To R3 Or Not to R3, That Is The WSJ Question

Should you apply Round 3?Round 3 applicants used to be viewed as disorganized, but now, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article, they may be viewed as “appealing but unconventional prospects” or as “an offbeat catch” who “liven the mix of an incoming MBA class.”

I was quoted in the article when I explain how the first two rounds are generally dominated by more traditional applicants, but that “in later rounds, schools are looking beyond banking and consulting candidates to fill out their classes with applicants whose backgrounds, experience and goals run the gamut.” Some of these applicants are R1 rejects now applying more realistically at lower ranked schools, but others, I explain in the article, “are more highly qualified nontraditional candidates.” Often, its applicants with military experience, those who have been involved in startups, and those who come from underrepresented backgrounds who get accepted Round 3 – these are not applicants that the admission boards want to overlook.

Note that I’m not suggesting that applicants put off applying until Round 3 (especially if they’re ready to submit earlier), but my main point is this: Hope is not lost if you don’t apply R1 provided that you have some sparkles on your standard issue cookie.

Dee Leopold, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School, agrees, adding, “We actually enjoy round three. 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.”

Drawbacks of applying late in the game include fewer available seats in the class, the scarcity of merit-based aid, the inability to attend admit weekends, and the occasional difficulty for foreign students in securing their visas in time for the school year.


Learn How to Choose the Best MBA Program for You!
Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.;

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Round 3 vs. Next Year: The MBA Admissions Debate
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Maximize Your MBA Applications

Notre Dame Mendoza 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

Check out the rest of our school-specific application essay tips!

Notre Dame Mendoza

You need to clearly convey to the Mendoza adcom that you have what it takes to be an effective leader—an integrated mind, a broad perspective, tenacity, and heart. Use your career experiences, your career goals, and your personal values to help you demonstrate these key elements.


Your response to the essay questions is extremely important in the selection process. Create a file for your essay and include your name on each page. Your essay should be typed, double-spaced, and no longer than 2 pages.

1. Your responsibility as a lifelong member of the Mendoza community is to Ask More of Business – to exemplify individual integrity, organizational excellence, and a concern for the greater good. How do you plan to do this in your professional career?

This is a question asking you to show that you belong in the Mendoza community with the emphasis that it puts on service and ethics, as well as organizational leadership. There are different ways to approach this question. Here are two possibilities:

1. Present an experience that shows you demonstrating managerial ability, integrity, and a concern for the greater good or a commitment to service. Tell that story and then analyze what you learned from the experience. How did your understanding of these essential (for Mendoza) values evolve as a result of this event. How do you intend to apply that understanding and those lessons in the future?

2. Use three different experiences to show each of the qualities that Mendoza is looking for and weave them together with a unifying themes. Then again, take the lessons you learned from these different experiences and show how you intend to use them going forward.

With the first the first approach is you can go into greater depth, both about the experience and what you learned, but you may have trouble defining such an experience. With the second approach, you risk a travelogue type of approach, but it may work better in terms of the three values.

In both cases, make sure you answer the question about how you intend to fulfill your responsibility as a member of the Mendoza community in the future.

2. Slideshow Presentation

• Effective business communication is a central skill for managers and visual presentations are an important and frequent method of communication. Demonstrate your ability to clearly, concisely and persuasively communicate important information by telling us about yourself using a short slide presentation.

• Please consider the following guidelines when creating your presentation.

• You are free to cover any material about yourself that you think would be of value to the Admissions Committee.

• Please use whatever software programs you like to develop your presentation but note that the only acceptable formats for upload in the online application system is Adobe PDF.

• There is a strict maximum of four slides, though you can provide fewer than four if you choose.

• The slides that you submit will be printed and added to your application file for review by the Admissions Committee. As a result, only text and static images will be seen. Videos, music, hyperlinks, etc will not be conveyed and should not be included. Color may be used.

• Your goal is to clearly, concisely and persuasively convey key information. Slides will be evaluated on these dimensions and not on graphic or presentation elements.

• Notes pages will not be accepted. You should plan to convey your entire message on the actual slides themselves.

• To assist MBA Applicants with the development of their slide presentation, please consult this PowerPoint Guide.

Think strategically here. What do you want the admissions reader to know about you that isn’t found elsewhere in the application and can be presented well visually. Usually hobbies and non-professional experiences are good topics for this kind of question, but the key is that the experience or achievement can be presented graphically in four slides.

