Thinking about reapplying to business school? It hurts to get a “no” from all the MBA programs you applied to, but it happens to a lot of applicants – especially those who apply to the very best business schools in the world.
The good news is that it’s quite common for unsuccessful applicants to apply a second time. While it’s important to take some time to deal with the disappointment, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the next admissions season. And the goods news is that there are a number of concrete steps you can take to improve your candidacy and move toward a stronger application.
Reevaluate Your Need for an MBA
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 for you. This sort of reflection can lead to refined career goals and a clearer sense of the reasons you need a business education. You should also consider what skills (both soft and technical) you’ve gained or strengthened since you submitted your application, and how these might transfer to your time at business school and to your post-MBA career.
Revisit your applications
Once you’ve gained some distance from the application process and the sting of rejection, it’s wise to review the materials you submitted to schools with a critical eye. You likely learned a good deal about the admissions process simply by applying, so you’ll likely 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 score or lack of involvement outside of work, there’s plenty of time to address these shortcomings before submitting an application next year.
Consider your data points
Your results this year may represent feedback 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 applying to 4-6 programs to have a strong chance of success.
Schedule a feedback session, if possible
If you’ve been dinged by a school that offers feedback to unsuccessful applicants and are planning to reapply, you should absolutely take advantage of this opportunity (even if you think you know where you went awry). Feedback sessions provide a chance to hear the adcom’s perspective on your file, and to demonstrate your commitment to the program. In fact, reapplying without seeking feedback when offered can make the admissions committee question how serious you are about their school.
Of course, some schools do not offer feedback at all, and others selectively offer feedback only to particularly promising candidates. There is naturally high demand for this service, and many programs provide sessions 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.