The answer to almost every question about MBA admissions is: It depends.
But there’s one specific case where the answer to this question is: No!
Anyone with a long-range mindset who’s looking at options to pursue in their future is likely doing plenty of “What if?” calculations on the different opportunities they’re considering. If you’re a college student who’s interested in one of those Deferred Admission tracks, like the ones offered through Harvard with 2+2 and Booth Scholars and MIT Deferred Admission and the rest, then you might be wondering:
“If I try for a top school now and I don’t make it in, will that jeopardize my chances later on?”
This is one of the few cases where the answer is a simple and emphatic NO.
In most other situations, when someone is trying for bschool and their MBA apps are rejected, it does complicate the picture for trying for that school again. Plenty of schools are reapplicant-friendly and every year, they admit lots of applicants who had first applied in a previous year. So don’t get us wrong, it’s never a mistake to try if you think you’re ready now. You wouldn’t want to put your future plans and dreams on hold just because you thought it might now work out.
But if someone is, say, applying to a top school in Round 3 in the Spring, in an effort to be admitted to the entering class that same Fall, then yeah, there are real complications that should be considered in case it doesn’t work out (please look at our various Round 3 warning posts here on the blahg for more details). Some admissions directors like to tell applicants there is no harm to applying in Round 3 but honestly, it really can make it more difficult to get in later, since you’re going to be putting together a new set of essays in only a few short months, and that’s truly challenging for most people when they don’t have that much new to talk about in such a short time. (Again, please check out our Round 3 warning posts for more on this.)
For all the Young Talent and Early Admissions and Future Year and Deferred Start types, though, who are trying for the special-focus programs like HBS 2+2 where you have a guaranteed future entry after you’ve built up some work experience after college, then there’s no risk for trying right now. You can apply to any of these tracks that you want as a college senior and if it doesn’t work out, it won’t impact your chances of getting in as a “regular” candidate later on. That means if you really want to try for an admit today to Harvard Business School while you’re a senior in college, then go ahead and give it your best shot in the 2+2 round. (Make sure you have a very high GMAT or GRE score though! That’s practically a pre-requisite to getting in during the 2+2 cohort.)
We hope you make it in!!! But if you don’t — and be prepared for a letdown, since 2+2 is super competitive these days — then don’t worry about it. Go ahead and pursue the plans you’d already put in place for your post-college career, and then if after a few years you decide that you still really want to go to Harvard, you can apply in their standard MBA admissions pool then. You’ll essentially be creating your own independent 2+2 track. No, it won’t be the same, since you won’t have the support of Harvard behind you from the get-go, but it’ll essentially be the same career trajectory. You won’t be considered a “reapplicant” in the typical sense, and the Harvard Admissions Board won’t look at your application poorly at all. If anything, they may be pleased to see your motivation for success at such a young age!
So anyone thinking of an early-admission track so go ahead and apply with no concern about how things might impact their chances later.
If you decide to try for it, we wish you all the luck in the world!!
Tell us what you think.