended.. since my graph has colors. ha ha) Students who apply in EA tend to have great GMAT scores. They tend to have their GMAT done and out of the way and have been thinking about their essays for quite a while. There are other issues too such as the MBA Tours which come around in time for Round 1+ apps and not EA rounds. The info sessions of each school usually fall during Round 1 and early Round 2 periods. Quite a few people wait for these events before figuring out which schools they'll be applying to. This makes it difficult for many of these individuals to craft an application strategy for each school they apply to. The way I see it, the MBA Tour's and info sessions of this year, are a good setup for applications for next years application rounds.
EA applications are not just more successful because there is less competition. Rather, these students tend to have done their homework for 6 months or more before the app was even due. Nevertheless, all things being equal, the EA round is definitely a more successful time to apply. As you may recall, in other articles I've written, I commmented that one needs to show just how much one really wants to apply go to a particular school. An EA application shows you're very very very very serious about them out of other schools. Using a bit of this same logic, schools without an EA round will tend to show Round 1 applications fairing a good portion better than in other rounds. But this would be more attributed to the fact that Round 1 apps would be better prepared and put together.
Not sure what an EA is other than it being an earlier date for application?
Early Admission (EA) means that if you apply and get accepted, you must make a decision to accept the offer by putting up a good sized deposit and that you will take the position. Should you pull out, you'll lose the deposit. It says that you are absolutely serious about that particular school and therefore improves your chances for acceptance. This is because EA applications prove that their the school of your choice and that is a positive factor when reviewing your application.
Lastly, please remember that this is my opinion (although quite informed). Please take it as you want and weigh what I've said with what you're own research reveals. I implore everyone to do their own research as well.
As the Round 1 deadline approaches for most top business schools, a lot of MBA applicants are starting to face the reality that they haven't budgeted enough time to get all of their applications done. If you find yourself in this situation, I'd like to remind you of one important fact: It is NOT imperative that you get your applications in by the Round 1 deadline! The reality is that applying in Round 1 gives you no real leg up vs. applying in Round 2. (We usually do urge applicants to avoid Rond 3, though.)