The Do’s and Don’ts of Reapplying to Business School

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Many business schools, even the most elite and well-ranked ones, welcome re-applicants. Reapplying to school shows you are very serious about your interest in …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Many business schools, even the most elite and well-ranked ones, welcome re-applicants. Reapplying to school shows you are very serious about your interest in the business school program.

The best way to approach the reapplication process when you’re targeting the same schools is to highlight how you have improved your candidacy. Take a closer look at the following aspects of the MBA application package to determine where you should focus your energies to improve your odds next time around.

Decide How Many and Which Programs to Target

If you received multiple dings in your first application attempt, add new schools next time in case the problem was that you applied to schools that didn’t match your profile. Make sure your focus is on fit over brand strength, and match your preferred learning style to the school’s style of instruction.

Do: Apply to at least four schools to maximize your chances of success. These programs should represent varying levels of competitiveness.

Don’t: Apply to too many schools – usually six or more – believing that hedging your bets in this way will guarantee admission somewhere. While that strategy sounds logical, in reality your efforts will become so diluted with each successive application that there just won’t be enough passion there to sway the admissions committee.

Do: Include your dream school in the mix. It may be a real reach, but go for it anyway and you’ll have no regrets later.

Tweak Letters of Recommendation

Unsuccessful applicants sometimes don’t realize that they were rejected because their letters of recommendation came across as weak endorsements at best.

Do: Make sure whomever you ask is willing to write a very compelling recommendation for you. Since it’s not a given that you’ll see the letter once it’s written, it’s perfectly OK to come right out and explicitly ask for what you need.

Don’t: Choose a recommender for superficial reasons. I’ve seen too many applicants dinged for committing this mistake. Asking the president of a company, an alum of your dream school or any other bigwig won’t do you any good if they cannot speak intimately and enthusiastically about your many virtues

Do: Remind your recommenders to address specific examples of your accomplishments and leadership abilities, and to discuss your work ethic or team-building skills. Writing a strong endorsement requires some effort, so make it easy for your recommender by providing a list of the accomplishments you want to highlight.

Pump Up Your GMAT

Business schools always stress that test scores are just one metric of admissions decisions, but they are important because the admissions committee has to make sure the people they accept can handle the quantitative work. If your initial scores don’t come close to those of an average student’s at the schools you’re applying to, you need to make significant gains on your GMAT score in subsequent sittings or have other, extremely impressive qualifications.

Do: Allow time to take the exam again. Nerves or lack of preparation might have torpedoed your first effort, and the familiarity of taking it a second or even third time will often lead to a higher score.

Don’t: Wait until the last minute to take your GMAT. Take care of it early in the year, before you have to juggle the other aspects of the application.

Do: Consider alternative preparation methods to see if they yield better results. If you studied on your own last year, see if a formal class or working with a GMAT tutor helps you improve your weak areas more efficiently.

Don’t: Cancel a score when the option appears upon completing the test, even if you’re pretty sure you’ve blown it. Schools will evaluate your highest score, so don’t worry about a low score reflecting negatively on you.

That initial score provides valuable feedback about your testing strengths and weaknesses. You may also find out that your performance was not as bad as you imagined.

Rock Those Essays

Sometimes applicants get hung up on writing the perfect essay, when in reality they should focus on writing a compelling essay instead. MBA blogger Scott Duncan applied to five schools last year and was rejected by all of them. This year, he wrote, he let go of perfectionism and changed his strategy to deliver a simple, clear message and add color to his application where possible.

The new tactic worked, and he’s been accepted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, wait-listed at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and awaits news from Harvard Business School, where he recently interviewed.

Do:  Use the additional essay question to explain what’s changed in your situation to make you a stronger candidate this time around. Make sure to address both professional and personal advancements, but show that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws can often help the admissions committee to like you.

Don’t: Recycle essays from the first time around, and don’t use the same essay for multiple schools. At best, the byproduct of being all-inclusive is that you will sound generic. At worst, you might accidentally leave the wrong school name in the essay and be rejected out of hand for your lack of attention to detail.

Finally, take comfort in knowing many people in business school right now were dinged the first time they applied. The MBA admissions process requires resilience, so take some time to recover, reassess and dive back in.

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Cornell’s Johnson School Bolsters Admissions Team

Cornell University’s Johnson School has further strengthened its admissions team as part of the school’s recent revamp of the two-year MBA curriculum.  This week, Johnson announced it has brought Judi Byers on board as the …

Cornell University’s Johnson School has further strengthened its admissions team as part of the school’s recent revamp of the two-year MBA curriculum.  This week, Johnson announced it has brought Judi Byers on board as the new executive director of MBA admissions and financial aid. Johnson New executive director Judi Byers

Byers comes with over 10 years of admissions experience, and received the 2013 American University Alumni Eagle Award for her significant contributions as director of admissions at the Kogod School of Business in Washington, D.C.

These curriculum changes, already in effect for the Class of 2016, place a strong emphasis on collaboration, leadership, and analytical skills that will prepare students for a technology-driven global business environment.

“It’s clear the revamp of the Two-Year MBA program includes impressive enhancements and will make these offerings even more attractive to prospective students domestically and internationally,” said Byers in a statement.

Johnson is a consistent leader in adopting the latest innovative advancements in programs, and Byers noted that the new LinkedIn feature, which allows prospective students to populate portions of their applications directly from LinkedIn, has received positive feedback from applicants over the past six months.

Byers succeeds interim executive director of admissions Ann Richards, who took over last July when former admissions director Christine Sneva become senior director of enrollment and students services at Cornell Tech in New York City.

Rounding out the Admissions team are newcomers Admissions Director Gail Wolfmeyer from NYU Stern School of Business and Admissions Manager Chris Lind from American University.

