Round 3 at Tuck, Difficult but Not Impossible

Tuck School of BusinessLike our previous posts from UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Chicago Booth School of Business, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business wants to reassure skittish applicants that while applying in the final round is indeed competitive, it isn’t impossible.

Stephanie B. in Tuck MBA admissions acknowledges that the majority of seats have been filled by the final round, and in many cases, much of the scholarship money has been allocated. But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause. In the latest post on the Tuck blog, two current students who applied successfully in the final round share their thoughts on what it takes to be accepted in round three. The themes that resonate for Tuck ’14 students Laura and Sara are timing, standing out, and having a plan B.

In Sara’s case, her dissatisfaction with her professional life prompted her to accelerate her MBA plans. In order to present the best possible application, she decided to take her time and apply in the third round. As most schools will tell you, the best time to hit submit is when you can put forth the strongest, most comprehensive application. However, Stephanie points out the value of also providing a brief explanation in your application, perhaps in the optional essay, as to why you’re applying late in the season, which she says helps the admissions committee understand your motivations better.

Standing out from the pack is imperative, and never more so than when applying later in the game. As I mentioned in a recent 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. In Laura’s case, she differentiated herself by highlighting a unique background with Teach for America and microfinance. But don’t get hung up on whether you have a similar “wow” factor in your background.

Business schools really do want to know who you are””the whole you””not just you as a professional. You want to present a balanced, well-rounded human being who has many dimensions to contribute to an MBA class. When you talk about your love of basketball or your concern for global warming, explain why those subjects are meaningful to you.

Tuck student Sara spoke in her application of being an avid marathon runner and being proud of where she comes from. These seemingly small details are a great way to highlight some uniquely defining characteristics and experiences that make you the person you are today.

Given that the final round is so competitive, late applicants should be realistic in their expectations. If your first attempt in unsuccessful, Laura and Sara urge applicants to take the time to reassess their goals and application, and take advantage of any feedback the admissions office may be willing to provide for those planning to reapply. No matter the outcome, the journey is a lesson unto itself.

Tuck’s final application round is Tuesday, April 2, 2013. See our section devoted to Dartmouth Tuck advice for additional insight and guidance as you wrap up your application.

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