We are often fairly doom-and-gloom with lots of discouragements for those thinking about submitting applications to the best MBA programs in the final round of the season.
However, if you’re really really motivated to start your MBA as soon as you possibly can, then there are indeed options available!!
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Obviously this is a case of “beggars can’t be choosers” so if you’re dead set on being in a bschool classroom in the fall, then you can’t expect to waltz into a Top 10 school — though this season, it does seem that perhaps it has shaped up to be slightly less competitive than it was for the previous three admissions years, so some schools may still be in play right now that last year would not have been.
We’re not suggesting you try for H/S/W right now. Those are really the ones that you just shouldn’t bother with, unless you don’t actually care if you get in. However, going a couple notches down on the selectivity scale to schools like perhaps (maybe) Chicago Booth, and definitely the likes of Ross or Darden or UCLA or Cornell, and even the full-time programs maybe, just maybe, will still have some openings for a put-together candidate who convinces the adcom of their interest and desire in attending.
Any school outside the Top 20 is definitely going to be still in the realm of possibility for Round 3. We cover this level of school in our “lower-ranked school” category in the ‘snarchive.
There’s also the European programs, including LBS, Oxford, Cambridge, INSEAD, HEC, IE, ESADE and IESE among a few others. These are typically also less competitive than their American counterparts, and some have atypical admissions cycles and deadlines which means there’s still chances coming up to try. Our European MBA Application Guide can offer some insight into these (note that it hasn’t been updated in awhile but it’s still directionally accurate).
Another one that’s easy to call is the Brave Supplicant who’s open to trying for an Executive MBA or a part-time program. If you’ve decided that you want to keep your current job and do the MBA on the side, then it’s likely you’ll still find availability at your local MBA program. If you live near New York or Chicago or LA or San Francisco, you have choices of schools and programs to try for. If you live in Boston, there are fewer options. If you live elsewhere, then it’s more geographically challenging, though still feasible to do a part-time program as a commuter. Many of these programs are becoming slightly more competitive but they tend to not be as tough to break into as their full-time on-campus counterparts, so there can still be some opportunities for those with lower GMAT scores or other soft spots on the profile.
If your heart is set on a full-time program at a Top 15 school in the U.S., and especially if your GMAT is lower, and even more especially if you’re coming from a crowded pool like the Indian engineer or finance guy from Canada, then we really don’t suggest trying right now. Put your wallet back in your pocket and focus instead on building your profile to be as strong as you can make it, primarily through creating more success on the job and finding a way to be an awesome employee and teammate who goes the extra mile and creates results for the firm. If you spend your time and energy focusing on that for the next few months, we assure you you’ll be in a better position come Round 1 essay time in the summer. Those Top 15 schools maybe still will have some openings, but we tend to get nervous for any but the strongest candidate who’s trying right now. Will you be the exception? Sure, maybe…. But you could also be hurting your chances unnecessarily.
If you’re willing to be flexible though, there are plenty of programs out there to consider. Keep your mind open, evaluate your priorities, figure out what you can compromise on and what you want to work hardest for, and you can make the most of the opportunities today that will brighten your life and create even more of them going forward.