Many applicants aim to send their applications in before the deadline; however, if you must rush to do so it will not help you admissions odds. If you have dedicated the last couple of months to your applications, then you have plenty of time to submit before Round 2 deadlines and there is no need to scramble. A common misconception that business school admission committees place great stock in when a candidate submits his or her applications often causes competitive applicants to rush to submit early.
If all components of your applications are the best they can be, then by all means send them in early. This gets business school applications off your plate, decreases the possibility of a last-minute issue arising, and gives you a time buffer in case you have technical difficulties in the application process. However, submitting early will not improve your chances of admittance (except at schools that adhere to rolling admissions, such as Columbia Business School). Any institutions with deadlines give equal consideration to all applicants as long as they meet the round requirements, and you do not “look bad” if you apply at right before the deadline.
The truth is that, as long as you submit by the deadline, the exact time your application is completed will not affect your candidacy, meaning that applicants who apply one minute and one month before the cutoff are given equal consideration. The admissions committee does not even begin to review applications until after the deadline has passed, so those who apply early do not gain any additional benefit such as receiving their decisions sooner.
Think of your MBA application as a snapshot of yourself on which you are judged. You should not rush the presentation of this snapshot in order to apply early and make yourself appear organized. If it is the day before the deadline and there is more you can do to make your application compelling and competitive, you should use that last day. It is always better to take your time and submit an authentic snapshot instead of submitting early and presenting an incomplete portrait of yourself.
On the flipside, do not mistakenly believe that you can submit past the round deadline. Once that deadline passes, the round is complete and no further applicants will be considered. If you do send your materials after the Round 2 deadline has passed, you will likely be evaluated in Round 3, which would compromise your chances of admission since far less students are admitted in the final round.
Many students also believe that as long as they submit the majority of their materials before the deadline, they can send in more after it has passed. This is not always the case, and policies vary from school to school, so you must call the admissions office to determine what is acceptable. For example, some MBA programs allow applicants to submit new GMAT scores after the deadline has passed and if they have submitted their applications by the deadline. Harvard, however, does not permit this.
Overall, the best time to submit your MBA applications is when they are ready. The quality of application materials will always outweigh the timestamp when it comes to admissions decisions.