“No one gets in during round 3.” That is something I often heard or read in blogs when I was making the decision to apply in the last admission round of business school. Some apply in round three because they need the additional time to complete all the admissions requirements or because they decide last minute to give the business school application a try. For the most part, the schools will never know the reason you are applying in round 3. They will only know who you are based on what you submit which should be the absolute best representation of yourself. If round 3 is when you represent yourself the best, then that is when you should apply.

I applied in round 3 because I wanted the extra time to work on the MBA application that was the most important to me: the one for Harvard Business School. I was coming up on my eighth year at Dell, and after switching from manufacturing engineering roles to product and brand marketing ones, I realized that I wanted to learn about skills and perspectives I couldn’t learn on the job: a macro view of finance and economics, how to think and implement strategy and leadership and (most importantly) how to use business as a means to make the difference I wanted in the world.

Even though I loved my job and the people I worked with, I knew I wanted more out of a profession. I am passionate about eliminating animal suffering and slowing the depletion of natural resources for human consumption. In order to effect change in these areas, I knew I needed to influence how business is done at its core level to implement socially responsible governance and supply chain.

Learning about all the different business schools out there – their missions, cultures, and personalities – the school that most resonated with me and my personal goals was HBS. Through HBS’ Social Enterprise Initiative, clubs, CSR-minded cases and world-renowned faculty, I knew HBS had the resources and support I needed to supply the foundation for my next phase of life.

As many MBA applicants know, their current full-time work does not take a pause or slow down (sometimes the exact opposite happens) during this already stressful time period. My situation was no different. I was traveling more for work and my deliverables were getting more demanding. Recognizing that I needed to improve my GMAT score, perfect my HBS essay, as well as the other applications I was working on, I quickly realized that I wouldn’t be able to submit an HBS application that best depicted who I was.

After the round 2 deadline had passed, I honed my quant skills, retook my GMAT, revised my resume, and focused on the essay component to tell HBS exactly why I needed to be there. As a son of Mexican immigrants, now US citizens and entrepreneurs, HBS was my dream so I could contribute to minority representation at the decision-making table.

I had nothing to lose and every reason to try. The rest, as they say, is history.
It is astonishing how quickly time passes. With one semester left, I reflect on how new classmates turned into lifelong friends and family, guest speakers became lecturers, and 375+ cases were brought to life.

I chose not to listen to the naysayers nor the odds and pursue my dreams.

So if you’re on the fence, here is why you should, too:

Reasons to apply in round 3

  1. You have nothing to lose. If you feel that you can best represent yourself in this round, you should. Minimize all other distractions. Use this time to really focus on all parts of the application and prioritize it during your free time.
  2. Don’t be afraid to be your true self. HBS wants to get to know you and how you will contribute to the school and its community.
  3. Have faith in yourself. Only you know when you are ready, and if that happens to be in round 3, do it. There is a reason why HBS holds a round 3; because they know there are many deserving and outstanding applicants still out there.