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.
“We actually enjoy round three,” Dee Leopold, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School, once told the Wall Street Journal. “It takes a certain amount of confidence to apply then. Those applicants march to their own drum, and we would never want to miss them.”
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.
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.
That said, some schools offer students a better shot in the final round than others. According to a recent article in Poets and Quants, Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business is the most final round-friendly, followed by NYU Stern School of Business, INSEAD, and Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management.
The MBA admissions blog at Tuck School recently published a post on the realities of applying in Round 3, complete with anecdotes and advice from three recent graduates who applied in the April round (as it’s known at Tuck).
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.