3. Supplemental Essay Instructions

The Notre Dame MBA Admissions Committee will accept supplemental essays from applicants who wish to provide additional information that has not been captured within other areas of the application.

For example, applicants with low undergraduate GPA’s may address any circumstances surrounding their performance or applicants who have been dismissed from school may want to consider addressing that issue. Also, if you want to explain your work history in greater detail, please use the Supplemental Essay to provide us with a chronology of your work history.

If you are a re-applicant, you must complete a Supplemental Essay outlining your activities since you last applied.

Ultimately, we will accept supplemental essays on any topic that you feel is important to the Committee and not explained fully within other portions of the application.

Please keep all submissions to one page, typed and double-spaced.

Again, the response to this MBA essay should complement the other essays and information found in your application. In my view, this essay is optional in name only. If you are impressive enough to get into Notre Dame, you should have more to say than can be captured in the required goals essay and the slide presentation.

If you are a reapplicant, the key question to address: How has your candidacy improved since you last applied?  An improved GMAT is easy to point to, if you have it, but don’t limit it to that. Be sure to discuss increases in responsibility on and off the job, a sharpened career goal, a community service initiative, or anything else that reflects well on you and hasn’t been discussed in the other essays.

If you would like professional guidance with your Notre Dame Mendoza MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the Notre Dame Mendoza MBA application.

Notre Dame Mendoza 2015 MBA Application Deadlines:

 Application Deadline Decision Notification 
Early Action  September 8, 2014  October 10, 2014
1  October 13, 2014  December 5, 2014
2  January 12, 2015  February 20, 2015
3  February 23, 2015  April 2, 2015

Click here for more school-specific MBA application essay tips!

Apply with an admissions pro at your side! Click here to learn more.

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


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How to Prove Character Traits in Essays
Leadership in Admission
• From Music to MBA: IV with a Notre Dame Mendoza Student

5 Key IMD Officials Resign

Click here to check out our IMD B-School Zone!In a letter last week, Ralf Boscheck, the Program Director of the IMD MBA Program, announced that the school has “decided to realign the MBA Office with our new MBA program starting in January 2015.” He goes on to bid farewell to five long-time officials of the program, Claire Lecoq, Lisa Piguet, Janet Shaner, Marine Frey, and Simone Kuhn.

Their resignations follows a controversial move by IMD to begin reporting career stats every three years, rather than annually. After the new approach was announced, there was an uproar among alumni and applicants, especially when it became clear that this change covered up deteriorating salary and placement results for MBA graduates. The school explains, as noted in a September Poets & Quants article, that the declining salary stats are due to other changes made by the program, in particular a smaller class size, and currency fluctuations.

In a second Poets & Quants article chronicling the IMD saga, Boscheck says, “I would like to sidestep the commoditization of this industry and have a program that prepares 90 selected students not having to worry about being compared to other MBA programs that are less differentiated. These are not typical MBAs. They are junior executives and you can learn with them. It’s a senior, more experienced group. This school is an executive development network. We have 8,000 executives every year on campus and the trick is to bring the MBA program back into the core of the school and leverage what we have best which is our executive development.”

I was interviewed for the most recent Poets & Quants article on the IMD shake-up. My take on the turmoil:

“I don’t know who was behind that decision, but I do know there is a new program director and he probably wants ‘his people’ in positions that affect recruiting both of new students and potential employers. Either the old staff wasn’t comfortable with his approach and resigned, or they saw handwriting on the wall about their futures and resigned.

“I think IMD is going to struggle until the changes the new program director wants to make are implemented and prove popular with recruiters and students. If the changes are successful and the results are realized quickly, IMD will bounce back stronger than ever.

“If the changes prove unpopular or the results take a long time to be seen, IMD will decline until the new program director is replaced. In the latter case, its reputation and brand will be weakened.”

Are You Misusing the B-School Rankings?

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


Related Resources:

Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right Ones
• 2014 Virtual Panel: Exploring European B-Schools
• Business and Science Meet: Insights of an IMD Grad and Former Medical Doctor

Princeton Approves Grading Policy Changes

Looking for college admissions tips?

Will Princeton’s application volume go up?

Last week Princeton faculty approved changes to their undergraduate grading policy, including the removal of “numerical targets and replacing them with grading standards developed and articulated by each department.” The committee concluded that the previous system (adopted in 2004) is a large contributor to psychological stress, making students “feel as though they are competing for a limited resource of A grades.”

