The Pros & Cons of Applying Round 3 MBA Admissions

The following piece was written by Linda Abraham. Linda has been featured in our Admissions Expert series and is the President and Founder of

Should you apply Round 3 or wait to apply (or reapply) next year? As is usually the case in MBA admissions, it depends. Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of applying to business school Round 3.


Pros of Applying R3

1. It’s your last shot at the class of 2015

If you have a class-of-2015-or-bust attitude, then R3 offers you a shot at getting in under the wire. While your chances of acceptance at most highly competitive programs do decrease as the rounds progress, you do still have a chance of getting in, and if the class of 2015 has your name written all over it, then you need to take this shot.

2. Later rounds are open to exceptional candidates

You have a good shot at getting in R3 (or even R4 if you have that option) if you are a super impressive candidate. We keep talking about how hard it is to get into b-school in the later rounds, but obviously some people get in or there wouldn’t be later rounds. So, if you have high stats, an intriguing diversity factor, impressive work experience, etc., then you should go for it – these rounds are waiting for you.

3. Round 3 lets you fix mistakes you made in R1/R2

R3 gives you a second or third chance to try new MBA programs that are less competitive. You got dinged in R1 and R2 and learned from your mistakes; now it’s time to apply right to the right schools, and get in.

4. If you have the time and money, then you have nothing to lose

Except for time and money (and potential heartbreak, which shouldn’t be taken lightly!), you don’t have much to lose from applying R3/R4. In fact, it’s possible that you have something to gain from the experience, even if you don’t get in – if you get feedback from your R3 dingers, then you’ll be better positioned to reapply next year.


Cons of Applying R3

1. You may be rushed

Many applicants apply R3 last minute – after all, no one plans on getting rejected R1/R2 – which means that you may not have the time you need to create a flawless application before the R3 buzzer. You need time to find the best possible recommenders, write a dazzling essay, and bulk up your work experience. Rule of thumb: A polished application next year is much better than a sloppy application R3.

2. You won’t have time to retake the GMAT

Don’t apply Round 3 if you’re not happy with your current GMAT score. Instead, spend the extra time studying and retaking the GMAT – you’ll be better off applying R1 next year with a higher score.

3. You’ll lack focus

You may be so focused on getting your apps in before the season’s up that you’ll lose focus on why it is you’re applying to b-school. One reason you may have been dinged in earlier rounds could have been your fuzzy goals. Get clarity, and then apply – preferably Round 1 next year.

4. Funding options are low

Just as your chances of acceptance decrease in later rounds, so do your chances of winning scholarships. If you’re strapped for cash (like huge sums of tuition cash), then you may be better off waiting until Round 1 of next year so you can increase your chances of securing funds. If you are an international applicant, you should also think about the amount of time required to obtain a visa.

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The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Varsity Tutors.