HBS no longer has a Round 3! Huzzah! The complaints in this post no longer apply.
Say you’re the prettiest girl at the bar.
You appreciate having options.
You don’t want people to think that you’re taken.
(Except for the sleazy ones. Well no wait, it’s still kinda flattering when they make a move… buy you a drink… makes you feel good to get the attention.)
You’re nice. You’re friendly. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But you also know that you’re not going to go home with them.
Still, you don’t want to discourage them. You don’t want them to think you’re a b!tch. You can’t help it that you’re beautiful and everyone wants to be near you.
(We know that none of you are really like this. But play along for a sec, m’kay?)
As the evening progresses, the partying is going strong, but then as it starts to get late, the bar begins to thin out. It starts getting a little less fun, with less of an adoring crowd. The pretty girl’s self esteem starts to suffer, without the swooning admirers. She’s pouting a bit.
There’s fewer, ahem, candidates around.
What’s the best strategy for the pretty girl?
Well, what Harvard Business School does in this situation is, Admissions Director Dee Leopold posts encouraging advice, saying “The myths aren’t true! Round 3 is viable!”
Here’s what she said on her blog a few weeks ago:
Myth #1: There are no spots available.
Not true. We manage the selection process to ensure that there are always spots open for the candidates we want. Are there as many spots open as in Rounds 1 and 2? No. Are there as many applicants? No. Do I think a strong candidate has a fair shot? Yes.
In other words: “Don’t go home yet! I know it’s late but I want to party with you!” Pats the seat next to her. “Here, this spot is open, and look, my glass is empty!”
OK, BSers, let’s dissect this.
Is Dee Leopold really on your side? Is she really saying “Ooh! You’re hot! We want to meet you! *You* have a chance!”
Or is she just making sure that she has choices available?
Obviously she wants to encourage everyone. It’s in her best interest. HBS always gets more apps than any other school so it’s not like she needs to artificially drum up the numbers to make some quota or in order to feel like the popular one.
In recent years though, the schools for which Round 3 is actually a difficult round have started to (finally!) be open about this fact of life in admissions. Many schools are acknowledging that Rounds 1 and 2 are preferable, and that there’s diminished chances in Round 3. After all, by the time March rolls around, the class is filling up. They’ve waded through scores of applicants and they’ve had many people gleefully accept their offers and cough up deposits to commit. There aren’t that many empty seats left on the merry-go-round.
But Harvard is Harvard, and they like doing things differently. The standard rules don’t apply to them. So every year, we have Dee Leopold telling everyone that they should go ahead and try in Round 3.
EVEN THOUGH YOU’RE NOT LIKELY TO HAVE MUCH OF A CHANCE.
Oh wait. We shouldn’t have capitalized that. No need to shout about it. Because you won’t have much of a chance at Harvard anyway.
It’s wicked-tough to get into Harvard. Could it really be any tougher in Round 3? Especially since they get fewer apps… seems like you’d have the numbers on your side. You could stand out better when there’s only a couple hundred, maybe a thousand of others… instead of multiples of those numbers. Maybe it’s actually easier at this time of year.
Hold the phone, Brave Supplicant. The deal is this:
HARVARD THEMSELVES SAY NOT TO APPLY IN ROUND 3.
At least, that’s what they say buried away towards the end of this webinar presentation recording that they have posted on their site (tucked away in a corner that we didn’t even know existed – perhaps we haven’t been paying close enough attention – EssaySnark, get out of that rock you’ve been hiding under!).
Here’s the actual quote from the webinar:
“We encourage most people not to apply in Round 3.”
That’s pretty black-and-white, if you ask us.
Now, we’re not saying that Harvard isn’t unique in many ways. One truth: They are exceptionally liberal in doling out dollars to accepted candidates, and they are flush enough with cash in the coffers that they can do this all through the season. Someone admitted in the last round is just as much eligible for the free money fellowship award at HBS than a first-round person. This is different than other schools, due to the amount of money Harvard has to spend on students. It’s just economics.
All this other baloney about Round 3 though? No different. It is HARDER.
But again, it’s relative. As we already stated, and as you already knew, it’s so darned hard to get into Harvard anyway, is it really that much harder now?
Or you could look at it in a glass-half-full kind of way: If you’re Harvard material, then you’re going to get in during ANY round.
As with all things admissions: Consider the source, look for their perspective, and do your research. And always remember, what one school says does NOT apply to any other school.