ISB application: Round 1 or Round 2?

Applying to ISB (or any top B-school) involves a lot of research – research about the school, the faculty, the class profile, recruiters etc. With a lot of research, come a lot of questions too! One common question that ISB applicants ask is whether to apply in Round 1 or Round 2. In this article, we talk about various factors considered while applying and why we believe applying in Round 1 is generally better than applying in Round 2.

1. Higher chance of scholarships: Most schools in India and abroad offer more scholarships in Round 1 than in any other round. For instance, ISB offers full tuition fee waivers only to Round 1 applicants and 50% of all merit and need-based waivers are also offered to Round 1 applicants. This is because Round 1 candidates are considered more serious about the school.

2. Smaller applicant pool in Round 1: In our experience, we have seen that around 40% applicants apply in round 1 and the rest (60%) apply in Round 2 to ISB. Applicants usually apply to B-schools in US / Europe / Asia which are higher on their prioirty list before applying to ISB. Hence, it is easier to stand out and thus have a higher chance of getting in in Round 1 as compared to Round 2.

3. A shot at all the seats: Round 1 allows you a shot at all the seats – around 40% of which would have already been taken by the time you apply in Round 2.

4. More time to be mentally prepared for the rigour: If you get an admission in Round 1 (results out in December first week), you get more time to be mentally prepared for the rigorous 1 year ahead. By experience, I can say that the one year at ISB (or any other top B-school) is far more rigorous than most jobs. I would go on to say that the year is so busy that you end up doing more things in a day than you would otherwise do in a week in life outside campus

5. Time to pursue other interests before MBA: Some applicants want to travel, pursue a passion / hobby before getting into B-school. If you apply in Round 1, you get more time to pursue your interests than in Round 2 which would barely allow you a month (Results out in March first week).

As mentioned above, some candidates apply to ISB in Round 2 as they target other schools (usually foreign schools) in Round 1. We understand that and agree with the strategy. However, they might be better off applying to all schools in Round 1 for the aforementioned reasons.

To sum up, Round 1 definitely makes more sense especially for the top priority / target schools. Apply early as long as you are not compromising on the quality of your application.

Views are personal.

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