Round Three is History--Or Is It?

As of this week, most round three application windows are closed across the top MBA programs, but don't think this means you can't still apply. 

Admissions committees are now busy evaluating their final pile of applicants and comparing them to the quality of everyone on the waitlist all the way back to round one.  Their mission?  Fill every available seat in their program so they can maximize their revenue and round out each cohort.  Every year, latecomers to the process and perhaps those who have been struggling with whether or not to apply this year, see this final round deadline pass and assume their chance to apply is over until next year's cycle.  They shouldn't think so fatalistically.

Just as in the world of business, so much depends on circumstances when it comes to deadlines. 

Just because a school draws an arbitrary line in the sand, does not automatically mean they will be able to achieve their mission.  There have been many stories over the years from applicants who have managed to slip their application in after the deadline and even to get accepted into top programs.  How?  Well, for starters, they are very strong applicants.  Having a strong profile is critical if you are ever going to talk your way around a hard cutoff.  There are many legitimate reasons why an applicant might have been unable to submit before the third round.  Perhaps extenuating circumstances at work prevented them from filing early.  Or maybe something happened at work which changed their availability or schedule.  Or even better, someone hit an unexpected home run or achieved something great after the deadline which will beef up their experience over the next year and has positioned themselves much better for b-school.  Much of what happens to us at work is out of our control, and business schools understand that.  At the end of the day, schools would prefer to have a top candidate, even if it means bending the rules to allow a late application. 

One of the best opportunities to apply after the deadline is when schools are having trouble with this mission of filling every seat with highly qualified candidates. 

So many variables play into this mission, that school can occasionally find themselves coming up short of where they would like to be.  Since schools like to diversify their student body across gender, professional background and race, the regular, random applicant pool will vary widely each season and can leave schools looking for just the right candidate to fill a gap. 

If you have suddenly felt regret that you didn't apply this year, you might take a hard look at your candidacy and if you feel you are well above average, or at least have some highly unique profile attributes, give a try for a post-deadline application submission.  The catch is, you won't be able to simply lob in your application online. 

While the schools might be willing to consider you, they are no longer accepting electronic submissions through their online portals. 

This means you must get with the admissions team directly.  Reaching out in person or over the phone is the only way to connect with the right folks in admissions to chat with about a possible late submission.  Make sure you have your reasons for applying late ready to explain.  The ideal way to present your case would be in person, but if this is not practical, sometimes a phone call can be effective.  If the school is in a position to consider you, they will likely ask you to email the application to them directly.   The bottom line is, just like in business, the most successful are the ones who don't take no for an answer, are willing to take calculated risks, and never give up.  Good luck.

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