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College Seniors: Get the Inside Scoop on “Deferred MBA Admission”

February 25 2020 By The MBA Exchange
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by Brooke Wheelan, Master Consultant at The MBA Exchange and former Associate Director of Admissions at Harvard Business School

Brooke Wheelan

Counting down your final weeks as a college student is exciting yet uncertain. Your post-graduation entry into the “real world” is rapidly approaching, yet the specifics are largely unknown. Well, what if you could remove much of the stress and uncertainty by getting a guaranteed spot at one of the world’s top business schools a few years from now? If this opportunity sounds appealing, please read on.

A proliferation of leading business schools now offer “deferred admission” to college seniors seeking a future MBA. Harvard and Stanford have been the most forward-thinking in this arena, offering deferred admission to college seniors for more than a decade. More recently, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Chicago Booth, Virginia Darden, Berkeley Haas and others have jumped on the bandwagon, introducing or expanding their process for admitting college seniors for future MBA enrollment.

Good news for current college seniors – there’s no “prototype” for admission – all are welcome and encouraged to apply. Business schools’ rationale for attracting top college students has evolved over time. Originally, most MBA programs were looking to expand the profile of their incoming classes by targeting scientists, engineers, humanities majors, and entrepreneurs who didn’t traditionally pursue business school. But in recent years, their target market began to include high-achieving business majors, first-in-family college students inhibited by the financial burden, and everything in between. Bottom line – don’t let your academic or personal profile keep you from pursuing deferred MBA admission.

Every MBA program is somewhat different, yet they all tout a similar value proposition to college seniors: once admitted, you can work full-time for one to five years with a guaranteed seat in a future MBA class. Admitted applicants also get immediate access to resources including career counseling, alumni and student networks, and other resources while working.

This all sounds great, but there must be a downside, right? Other than the time, effort and dedication it takes to apply, NO! Of course, these business schools are selective (i.e., similar acceptance rates for college-senior and traditional applicants), but they do NOT penalize anyone who applies but is denied as a college senior. If anything, MBA admissions officers are impressed you had the vision, determination and motivation to apply now, and – if denied – will strongly encourage you to reapply in the future. Whether admitted or not, you will benefit from reflecting on your personal and professional goals, taking the GMAT or GRE while still in “study mode,” initiating relationships with recommenders, and learning more about different business schools.

Final piece of good news – you still have plenty of time to apply – if you start now. Most application deadlines for deferred admission are in April, so don’t delay. The admissions consulting team at The MBA Exchange is standing by to provide you with complete guidance and support. If you’re unsure about whether an MBA education is for you – regardless of timing – start with a free, expert evaluation of your candidacy.

You have nothing to lose, and a potential guaranteed MBA admission in your hip pocket to gain. So go for it!