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The April and May final Round 3 deadlines are around the corner. If you have already decided that it makes perfect sense for you to apply for an MBA in Round 3, here are a few tips on ensuring that you have a strong, successful and well-rounded MBA application:
1) Effectively communicate a stellar and distinctive profile
Round 3 is the most competitive application round (more applicants, fewer available spots), so you want to highlight the untraditional aspects of your background and profile. You want to showcase how you are bringing something different to the program, that is not easily available through the other students in your cohort. This could be from your professional or academic experience (a different industry – culinary, aviation, design as opposed to sales or consulting); or your extra curricular activities (from mountaineering and diving, to building a coalition of handicrafts workers to promote fair trade).
2) Clearly explain a compelling reason for why you didn’t apply in an earlier round.
Even though this is not directly asked for in the application, the admissions committee is likely to be curious about why you decided to apply in Round 3. Communicating a clear and compelling reason through your application is important, as the admissions committee may perceive you as disorganized with your thoughts and actions if you are applying in Round 3 simply because you just decided you were interested in an MBA.
3) Demonstrate that you are strongly and uniquely motivated.
Through your application and essays , you want to not only show that you have thoroughly thought about your short and long term career goals, but how they strategically align with the mission and offerings of the MBA program to which you are applying. Use your application to demonstrate your singular interest in a particular program, such that it is abundantly clear to the admissions committee that if they send you an acceptance offer, you will take it without question.
4) You are firmly within the GMAT/GPA range of your targeted schools.
By now, the admissions committee would have already overlooked lower GPAs and GMAT scores, and will be finding a way to make sure that the class average meets or exceeds its usual standard. There is, unfortunately, a lot less room for lower standardized test scores or GPAs in third round applications.
5) Showcase how you have researched the school.
In order to pack the right punch in your essays and application form, demonstrate that you have reached out to current students, faculty and alumni, and to extensively research the university and its bevy of offerings, from academic, to extra-curricular and professional. You have a firm grasp on how your background, interests and goals clearly align with specific aspects of the MBA program’s philosophy and provisions.
6) Showcase your ability to plan ahead and think forward.
By the time you apply, as an international student, the time sensitivity of your visa increases, you are most likely not going to be able to access opportunities like Admitted Student Weekends to meet the rest of your incoming cohort from your particular geography, and most of the best housing options on campus will not be available anymore. Through the additional information space on your application, you want to communicate to the admissions committee that you have anticipated these potential pitfalls, and thought about relevant contingencies, as they apply to your specific application/circumstances.
7) Stay focused on a limited number of schools.
You are time crunched, and need to focus on making sure that you are clearly communicating your reasons for applying in Round 3, that you are strongly and uniquely motivated, you have thought ahead, and that you have done your homework on the school. Each of these aspects takes a significant amount of time, and rather than spreading yourself thin to try to hedge your bets, pick the 3-4 business schools that matter most, and take your best tailor-made shot for each. You can always save a few schools to apply to in Round 1 the following year.
We wish you the very best with your application!
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