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Reapplying to Business School: How to Strengthen Your Candidacy and Get In

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We like to consider ourselves as being in the business of helping prospective MBA applicants gain admission to their top-choice business school on the first try. But the stark reality is that for many candidates, that’s just not how the story unfolds. Because, let’s face it: The stakes are high, the available spaces are few and the competition is fierce.

Every single season, the top schools turn away thousands of highly qualified candidates. As MBA LiveWire data clearly shows, you can have a stellar GPA and GMAT scores and still get rejected. Not only that, no matter how much time you spend on your application or who writes your letters of recommendation, there is simply no way to guarantee admission at any one program.

Faced with rejection at their top school, some applicants will instead decide to attend a different program. But many, in fact, go through more than one admissions cycle in order to land that spot at the school that’s perfect for them. Given the high opportunity cost of leaving the work force for a full-time program and the steep price tag associated with business school tuition, this actually makes sound business sense for some.

There are also other applicants who maybe didn’t know enough about admissions strategy or their target programs when they went through the process the first time and conclude, reasonably, that they’ll fare better a second time around. For a host of different reasons, applicants who are reapplying to business school make up a significant portion of the MBA applicant pool each year.

Reapplying to Business School: Can You? Should You?

It helps to know that you are in good company. Another thing to keep in mind is that admissions committees reject applications, not the candidates behind them. In rare cases, some schools do explicitly discourage rejected applicants from trying again, but the vast majority of MBA programs welcome reapplicants.

Dee Leopold, managing director of MBA admissions and financial aid at Harvard Business School (HBS), even shared publically just how many students in this year’s class weren’t first-time applicants. “This year’s class also welcomes 94 students who are reapplicants, i.e. they didn’t get in the first time they applied!” she wrote on her Direct from the Director’s Blog in September 2015.

Just a few weeks ago, a current HBS MBA student shared that he was one of those 94. “For applicants who get the ‘ding’ as I did, my suggestion is to brush it off, gain some meaningful work experience to prepare for your career and to contribute in an MBA classroom, and then don’t hesitate to reapply when ready,” wrote Ryan Hansen, HBS ‘17. “Just because you don’t get into HBS the first time, doesn’t mean you won’t be [ready] at some point in the future.”

Other programs even offer explicit feedback to rejected applicants on how they might strengthen their application and apply again. The University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is one such school. Sara Neher, who heads MBA admissions at Darden, took to her video blog not long ago to remind applicants of this fact. “At Darden, we give everybody personalized feedback over Skype or the phone,” she said. “So if the worst happens and you don’t get in you actually will still get feedback from an admissions committee member about how to improve your application for the following year.” Not only does Darden encourage reapplicants, it devotes valuable resources to helping those reapplicants improve.

Reapplying to Business School: How to?

We thought you’d never ask. And we’ve got lots of thoughts and valuable advice on the matter, honed over years of counseling successful second-time applicants through the process that ultimately got them into their top-choice school. Some we shared in an application tips post earlier this week. Check it out in case you missed it.

But as part of Clear Admit’s Strategy Series of publications, we also offer a very thorough Reapplicant Guide featuring 80 pages worth of in-depth information on precisely how to go about reapplying to business school. The guide includes insightful advice on how to critically analyze your previous applications, how to boost your chances of admission on the second try and how to chart a complete start-to-finish course to lead you to acceptance. There’s also an appendix filled with school-specific reapplicant policies (e.g. which schools offer feedback sessions, which schools require a minimum amount of additional work experience before reapplying, etc.) as well as a sample reapplicant essay.

If you are considering reapplying to business school, we wager that it might just be the best $9.99 you could spend. So what are you waiting for? Pick up your copy in the Clear Admit Shop today!

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