Well this is a welcome change! We’ve been harping on the uselessness of Round 3 here on the blahg basically since its inception and now Harvard Business School has acknowledged the reality that Round 3 is not really helping. It’s definitely one of the most applicant-unfriendly things around — heck, we even took the former admissions team at Harvard to task for their very mixed messages about it in the past.
The only one who benefits from Round 3 is the admissions teams who can report to their deans that their app volumes were higher because they encouraged hapless BSers to apply late in the season even when the adcom knows there’s no room.
Because let’s think about it:
If a school has ANY applicant on its waitlist, why on earth would they be encouraging MORE applicants to apply??
It’s like if you’re engaged to someone who you’ve decided is A-OK in your book…. and yet you’re still active on Tinder.
Just doesn’t seem right.
Some schools like Duke don’t even want international applicants to try in Round 3 due to stress and possible delay from the visa process.
And on-campus housing is often quite scarce. And some schools have far less scholarship money there at the end of the season. So even if you got in, there were challenges and major disadvantages (though that wasn’t the case with HBS who always has spare money available for granting scholarships when they want).
Not to mention the fact that someone who tries in Round 3 sets themselves up at a significant disadvantage when they’re rejected — which most Round 3 candidates are — and then they have to pull everything together into a brand-new but not-new reapp in just a few months.
So this is a good thing. As we said yesterday:
Finally! A top #bschool ditches Round 3. Thank you @HarvardHBS! Hardly anyone ever got in during that last round and it just raised applicants' hopes unnecessarily. Let's see if other schools will be brave enough to follow. https://t.co/fxzznxKx3B
— Essay Snark (@EssaySnark) May 15, 2018
Will other schools turn this into a trend?
We’re betting that most of them won’t, for that reason we just stated above. Heck, MIT Sloan only recently added a Round 3 when they hadn’t originally had one. They’d been a two-round program for ages, and then switched like two seasons ago.
Admissions directors are rewarded for having more apps come in every year. Harvard and Stanford and maybe Wharton are the only schools that have the abundance of app riches, that would allow them to entertain something this drastic (and we really don’t see Wharton ditching their last round). For other schools, dunno. There’s quite a bit riding on things like applicant volumes.
Harvard has long been a trend-setter among bschools. They can afford to be.
Some other schools in the past have taken risks with their applications (notably UCLA many seasons ago, when they asked for an audio essay) and have seen app volumes decrease. Who knows if it was a direct cause-and-effect relationship but common wisdom in the admissions office that year was that it was. Making big changes can be dangerous to a school that’s not comfortably ensconced in the lead.
The only known outcome of ditching their Round 3 is that guaranteed, the school’s numbers will go down.
Harvard of course is still maintaining its Round 3 but only for a special category of applicants, those who are currently in college and want to try for their 2+2 program. So it’s not like they’re getting rid of it entirely.
But this is one of the applicant-friendliest moves that we’ve seen come out of a top school in awhile.
Also recently, Tuck’s new-ish admissions director made a big deal about how they’re standardizing their rounds which is also helpful in terms of reducing some confusion, but unfortunately they also decided to take away a mid-season round that many applicants valued, so unfortunately that change didn’t really tilt in all of your favor. Would much prefer to see three rounds, one in September, one in November, one in January!!!! And preferably not the very first week of January! But alas, does anyone listen to the ‘Snark???
We had predicted that HBS would be making more substantive changes to its essay question this year which has not happened, but turns out they are in fact making a very significant change overall.
Now, if only Chad Losee could find a way to do something about THIS! The major problem with the way Harvard handles its MBA admissions