You did not get accepted to your dream MBA program? Do not lose heart – it happens. Fortunately, you can successfully reapply to business school, as many reapplicants would testify.
However, rehashing your old application won’t do. In fact, you need to submit a new, standalone application that is superior to your previous one. Here is what you need to know.
Reapplicants are not automatically rejected
There are a few common misconceptions about reapplying to business school, including the idea that reapplicants are rejected automatically and without hesitation. That is, of course, plain wrong. Just because a school has rejected you once does not necessarily mean that it will do so again. Nor does it mean that you have a black mark on your record that prevents you from submitting another application.
The vast majority of top MBA programs view reapplications as stand-alone applications, independent from your previous submission. In a section designed to clarify the process of reapplication, the Stanford Graduate School of Business (US) points out:
We will evaluate your new application on its merit in the context of the new applicant pool. Do not assume that the person reviewing your application has seen your previous one. We do have access to previous applications, however, and may choose whether to review and consider them prior to making a final decision.
While some MBA reapplicants believe that they still face long odds even if they make major improvements, others believe that their persistence will be viewed as proof of their unwavering commitment to the school. Stanford seems to suggest that there is some grain of truth in the latter statement:
Having applied in a previous year is not a negative factor in your application. We appreciate your sustained interest in Stanford and your resilience in reapplying. In fact, each year, we offer admission to some reapplicants who present compelling applications.
Are you eyeing the right business school?
Before reapplying, you need to ask yourself one very important question. Is the school you are seeking admission to the right one for your goals, ambition, and potential? Because if it is not, you will have a really hard time gaining admission, and even if you do, you will not be able to make the most of it.
The MBA is not a one-size-fits-all degree and different professionals have different goals and preferences. This is why finding the right business school is so difficult – you need to consider a wide array of factors before determining if a certain school is a good match. Carefully examine your desire to study for an MBA and pinpoint what it is that you want to achieve. Do you want to change your career direction? Do you want to set up your own business? Do you want to increase your earnings or maybe build a wide network of contacts? Is international experience important for you?
Consider it possible that you may have been rejected because the admissions officers, having read your letters of recommendation, interview or essays, decided that the school was not the right fit for you culturally and/or professionally. Finding the right business school can be challenging because you need to consider factors such as format, curriculum, faculty, location and networking possibilities while trying to figure out the culture of the school. Luckily, there are smart and personalised online MBA search tools such as Unimy that can relieve you of some of the burden of finding the perfect fit.
Also, consider applying to more than one business school using the so called portfolio approach. You certainly have favorite schools, but having your heart set on just one or two is not always a good strategy.
Check out: Your Profile in the Mirror
Improve your application
You need to improve your application, which does not mean that you can just recycle last season’s materials. A reapplication must stand on its own merits as a complete and independent application. Some business schools such as Chicago Booth (US) give reapplicants broad guidelines as to what they need to do in order to succeed:
Students who are successful in the reapplication process are competitive in the current year’s applicant pool and have demonstrated growth through career progress, academic preparation, community involvement, or self-awareness.
According to admissions consultant Stacy Blackman, the most common reasons for rejection include low test scores, insufficient leadership experience, weak recommendations, and boring essays. However, you need to try to identify exactly what scuppered your first application. Travis Morgan, MBA Admissions Consultant and GMAT Tutor, says that those who plan to apply again need to be very self-analytical. Was it your professional experience that the admissions’ team found wanting? Was it your leadership experience, the extracurriculars, or maybe your career goals were deemed unrealistic? Or maybe the main problem was that you had not done your homework on the school and did not know what you were getting into.
Reapplication requirements vary from school to school, but generally you will need to submit an updated resume and a new letter of recommendation (in addition to the old ones). Some business schools even encourage reapplicants to determine if different recommenders may provide a more insightful and thorough perspective. Updated GMAT or GRE scores are typically also required, but if your score is high enough you do not need to re-sit exams. You may also be asked to submit an essay discussing updates or changes since the time of the previous application, as well as reasons for re-applying.
It certainly is frustrating to receive a rejection letter after all the hard work you have devoted to your application, but you have a second chance. And this time you can do it right.