Round 3 Insight from MBA Admissions Officers

mba admissions insights

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

“My view is that you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by applying in Round 3,” says Admissions Director Bruce DelMonico. His reasoning? Well, they always save room for applicants from the final round. Plus, unlike at some business schools, international students are welcome to apply in the third round.

And finally, DelMonico says, “Round 3 can be a ‘test run’ for your next application, without any negative consequences. For applicants who aren’t admitted this year, we provide feedback upon request over the summer on how you might be able to improve your candidacy, so there can even be a benefit to applying now.”

MIT Sloan School of Management

“Three years ago, we decided to add a Round 3 application deadline for a variety of reasons, one of which was  because we wanted to accommodate applicants who become ready to apply later in the traditional MBA admissions cycle,” explains MBA admissions director Dawna Levenson.

“The Round 3 application deadline was designed to give these individuals—whose professional or personal circumstances have unexpectedly changed—an opportunity not to have to wait another year.  So if this sounds like you, and you are now ready to begin your MBA studies next fall, I encourage you to apply!”

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,” writes Kimberly Jones on the McCombs MBA Insider blog.

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.

SBC’s Advice for Round 3 Applicants

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.

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.

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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With deadlines around the corner, you may be interested in the world-famous SBC Flight Test. Once a full set of application materials for your initial school have been drafted, but not finalized, the application will be sent to a former admissions committee member for a one-time review, adcomm style. You’ll have the benefit of a true admissions committee review while still having the ability to tinker and change.  You will receive written feedback within two business days after submitting.

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