Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Apply in Round 3.

Don’t mean to beat a dead horse here [side note: is there a less gruesome way to say that?], but Round 3 is a tough nut to crack. For many reasons. Which we’ve outlined before. People WILL get in during Round 3, of course, and there are many applicants out there who should apply. But there are also some who should put the breaks on MBA applications right now and come back in Round 1 next year.

And who are those people?

Same-year re-applicants:

So, you applied to Wharton in Round 1 and the news wasn’t so great. And now you wanna give it another go. Don’t. Why? Well, the key to a successful reapplication is proving to the adcom that you’re a stronger, smarter, better applicant this time around. And how on earth can you prove that when it’s only been, what, four months since the last time you applied?

IT’S NOT ENOUGH TIME.

You can’t possibly improve your profile in four months, at least to a noticeable level that’s gonna make the adcom’s mouth water. So don’t even try. Not only will most schools not accept a re-application in the same year, but if they do, it’s not gonna bode well for you. And when that app gets rejected again, which it will, it’s only going to hurt you for Round 1 next year when, again, not enough time has passed for you to improve your profile. See where we’re goin’ with this?

Desperate re-applicants:

Round 3 is already tougher than the others, and navigating it successfully requires some finesse. So the worst thing you can do is rush an application and submit it just because you want to go SOMEWHERE this fall.

If you applied in Rounds 1 and 2 and didn’t get good news, don’t use Round 3 as your final lifeline. The adcoms are smart people, and they can smell your desperation. They can also quickly pinpoint a rushed application, or tell when an applicant doesn’t want their school, just A school.

Instead, take a step back, give yourself some time to evaluate what went wrong earlier in the year, and then give yourself even MORE time to make it right moving forward. Don’t sell yourself short and apply haphazardly just to stick to some pre-determined timeline. B-school is a hugely important step in your life, and you’re only doing yourself a disservice by rushing the process.

Applicants with lower-than-average scores:

Is your GPA lower than last year’s incoming class? What about your GMAT? If the answer is yes, WAIT. The competition is FIERCE in Round 3, and if your application isn’t damn near perfect, you’re wasting your time. Your chances will be muuuuch better in Round 1 next year when there are more spaces available.

Got it? Good.

Now get out there and start working on those Round 1 apps. Yes, it’s early, but the smartest applicants use this extra time to fill in the gaps and improve their profiles. Do it, do it.

 

The Tuesday Q&A: How To Succeed in Round 3