Feb 18, 2016

Should you apply Round 3? Maybe.

Ahhhh Round 3. The April Round (as we refer to it at Tuck) is notoriously the most competitive since the majority of the class has been decided. Wait! Don’t go, keep reading! Although the climb may be steeper, reaching the finish line via the final application round IS possible.  

We’ll be candid here. Tuck has had a Round 3 for a long time and frankly, we wouldn't bother if it wasn't worthwhile. All applicants are taken seriously by the admissions committee no matter which round they choose. The BIGGER question is whether the applicant is taking the opportunity seriously. If an applicant just tosses their application in to the last round because they didn’t have better luck elsewhere, they should reconsider applying and maybe wait until next season when they can bring more gusto to the process.

The most compelling third round candidates show conviction, which includes a candidate’s openness with the process and genuine interest in our program. While they do not have to explain why they are choosing the final round, it is human nature for the reader to wonder why. Sometimes applicants don’t come to the process until a professional experience turns on a lightbulb. Maybe they met an MBA in their travels and got inspired, or perhaps they had a personal situation that derailed their Round 2 plans. As is often the case with the admissions committee, it is far better that you don’t leave us guessing!

Bottom line, it’s always best to apply with the strongest application possible, whether that means shooting for Early Action or April. Tuck doesn’t designate a specific number of offers to each round, but rather bases offers on the quality and quantity of the applicant pool – a strong application will stand out regardless of round.

Read on for first-hand accounts of recent Tuck grads—Sara, Laura F., and Laura I.—who applied in the April Round. 

Sara wasn’t completely satisfied with her professional life. Although an MBA was something she had been considering, when her company began undergoing some changes, she decided she was ready for a change as well. Because she wanted to ensure that she presented the best possible application, she opted to let a few rounds pass. 

Laura I. first visited Tuck in late February and fell in love with the school. She was already applying to other schools, but when she visited Tuck, she knew this was the place she wanted to get her MBA. By waiting to visit before applying and getting to know some of the Tuckies, it allowed her to perfect her essays and was what she calls the key to completing her strongest application in April.

The takeaway: Apply when you feel your application is at its best, even if it means taking some time to get it there.

Standing Out
An admissions committee’s job is not an easy one. They see a lot of applications from very worthy candidates, so it’s important to ask yourself how you’re unique and then show it through the application process. Laura F. chose to differentiate herself by highlighting a unique background with Teach for America and microfinance. Impressive, yes, but this can be simpler than you think; what are you passionate about? What distinctive experiences have you had? Can that passion and experience help illuminate who you are as a person or who you aspire to be? For instance, Sara is an avid marathon runner and proud of where she comes from. These details, though they may seem inconsequential in the application process, helped provide a foundation to make her case.

The takeaway: Differentiate yourself in a genuine way and tie back to your MBA, career and personal goals.

Final Notes

Is April competitive? Yes, but is the January round not competitive? Are there any spots left? Again yes, the admissions committee is prepared for great candidates that may apply later into the process. Are there any scholarships awarded? Yes, it’s still possible to receive a scholarship. Can you still get a room in the dorms? Yes, the lottery happens in June, just after results are announced. Can you still join a pre-term program with everyone else? Of course.

Study a school’s culture, because fit really is important! Are you right for Tuck? Is Tuck right for you? An MBA requires a lot of resources and two years of your life - make sure you’re spending them wisely. Once you’ve determined that the fit is right, spend time speaking with as many people as possible; students, alumni, staff.

Lastly, there are always other options. If your first attempt at getting into Tuck doesn’t work out in your favor, take time to reassess your goals and your application. Feedback from admissions is often available for those wishing to re-apply.

The takeaway: Have a plan B. While you may not get the outcome you hope for, the process will no doubt teach you something about yourself and help guide your next steps.

Tuck's April Round deadline is April 4, 2016 - start an application here. We also encourage you to initiate your own admissions interview (including the chance to meet with students, sit in on a class, and tour campus) by registering online. The applicant-initiated interview deadline is also April 4, 2016.