Round Three or Not Round Three: Part Two

Part One of our series about applying 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 the business school to which you’re applying. 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.

According to Anderson’s 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.

Why do Anderson and some other top schools use this approach? A big reason makes a great deal of sense, although it may not be obvious at first glance: 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. Admissions officers know that a great application can come in any time, and they want to be ready.

Why, then, would you wait until next fall before applying? 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 “What the hell,” 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 and getting rejected is not the kiss of death, but in some ways it will in fact raise the bar for you if you choose to reapply.

Of course, as Wayne Gretzky says, “You miss 100% of the shots you never take.” So, for some of you, applying now will indeed be your best strategy, although it won’t be an easy task unless you can put all the pieces in place and craft a truly strong, memorable application.

Everyone’s case is different, of course. If you need more help, call us at (800) 925-7737 and speak with a Veritas Prep admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter!