The Tuesday Q&A: Applying in Round 3

MBA FAQ, MBA frequently asked questions, bschool questions, mba questionsQuestion:

I won’t be ready to apply to MBA programs until spring next year. Should I try to apply in the spring, or wait until next fall? Are there any advantages or disadvantages to applying in spring versus fall?


Gooooooooood question, buddy. This tends to be a more common question when the Round 1 deadlines approach, so let’s dig right in.

Round 3, the round of admissions set in the spring, is tough. For lack of a better term, it’s a train wreck. Avoid it at all costs. Why, you may ask?

Well, let’s start with some of the hard facts about R3. On average, less than 10% of the class to be filled comes from the spring applicants. Most of the slots for the year have been filled by the end of R2 (in the winter), by which point the adcoms are tired… no, exhausted. They have poured over thousands of applications, so you can bet everyone’s starting to blur together for them. If you want to stand out in the eyes of these folks, do you want to be the 20th investment banker they review, or the 200th?

Adcoms, in fact, are predisposed AGAINST R3 apps, mostly because they question the seriousness of the applicants. They figure, “If you wanted to get in here so badly, why did you wait FIVE months to send us your app?!” As a result, adcom folks read R3 apps even MORE carefully, which leaves less room for error. As you can imagine, this makes it all WAAAAAAY tougher on international applicants, who are already competing for fewer slots.

Now, does applying in R3 guarantee you won’t get in? Of course not. If you’ve been held up because you’ve been busy with some exciting entrepreneurial launch or getting a huge promotion or you were in the hospital with pneumonia, you can talk about that in your app – maybe even play it to your advantage.

However, you reeeeeeeeally don’t want to risk it, my friend. With the new GMAT, we can’t be sure if R1 vs R2 will be a big issue (with the old GMAT, R1 had an advantage). What we can be sure of is that R3 puts you at a disadvantage. Avoid it.

— Jon Frank

MBA Essay Writing Tip #8: Simplify Your Writing, Avoid Buzzwords