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Admissions Tip: Reapplying to Business School

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With the leading MBA programs having released their R2 decisions, many candidates are now at the end of the long journey that was this year’s 2015-16 admissions cycle. While we would like to hope that today’s topic isn’t apropos for too many of our readers, we wanted to offer some advice to applicants who’ve been rejected from their preferred programs and are planning on reapplying next season.  While it’s important to take some time to deal with the disappointment, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the next season, and there are a number of steps you can take to improve your candidacy and move toward a stronger application.


While it’s certainly difficult when things don’t go as planned, this is actually a great chance to take stock of your career and goals and to make sure that an MBA is still a logical and necessary step at this point.  It’s this sort of reflection that can lead to refined career goals and a clearer sense of the reasons you need a business education.

Revisit your applications

Once you’ve gained some distance from the emotional and time-consuming application process, it’s wise to review the materials you submitted to the schools with a critical eye.  Having learned much about the process simply by applying, it’s likely that you’ll be able to identify a number of things that you could have done better.  Whether you suspect your downfall was something like a strategic misstep in an essay or interview or a more glaring weakness like a low GMAT or lack of extracurricular involvement, there is plenty of time to address your shortcomings before submitting an application next year.

Consider your data points

Your results this year may reflect some valuable information about your competitiveness at a top program.  It’s important that you only apply to schools that you would be happy attending, but if you were unsuccessful at all of the programs to which you applied, it might be time to think about how realistic your list of target schools was and to add a few more to the mix.  This is especially true for applicants who only applied to one or two programs this time around; there is an element of randomness and luck in the admissions process, and no matter how qualified the applicant, we recommend that a candidate target four to six programs to have a strong chance of success.

Schedule a feedback session, if applicable

While it’s possible that you’ve identified your weaknesses in retrospect or even were aware of them when you went into the process, if you’ve been denied by a school that offers feedback to applicants and are planning on reapplying, you should absolutely take advantage of this opportunity to learn of the adcom’s perspective and demonstrate your commitment to the program.  In fact, reapplying without seeking feedback when offered can raise questions for the adcom about how seriously an applicant is taking the process and the school.  Of course, some schools do not offer feedback to anyone and others, such as Tuck, selectively offer feedback only to particularly promising candidates. There is naturally high demand for this service at programs that provide slots on a first-come, first-served basis, so it’s important that you make a point of requesting a feedback session at the earliest possible time.

Of course, the adcom can only be so candid, and it’s important to seek out feedback from other objective and knowledgeable sources.

Know the odds

In a September 3, 2015 post, HBS’ Managing Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid, Dee Leopold, noted that 10 percent of its Class of 2017 were reapplicants. The reality is, schools like reapplicants who are really show commitment to the process. Do not assume that as a reapplicant, you compete unfavorably with first time applicants.

When to Apply

Almost without exception, it is important to apply in the first round for schools to which you are reapplying. Schools will also expect the majority of their reapplicants to apply in the first round. Those that are reapplying from a late round might decide to wait until the second round, if they are improving their professional or community service record, and need the extra time to do so. That being said, many of those who are denied from a late round a denied because there were really only a few seats in the class available at the time. If you are part of an over represented profile (Indian, male, IT for example), you really should reapply in Round 1 regardless of which round you first applied.


If you’re considering reapplying to business school during the next admissions cycle, check out the Clear Admit Reapplicant Guide. This must-read guide will teach you how to analyze your past applications, pick a list of schools that are right for you, boost your chances of admission, and lay out a start-to-finish plan to get in. Includes an appendix with school-specific policies, as well as a sample reapplicant essay.

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