Tag Archives: Round 3

The Gamble of Applying in Round Three

It probably comes as no surprise, but round three is the most competitive one at most business schools, since the vast majority of acceptances happen in the first two rounds. If you weren’t able to …

Round 3 MBA deadlineIt probably comes as no surprise, but round three is the most competitive one at most business schools, since the vast majority of acceptances happen in the first two rounds. If you weren’t able to apply earlier because you were busy studying for the GMAT, dealing with a family crisis or completing an all-consuming work project, you’ve got to bring your A-game if you hope to land a seat at the end of the admissions cycle.

With fewer slots available, fine-tune your focus on schools where you’ll be a compelling candidate. A strong, well-thought-out application is critical. Make sure your academic profile aligns with the school’s median GMAT and average GPA and that you add something special to the class that the admissions committee didn’t see earlier in the season.

Special means unusual work experience, substantial community service, a diverse background, compelling leadership examples, unique or uncommon interests outside of business or entrepreneurial success of some sort.

You should definitely use the required or optional MBA admission essays to explain to the admissions committee your reasons for waiting until the third – or final – round to apply. You don’t want anyone to jump to the conclusion that you are using round three as a last-ditch effort to get into business school in the fall after receiving rejections from other schools in earlier rounds.

It’s worth noting that being admitted to some schools is not as challenging in round three as others. Elite European business school INSEAD has four rounds, and provides options for a January start date in addition to the traditional September intake. This allows later applicants who don’t mind waiting to start school to have a stronger chance at admission.

The University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School has five rounds, and Columbia Business School also offers a January intake for candidates who don’t need an internship between the first and second year.

Finally, it’s important to have a Plan B in case things don’t go your way. You can always apply to a set of schools in round three knowing there is a good chance you will need to reapply to them and add in some new ones next season.

Though the initial rejection may sting, you’ll be in a great position for round one in the fall with your essays, recommendation letters and transcripts already in hand. Or, you may find that the soul searching required for an MBA application sets you on a different path altogether. Perhaps you will decide to make a career switch now and pursue higher education later.

Round three is certainly a gamble, but you just might be that missing element the admissions committee is looking for to spice up the mix.

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7 Common Mistakes International MBA Applicants Make

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Creating a robust and dynamic classroom experience through diversity is a primary focus of the top business schools in the United States, offering …

advice for international applicant

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

Creating a robust and dynamic classroom experience through diversity is a primary focus of the top business schools in the United States, offering students the chance to interact with peers from an array of countries and professional backgrounds.

In fact, international candidates made up a significant percentage of the 2016 incoming class: 32 percent at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, 35 percent at Harvard Business School and 40 percent at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

However, sometimes cultural differences or a simple lack of awareness regarding what a strong MBA application should include can unwittingly derail even the most stellar applicants. With that in mind, international students should avoid these seven common hurdles when targeting top-ranked U.S. business schools.

1. Choosing business schools solely with rankings: Many international students are unable to visit each prospective school in person due to financial or time constraints, so poring over published rankings is an obvious method to create a short list of schools.

But don’t let this be your only method. While brand and cache carry a lot of weight worldwide, you need to look beyond rankings to find the programs that best serve yourr individual needs.

2. Omitting unique personal experiences in essays: In many cultures, sharing personal stories with strangers is taboo. International applicants may be strongly tempted to keep the focus solely on previous education and professional experience.

But to stand out from the masses of similarly qualified applicants, you must focus your essays on aspects other than your quantitative or technical background.

The key to a successful MBA application is showing exactly what you – and nobody else but you – can bring to the program. Don’t be afraid to let your originality and true personality come through in your application materials.

3. Focusing too much on MBA message boards: It’s unsettling to be so far away geographically, and the instinct is to seek out all news and information possible about your dream programs in the U.S.

But local MBA websites and message boards can be rife with rumors and inaccurate information that can steer you in the wrong direction as you consider application strategies.

Remember that no one except the admissions committee knows what’s going on with interview invites, acceptance rates, waitlists or anything else of importance for prospective students.

4. Failing to correctly translate or explain GPA and undergrad transcript: This is a common yet complicated issue, since there’s no universal standard to convert an international GPA to the American 4.0 system. Once you’ve translated your home country’s GPA using an online grade conversion calculator, assess whether it accurately reflects the rigor of your undergrad institution.

Variations in course difficulty can lead to confusion – for some transcripts, a 75 percent would be equivalent to an American A-plus, and at other, more difficult programs, a percentage as low as 60 would translate to an A grade.

