Round 3 Strategies: UCLA Anderson Beckons

We've been running a lot of Round 3 strategies on this space the last few weeks. Why? It is timely, obviously. But also, Round three is just so misunderstood that we find every conversation leads to new epiphanies for our clients.

In turn, we pass along the broadest and most helpful of those pieces of information to the general public. Today, we're talking about a specific school that you might want to consider if you are firing off Round 3 bullets.  Before we get into it, a few notes:

  • Just because we are singling out UCLA Anderson does not mean it is the only great option for this time of year.  Many European programs are still very active in building their classes (IESE, in particular, has been good to our late-stage folks over the last few years) and there are more than a few domestic programs that offer more than a cursory look at March/April candidates.
  • If you want to get our advice on how to approach Round 3 in general, please see this previous post.

Okay, UCLA Anderson.  First, how do we know it stands as a better Round 3 option than most?  A few reasons:

1. UCLA Anderson's admissions office has repeatedly said so.  To be specific, it was former Assistant Dean of Admissions Mae Jennifer Shores who repeatedly said so.  She has stated that UCLA has a "true Round 3" many times before ... even advertising this fact on her Twitter feed.  Going forward, we believe what Mae Jennifer said still holds true even several years after her departure.  With the arrival of Alex Lawrence at the admissions helm, Anderson's administration elected with an individual who is no stranger to the MBA program - not in the least.  Not only is Alex an Anderson class of 1999 graduate, but he has also been working for the program since 2004.  We trust that he knows Anderson's admissions challenges and long-term trends better than anyone.

Recent Tweet from Mae Jennifer Shores
Recent Tweet from Mae Jennifer Shores

2. It makes logical sense.  Just because the admissions office says "we're open for business" doesn't necessarily make it so.  Admissions officers must first and foremost drive applications, so it is natural to promote deadlines.  That said, we're talking about one of the best and most straight forward admissions committees in the business (just take a look at their application essay), so we're inclined to take Anderson at their word. 

Of course, we really don't have to either.  Why? The fact that Anderson is a "downstream" program from Stanford and Haas means that plenty of really good applicants are going to get dinged or waitlisted from those Bay Area giants and take a second look at the terrific school six hours south.  Note: THIS IS NOT A KNOCK ON UCLA ANDERSON.  Amerasia founder Paul Lanzillotti is a proud UCLA Anderson grad and he raves about his experience there. Needless to say, we hold the school in the highest esteem.  However, we also know that the NoCal programs - Stanford especially - can catch people's attention earlier in the process; if for no other reason than people are slaves to the rankings and those schools are ranked higher in certain publications of note.

3. UCLA Anderson blooms larger, later.  What we mean by this is that as candidates develop their narrative and MBA desires, they often discover Anderson as a top choice a bit deeper into the journey.  This is true of people looking for certain cultures (teamwork-focused, cooperative students, friendly professors, more relaxed, laid back vibe), specialties (career tracks & specializations, real estate, media/entertainment, entrepreneurship), geographic recruiting advantages (particularly elite L.A. finance firms, and a flexible front-loaded curriculum), and, yes, weather (it's no shock that as people visit schools and attend campus interviews, they suddenly realize they can go to school in either 80-degree sunshine vs. 20-degree snow).  Perhaps more than any other business school, UCLA Anderson is a "late bloomer."  But when it blooms, it often explodes into full color for an applicant.  Thus, it makes sense for Anderson to hold out and let those folks make the discovery on their terms.

Okay, so we know that UCLA Anderson is more accessible for Round 3.  They are devoting more resources, they are holding the application deadline back as late as possible (April 15 this year), and they are saving more seats in the class (and scholarship dollars as well).  If that wasn't enough, Anderson's website even lets international applicants know that they gear up, stating - "Round 3 admits include strong candidates from around the world, and getting a student visa in time for fall enrollment is easy."  No problemo.

So how do you proceed from here?

Conceptually, it's simple.  You must marry "Why now instead of two rounds ago?" with "Why an MBA from UCLA Anderson?"  This means taking the normal approach you would use applying to UCLA and folding in the extra rules that we apply to any Round 3 school:

  • Why an MBA takes you were you need to go.  You + an MBA = Next step.
  • Why UCLA Anderson is the right fit.  Understanding the DNA of the program and showing how that perfectly aligns with your approach, strengths, and desires for a business school experience.
  • Why you will add value to the UCLA Anderson experience.
  • Why you are just now applying to UCLA Anderson.  (The Round 3 wrinkle.)

Keep in mind that if you are to reapply to UCLA Anderson at a later date, you will add a "Reapplicant Essay" answer to your existing application.  So this is NOT a place to just throw a dart, figuring you can hit the reset button.  You have to do it right.  Take your time.  Engage a consultant if resources allow.  Do the best job you can, because this application will stay with you next year.

All told, this is one of a handful of places out there that truly wants to see what Round 3 has to offer.  So if you are someone late to the party, but you have the chops and the desire to be enrolled at a great b-school in the Fall of 2011, give UCLA Anderson a long look.

If you need help with Round 3 – either comprehensively or just stress testing your essays to make sure they hit the mark – email us at  The arms race for consulting help usually starts in April for Round 1 of the next year, but the best value is probably right now.  You can get more distance from the field in Round 3 than at any other time and the quality of your work will make a huge difference. 

To demonstrate our commitment to doing Round 3 right, we have a very unique policy: work with us on a comprehensive package for Round 3 and we will help you reapply to the same schools free of charge in the fall, should it come to that.