The answer, as is often the case in MBA admissions, is… it depends. You didn’t think we’d give you a clear-cut yes or no, did you?
In most cycles, the chances of gaining acceptance decrease as the rounds progress. This means that MBA acceptance rates in Round 3 are generally lower than those in Rounds 1 and 2. Similarly, grants and scholarships are harder to come by later in the admissions game.
However, this year could be an exception – or at least a year in which these trends aren’t as true as in most years. Several programs have added rounds, extended deadlines, or waived the GMAT requirement in response to recent layoffs, particularly in the tech industry. MBA programs are hoping to encourage late-round applications. Schools are also trying to accommodate applicants who might not have considered an MBA at this time, and part of the motivation is probably the decline in applications in the previous cycle, which might have continued into Round 1 of this cycle.
So, should you apply? If you don’t, your chances of acceptance are obviously zero. They are greater than zero if you do.
Five reasons why you should apply in Round 3
- You have a “Class of 2025 or bust!” attitude. If you really have your heart set on joining the b-school class of 2025, perhaps because you were recently laid off, then you should definitely apply in Round 3 (or even Round 4, if your target program offers that option).
- You’re an admissions dream come true. If you are a truly competitive candidate – stats-wise, diversity-wise, experience-wise, and so on – then you should apply in Round 3 or 4. Not everyone gets rejected in these later rounds (or there wouldn’t be such a thing as late rounds), and if anyone is going to get in, it’s going to be those applicants with impressive profiles.
- You have little to lose. If you don’t mind spending the extra money, time, and energy to apply now, getting rejected, and then having to apply again, then you really don’t have much to lose going for it this year. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to get feedback (if you’re unlucky enough to get dinged, that is), then that feedback will prove extremely valuable when you reapply next year.
- You have a lot to gain. If accepted a year earlier, you will earn your MBA a year earlier and also start to earn a post-MBA salary a year earlier.
- You were rejected in Round 1 and have a new plan. You understand that you simply aimed too high and are now ready to apply to less-competitive programs.
Six reasons why you should wait until next year
- Your essays are still not quite where they need to be. Maybe you don’t have enough time before the Round 3 buzzer to create flawless essays. In that case, it’s much better to wait until you can submit something closer to perfect than to rush and send in a sloppy essay. If you’d like guidance in polishing your essays, click here the link in this sentence.
- You plan on retaking the GMAT. If you’re not happy with your current GMAT results and your target programs require the GMAT, then you should wait until you can apply with a higher score.
- Your recommendations won’t be ready. If you won’t be able to secure the best recommendations by the Round 3 or Round 4 deadline, it’s better to wait for the ideal recommenders than to move ahead earlier with less-impressive ones.
- Your work experience is weak. Applying next year will give you more time to bulk up your work experience and personal profile.
- You’re uncertain about your goals. If you’re fuzzy as to why you want an MBA or your reasons for choosing particular schools, get clarity, and then apply – preferably in Round 1.
- You have international issues. If you are an international applicant and might have trouble securing the necessary visa and financing, it might be worth waiting until next year.
For a more in-depth analysis of the “Round 3 versus next year” application debate, watch our webinar in which Linda Abraham addresses the differences between Round 3 and earlier rounds, outlines the pros and cons of applying in Round 3, and helps you answer the million-dollar question of when you should apply to business school. Click here to watch the webinar!
Need help deciding when to apply?
Deciding the best time to apply is not always easy. Work with an expert admissions consultant to create a strategy for when and how to apply that will maximize your chances of getting accepted!For 25 years, Accepted has helped business school applicants gain acceptance to top programs. Our outstanding team of MBA admissions consultants features former business school admissions directors and professional writers who have guided our clients to admission at top MBA, EMBA, and other graduate business programs worldwide including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, INSEAD, London Business School, and many more. Want an MBA admissions expert to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!
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