What Now? Options for Bummed Out Round 2 applicants.

Well it is April 3rd, Round 2 results are out, some are overjoyed, some traumatized and some doing their level-best not to spiral into depression. Then there are others curious to see if they can get into a higher ranked school with a round 3 or round 4 application because hey, why not give it a go. I thought I would help keep everyone abreast of how you can navigate this time in the season.

Everything I write about here is reflected on my updated MBA Deadline Calendar.


September 2019 intake


Final round for US schools


The final round is over for most schools, and for international applicants, they are often cut off from the final round because visa timing shiz. At this point, schools have done most of the work shaping the class and will be working through the waitlist more so than looking at new people.

They might add in a 780 GMAT candidate to bump up the average or increase the diversity of the class and recruit someone from Papua New Guinea. But if you are not diverse, or have a spectacularly high-test score, round 3 is a bit chancy.

There are times it is the best option. If you just lost your job, God forbid, or waiting for R1 represents a life or death scenario, go for it. Yes, odds are chancier but hopefully at this point, your CV is sorted, and your recommenders have a well-oiled machine going at least for the questions found on the Common Letter of Recommendation.


Sidebar on the Common Letter of Recommendation


When scrambling to pull together an app, it’s enough to contend with the essays, but nearly impossible to develop good anecdotes for new recommendation questions, coach your recommenders, get time on their calendar, etc. Factor this into your decision – recommendations matter; don’t water down your app with a half-baked response to these questions.

Thankfully, most schools with upcoming deadlines use the Common Letter of Recommendation. Kellogg has a diversity question which you should tackle first. Google the recommendation questions; some sites have a pretty decent repository.


OK, still interested? Back to final round for US schools


So, if you are reading this soon after I post it; a Round 3 Hail Mary attempt is possible for Kellogg or Cornell a week from today(warning: long apps), MIT in 5 days (short app so it’s possible, but clear your weekend), USC R4 due April 15, and with Yale and Anderson allowing a bit more breathing room R3 due for both schools on April 16, and finally the straggler being Georgetown with R4 due on May 1.

Yale seems to be particularly open to round 3 applicants; they promote it quite a bit stating that round 3 is there for a reason. When it is a good fit, to improve your odds I recommend going for joint degree programs that have a separate quota, one good example being the Kellogg MMM program.


Sidebar Note on Age: Some apply to Round 3 because they over 30 and worried about losing viability as an applicant. If your goals require an internship and on-campus recruitment, I encourage you to apply to European schools that offer January intake; if that makes sense for overall life plan. INSEAD January batch, IESE, LBS, and HEC all offer internship periods.


The point is, European schools are more interested in seasoned applicants with quality work experience. GMAT scores tend to be lower there than US schools.


For older students, who don’t require a structured recruitment process, the other option is to wait for Round 1 deadlines for Stanford MSx or Sloan Fellows. Both are elite 1-year residency programs designed for mid-career professionals. Also apply to 1-year programs such as Kellogg, Cornell or Emory. One glimmer of hope, Cornell accepts applications until 4/15.


Weekend and Part-Time US programs


These are a pretty good adjacent possibility for any disappointed Chicago dwellers. The deadline for the Booth Saturday program is May 10 and the weekend program June 21. Kellogg‘s deadline for their EWMBA is June 12. In Ann Arbor, the part-time evening MBA deadline for Ross is May 20 and the weekend program does not have fall intake. New Yorkers, the 2nd deadline for NYU-Stern is May 15. Columbia does not have a formal part-time program, but their EMBA programs tend to recruit younger than typical applicants (one of my clients was the youngest in his class at age 25.) The Fri/Sat option still has an upcoming deadline of May 29. The FEMBA program at UCLA is taking applications until April 27. Option B for some Angelinos might be to apply to the USC part-time program where the final deadline is May 1 but applications are accepted on a rolling basis thereafter. If you live near Austin, you are in luck; there are several evening Texas (McCombs) MBA program deadlines upcoming. Round 2 is due on May 14. Texas R4 deadline for Both Dallas and Houston weekend programs is May 14. At CMU-Tepper the last part-time deadline is coming up quickly at April 18.


CBS January Term


Application comes out in June for Columbia J-term – this is a great option if you don’t need an internship, but don’t try to fake it, you will not get in. Watch their video: this is for those family business applicants, entrepreneurs, those who will not end up becoming a liability for the school because they did not do an internship. If you are planning on seeking on-campus recruitment, this option is ill-advised. Most finance positions require an internship, which is of course the forte of the school.


