Maybe you didn’t get accepted to any of your chosen programs. Maybe you woke up last week and decided you wanted to go to business school. Whatever the reason, you’re faced with a choice between applying to Round 3 or waiting until Round 1 of next year’s application cycle in the fall.
Contrary to popular belief, applying to Round 3 is not the equivalent of throwing your application off a bridge. Though some applicants would be better off waiting until the following year, Round 3 can be a go
od option for the right candidate.
These 5 questions will help you decide whether you’re a good fit for Round 3.
1. How unusual is your profile?
A. My background (e.g., major, professional background, accomplishments) is well- or over-represented at most schools
B. My background makes me a slightly unusual candidate
C. My background makes me a somewhat unusual candidate
D. My background makes me a highly unusual candidate
Explanation: If you’re working for a major financial company and graduated with a degree in management/finance, business schools have already stocked the incoming class with people that look very similar to you on paper. But if you believe that you bring something unique to the school, you might be just the right person to round out the class of 2017.
2. To what kind of programs are you primarily applying?
A. Two year MBA
B. One year MBA
C. Executive/Part-Time MBA
D. Other Non-Traditional MBA (e.g., Online)
Explanation: Full-time MBA programs tend to have lower acceptance rates for Round 3. Of course, this is mainly because applicants are competing for a small number of seats, but many Round 3 applications are also less polished than the applications received in Round 1 and Round 2..
3. How well-regarded are your chosen schools?
A. Most or all of them are considered to be among the top 20 programs
B. Most or all of them are considered to be among the top 40 programs
C. Most or all of them are considered to be among the top 60 programs
D. Most or all of them are considered to be among the top 100 programs
Explanation: Higher tier schools have their pick of applicants, so while they’ve left some seats for Round 3 applicants, admissions officers are looking to round out their class with very specific people. However, most second-tier programs will be casting a wider net.
4. Why didn’t you apply during Round 1 or Round 2?
A. I only decided to attend business school recently
B. I needed more time to get my materials together
C. I wanted to wait until I had a specific promotion or achievement
D. I had personal or health issues that delayed my application plans
Explanation: If you woke up two days ago and decided that business school was the right choice, you might not have enough time to put together a compelling application.
5. Are you on a tight timeline?
A. No, I can wait another year.
B. Not really, I would like to start this fall, but I can wait.
C. Somewhat. It would be preferable to start this year.
D. Yes, I really want to start my program in fall.
Explanation: If you’re young and have a job with ample opportunities for advancement in the next year, you should consider waiting another year. But if you’re older than the average applicant and your work experience is already one of your application’s stronger parts, waiting another year won’t help you.
Tally up the amount of A’s, B’s, C’s, and D’s you selected:
Mostly A’s: You should probably wait until next fall when you can put together a stronger application. If you’re targeting full-time programs at high-ranking schools, you’ll need a unique profile to get your foot in the door.
Mostly B’s: You might be better suited for Round 1, but should evaluate your options before you make a decision.
Mostly C’s: You might be a good candidate for Round 3, but should consider your chances at your before making a decision.
Mostly D’s: You’re probably a good candidate for Round 3.
The standard advice is to apply Round 1 or Round 2, but as you can see, there are situations when applying Round 3 makes a lot sense. Some students even treat Round 3 as a trial round. If you’re willing to put the time and energy into Round 3 with the knowledge that you might end up reapplying later in the year, then maybe you should give Round 3 a chance. It’s also solid option for students looking into second tier programs or students with particularly strong applications.
At the end of the day, you should ask yourself whether you can submit a significantly better application by fall or winter of 2016. If the answer is “yes” and it won’t hurt you to wait, then applying next fall may be the best choice.