Round 3 MBA Admissions: Probability or Fantasy?

“Conventional wisdom” is something that’s widely believed to be correct and proper. Those who automatically follow conventional wisdom usually have a strong preference for predictability rather than possibility.

If the question on your mind is: “When should you submit my MBA applications?” conventional wisdom says: “Round 1 or 2. Period.” However, based on our first-hand experience advising more than 5,000 applicants during the past three decades, The MBA Exchange has a bolder point of view that’s worth considering.

Yes, we agree that applying within the first two rounds is ideal. More open seats means a higher chance for admission, right? That said, depending on your situation, submitting in Round 3 can still produce admission success.

What’s the basis for our unconventional perspective on MBA application timing? Here are four solid reasons why Round 3 is not too late for some determined applicants to succeed:

1. Every MBA program – even the most selective – still has some seats available after Round 2.
Some R1 and R2 admits commit but then change their minds, even after paying a tuition deposit. Some waitlisted applicants withdraw their names in order to accept admission at other schools. And, finally, “conventional wisdom” scares away many candidates from applying in Round 3. These realities create an opportunity for those who are most willing to challenge conventional wisdom by pursuing admission now.

2. Your candidacy might be exactly what the school wants and needs to complete its class profile.
Once R1 and R2 admits agree to enroll, the school’s class averages for GPA, GMAT and GRE are set. So, there’s far less pressure on adcoms to pick only superstars to fill the last few remaining seats. The admissions door remains open, at least a crack, for those R3 applicants whose personal and/or professional profile would round out and diversify the incoming class.

3. Even if you’re denied in Round 3, a strong application can contribute to your success next year.
If you catch the adcom’s eye with convincing recommendations and compelling essays in R3, they’re likely to remember you later that year. Being invited to interview and perhaps getting waitlisted in R3 are wins that could help you achieve ultimate victory as a reapplicant six months later in R1.

4. You have nothing to lose by aiming high in R3 – even if you’ve already been admitted elsewhere.
Attending business school is a one-time experience for those fortunate enough to be offered admission. However, if you’ve been admitted but feel you might be “settling” for an MBA program beneath your true potential, and that you might regret this decision in the future, then Round 3 represents a last chance to pursue a more selective and prestigious MBA program. If you get accepted, great! But even if denied by your dream school, you can then move forward to enroll elsewhere with total peace of mind – and no painful “what ifs” in the future.

If you’re still uncertain about what to do regarding Round 3 applications, we encourage you to get a free evaluation of your candidacy to confirm your competitiveness. Or better yet, get the personalized advice of a savvy MBA graduate or former MBA admissions officer whose has successfully guided many others on this important and very timely decision.