Now that the Round 1 and Round 2 MBA submission deadlines have passed, you may be wondering if applying in Round 3 is worthwhile.
Business schools have a limited number of spots for incoming students each year, and they look to offer them to candidates who both are exceptional and bring diversity to the class. Round 3 gives schools the opportunity to fill those final few seats with stellar students who add something special to the class.
Here are some reasons to consider applying in Round 3:
Starting in the fall is a priority.
If you have a strong desire to start business school this year, then Round 3 (or even Round 4 for some schools) is your only option if you were rejected in Round 1 or Round 2. If you don’t apply, you have no chance of being admitted!
You have the time.
If you have time to put together a strong application, you don’t have much to lose. If you don’t get in, you can apply again in Round 1 next season and have a head start on your applications—and hopefully use any feedback you received to improve your profile.
Your GMAT/GRE scores, GPA, and experience are strong.
Top schools such as NYU Stern, Michigan Ross, Dartmouth Tuck, INSEAD, and London Business School historically have stronger admission rates in later rounds. If you have a very strong profile, you may be a perfect fit for the spaces left to fill in the upcoming class.
Executive/part-time MBA programs or lower-tier full-time programs are of interest.
The executive and part-time MBA programs tend to have a steadier flow of applications and fill their class openings throughout the summer. Some full-time programs have higher Round 3 acceptance rates as well.
You are in a unique situation.
MBA programs accommodate candidates with “exception” circumstances that may have prevented them from applying earlier, such as a military deployment, a sudden or unexpected shift in their career, or a visa issue.
To build a strong Round 3 application, keep these strategies in mind:
Pick the right schools.
The per-round acceptance rates for each school are very hard to come by and can vary widely year to year. Although admit rates generally drop from round to round, this is not always the case. Do your research, and then try to match your school selections to the strength and diversity of your profile.
- Schools such as UNC Kenan-Flagler, Georgetown McDonough, and Emory Goizueta (as well as several international schools) historically have acceptance rates around 25% to 35%.
- Some lower-ranked MBA programs increase their acceptance rates in later rounds if the quality of applicants improves—for example, as those initially rejected from such schools as Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton apply. If this is you, then you have a good shot!
Realize that the optional essay is your friend.
Admissions teams will be looking to understand why you waited to apply, and the optional essay is a perfect way to get personal and further showcase why you are a compelling late candidate. For example, many candidates have experienced a sudden change during the pandemic or a change in the timing of projects or international travel, making it a good time to pursue an MBA. There is no perfect reason for applying in a later round, but there are certainly more and less compelling reasons. If you can find yours, share it in the optional essay.
Stand out from the crowd.
Beyond ensuring your academic profile matches up with the school’s median GMAT and average GPA, you should focus on crafting application essays that tell a compelling story about your perfect fit for the program and explain how you would help round out the class.
So, is it worth applying in Round 3? The answer is a definite “maybe.” If your goal is to get into a top school, then Round 1 is more than likely going to give you the best chance. If your goal is to be enrolled in an MBA program this September, then get to work for Round 3 by putting your best application forward (and have a Plan B, just in case!).