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Big Curriculum Changes at Cornell’s Johnson School

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Advice from an Early Career MBA

Whether or not Chicago Booth School of Business is on your short list, the recently revamped Booth Experience blog, written and managed by students, regularly offers guidance on subjects that are universally interesting for all …

Whether or not Chicago Booth School of Business is on your short list, the recently revamped Booth Experience blog, written and managed by students, regularly offers guidance on subjects that are universally interesting for all MBA applicants.

This week, second-year student and frequent blog contributor Alex Simon concludes a three-part series with a post on three things for early-career MBA candidates to keep in mind as they research business schools.

Simon was 24 when he started at Booth, and with just two years of work experience, he worried he would be at a serious disadvantage with classmates five to 10 years older than he. That’s why he says younger applicants should give serious thought to answering the question of why an MBA and why now; figure out how to demonstrate their competency among more experienced classmates without giving attitude; and gird themselves for dealing with the inevitable setbacks that will occur.

If you’re an early career candidate who is motivated and can show strong leadership and managerial potential, make sure you invest plenty of time into researching which MBA program is the right one for you. Follow the link above for Simon’s take on these issues, and be sure to check out his previous articles in the series as well.

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How to Determine When the Time Is Right for an MBA

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Challenges and Opportunities for Female MBA Applicants

As a female MBA and entrepreneur and businessperson, I know that women can more than handle business school and the application process just as well or better than anyone.  Stereotypes do persist, however, and the …

As a female MBA and entrepreneur and businessperson, I know that women can more than handle business school and the application process just as well or better than anyone.  Stereotypes do persist, however, and the reality is that women pursuing graduate management education are still an underrepresented demographic on campus.

Thankfully, the outlook has improved over the past decade. Women now make up 41% of Harvard Business School’s Class of 2016; they represent 40% of the incoming class at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; and Stanford Graduate School of Business reported a record female enrollment of 42% for the Class of 2016.

Business schools have really ramped up their efforts to recruit and groom future women leaders, so if you’re a woman planning on pursuing an MBA, make sure to take advantage of every available opportunity. During the school research phase, a great place to start is at a workshop event for women hosted by the program you’re considering.

While you’ll also want to attend general information sessions, these diversity events allow you to meet and network with other prospective students, current students, alumni, and faculty, as well as provide a chance to listen and ask questions about the specific opportunities for woman in the MBA program.

When putting their application together, female candidates have to make sure that they exude confidence. The admissions committee shouldn’t have any doubt about whether the applicant will raise her hand and contribute to the classroom discussions that form a crucial part of the MBA learning experience. Essays, interviews and recommendation letters should indicate a high comfort level with speaking out, defending points of view, and collaborating with all types of people.

Another area of potential weakness, particularly for women who majored in the liberal arts for undergrad, is demonstrating strong quantitative skills. The admissions committee wants to make sure you can handle the MBA course load, so a solid GMAT score, supplemented by additional finance, calculus, or statistics classes taken at the local community college, will go a long way toward proving you have the bona fides to succeed.

Try not to become intimidated by all of the amazing things your fellow applicants have accomplished and second-guess the value of your own strengths and experiences. Focus instead on what makes you unique, and how you plan on contributing to the MBA community once admitted.

During the MBA interview, female candidates frequently begin their answers with a disclaimer that reveals their insecurities and detracts from any positive information that follows. Don’t downplay achievements for fear of coming across as bragging. There’s a difference between boasting and conveying your skills and accomplishments with pride. Confidence without attitude is what you’re aiming for.

Finally, women shouldn’t let the financial expense of business school be a barrier to pursuing an MBA degree. Look into all of the resources—loans, scholarships, employee sponsorships, fellowships, work-study options—that can offset the high cost of an MBA, and take a long view of the return on investment your target schools provide.Many candidates find they can pay off their student debt within five years of graduating, so with the right financial aid package, it’s possible to attend almost any business school.

Despite some barriers, real or perceived, women considering business school should know the MBA degree truly is the one of the best ways to transform their career by giving them the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful.

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Hot MBA Jobs of the Future

Are you wondering what the hot MBA jobs of the future will be? Take a look at these six up-and-coming jobs that US News & World Report highlights as well-suited for business school graduates. Not …

Are you wondering what the hot MBA jobs of the future will be? Take a look at these six up-and-coming jobs that US News & World Report highlights as well-suited for business school graduates. Not surprising, they all command solid salaries, and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts hiring growth in these industries.

Here are US News’s top picks:

Operations research analyst: Higher-level operations research analysts usually have an MBA with a specialization in production and operations management. Consider top schools, such as University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and the Michigan Ross School of Business.

IT Manager: These professionals supervise employees, communicate with internal executives and outside vendors as well as plan various tech upgrades for their employer. Check out the excellent program for information systems at MIT Sloan School of Management.

Management Analyst: These professionals provide feedback on improving an organization’s efficiency and profitability. Competitive candidates have a few years of experience in operations, and have earned an MBA with a focus on management. Stanford Graduate School of Business and Harvard Business School have top programs.?

 Financial analyst: These professionals help companies determine when to buy and sell investments.  The Chicago Booth School of Business and the NYU Stern School of Business offer top finance programs.

HR specialist: These professionals work with a company’s employees, by doing anything from recruiting them to training them to explaining their benefits. HR specialists don’t need an MBA, but the degree will help them stand out from the competition.

Information security analyst: These analysts monitor and protect an organization’s computer network and systems. Companies prefer to hire those with an MBA. The UT McCombs School of Business and Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business are top-notch programs for studying information systems.

As you can see, employers are looking for skilled managers to lead the way in today’s global economy. Business and management degrees can be a powerful driver of confidence and opportunity to achieve those ambitious goals.

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Strong Job Market Predicted for 2015 B-School Graduates

 

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