The answer, as is often case in MBA admissions, is…it depends.
The chances of gaining acceptance decrease as the rounds progress. That means that acceptance rates during R3 are generally lower than during R1 and R2. Similarly, grants and scholarships are harder to come by later in the admissions game.
Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t apply. Your chances of acceptance = 0 if you don’t apply. They are >0 if you do apply.
Here are 4 cases in which you SHOULD apply R3:
- If you really have your heart set on joining the b-school class of 2015, then you should definitely apply R3 (or even R4 if your target program offers that option). Again, you’ll have ZERO chance of getting in if you don’t apply.
- If you are a truly exceptional candidate – stats-wise, diversity-wise, experience-wise, etc. – then you should apply R3/R4. Not everyone is rejected (or there wouldn’t be such a thing as late rounds) and if anyone is going to get in, it’s going to be those applicants with extremely impressive profiles.
- If you don’t mind spending the extra money, time, and energy to apply now, get rejected, and then apply again during R1 of the next application season, then you really don’t have much to lose going for it this year. In fact, if you’re lucky enough to get feedback (that is, if you’re unlucky enough to get dinged), then that feedback will prove extremely valuable when you reapply next year.
- You applied R1 and were rejected at all programs. You understand that you simply aimed too high and are now ready to apply to less competitive programs.
And here are 4 reasons why you should WAIT until next year:
- You don’t have the time to create flawless essays before the R3 buzzer. It’s much better to wait until you can submit something closer to perfect than to rush and send in a sloppy essay early.
- You plan on retaking the GMAT. If you’re not happy with your current GMAT results, then you should wait until you can apply with that higher (hopefully) score.
- You won’t be able to secure the best recommendations by the R3/R4 deadline. It’s better to wait for the ideal recommenders than to go with less-impressive ones early.
- You need more time to bulk up your work experience and personal profiles.
- You’re fuzzy as to why you want an MBA or your reasons for choosing particular schools. Get clarity, and then apply – preferably round 1.
- You are an international applicant and may have trouble getting the necessary visa and financing.