Now that nearly all round 2 deadlines have passed for full-time MBA programs, you may be wondering if it is too late to join the class of 2021. Gaining admission during round 3 can be a challenge. Given this, many candidates ask me if they should apply during round 3 or wait until next year.
If you are wrestling with this decision, I suggest you ask yourself a few questions, largely around WHY you did not submit your application during earlier rounds. The answers to these questions will be a major factor in determining whether you should apply during round 3 or begin to plan for round 1 apps in the fall.
Did extenuating circumstances prevent you from applying during earlier rounds? (Examples may include military commitments or significant personal or medical challenges.) If so, round 3 may be an option. If a candidate was unable to submit during earlier rounds due to circumstances outside of his control, he will not be penalized for waiting until round 3. However, keep in mind that with limited seats left the competition will still be fierce.
Do you have an extraordinary profile? Round 3 is the most difficult round, by far! To succeed, you should have a profile that is well above average in multiple ways. If you do not have a strong explanation for waiting, it is even more crucial that you have an application that will be hard to turn down with above average test scores, grades, professional experience and more! Schools have spaces for round 3 applicants, but the onus will be on you to convince them that you deserve a seat. If you just received a large promotion or sold your company, round 3 may be your friend.
Did you intend to apply during round 2 but did not finish in time? Were you concerned that your application was not yet strong enough to submit? If you answered yes to one or both of these questions, there is a strong chance I would recommend that you wait and plan on applying to business school this fall. Whatever it was that prevented you from completing your best application is not likely to have changed much in the last few months. Further, given the higher standard round 3 applicants are held to, being successful during round 3, particularly when you did not have a good reason for waiting, is unlikely. While we get applicants in during round 3 every year, unless you answered yes to one of my first two questions, I would spend the next few months enhancing your profile and getting a jump start on round 1 applications. It is not too early to begin and we are working with a lot of applicants already for the fall!
Unsure how to get started? Read my January MBA Kick-Start guide. There are many steps you can and should be taking now to ensure success next year!
Were you rejected during earlier rounds? In this case, I would advise you to either broaden your list CONSIDERABLY or wait another year. Applying to similar level or even slightly less competitive schools during round 3, after a rejection during round 1 and/or round 2 is not your best bet. Instead, follow our early planning tips and prepare to win over admissions committee members the second time around!
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