The Tuesday Q&A: How To Succeed in Round 3


I tried to get some applications in during Round 2 this year, but work got in the way and I had to push back to Round 3. Everyone I talk to says Round 3 is nearly impossible, but I’m eager to start b-school this fall. Am I making a mistake applying in Round 3? Is there anything I can do to increase my chances of getting in?


I hate to be the bearer of bad news, dude, but what everyone is telling you is right. Round 3 is tough. Really tough. But on the flip side, there wouldn’t BE a Round 3 if no one got in, so you just gotta build yourself an application that’s gonna beat the odds.

There’s no magic formula for that, and as much experience as I have working with MBA applicants (we’ve done over 13,000 here at Admissionado), I can’t tell you with 100% certainty what’s gonna work for ya. What I DO know is this: there is no room for error on a Round 3 application.

Your essays are gonna have to be SPOT on. And I’m not just talking about answering the prompts; I’m talking creative, memorable, compelling, etc. The adcom is tired. He or she has spent the past 6 months reading application essays and, naturally, it’s aaaaall blending together. You’re gonna have to pop off the page if you wanna get his or her attention. And the way to do that is to have smart answers, strategic career goals, examples of leadership, and lots and lots of specific details to back it all up. Oh, and it’s all gotta be wrapped up into an essay that grips him or her, and holds on to the end.

And then your LORs will have to complement that nicely. And your resume will have to be TIGHT.

But there’s also one more VERY important thing you’re gonna have to work in there,  and it’s an explanation for why you waited so long to apply. Why didn’t you apply in Round 1 or 2? Why wait until the 11th hour? That’s gonna need to be addressed, dude. After all, if you really wanted to attend this particular b-school so badly, you would have crushed those applications earlier in the year. So you need to explain your reasoning while also proving to the adcom that you’re serious and passionate about getting an MBA.

Weaving aaaall of that together into an application isn’t easy… and that’s why Round 3 is so tough. It’s a complicated dance (not unlike The Dougie), but if you do it right, you can prove all those people wrong, and reach your goal of starting b-school this Fall.

If you’re up for the challenge, go for it. And if you need any help, well, that’s why we’re here.

— Jon Frank


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