Each year, clients ask us if they should consider applying in Round 3 (R3). The answer we invariably give them is “it depends.” Much like the rest of the MBA application process, there aren’t always definitive rules. You need to consider both the schools you’re applying to and your own profile before you move ahead.
You shouldn’t rush the decision. R3 requires as much thought and engagement, if not more, as Round 1 and 2. Can you put together a compelling MBA application now or should you wait until the next class? Are you applying as a reaction to your current work situation or because you feel that it’s the right next step in your long-term plan?
Here are some additional factors to think about:
• Is your top target school ranked one of the top 7 in the US? If so, you may be best off waiting until next year. As former Admissions Directors at these schools, we know that the competition for this round will be tougher than ever. Schools are generally looking to fill specific profiles at this point and it’s no longer as “general” an applicant pool. That being said, schools ranked slightly lower may still have room and will likely be actively looking for applicants; they will have a more generalized pool.
• Is your profile truly exceptional? There are clearly some profiles that rise to the top; you will bring to the classroom such a unique background, career profile, or achievement that your value to the program is obvious. If you’re one of these special cases, you should go ahead and feel comfortable applying in R3 for the most competitive schools.
• Are you considering a top program outside the US? If yes, then schools such as INSEAD have a greater percentage of places available in R3 than their US counterparts. However, you may find that there are fewer financing or scholarship options available.
• Are you applying to a part-time or Executive MBA program? There’s generally less competition overall for part-time and EMBAs. Your chances of admissions may be slightly lower but not greatly so if applying in a later round. You should contact the admissions offices if you have specific EMBA program questions. There may be additional flexibility that is not stated on the website.
While applying for R3 can work out in your favor, it’s always good to have an alternative plan in place just in case. Will you be staying with your current employer or looking to expand your horizons if you’re not admitted? Just make sure you have a backup plan!