Additional Things to Think About in Round 3

Last week we wrote about some important things to consider when deciding whether or not to apply to business school in Round Three, today we look at a couple of other factors to consider when planning your Round Three admissions strategy.

Another key consideration is that not all MBA programs are the same. Schools vary greatly in how they approach Round Three. While some are upfront about the fact that seats go fast and there aren’t many left in Round Three, others (such as UCLA Anderson) make a point of holding seats for the last round, knowing that there will still be many great applicants applying then.

Consider what the UCLA Anderson admissions committee recently wrote on their MBA Insider’s Blog:

Contrary to the belief that the 3rd round of the application process is so vast and competitive that your chances of being admitted are significantly reduced, you should know that each round is evaluated independently. You only compete with other people in your round. If your application is reasonably strong your chances of being admitted to the UCLA Anderson full-time MBA program are as good as any other previous round.

When many schools seem to get their fill in the first two admissions rounds, why would a school like Anderson make a point of keeping the door open longer? One key reason: Schools like Anderson compete with many top international schools to attract great candidates, and many of these schools have deadlines that run much later than American schools’ deadlines. LBS, for example, will accept applications as late as April 21 this year. Anderson doesn’t want this simple fact to be why a strong candidate chooses LBS over its own program. MBA admissions officers know that a great application can come in any time, and they want to be ready to accept such candidates when they come along.

In this case, why wait until next year? Ultimately, how successful you will be depends on you more than anything else. If you can’t pull together a very strong application between now and the Round Three deadline — and this includes everything, from your GMAT score to your essays to your letters of recommendation — then waiting will always be your best strategy. Additionally, if waiting will allow you to significantly improve part of your application — this most often applies to your GMAT score or your academic record, which can be bolstered through additional college coursework — then it also normally makes sense to wait.

What if you say “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!” and apply, anyway? Will that dramatically hurt your chances if you don’t get in and want to re-apply in the fall? At most schools, no, it won’t, but keep in mind that you can’t submit the same application next year — something will need to be new, or better, or more interesting, compared to what you submit now. So, applying now is not a completely risk-free proposition, although, if you don’t apply now, then you definitely won’t get in, of course. So, weigh your upsides and downsides, but please keep in mind that pulling together a winning application is a long, arduous task. Do not underestimate it.

If you’re just starting to plan your MBA candidacy, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter for more advice on the business school application process!

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