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.


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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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International GMAT Test Takers Score Higher than Americans

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U.S. GMAT-takers performing poorly compared to test-takers from Asia-Pacific

U.S. GMAT test-takers are performing poorly compared to test-takers from Asia-Pacific reports a recent Wall Street Journal article. In response to this growing performance gap, adcom at U.S. schools are seeking to implement new evaluation metrics to make domestic students appear better.

Here’s an example of how things have changed: For the quant section, in 2004, a raw score of 48 would put the student in the 86th percentile; today, that same score would yield a ranking in the 74th percentile. More students (outside the U.S.) are scoring higher – especially in the quant section – making it a lot harder for U.S. test takers (whose raw scores have remained relatively flat) to hit those higher percentages. That is, their test scores haven’t changed, but their percentile rankings are falling.

Here are some additional stats from the WSJ article:

•  Currently, Asia-Pacific citizens make up 44% of GMAT test-  takers, compared to 22% a decade ago. U.S. students comprise only 36% of all test-takers.

•  Asians averaged a mean raw score of 45 on the quant section, compared to a raw mean for U.S. students of 33.  The global mean was 38.

•  10 years ago, the Asian students’ raw score was at 42; for U.S. students it was still 33.

To address concerns about the shifting global rankings of the test, this past September GMAC introduced a bench-marking tool that “allows admissions officers to compare applicants against their own cohort, filtering scores and percentile rankings by world region, country, gender and college grade-point average.” Adcom explain that they need a way to measure applicants against other test takers in an applicant’s region. They explain that they don’t just want to “become factories for high-scoring test-takers from abroad.”

Others respond by suggesting that American students need to receive a more intense math education, similar to the emphasis put on mathematics in Asia. But is lack of math education the problem or is it the amount of time Americans invest in test prep? GMAC reports that U.S. students only spend an average 64 hours prepping for the GMAT, compared to the 151 hours put in by Asian students.

Students concerned about their GMAT percentile may want to consider taking the GRE which is now accepted at 85% of b-schools.

Watch our free webinar: How to Get Accepted to Top B-Schools with Low Stats! Helping You Write Your Best
Related Resources:

•  MBA Admissions Tip: Dealing with a Low GPA
•  Low GMAT Score? Don’t Panic…Yet.
•  Admissions Offers to International Grad Students Increase 9% Since 2013

Law School Enrollment Plummets

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First-year law school enrollment is down 11% this year

The American Bar Association reports that first-year law school enrollment dropped 11% this year, down 5,000 students to 39,675. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, this is the lowest first-enrollment has been since 1977 (when enrollment was 29,676 – just one student higher).

Here are some additional stats from the WSJ article:

• This is the third year of law school enrollment decline; in 2010, enrollment hit an all-time high with more than 52,000 students beginning law school.
• One of the biggest enrollment jumps occurred in 2002 with an increase in enrollment of 7.48%.
• About two-thirds of the 202 ABA accredited U.S. law schools reported enrollment declines this year. At 81 schools, the decline exceeded 10%.
• Not all law school news is negative, though – 27 law schools this year increased their first-year class enrollment by 10% or more.

With the decreased demand in law school comes a decrease in competition; so ask yourself – is now the time to apply? Good question. Don’t answer solely based on the decline in application volume and law school enrollment. You also need to look at cost and job opportunity.

Download 5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Law School Personal Statement

Best B-Schools for Entrepreneurs

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There’s also prize money involved – about $200,000 to split among the 30 winners of the New Venture Challenge at Chicago Both.

A recent Wall Street Journal article discusses the difficult mission of finding the right b-school for entrepreneurs. It lists the different rankings sites and the variety of results they offer for top entrepreneur-focused b-school programs: Businessweek puts Stanford at the top of the list; Entrepreneur magazine gives top marks to Michigan Ross; and Poets & Quants gives Harvard Business School the #1 spot.

The article also points out how different schools showcase their entrepreneurial strengths in different ways: Stanford touts the most startups per student as well as its access to investors; HBS highlights that its student ventures attracted the most funding; and Booth measures its start-up success by the number of ventures purchased or merged. Other programs emphasize their efforts to mix with other school departments, like Penn with its entrepreneur and engineering/computer science programs and CMU Tepper with its business/computer science co-led Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

Focus on Chicago Booth

In the last year, at least eight Chicago Booth student ventures acquired or merged, in part due to the school’s New Venture Challenge – a program in which students present business plans (about 100 total) from which investors choose the top 30. The selected students then enroll in a course that helps them prepare their plans for investor pitches. There’s also prize money involved – about $200,000 to split among the 30 winners.

Check out our recent podcast interview for the lowdown on •	A law degree as a path to the business world   •	When to get an MBA and a JD •	Advice for anyone considering a degree in law or business and more!

WSJ Law Blog Offers Most Recent Law Applicant Stats

Check out our recent podcast episode, "Business, Law, and Beyond."

Number of LSAT test takers is down, and that’s a good thing.

Highlights of the Wall Street Journal article, “Number of LSAT Test Takers Is Down 45% Since 2009,” include:

• The number of LSAT exams administered in October 2013 (33,673 exams) is 11% lower than in October 2012 (37,780 exams). This is the lowest test taker volume since 1998.

• The total number of LSAT test takers in June and October is down 38% from four years ago when test taker volume peaked. The number of test takers in October alone is down 45% compared to the 2009 high.

• The number of law school applicants dropped 12.3% compared to last year, and application volume dropped 17.9% this year.

My Take

This is good news.

There used to be a naïve belief that a legal degree was a “good thing to have.” That’s true if it’s also an inexpensive thing to have, which a law degree is not.

When the legal job market initially tanked, applicants were still applying to law school in droves. Apparently that madness has ended. These LSAT stats indicate that those serious about the law and using their legal education professionally are taking the LSAT and that far fewer applicants are defaulting to law from the social sciences and humanities than did so a few years ago.

People committed to a career that requires a legal degree and promises an income in excess of the cost of a legal education are the ones who should be taking the LSAT. And there are simply fewer people who believe they fit that description today than there were five years ago. Plus, more people today recognize both the high cost and the more limited opportunity associated with a J.D. than in years past.

They should have recognized it five years ago. The good news is that more do so today.