February 4th was either an exciting day or a tearful one for HBS Round 2 applicants: HBS’s MBA Admissions Board notified students whether they were invited to interview or had merited “early release.” Euphemistic though it sounds, early release should really be viewed by R2 applicants as the blessing that it is: you now know that you are out of the running for this program and are free to consider your other options. So dab your eyes with a tissue, patch up the wall you punched, and take a look at what some of those other options are.
U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents
If you are a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, you can still consider Round 3 at your top choice programs, especially if you have a unique background or profile that these programs may still want to round out their classes. Did you steer growth in Africa, lead a new telecom entry in Eastern Europe, or pioneer a revolutionary health program in Mongolia? These are examples of unique insights that many top MBA programs would love to include among their student bodies. While visa challenges tend to be too difficult for R3 applicants who will need F1 visas to study in the U.S., those of you who do have U.S. residency will be prime R3 candidates.
Moreover, if you are living in the U.S., you may find the many top MBA programs with part-time options to be the perfect alternative if there are weak points in your profile. Berkeley Haas’s full-time program has an average GMAT of 725 but its part-time program students have a median GMAT of only 700. Kellogg’s full-time MBA program’s average GMAT is 730, while it’s part-time MBA average is 673. Chicago Booth’s full time students averaged a 730 GMAT, but it’s part-time student GMAT average was only 679. If your GMAT score was the significant factor holding you back, then part-time programs offer the opportunity to graduate with the same degree without making another attempt – or several! – at improving your GMAT scores.
If you are not a good R3 candidate to the U.S. fall-entry MBA programs, you do have alternatives that will find you in a classroom in the coming year.
First, if your heart is set on building your career in the U.S., then there are other program options here. For example, if your goals are in finance, you may consider Master of Financial Engineering degrees at Berkeley Haas (next deadline April 2nd), or Baruch College (next deadline February 15th), or NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering Master of Financial Engineering (deadline February 15th). Columbia also offers a Master of Business Analytics and MS in Industrial Engineering (both with deadlines on February 15th).
For those interested in careers in Healthcare Management, you may consider Columbia’s Management of Science in Industrial Engineering, which offers a healthcare management concentration (Fall deadline February 15th, Spring deadline October 1st).
Outside of the U.S.
MBA aspirants who are seeking international careers can consider the top MBA programs in Europe and Canada as well. While Oxford Saïd has one remaining deadline for this year (April 4th), the MBA programs at Cambridge (March 9th and May 4th) and London Business School (April 7th and May 14th) each have another 2 deadlines for their fall start programs.
In addition, IMD practically just began its admissions process, with upcoming deadlines May 1st, July 1st, and September 1st still remaining to enter its program starting in October. Similarly, INSEAD has extended its 4th deadline for its September intake from the end of February to now March 4th, and INSEAD’s January-start program – which allows students an internship in the middle of the program – will only begin reviewing applications on March 11th.
For those applicants who were particularly interested in HBS’s case study approach, the Ivey MBA program in Canada – which analyzes over 300 cases in its one-year MBA – may be the perfect alternative. Ivey’s program starts in March, so its next deadline for the program starting in March 2021 is April 6th. Also in Canada is the Toronto Rotman MBA program – which advises international applicants (those from outside the U.S. and Canada) to apply by its March 4th deadline, Sauder – which accepts international applicants until its April 7th deadline, and HEC Montreal, which accepts international applicants until its March 15th deadline. Similar to INSEAD, the Schulich MBA has two cohorts, one starting ever January and one every September. Admissions for the January 2021 program will begin in July.
Address your weaknesses
Finally, if your heart is still set on HBS and its full-time U.S. program peers, early release offers you the time to assess your application profile and address its weaknesses. Many applicants find Accepted’s rejection review the perfect starting point to identifying the weaknesses of their application and their profile.
Have you made a noticeable impact beyond the norm in your professional role? Have you led enough outside of work? Is your GMAT/GRE meeting (or ideally, exceeding) their average score? If not, this is a great time to take action and patch those holes – in addition to the one you punched in the wall when you heard from HBS 😉
If you would like a free profile review to identify your profile weaknesses or shortcomings in your previous applications, register for a free consultation with me.
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