If you’re considering applying for your MBA in the third and final round, I want to be very clear from the outset: contrary to what you might have heard, it is possible to be accepted in the third round. I was a third round applicant, so I’m telling you this from experience.
However, there are unique challenges that come with applying in the final round that you should be aware of. (I wasn’t aware of all of them when I applied, but I certainly wish I had been.) We’ll be exploring these challenges through a series of blog posts in the coming weeks aimed at helping you gain a better perspective on the third round. The point of this isn’t to scare you away from applying. Rather, we want you to make the most informed decision possible and help you ask (and answer) the right questions along the way.
As in other areas of your professional life, perception is critical when applying for your MBA. It is even more important to recognize this in the third round since admissions committees will be paying particular attention as to why you waited until the final round to apply. The onus is on you to recognize how you may be perceived, and to develop a personal narrative showing how this was the best time to apply. The three simple questions below can help you craft this narrative.
1. Why do I need an MBA?
Asked another way: “Am I ready for an MBA?” Do yourself a favor here: take off the kid gloves and be brutally honest with yourself. Reflect on your career, your education, and your personal frame of mind. Would you be more comfortable if you had time to finish up a couple projects at work? Do you still need to take that extra calculus course to show you’re quantitatively prepared? Your level of confidence will show through in both your application and interviews. (If you’re wondering why you need to reflect on yourself “personally,” applying in the third round is a whirlwind process; it’s important to be personally and psychologically prepared.)
2. Why do I need an MBA right now?
You are tasked to effectively demonstrate why you are applying in the final round. Did you plan it out precisely this way? Has your professional development dictated this to be the best course of action? Why? Telling an admissions committee that you are fed up at work, that you lost your job, or that you figured you might try this round before trying again next year are NOT satisfactory reasons. You need to inspire confidence in the admissions committee and show them that you made a thoughtful decision to apply now. You must show them that you are a worthy investment.
3. Why do I need an MBA from this program?
More than any other round, you need to make a third round school feel like they are your first choice. They want to know why you waited so long to apply, but telling them you were rejected by every other school you applied to is NOT the answer. Admissions committees don’t want their programs treated like backup plans. Do your research, talk with alums and students, and visit the campus if possible. The more energy you commit to knowing the MBA program, the better. After all, if you’re accepted, you’ll be attending this program four months after the deadline. Show the admissions committee you’re ready and excited to attend their program now.
Of course, these are questions that you must ask yourself before you apply in any round. More than that, you should expect to be asked these questions during your interviews.
We promise you that, especially in the third round, it is better to face these questions ahead of time than to fumble through them in an interview while your application is on the line.