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I get this question all the time from applicants – should they apply to their top schools in a later round or wait for the early round next year? While MBA admissions directors will tell you that you should apply when you’re ready, you should also look at the statistics.

For example, Columbia Business School admits a large part of their class in its early-admissions cycle. There is no public information about how many people get in, but it is believed to be around 30-40% of the class.


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Here are 4 things you should be thinking about:

1. Do I want to wait another year?

If you strongly feel that you are ready to go back to business school and don’t want to wait another year, for any reason (career, family or other), you should consider the late rounds.

2. How did you do in the GMAT?

If your GMAT score is very strong or at least above the average for your target school, the late round is an option. If you’ve only taken the GMAT once and your score is at the lower end of the range for your target school, consider re-taking the GMAT and waiting for the first round next year. Whether you are applying to UNC, Stern or Harvard, schools want to see that you care about the process and that you’re willing to invest in it, including GMAT study time.

3. How old are you?

If you are only two or three years out of school, you are still considered a young candidate – the average age at Harvard Business School is X, and at Stanford is Y. If you are over 30, however, and aiming for US schools, every year counts and soon some schools will see you as a better fit for either a part-time or executive MBA program.

4. What’s your background?

Finance, marketing, banking and consulting are the traditional feeder industries for MBA programs, and therefore, schools have already seen a large influx of candidates from these categories by the time the 3rd round comes along. If this is your background, you’ll have to craft an application that stands out in order to get in so late in the game. On the other hand, if you’re a journalist, PhD, actor-turned-race-car-driver or other non-business career, your essays and application have a higher chance of catching the attention of the admissions team at your target b-school.


Let me help you with your MBA application. Email info@admit1mba.com to schedule a consultation today.

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Photo credits: Dice by Flickr  user Topher76.