‘IF WE ARE SOMEONE’S DREAM SCHOOL, TELL THEM TO APPLY IN ROUND 3’
Shinewald says he recently heard from the admissions director of one top school who told him, “‘If we are someone’s dream school tell them to apply in R3.’ it used to be ‘Good luck, next year!’ If there were ever a round three, this is it. It is all rapidly developing, but I am taking the admissions officers at their words and we are now seeing real R3 interest in a way we haven’t in past years!”
In the past, a business school’s R3 or final round was commonly used to plug the diversity holes in a class, whether it be industry or geographic background or gender and underrepresented minorities. Now it will be used to fill the class and replace admitted candidates who will not be able to start this fall–and possibly domestic students who have already deposited if schools cannot start their programs with in-person, on-campus classes.
“The top-ranked schools are deeply concerned about melt because a significant percentage of incoming students will ask for deferment and this represents an immense opportunity for some applicants for fall 2020,” believes Adam Markus, a prominent MBA admissions consultant. “For a long time, MBA admissions at top programs has been a seller’s (adcom) market but right now it is surely a buyer’s (applicants) market. Applying now and for fall 2021 will be an immense buying opportunity for anyone who can flexible about what their MBA program will consist of.”
A BUYER’S MARKET WILL LIKELY PUSH TUITION DISCOUNTS HIGHER
The shift to a buyer’s market has major implications for both schools and applicants, including the likelihood of larger tuition discounts. “The melt represents a great opportunity for admits to ask for more funding,” adds Markus. “It never hurts to ask for more scholarship money anyway but now is the best possible time to do so because schools will be looking to reduce the melt as much as possible. And they may very well have more money on hand to offer as the result of admits deferring and withdrawing.”
A worst-case scenario, moreover, may result in some domestic admits bowing out. “The potential loss of the core non-classroom value of the MBA may result in a significant number of deferrals and withdrawals for both international and domestic admits,” believes Markus. “If coronavirus continues well into summer, distance-based learning will be what is on offer for the fall and not just spring 2020 and the core experiential value proposition of the MBA will be in free fall. For any applicant who places more value on the degree itself and not the experience, now is a great time to apply.”
The most advantaged candidates for these extended deadlines, believes Shinewald, are dual-citizens with immigration status in the United States or those with relatively easy access to the U.S., like Canadians. “They should be heartened as well,” he adds, “because there is likely more room for them starting at this late hour. Unfortunately, if a large swath of this class defers, it may be more difficult for internationals in the coming year, as many spots will be spoken for.”
INCREASED INTEREST AMONG APPLICANTS IN THE NEW LATE ROUNDS
Admission consultants say that other candidates with an edge in these extended rounds will include “international applicants who do not need visas, applicants who are a bit below the average but have something exciting or unique to add to the class, and military applicants”
Already, admission consultants report increased interest from applicants in the new late rounds. “I think that it is creating an opportunity for people to slide into a school earlier than they may have otherwise been able to,” says Scott Edinburgh, founder of Personal MBA Coach, an MBA admissions firm. “In fact, historically we have seen some applicants be offered a spot in an earlier class year at schools with rolling deadlines. In some ways, this is what is happening now by adding this in-between round. For the applicant who feels s/he has a strong profile and did not quite make it for round two, this is a really good opportunity to still try to start school in the fall.
“I predict that many spots will open up and this will mean a whole lot of action on the waitlist,” adds Edinburgh. “We have huge waitlists for some M7 schools and we had almost no rejections this week. This is largely because schools are hedging their bets and keeping big waitlists to fill the spots. ”
ALREADY REJECTED THIS YEAR? THERE’S NO DOWNSIDE TO CONTACT THE SCHOOL AND TRY AGAIN
Markus, in fact, believes the turmoil in admissions this year will be so severe that it may be possible for rejected candidates who were on the cusp to go back to their first choice school and gain reconsideration of their chances now. “Anyone who had applied and been dinged should ask to see if there is any possibility for reconsideration for fall 2020,” says Markus. “I doubt top schools will damage their brand position by doing that. Still, it is absolutely worth asking. And it does not hurt to ask because it shows continued interest in the school and the applicant can always reapply for fall 2021.”
Abraham of Accepted.com agrees. “I am not optimistic about reconsideration at the rejecting schools,” she says. “However, these are unique times. There is little downside to sending a polite, courteous email to the rejecting schools’ admissions committee and expressing interest in being reconsidered given the pandemic. If true, they can say that their interest in attending is undiminished, and they would immediately accept an offer of admission if it was extended.
“It also makes sense,” adds Abraham, “for this cycle’s rejected applicants to look at other programs that they would be happy to attend and apply now to those programs. They shouldn’t exclusively aim higher, but should certainly consider applying to 2-3 programs that seem to be particularly flexible and accommodating, especially if they were dying to apply previously, but felt the programs were just beyond reach. COVID-19 may have brought them within reach.”