Third round MBA applications – Should or shouldn't I take a chance?
Conventional wisdom has it that it is rather a waste of time and resources to apply in the third round. Most of the seats are already filled up and competition for the remaining is going to be tough. As the number of vacant seats is low, we immediately and naturally think that programs will be more careful about who they choose for those seats. We could infer that some schools might just decide to drop all applications in the third round, and if they are unfriendly to second time applicants, you may be losing the chance of a lifetime.
While there is quite some truth in these arguments, the real scenario isn’t all that negative. Applying in the third round has some advantages too. Let us now take a look at both the sides and try to figure out a strategy.
As an applicant in the third round, you must be aware that most of the seats are already taken and the selection committee will look very closely into your reasons for applying so late. They will have questions about the level of your commitment to their school and whether it is just a back up application. If you don’t have a valid reason for being late and a strong case to put forward for applying to the particular school, it is wiser to hold back till next season. This is more so if it is one of your preferred schools and they don’t favor reapplications.
On the other hand, there are business schools that are friendlier to reapplicants. It is always more safe to apply at these places. Even if your application is rejected, you get valuable feedback most of the time on how you can prepare a better application. This and talking to other MBA students will enable you to present a stronger candidacy in the next season.
Another key factor that plays an important role in third round selections is diversity. Universities and colleges look to bring in more diversity to their campus through the third round. If you are member of an under-represented community/group, you generally have a better chance of selection, other factors being equal.
In a nutshell, there is no reason why you should altogether reject a chance to try in the third round of MBA admissions. However, you must employ some sharp thinking and assess where you stand. If you have just started considering a school/course, you might not be able to present a convincing case. If on the other hand your GMAT scores are good and you are clear why you wish to join a particular school, you stand a better chance than otherwise, when considering third round applications. However put off applications to your preferred schools to start of next season, if their policies don’t favor reapplications. That is, if you’d rather wait than join a less preferred school now.