MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Final Round Is Nothing

One of our previous admissions myths destroyed was “Round 1 is Everything.” Today we take on the widely held myth that “final round is nothing.”

Without question, gaining admission at virtually any of the top schools in the third round is more challenging. When mbaMission interviewed J.J. Cutler, Director of Admissions at UPenn-Wharton, he informed us,

…our ability to make decisions in the third round is different than it is in the first round. So my advice is to always use the third round as an absolutely last resort…I think if you’re serious, and if it’s  possible, you should apply in Round 1 or 2. Third round is—and we’re very clear about this on our   Web site—just significantly less optimal for an applicant than Round 1 or Round 2.

Similarly, Northwestern Kellogg’s Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions Beth Flye told mbaMission,

I would strongly encourage (applicants to) apply in one of the first two rounds. Are we going to shun  those who apply in the third round? No, not at all.

While we don’t have the space to go through each and every admissions officer comment we have on Round 3, the theme among them all is that the first and second rounds are generally preferable for a serious candidate. However, what is particularly important to note is Ms. Flye’s final comment: “Are we going to shun those who apply in the final round? No, not at all.” There is a definite difference between a preference—even a strong preference—and a rule that states “don’t bother applying.”

Indeed, Rose Martinelli, Chicago Booth’s associate dean for student recruitment and admissions, recently addressed the myth of the impossible third round (R3) in a blog post, telling readers,

Somewhere along the line, R3 inherited the reputation of being somewhat irrelevant in the overall admissions cycle…The truth is that R3 can be a bit more competitive simply because the majority of applications and acceptances will occur in Rounds One and Two.  However, I’d like to emphasize that a good portion of our class will be admitted from R3…

Ms. Martinelli then added, “R3 exists for a reason… Your dream school should be on your radar no matter what people ‘are saying’!” Indeed, the third round is not a practical joke that schools are playing on applicants. By the time Round 3 rolls around, most admissions committees have been inundated with applications and are exhausted. Yet, they continue to review new candidates and they still grant acceptances. Otherwise, they would just cancel the round and start their vacations. So if you find yourself unable to apply earlier than the third round, you don’t need to take a pass on the year. If you are a standout candidate, apply and see what happens…

onTrack by mbaMission

A first-of-its-kind, on-demand MBA application experience that delivers a personalized curriculum for you and leverages interactive tools to guide you through the entire MBA application process.

Get Started!

Upcoming Events

Upcoming Deadlines

  • Columbia J-Term (Round 2)
  • Cambridge Judge (Round 1)
  • HBS (Round 1)
  • Penn Wharton (Round 1)
  • Notre Dame Mendoza (Early Decision)
  • Virginia Darden (Early Decision)
  • Michigan Ross (Round 1)
  • Columbia (Round 1)
  • INSEAD (August Intake)
  • Stanford GSB (Round 1)
  • Yale SOM (Round 1)
  • Northwestern Kellogg (Round 1)
  • Berkeley Haas (Round 1)

Click here to see the complete deadlines

2024–2025 MBA Essay Tips

Click here for the 2023–2024 MBA Essay Tips

MBA Program Updates

Explore onTrack — mbaMission’s newest offering allowing you to learn at your own pace through video. Learn more