Part 2: Is ‘Round 3’ the Right Target for Your MBA Application?

In Part 1 of this blog post, we presented four scenarios in which an MBA applicant would be wise to apply in Round 3 rather than waiting until the following year. If you believe this opportunity doesn’t pertain to your candidacy, here are five more situations that could justify moving forward now:

5. You have a (very) nontraditional candidacy.
Adcoms seek to build a diverse cohort that features students with a variety of personal, professional and academic backgrounds. During Round 3, schools can cherry-pick interesting, unique, unconventional applicants (including some with less-than-stellar professional or academic credentials) to enhance, enrich and energize the cohort. That said, it’s essential that you present your candidacy in a way that appeals to a risk-averse admissions committee. A wise, next step would be to get an expert evaluation of your competitiveness provided by an experienced admissions consultant.
6. You’re now considering less selective business schools.
Did you apply unsuccessfully to only elite MBA programs in Round 1 or 2? Other schools with lower rankings and higher acceptance rates are still likely to have an open seat for you in Round 3. And that includes some highly respected schools ranked among the top 25. Some of those programs have Round 3 acceptance rates of ~30%+, nearly as high as their R1 and R2 rates. And if you’re now considering part-time or Executive MBA programs, Round 3 timing is wide open.
7. You’re a college senior or a grad student completing a non-MBA master’s degree.
Several excellent business schools offer a “deferred enrollment” option for those who want full-time work experience before they begin MBA classes. R3 application timing is fine in this case. In fact, the popular “2+2” program at Harvard Business School accepts apps in only the third round.
8. You’re not facing any issues regarding a student visa.
Getting an F-1 Visa to study full-time in the US is neither fast, easy nor guaranteed. As an international applicant, you’ll need an appointment with a US consulate official in your home country. He or she may want to examine your background, check your financial capacity and discuss your post-graduation plans. You’ll need to present a valid passport and undergraduate academic records. If you plan to bring your family with you to the US, you should bring marriage and birth certificates. All of this takes time. So, some business schools won’t even consider international applicants who apply later than Round 2. So, check application instructions and FAQs before you start preparing your application.
9. You want to lay the groundwork for a future application to your dream school.
Many competitive applicants assume they can’t get admitted in R3, so they don’t even try. Typically, such individuals feel they lack the full-time work experience that b-schools want. However, submitting an application this year, even as a long shot, will send a positive message to the school that you are serious about earning an MBA from their program, in the future if not now. However, that R3 application has to be thoroughly and thoughtfully prepared since it will “anchor” your candidacy if/when you reapply. So, if you decide to pursue this two-step application strategy, be sure to do it right. And you may surprise yourself by being admitted this year.
Are these scenarios consistent with your MBA candidacy? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to roll up your sleeves and launch your Round 3 admissions campaign with confidence, determination and passion to succeed!