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.
By Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com 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.;