Last Updated On: May 17th, 2020

For many business schools, Round 3 is the most competitive cycle for applications, meaning, there are many applicants and few available seats. At top full-time programs, the majority of acceptances happen in Round 1 or Round 2. So, if you haven’t submitted your application in the first two rounds, then when should you apply: now or later? Let’s look at these two categories—Round 3 or Next year—and determine which one you fit in.

Round 3

Are you a strong candidate?

Do you have a unique and compelling story?

Have you achieved your target score on the GMAT?

Is your application completely ready to go?

If your answer to all of these questions is Yes, then go ahead and apply in Round 3. This is when admissions committees are looking to fill in their class with standouts and all-stars. Your application should clearly display why you would be an asset to the program. You know why you’re getting an MBA and how this particular program will help you succeed. Your GPA and your GMAT score match or top the ranges of your target schools. You’ve visited these schools, and you’ve spoken with faculty, staff, current students, and alumni to solidify your decision to apply. Plus, these conversations have informed the content and tone of your essays. Your recommendations are complete. You have skillfully utilized the optional essay to explain why you waited until Round 3 instead of applying earlier.

Essentially, you’re ready.

If you answered Yes to only most of the questions, there are still options to consider. Part-time, Executive MBA, lower ranked full-time, and international programs are often less competitive in Round 3 than elite U.S. full-time programs. Some schools like Indiana University (Kelly School of Business) and Binghamton University School of Management have rolling admissions, meaning the committees will review applications as long as there is space in the class. Additionally, candidates with uncommon backgrounds, like an Air Force pilot, a world-renowned paleontologist, or an award-winning independent filmmaker, will likely have an edge over equally qualified applicants from overrepresented fields, like investment banking or management consulting. With these choices to consider, Round 3 may still be a viable decision for you.

Next year

Are you waiting on your recommendations?

Do you need a higher GMAT score for your target schools?

Did you graduate from college a few months ago?

Could your reason for applying to business school be better developed?

If your answer to any of these questions is Yes, then consider waiting until next year to apply to an MBA program. In general, but especially in Round 3, your application must be exceptional, particularly if you are targeting a top 10 school. Sloppiness will not be rewarded, and it won’t make a good impression on an admissions office. Candidates who are working on their GMAT score, improving their career status, or mulling why they want to attend business school should enhance their MBA package before hitting the submit button. Take the months between application seasons to make your presentation more appealing to your schools.

In addition, most international students should wait to apply during next year’s first rounds, primarily due to logistics for U.S. student visas. This also goes for applicants hoping for scholarships, fellowships, or grants. Most merit-based financial aid is awarded to students in Round 1 or Round 2. In both cases, talk with your target schools about your situation. They should be able to advise you on your best course of action.

For all candidates, apply as early as possible with the highest quality application possible. Present the best representation of yourself to the admissions committees at your target MBA programs. Additionally, have a backup plan in case your situation doesn’t turn out the way you expect. Consider alternate schools or programs that can also help you reach your career goals. To start creating a strategy for success in applying to business school, click here or call LA Tutors today at 866.60.TUTOR for a free consultation.

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