If you feel there is some ambiguity in this metric of your transcript, briefly explain to the admissions committee any relevant information that would clarify its understanding of your academic performance.

5. Appearing uncomfortable with a new culture and language: Feeling comfortable working across cultures is crucial in today’s global business landscape. Make sure to highlight any previous study or work abroad experiences, and include examples within your application of times where you have worked with people from other cultural or language backgrounds.

The ability to communicate effectively and fluently in English is also nonnegotiable at top MBA programs. This is one reason some schools have introduced a video interview question in their applications to verify candidate’s comfort with the language. Enroll in conversation courses if needed and continue to read business publications in English to bolster your vocabulary and increase fluency.

6. Failing to manage recommenders, especially nonnative English speakers: You have to convey to your recommenders the criteria for a successful letter of recommendation to a top business school. Otherwise, you’re left with well-intentioned but generic platitudes that provide little insight into exactly what makes you a strong leader, team player or an asset to the program.

Determine exactly what your recommenders should highlight and guide them by providing anecdotes or themes you’d like them to mention.

If your recommenders are not native English speakers, you need to make sure the letter is well-written or, if needed, translated into English.

7. Applying in round three: Round three is difficult to pull off successfully for any applicant, but international candidates should avoid this application cycle for practical reasons. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, so applying in one of the earlier rounds reduces the stress of managing this process once you’re already received an offer of admission and can apply for a student visa.

Also, the earlier you apply, the more time you have to secure and provide proof of funding, whether through work, loans, family or other means. At some schools, scholarship offers go out at the same time as admissions offers, so more award funding is generally available the earlier you apply.

Planning, planning and more planning are key to a smooth application process no matter where you are applying, but the logistics are even more critical for international students.

You may also be interested in:

Guidance for International MBA Applicants
Advice for Business School Applicants from Asia

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3 Signs You Shouldn’t Apply to Business School in Round 3

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Everyone has an opinion about submitting an MBA application in round three, and a lot of the conversation circles around how competitive it …

MBA application

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.

Everyone has an opinion about submitting an MBA application in round three, and a lot of the conversation circles around how competitive it is. If you tried your best but you just couldn’t pull together all of your business school materials before round two deadlines hit, you might wonder whether round three is the answer.

By the time the final admission round starts, admissions committees have seen thousands of qualified applicants in the first two rounds, have a fairly good idea of what the incoming class will look like and also compiled a waitlist of additional qualified candidates.

Before round three closes out, a certain percentage of people admitted in the first two rounds will have already committed to a program. In short, precious few spots remain when the admissions committees finally turn their attention to final-round applications.

As such, deciding whether to apply in the final round requires serious reflection and sound reasoning. Consider these three signs that you should not apply to business school in round three.

1. You had no luck with earlier round applications. This is a guaranteed red flag that your MBA application needs more work, and applying in the final round will likely yield the same results.

It’s a huge mistake to think that fewer applicants in round three means less competition and better chances of admission. As we’ve mentioned before, successful round three applications offer the schools something that has truly not appeared in applicants from the previous rounds.

The admissions committees know what they need to round out the class. They have become good at estimating numbers and evaluating and accepting applicants who fit their criteria.

Only the strongest, most compelling candidates make the cut, so if your applications didn’t generate sufficient interest in earlier rounds, they certainly won’t amid the exceptional candidates at the end of the season. Instead, you should regroup, restrategize and apply again next year.

2. Your test scores are middling and you’ve only tested once. The majority of applicants plan to take the GMAT or GRE a second time if their initial test scores aren’t in the 80-percent range for their target MBA programs. Like it or not, test scores greatly influence admissions decisions. As we’ve discussed in prior posts, preparing early and adequately for the entrance exam is critical.

While each year we hear of that miracle case where someone gets into Harvard Business School with a 650 on the GMAT, it’s likely that the person’s profile was so extraordinary in every other way that it offset the low score. Devote ample time to test prep this spring and bring that crucial application component in line with what the admissions committee expects to see from successful candidates.

3. You’re rushing to get all of your materials together. The golden rule in MBA admissions is apply only when your application is as strong as possible – and not a moment before.

Maybe projects at work have kept you ultra-busy these past few months. Perhaps one of your recommenders seems less enthusiastic about your b-school plans and you need to find a new one. Or maybe you just haven’t devoted as much time as you’d like to those important extracurricular interests that the admissions committee loves to see.

