Considering A Third Round MBA Application?

Not getting the results you want? Late to the application process? If so, you might be considering submitting a third round MBA application. Here are some dynamics to think about before you apply – and some realities that the admissions office won’t tell you.

It’s super hard to get in.

Just like it’s easier to get in during early action, you probably know that it’s harder to get in third round. What you may not realize is how MUCH harder. To give you an illustration, some top business schools take fewer than a dozen third round applicants, on average. And those candidates tend to have sparkling credentials, come from demographics that the school is having trouble yielding, and/or special interest connections. This is not always the case, and I have worked with candidates who have been admitted to top schools third round, even without perfect credentials.  However, it’s important to manage expectations and understand the odds.

Submitting a weak application can hurt you if you reapply.

Most schools will read both applications together, and if you submit a rushed application with weak essays and scores they will hold it against you. While this is true even if you apply in the earlier rounds (it’s never a good idea to submit a lame application) the impact is even greater when you apply third round. Less time will have passed before they re-evaluate your candidacy, and the committee might question your judgment for having applied third round in the first place.

You need to have a good reason.

Unless you were deployed, ill, or have another really good reason for applying third round the schools may question your motivation. Did you not get into the schools that you really wanted to attend? Were you recently fired? If this is a last-minute decision, have you thoroughly explored your options and clarified your goals? Be sure to explain what valid personal or professional circumstances led you to wait until third round, so that the committee doesn’t jump to unfavorable conclusions.

If you do decide to submit a third round MBA application, don’t take it as a bad sign if you don’t get in. As long as you submit a strong application, there is no reason that you can’t be a successful reapplicant.


Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Over the last three years, clients have been awarded more than 13.9 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 95% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.