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Who Gets in from Round 3? Tips from Our Chat with Duke Fuqua Admissions

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The Duke Fuqua School of Business admissions team recently hosted a chat on Clear Admit about all things Round 3.  Read on for admissions advice, tips and more from Allison Jamison, the assistant dean of admissions; Meghan Pollard, Sr. associate director of admissions; Morgan Griffin, assistant director of admissions; and Jessica Brown, associate director of admissions.  The chat transcript has been edited for clarity and content.

What are the chances for an international applicant in Round 3?

We admit international students in every round including Round 3. We look forward to receiving your application! As with every round, we admit applicants that put forward a strong application and convey their story.

As an international student, you should know the timeline associated with visa requirements and be ready to go with your paperwork if you are admitted.

If you plan to apply in Round 3, it is also helpful to add to your story of why you have decided to apply in Round 3. For some people that were successfully admitted in Round 3 last year, they included that work commitments got in the way of applying earlier, or they wanted to prepare more for the GMAT and GRE.

What constitutes a strong application?

A strong application is one that tells a compelling story through your essays, resume, etc. and demonstrated interest in Fuqua.

It may be helpful for us to share a few profiles of students who were admitted in Round 3 in the past…

  1. For example, we received an application from a student from a country in Latin America. He indicated he was applying in Round 3 because he had been working on improving his GMAT score. He had worked for a large multinational corporation in consumer packaged goods before moving over into a food company where he managed 12 people. He expressed clear goals to continue working in the agricultural sector and was able to connect his goals with resources offered at Fuqua. He had strong recommendations that spoke to his leadership and his ability to contribute to a team.
  2. One example is we received an applicant in the Northeast. She indicated that she was applying to Round 3 to finish an important management project that would strengthen her work profile. She expressed a deep understanding of Fuqua and how the MBA would help her transition into joining a leading tech company. She also had extensive community leadership and involvement where she demonstrated several impact roles outside of work.
  3. We have another applicant last year who applied from the United States who put together a solid applicant that had clear post-MBA goals, had glowing letters of recommendation, and shared that she was applying in Round 3 because of her work commitments prevented her from applying earlier. During her interview, she knew her story and was able to provide great examples of her work experience and why she is interested in Fuqua.
  4. During his interview he asked insightful questions and shared his genuine interest. This was a strong application!

Have you had any memorable Round 3 candidates? What made them successful through the admissions process?

The biggest thing to keep in mind with your application is explaining why Round 3. People have shared that work got in the way, maybe they didn’t feel ready in the earlier rounds, needed time to prepare for the GMAT/GRE exam. I remember someone from last year who was admitted that shared she was getting ready to apply, but due to a work project, she had to delay. She also shared what she had done during that time to learn more about Fuqua and was able to demonstrate why Fuqua was the right place for her. Her story flowed and it all made sense.

So the old “honesty is the best policy” saying certainly seems to hold water in Round 3 — the more honest and open you are throughout the admissions process — it can really drive home that connection to the team and to the school you are applying to

In addition to the examples given above, I distinctly remember a US military veteran who applied in Round 3. He had only recently gotten his paperwork to leave the military, and submitted a strong application, was in contact with our veteran students for insights, spoke with us in the admissions office, and had a cohesive story to tell. He was admitted in Round 3 and during his time at Fuqua, was a top academic performer in each term.

A woman from a Latin America country who wanted extra time to improve her GMAT score. She shared her story of working in a male-dominated industry and advocating for women’s rights, and had started a number of in-company initiatives to support other women and bring in allies at her company. She was able to tie this in with the activities of our Association of Women in Business (AWiB) and how she would bring that experience to Fuqua. Her recommendations supported her stories, and she came to Fuqua and has been a leader within our community. She also connected with current students and stayed in touch with the admissions office through her process. The strength of her application was her consistent story of passion + action.

Honesty is the best policy. The more transparent you can be with why Round 3, the better the Admissions Committee may understand your story, why the MBA and why you are applying now.

What tests does Duke accept? Is there a preference for Round 3 applicants?

We accept the GMAT, GRE, and/or the Executive Assessment on a case-by-case basis. You can submit as many tests scores as you would like and we look at the highest overall score.

We don’t have a preference for one test format over another – use whichever test you feel best represents your ability!

How do you weigh essays, GMAT score, letters of recommendation, cultural fit and work experience? Is any particular aspect given strong emphasis?

The application review process is holistic and all components of the application are weighed evenly. I always encourage applicants to devote equal time and energy to each aspect of their application

What are the chances of an applicant being admitted after an invitation to interview?

Once you are invited to interview, it means your application has been reviewed in its entirety by at least one member of the admissions committee. You should prepare for your interview and be ready to tell your story in a coherent and meaningful way, and be sure you have done your research on the school! Be able to ask good questions for your interviewer (who may be a student or an alumnus). After interviews are conducted, the AdCom reconvenes and reviews all applications together again, one by one. The chances of admission at this point are dependent upon the relative strengths and weaknesses of your application, of course, so it is difficult to say an exact likelihood, it depends on applications received in your round.

Also, keep in mind that establishing cultural fit with the program is very important. Applicants who demonstrate an authentic connection to the community have done more than just reading the website. They usually take the initiative to connect with current students and/or alumni to learn about their experiences in the program, register for a campus visit (if possible) and speak with admissions officers at various recruitment events.