Think of every part of the MBA application as precious real estate. If you’re rushing any one component just to get everything submitted on deadline, the quality will suffer.

Take a breather, get your materials together in a thoughtful manner and wait for round one deadlines. This extra time will allow you to approach the application more strategically, and will certainly yield a more positive outcome than a sloppy last-round application will.

Finally, if you do decide to throw your hat in the ring, be sure to have a Plan B in case things don’t go your way. Developing resilience is incredibly important if you need to reapply, but it’s also essential in life.

Even when you put your best out there, you might still fail. However, to be successful, you need to learn how to bounce back and try again.

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UCLA Anderson on the Pros and Cons of Each Application Round

Deciding in which round you should submit your MBA application can cause a lot of stress, as each seems to have its own pros and cons. As numerous business schools have second-round deadlines eminently, you …

Deciding in which round you should submit your MBA application can cause a lot of stress, as each seems to have its own pros and cons. As numerous business schools have second-round deadlines eminently, you might like to take a look at how the admissions team at the UCLA Anderson School of Management—whose R2 deadline is January 5th— views the pluses and drawbacks of each application round.

timing your MBA

Here are just a few of the points made by the UCLA Anderson AdCom on the subject:

Applying in Round One

Pros: Applying early shows you’re serious about going to business school. In the case of UCLA Anderson, you have the best shot at merit-based fellowship funds in the first round. If you don’t get accepted in the first round you still have time to apply to other programs in Round 2.

Cons: Least amount of time to properly prepare for the GMAT/GRE. Also, the time factor may not allow enough time for you to pull together a high-quality application.

Applying in Round Two

Pros: Applying in this round allows you ample time to visit the school and make a convincing argument about fit based on those experiences on campus.

Cons: Competition is fierce as this is the most popular round. If you don’t get accepted, you may not have time to apply anywhere else this cycle.

Applying in Round Three

Pros: The final round offers the most time to continue enhancing your profile with promotions at work or deepen volunteer commitments that show off your well-rounded personality. You’ll also have time to re-take the GMAT or GRE multiple times if needed to get your score in a competitive range.

Cons: A capped class size makes this by far the most competitive round as there are fewer spots available in the class.  You will likely be compared against many other individuals on the waitlist from earlier rounds.

The truth is that the admissions committees know what they are looking for. They have become pretty good at estimating numbers, and evaluating and accepting applicants that fit their criteria. The best strategy is not to play the game of which round, but to submit your application as soon as, but not until, it is ready.

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HBS Admissions Director on Applying in Round 3

To apply or not to apply in the final round, that is the perennial question. Harvard Business School‘s Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid, Dee Leopold, recently gave a crystal-clear answer…for college seniors, at …

applying in round 3

To apply or not to apply in the final round, that is the perennial question. Harvard Business School‘s Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid, Dee Leopold, recently gave a crystal-clear answer…for college seniors, at least.

“If you are a college senior who has the bandwidth to complete an application, I think that you should,” Leopold says, noting that there’s really no downside risk other than missing out on the last weeks of college life to prep for the GMAT or GRE.

“The worst that can happen is that you get turned down to the very small 2+2 Program. Many current students at HBS found themselves in that situation, went out and joined the work world, and reapplied successfully,” she adds.

As for candidates with a few years of work experience under their belts, Leopold acknowledges the third round is more complicated since most of the seats in the Class of 2018 have already been taken and it may be difficult to get a visa.

Despite those potential challenges, the director clears up a few myths that may be keeping qualified candidates from considering Round 3. Contrary to popular wisdom, needs-based financial aid is just as available for last-round applicants as it is for Round 1 admits.

If you do apply and are not successful, rest assured you can reapply in the future with absolutely no negative repercussions.

One plus of Round Three is the quick turnaround time between interview invitations going out and final decisions coming down. Invites will be sent by April 20th at noon, and your fate will be revealed on May 11th.

As always, we at SBC suggest candidates submit only once they feel their application is as strong as possible. If you apply in the final round, do make use of the optional essay to explain why you waited so that the admissions committee doesn’t come to the conclusion that this is just a last-ditch effort after failing to receive an admit at another MBA program in an earlier round.

“We ALWAYS admit people from Round 3,” Leopold says. “And they are always very wonderful.”

You may also be interested in:

What are My Round 3 Chances?
Should You Consider Applying in Round 3?
Face the Challenge of Round 3 Business School Applications

Image credit: Visionello (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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