Answer: It depends.
Round 3 applicants are accepted at lower rates than applicants in earlier rounds for the vast majority of schools that share such data. At the same time, schools don’t have a third round solely to reject all comers. Stellar candidates and qualified, competitive applicants who add diversity to a class can be accepted during the third round, especially if they are domestic or come from countries with minimal visa issues. Third round applicants also need to realize that grants and scholarships are harder, if not impossible, to obtain later in the application cycle.
While acknowledging the downside of a late round application, let’s also look at the upside:
- You will have a chance of matriculating in Fall 2011. If you don’t apply R3/4, your chances of attending come fall are -0-.
- A few programs still give feedback to rejected applicants. That feedback could improve your Fall 2011 applications. Don’t apply just to obtain feedback, but getting feedback could make applying educational and worthwhile, even if unsuccessful.
You should apply R3 if you:
- Applied R1, were rejected at all schools, believe you simply aimed too high, and now want to apply to less competitive programs where you are likely to be admitted. You’re ready and set; you need to go!
- Are a qualified, non-traditional applicant or member of an under-represented group.
- Prefer to have a slight chance of acceptance now over no chance.
Here are a few of the many reasons why you might want to postpone your application until next fall. (Hint: most relate to readiness):
- If you don’t have time to edit and polish your essays to perfection, don’t hit SUBMIT until fall.
- If your GMAT score isn’t so great and you plan to retake the exam after the deadline, then you should wait until you can submit a higher score with your application.
- If you won’t be able to secure strong recommendations until next year, apply next year.
- If you want to improve your qualifications and need more time to do so, wait.
- If an additional year of work experience would strengthen your application, wait.
- If you would find rejection devastating, wait.
So, GMAT Delhi, here’s how I would apply the “It depends” to you: Given the tremendous competition at the schools you are targeting and the benefits of additional experience and enthusiastically positive letters of recommendation from your bosses, I recommend you wait until Fall 2011 and apply Round 1 with a beefier resume and those shiny letters in hand.
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