New policies will emphasis “quality of feedback” rather than numerical grades. The previous faculty committee on grading will be dissolved, and a new committee – the Council on Teaching and Learning – will advance this new focus. The committee believes that these changes won’t negatively impact competitiveness of Princeton students when it comes to post-college education.

The recommendation proposes that at the beginning of each year, the Faculty Committee on Examinations and Standing will “review the grading history for each department and program, and the dean of the college would continue to report to the faculty on the grading record of the previous academic year.”

(Source: “Princeton faculty approves changes to grading policy” by Princeton Office of Communications)

My Prediction

The grading policy adopted in 2004 reflected concern among Princeton faculty about grade inflation. I predict that the new policy will exacerbate grade inflation at Princeton while reducing student “stress.” It may just also increase Princeton’s application volume and yield by removing the perception that Princeton students suffer from a more rigorous grading scale and are at a “disadvantage” when applying to graduate schools because their grades may be a tad lower.

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your College Application Essays
• Common Application Supplemental Essay Tips
• U.S. News 2015 Best Colleges

CMU Tepper 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines

 Check out the rest of our school-specific application essay tips!

CMU Tepper

The key to admissions success here is to exhibit your keen analytical capabilities through your essays—that and your strong passion for learning and your desire to expand your role as an innovative leader. Get those points across to the adcom members and you could be well on your way to the tech-savvy business education that only Tepper can provide. 

Tepper has tweaked its application this year, changing slightly question #1 under the Post-MBA Goals, replacing the #2.  and dropping one of the other essay questions. 

Post-MBA Goals:

1.  What is your professional goal immediately following graduation from Tepper? (Maximum 1500 characters)

What do you want to do immediately after you get your MBA and in which industry do you want to do it? If geography is important to you, then include that information too. 

Since Tepper is giving you more room than is necessary to simply state what you want to do and where you want to do it, you can give Tepper background on the development of your goal. What experience convinced you this career path was right for you?  When did you demonstrate the skills or qualities this role requires?

2. If you are not successful in your first choice of role after graduation, what other role would you consider? In other words, what is your Plan B? (Maximum 1500 characters)

This is a easy question to answer — if you have a Plan B. If you don’t have one, thoughtfully create one.

If you don’t get the job you describe in #1, how would you take advantage of your past experience and your new Tepper MBA? Would you slightly change long-term goals and go down a different path? Or would you stick with the long-term goals and attempt to achieve them in a different way?  Either option is possible. Choose the one that best reflects you. 


1. Describe a defining moment in your life, and explain how it shaped you as a person. (Maximum 300 words)

This question is an attempt to get to know you, the person. The previous questions are professionally focused. Use this essay to present a different side of you. Don’t write about work and your professional goals here.

In any case, tell a succinct story of that defining moment.  What happened and what was the impact on you? How has that event influenced you going forward? How is your behavior, your life different because of that moment?

2. Based on your research and interactions with the Tepper community, share why you are a good fit with the Tepper MBA program. (Maximum 300 words)

Again do your homework before you respond to this question. If you can, talk to current students or recent alumni from Tepper to get a feel for the culture. If you can visit, even better. Review the information on the Tepper web site to get a picture of student and alumni life and research those activities you would like to participate in, initiate, or lead. Then write about one or two clubs or events that you would love  to throw yourself into.

Optional Essay. Is there anything else that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you should not feel obligated to answer this question. This essay is intended to provide a place for you to add information that you think is important but is not covered elsewhere in the application. This could include clarification of your employment or academic record, choice of recommenders or helpful context for the admissions committee in reviewing your application. (Maximum 500 words)

Use this optional essay, or lose an opportunity to provide even more reasons for Tepper to admit you. Just don’t rehash information found elsewhere. That’s a waste of time — yours and your reader’s.

If you would like professional guidance with your CMU Tepper MBA application, please consider Accepted’s MBA essay editing and MBA admissions consulting or our  MBA Application Packages, which include advising, editing, interview coaching, and a resume edit for the CMU Tepper application. 

CMU Tepper MBA 2015 Application Deadlines:

Application Deadline  Decision Notification 
 Round 1  October 5, 2014  December 15, 2014
 Round 2  January 4, 2015  March 25, 2015
 Round 3  March 15, 2015  May 15, 2015

MBA Admissions A-Z: 26 Great Tips - Download your free copy!

Linda Abraham By , president and founder of and co-author of the new, definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.


Related Resources:

Best MBA Programs, A Guide to Selecting the Right One
2015 MBA Application Essay Tips
• Top 10 B-Schools with the Most Satisfied Graduates