I’ve heard much about the slogan “Team Fuqua.” Can you elaborate about it?

Team Fuqua is the phrase we use to define our collaborative culture. Our community believes in working together toward a common goal. A lot of students share what Team Fuqua means to them, but this blog sums it up very well:

Here’s a real world example of Team Fuqua I just heard from a current student:  Two Fuqua students interned at Nike this past summer. At the outset, the Nike team told both students they only had one full-time position available. The two students, instead of seeing this as a contest between the two of them, decided to work together and support one another as much as possible. At the end of the summer, Nike couldn’t decide between the two, both were highly valued. So the team took a request to top management who agreed – and they hired BOTH students! They added a position. The supportive and collaborative Team Fuqua culture that the students showed in their internship impressed everyone so much that they both earned a full time offer

Could you also speak about the culture beyond “Team Fuqua?” I have heard that phrase a lot and am quite familiar with it, but am looking to know other aspects of the culture as well.

Beyond the spirit of Team Fuqua, there are many things that make the Fuqua experience unique. Given the structure of our curriculum, you have incredible flexibility to take electives and explore your interests with different courses and activities. This flexibility encourages a spirit of innovation and exploration that is shared across Fuqua. A focus on entrepreneurship, innovation, and global thinking is also incorporated into all experiences at Fuqua, so being able to show an openness to new ideas and a willingness to try new things, and knowing what those things may be at Fuqua, are important.

For the essay, are there any tips you recommend for domestic applicants?

Essay tips for both domestic and international applicants are to remove the prompt questions and have someone read your essays. Ask them what the prompt question is. If they respond with the questions, then you know that you have answered the question. While business school essays may all look the same, there are nuances that schools use so it is not wise to re-purpose other schools’ essays.

For all applicants – when looking at your essays, remember to also talk about how you can give back to the Fuqua community, not just what you can get from it. Think about your unique experiences and expertise that will add to the experiences of others and include that in your essays. Focusing only on what you will get, rather than give, is one of the more common essay “mistakes.”

What are some common Round 3 mistakes you see?

When an applicant rushes to apply in Round 3 and makes careless mistakes.  Another mistake we can see is, if people have not taken time to learn more about Fuqua and explain why they are interested in Fuqua. The long essay is a great place to demonstrate your knowledge of Fuqua and how you see yourself being a fit for our community and how you see Fuqua aligning with your goals.

I’d say the #1 mistake is not explaining why you are applying in Round 3. Given that it is later in the process, be sure you share with us why now is the right time for you – there are hundreds of valid reasons, so share yours with us. Maybe you were retaking a test, maybe you just reached the realization that your current career path isn’t fulfilling, maybe you felt like you needed more time to polish your essays – whatever it is, let us know!

Another common mistake a Round 3 applicant can make is not providing their recommenders enough time to submit a quality letter of recommendation.

Is there much scholarship funding left for Round 3 admitted students? Are scholarships primarily determined by GMAT scores and academics?

We do offer scholarships in Round 3! In fact, several of the example cases we listed above were admitted with scholarship, and even full scholarship funding.

Scholarships are awarded in all rounds of admissions and your chances for scholarship are the same in each round. We only offer merit-based scholarships and your standard application will serve as your application for scholarship. Admitted students will be notified if they were awarded a scholarship when they get their official offer letter.

Getting a merit-based scholarship is based on lots of factors and is not only determined by GMAT scores and academics. We look at it with a holistic approach and weigh everything in your application equally.

Scholarship is truly based on the overall application, the academics are only one part. Most of the time, scholarship awards are based on academics PLUS another outstanding area or more – strong work, community engagement, etc. Compelling essays are a criteria as well. We award plenty of scholarships to students whose academics are in the lower end of our range because their overall candidacy is compelling. We truly believe you are more than a score.

Regarding interviews in Round 3, it works the same as it does in other rounds. Once your application is submitted, your application will be reviewed in its entirety, and then our committee meets and determines which applicants will be invited to interview. The interview decision is NOT a final decision, and we can always invite you to interview at a later point in the process – before that round’s decisions are released, or even into the next round or into the summer as well. I think that can sometimes be confusing because at some other schools the interview decision is the final decision – at Fuqua that is not the case.

If you could provide one major piece of advice to candidates applying to Duke – What would it be? (something you can’t find on the website)

Be your true authentic self in your essays and throughout your application.

I would say – get in touch with us. Don’t be afraid to reach out to alumni, students, staff, even faculty. Not only will you have the chance to learn something that isn’t our website, but it will also help you see and experience the network at Fuqua, and the Team Fuqua spirit. And then include what you learned in your application! Don’t just name drop, but really show us what you learned through those interactions.

I would encourage that before you submit your application you check every word and read the instructions carefully. This can be making sure that you answered the essays correctly, or are submitting the right essay for the right school. In addition make sure you don’t leave anything blank, such as the leadership and involvement section. Even if you have listed things on your resume, please include it there as well.

Make sure that your application is a true reflection of your personal story. It should reflect who you are as applicant and clearly outline how you desire to grow in both a personal and professional capacity.

If you would like to contact admissions from the Fuqua School of Business, please contact: [email protected].

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