The Round 3 Question

Some business school applicants are legitimately wondering whether they should go ahead and apply in Round 3 for the 2012 entering class.  Some realize that if they don’t apply in this round, they probably won’t matriculate this year. Others figure that they should take advantage of this one last chance to round out their choices.

If you are thinking of Round 3, take a look at the following list of do’s and don’ts. It just may help you decide whether to go through the process one more time. At the bottom of this post you’ll also find an unscientific list of schools that may be worth reviewing for third round. This does not mean that it’s a cakewalk, just that they may have more flexibility than, say, Harvard or Wharton.

You should apply third round if:

  • You ran out of time second round and had some other target schools that interested you (and you fell within the profile of the class of 2013)
  • You improved your GMAT score by enough to put you within the target school’s range
  • You overlooked a school and, after taking a closer look, you think you might be a good fit
  • After going through the whole application process, you really realize you are less hung up on a top 5 name.
  • You are considering part-time programs when you only applied to full-time programs

You should NOT apply third round if:

  • You only want to go to a top 5 school and you didn’t get into the top 4
  • You are outside of the school’s 2013 class profile
  • You aren’t sure what you want to do
  • The thought of filling out another application gives you a rash
  • You hate your job and it just occurred to you to apply to business school last week

If your scores/grades are lower than average/mean/standard distribution for your target school, take the time to retake your tests, or take a few courses in finance/accounting/business statistics and ace them.  If your work experience isn’t strong enough, take on more projects or a team leadership role.

The final round is not the death round; I know some very successful third-round admits at schools as competitive as Stanford.

As a bonus, I’m reposting excerpts from Harvard Business School admissions director Dee Leopold’s 2011 blog post about Round 3:

Round Three – Should You or Shouldn’t You?
…You may be asking yourself whether it’s worth your time and money to submit an application. Is it too much of a long shot?

…we always conclude that we like Round 3 enough to keep it as an option. Although we have admitted about 90% of the class by this time, we always – ALWAYS – see enough interesting Round 3 applicants to want to do it again. I know you wish I could define “interesting” with pinpoint accuracy but I can’t. Sometimes it’s work experience, sometimes it’s an undergraduate school we wish we had more students from, sometimes it’s a compelling recommendation …

So if you are interested in trying for HBS in Round 3, make sure you get your application in by April 10, 2012.

An Unscientific List of Third-Round Deadlines that Might Be Useful, (in date order)

Indiana Kelley 3/1

Carnegie Mellon Tepper 3/5

Duke Fuqua 3/8

Cornell Johnson 3/14  (R4)

USC Marshall 3/15

UNC Kenan-Flagler 3/16 (R4)

Texas McCombs 3/26 (R4)

UCLA Anderson 4/18

By Betsy Massar, Havard Business School graduate and founder of Master Admissions. Master Admissions acts as a campaign manager and champion, setting you up for success in applying to your top-choice business schools. Visit masteradmissions.com for a free consultation with Betsy Massar.

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