If you want spring entry, look at Europe or Canada because outside of this program, we don’t have spring intake here.


Canadian applicants


There’s a glimmer of hope for Canadians citizens and permanent residents who hope to apply; among the top schools, UT Rotman Round 4 is due April 29; Round 4 at McGill-DeSautels in magical Montreal is May 1 (that is a lot of M’s!) Both are 2-year programs which is optimal for those of you who would like to take advantage of the 3-year work visa offered to you post-MBA. The last deadline, R4 is coming up for Schulich-York on April 30. Same for HEC-Montreal on May 15.

Ivey is the top-ranked school, starting in March, but only a 1-year program which means you will only get one year to stay in Canada post-MBA. I have discussed that option below.


UK & EU Schools for September Intake


So be aware: the recommendation situation is a bit more complicated if you applied to Round 2 US schools and want to throw in an app at UK schools for this year. UK deadlines: ship has sailed for Oxford. That’s OK, did you really want to dress for school like you are headed to Hogwarts? Ok so maybe you did.

But there are still May 3 deadline for Cambridge, May 3 and June 21 for Imperial. Warwick has deadlines in May 31 and July 31. Manchester has a May 15 deadline open to international students and a June 13 deadline open to those coming from the UK and the EU.


EDHEC has pretty flexible timing; for September batch, they will accept applications until June 30th for international applicants and July 31 for EU and UK citizens and permanent residents.


Europe 2020 January intake + March intake @Ivey in Canada.


To share a slice of my life right now: my poor client interviewed with IMD in Switzerland last week, interviewed with IESE a few days later, last Friday, and then applied to HEC R3 January intake on Monday. Slept last night; plans to do case prep this week, is on pins and needles to hear from LBS R3 tomorrow, Thursday, and is flying out to Barcelona for Assessment Day.

So, all European MBA programs are global in nature and emphasize cross-cultural exchange; if you apply, would be a bonus if you had international work experience OR goals that necessitate a global program.

The biggest and most popular opportunity is INSEAD for R2 due 4/17, or R3 due on June 5.

January intake HEC round 5 of 11 rounds is due on May 1. Would not recommend you submit to September batch at all, at this point, unless the earth will certainly open up and swallow you whole should you not start in September.


IMD R2 is May 1; this is a program designed for older adults, the average age is 31; the same as HEC.   


RSM-Erasmus: Round 1 just passed yesterday, Round 2 is June 4. please make sure to apply here if you have any interest in green energy. Check out the Erasmus Center for Future Energy Business.


EDHEC is accepting applications for January batch until November 15 and for UK and EU citizens, until December 5. The school has campuses in London, Singapore, and throughout Northern France. They are ranked #1 in finance in France; their MS in Finance is ranked #1 worldwide.


IE Madrid: there is rolling admissions for IE “IMBA” or international MBA. When it comes to IE, I feel it is a case of buy low sell high. There was a kerfuffle with regards to multiple votes being submitted to the Financial Times in 2017 which caused them to be unranked in 2018, ouch. And for 2019 they have fallen #31 globally when they were ranked #8 globally in 2017.


The PR issue is there, but I think the fundamentals are in place for them to rebound. Very reputable for entrepreneurship, and they have the strongest “online” (well, hybrid-ish) MBA program out there.


Important note: my greatest concern is that Prodigy is no longer a lender for them, from what I understand, at least for India. Unsure about other parts of the world, so heads up, please investigate that before applying. I am looking to get clarification on that from my Prodigy contact. That said, Spanish banks are willing to finance international applicants which is a real vote of confidence.


IVEY Western – Canada


It’s is the top program in Canada, and uses the case method, a huge bonus in my book. However, it’s a 1-year program so that will only afford you a 1-year post-MBA visa. Ivey starts in March so they are earlier in their cycle and that will improve your chances. The next “deadline” is April 8; however, admissions are rolling. Would recommend you get it in ASAP but definitely before Round 3 deadline on July 15 to have the greatest advantage.

And of course, Executive MBA programs are a great option for those seeking an MBA more to maximize their current path and climb the ranks, rather than change industries altogether. They are not for career switchers though; so, if you are a switching hopeful 31 or older, absolutely apply to European programs for January intake.


I hope you find the ideal fit somewhere in there – and if you do end up waiting, really leverage your time to improve your application.





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