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Admissions Tip: Round 1 Rejection Reflections

Last week a number of programs, including Wharton, Michigan Ross, and MIT Sloan, sent out interview invites to their Round 1 candidates. These invitations came on the heels of similar updates from the likes of Harvard Business School and Chicago Booth. As a result, many candidates are now diligently preparing for interviews, having made it to the next phase of a competitive admissions process.

Rejected Without Interview

Of course, we recognize that not all applicants are so fortunate. And since we’ve published a great deal of content on interview prep of late, we’re turning the tables and dedicating this week’s admissions tip to those of you who haven’t moved forward.

The interview invite stage for Round 1 is the first signal as to your potential for attending a leading business school, and for a few, it can be a rude awakening.

If you have not yet received any good news, despite submitting applications in Round 1, you’ll want to read this post very carefully.

Reconfiguring Following Rejection

If there is any good news when it comes to being rejected in the first round, it’s that it’s still early in the application season, and not too late to readjust your strategy and target appropriate programs for Round 2. Round 2 application deadlines generally fall in the first couple of weeks of January, which leaves a little more than two months to prepare a new set of applications. It is also often the case, that your first applications are not the strongest. You learn through this process, and could potentially submit stronger applications for Round 2. Or it might be the case that you need to re-evaluate your goals, and then target a new set of programs that are appropriate for those goals.  You could also adjust the competitiveness of the programs you target. So if you struck at all of your R1 targets, you may need to shift your target to slightly lower ranked programs.

Rejection Reflection

You also might want to take a hard look at what the schools which chose not to interview you, might have found lacking. If it’s your GMAT score, you have two months to try to remedy it. If you failed to make a compelling case for the degree or to properly showcase your experience in your essays, it might be a good time to get a fresh perspective from a third party on your materials.  If your recommendations may have been lacking, speak with your writers or seek out new colleagues who might be able to better support your candidacy.

Of course, if there isn’t something as tangible as a poor test score, shoddy essays, or subpar letters of recommendation, you may need to take a longer view.  For instance, if you lack professional experience, leadership accomplishments, or outside activities, it might make sense to delay your MBA ambitions, and reapply in a following year. Reapplicants are generally looked upon favourably in the admissions process.

MBA Motivations

Finally, you might want to reassess whether the MBA is the right next step for you. Perhaps the admissions committees are doing you a favor, and nudging you in a different direction.

Chin Up!

There’s no doubt that receiving negative results can be painful, but it’s how you handle the situation that will determine your future. Don’t lose site of the fact that news of rejection(s) is actually useful feedback in a process that can be quite opaque.  Take the feedback to heart, regroup, reassess, and devise a plan to help you reach your goals.

Posted in: Admissions Tips, Feature Main, Planning Tips

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