Tuesday Tips – Round Three applications

As admission results roll in from your Round 1 or Round 2 applications, you may be wondering if it would be a good idea to submit some applications to Round 3. Or perhaps you were busy studying for the GMAT, finding a new job, working on an intense project or any number of other life pursuits that impaired your ability to submit your MBA application in R1 or R2.

You’ve heard that Round 3 is incredibly difficult for most applicants and many schools. If you have examined all available options and still concluded you need to apply now, we have put together a few tips to help you in your endeavor.

Choose Schools Carefully

School selection is always crucial to your MBA application strategy. However, with the relatively fewer slots available in Round 3 it’s important to make sure you will be a strong candidate for the program. If your GMAT and GPA are substantially below the mean for the program, Round 3 may be a substantial long shot for you. However, if you meet the academic requirements and have something special to bring to the class Round 3 could be a possibility for you.

What is something special? Perhaps you have a particularly diverse background, strong leadership experience, entrepreneurial success, or substantial community service. You may have unusual work experience, strong history with the school, or other wild card elements that could make your application intriguing to the admissions committee even with very few slots left in the class.

Some schools are not as challenging in R3 as others. For example, Haas at UC Berkeley actually has four application rounds, making R3 more comparable to a R2 application round than to a traditional R3. European schools like INSEAD provide options like a January intake that allow later applicants to have a strong chance at admission. Columbia also offers a January intake for candidates who do not require an internship between first and second year. EMBA and part time programs are other options that are still accepting applications for Fall on a regular schedule.

Explain Yourself

With two rounds already completed in the application cycle and many candidates beginning their R1 strategy for next fall, the natural question adcomm will ask about your candidacy is why did you wait so long? There are several legitimate reasons to wait for a later round. Expect the question and be prepared.

If you had a family crisis, a work project to get through, difficult layoffs at your firm that placed more work on your plate, or other extenuating circumstances, you will want to explain these reasons clearly in either an optional essay or the why MBA essay. With the relatively light application traffic in R3, each application will be examined carefully. This could be a great opportunity for you if you present an interesting and well-written application, however it also requires attention to detail and a cohesive application strategy.

Plan B

There are no guarantees for a Round 3 admission, even with a perfect application and a well-designed school selection strategy. To remain sane during a difficult application process, it’s important to know that you have a Plan B if Round 3 is not successful for you.

Round 1 next fall will be much easier since you have a head start on essay writing, recommendations and even ordering transcripts. Once you receive your R3 results you will be ready to start again for R1 with less work than most other applicants. The soul searching required for an MBA application may set you on a different path altogether ”“ perhaps you will decide to make a career switch now and pursue higher education later.
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