What Does the AdComm Really Think About Round 3?

final round

Round 3 deadlines are nearly upon us, and while the final round is the biggest gamble of the application cycle, schools have that round for a reason and use it to admit those stellar students that add something really special to their classes.

Special meaning 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.

Here’s a sampling of reactions from the admissions teams at well-ranked MBA programs on whether Round 3 really is a viable option for applicants.

Yale School of Management

“I often get asked if it makes sense to apply in Round 3,” says Assistant Dean for Admissions Bruce DelMonico in this recent blog post.  “While it is consistently our smallest round, we do still receive very strong applicants who end up gaining admission and becoming strong contributors to our community.”

DelMonico echoes advice we tell our clients: only apply when your application is as strong as possible. You must feel ready to take on the rigors of an elite MBA program.  Make sure you’re crystal clear on why the degree makes sense for you professionally and personally.

He also reminds those who apply in the final round that they must be ready to begin their MBA just a few months after receiving  an offer of admission. In other words, get ready to uproot everything with little time to spare.

With that said, “If you apply Round 3 and your decision is not favorable, no harm done. We encourage those students to refine their applications and reapply the next year,” DelMonico explains.

The round three deadline at Yale SOM is coming up on April 16, 2019.

Duke Fuqua School of Business

Fuqua is on a mission to dispel some of the most persistent misconceptions about applying in round three. In fact, we recently featured one second-year Fuqua student’s personal journey as a final round applicant. Here’s what the admissions team would like potential applicants to know:

“Each year, these final applications help to round out and complete our class, and they’re an essential part of the admissions life cycle. Again, it all comes down to your readiness—and if Round 3 feels like the right time, we encourage you to go for it.

If you are applying in Round 3 it’s important to help the admissions team understand your timing. Sometimes that’s related to a work project. Maybe you needed more time to prepare your application because you took the GMAT or GRE multiple times hoping to get the score you were seeking prior to applying.

Or perhaps it’s simply an epiphany you had recently about where you want to be in the next two to five years. Whatever the case, make it clear in the application what that catalyst was and why this timing is right.”

The round three deadline at Duke Fuqua is coming up on March 20, 2019.

UT McCombs School of Business

“Our goal in all of our programs is to build the best and most diverse class that we can, NOT to fill all of our seats as fast as we can. So the best time to submit your application is when you are ready to do so, when you’re confident it will be the best representation of you and your fit with the program. You can trust that we’ll be ready to start the review process,” the admissions team writes on the McCombs MBA Insider blog.

The round three deadline at McCombs is coming up on April  2, 2019.

Michigan Ross School of Business

And finally, admissions Director Soojin Kwon gives these three, succinct reasons to apply in Round 3.

  1. We reserve space in the class for Round 3.
  2. We like Round 3 applicants. Last year, some of our best students – academically and leadership-wise – were admitted in Round 3.
  3. There’s no chance of being admitted if you don’t apply.

The admissions team also has a Round 3 App Tips webinar with tips on how to pull together a successful app for the final round.

The round three deadline at Michigan Ross is coming up on March 18, 2019.

SBC’s Advice for Round 3 Applicants

You should definitely use the required or optional MBA admission essays to explain 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.

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. Also, consider whether you add something special to the class that the admissions committee didn’t see earlier in the season.

Standing out from the pack is imperative, and never more so than when applying later in the game. As I mentioned in this US News blog post, if you want to do well in the admissions process, you have to communicate who you are, not just what you do.

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.

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