Tag Archives: advice for reapplicants

3 Reasons for Rejection From a Dream MBA Program

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com If you’ve been feeling down since receiving a rejection letter from your dream business school, I want to offer some insight into why …

rejection MBA admissions

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

If you’ve been feeling down since receiving a rejection letter from your dream business school, I want to offer some insight into why it happened, and remind you why you should keep your chin up.

First off, all of the top MBA programs are notoriously selective. It may be that out of every 100 people who submit materials, only seven to 12 are accepted. Harvard Business School – ranked No. 1 among MBA programs by U.S. News – rejected more than 8,000 applicants for its class of 2017. In other words, it’s very much a numbers game when you’re applying to such competitive programs. There are only so many spots for an overwhelming number of extremely talented candidates.

That may be hard to accept for people who have reached every goal they’ve ever gone after. So, here are three possible reasons why your target b-schools did not offer you admission.

Overrepresented demographic: Each program strives to put together a diverse class of impressive people. However, no one knows the magic formula that any given admissions committee uses to fill open spots.

The very elements that typically make up a strong candidate for business school – solid academic background, stellar test scores, work experience in investment banking, engineering or consulting – may not have strengthened your case because too many other candidates shared those exact same characteristics in this application cycle.

Everything from your gender to your industry to your nationality to your career aspirations, community service and personality comes into play when an admissions committee attempts to build a graduating class.

While you can’t do anything to change your basic profile, if you do apply again try to hone in on elements of your background, interests and experiences that set you apart. Even the most typical MBA candidate can find something that will enhance the experience of fellow classmates.

Lack of self-awareness: They say high self-awareness is the strongest predictor of overall success. Business schools love to admit applicants who appear dedicated to their personal development, which is why the “tell us about your greatest weakness” question is so popular in both essays and interviews.

There’s no such thing as a perfect MBA applicant, however. Everyone has weaknesses, and if you don’t acknowledge them, the admissions committee will make a judgement on how introspective and self-aware you are.

If your essays or interviews contain any excuses-making, passive-aggressive comments, outright bragging or rambling answers, they will question your maturity and fitness for their program. Any doubts will likely lead to a hard pass, so answer those questions honestly, but always with a positive tone focused on continual improvement and reflection.

Low stats with no explanation: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard members of the admissions committee express dismay over applicants who don’t make use of the optional essay to explain the common red flag of low quantitative stats or proof of quantitative proficiency. This isn’t the time to cross your fingers and hope for the best, no matter how many stories you’ve heard of applicants getting into the Stanford University Graduate School of Business with a 650 GMAT score.

If you plan on reapplying, you have a few options. The surest route is dedicating more time to studying so you can strengthen your score; then it won’t be an issue next time. If your stats still hover below the median at your target programs, take a college-level course in statistics or accounting and prove to the admissions committee that you know your way around a spreadsheet.

Yet another route requires more of that self-reflection I mentioned earlier. Make sure you’re targeting programs that line up well with your stats. Look at programs outside the top 15 and see if there’s a better fit with higher acceptance rates that will get you where you need to go, career-wise.

Once you’ve pulled together a strong application and submitted it, the process is out of your hands. You will never be able to do anything about who (or how many people) you were truly competing against for a spot, who read your application or what kind of mood they were in that day.

Developing resilience is incredibly important if you need to reapply, but it’s also essential in life. Even when you put your best out there, you might still fail. However, to be successful, you need to learn how to bounce back and try again.

Image credit: Flickr user Anne-Lise Heinrichs  (CC BY 2.0)

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To-Do List for Admitted, Waitlisted or Denied MBA Applicants

With round two notifications pouring in from many schools, MBA hopefuls need to know what to do now, no matter which status group—admitted, waitlisted, denied—they fall into. Once the celebrating has died down, admitted applicants …

To Do List Journal

With round two notifications pouring in from many schools, MBA hopefuls need to know what to do now, no matter which status group—admitted, waitlisted, denied—they fall into.

Once the celebrating has died down, admitted applicants should focus on two things: getting their finances in order, and tactfully informing supervisors of their impending departure, especially if the news will come as a surprise.

Admitted students will receive a package of information from their school about public and private loans and scholarships. Many top schools offer varying types of financial support, though the majority of students will need to figure out how to pay for the bulk of their graduate management education.

The program may have access to loans or lines of credit for both domestic and international MBA students and will sometimes act as the guarantor for private loans. Getting your credit in order before applying for a loan is crucial, so make sure to regularly check your credit report and fix any errors that appear before it’s time to begin the loan application process.

When it comes to letting your bosses know of your plans, diplomacy and professionalism are key. In an ideal world, you would have already included your supervisor in the process by asking her or him to act as a recommender for your application.

If that was not possible, use good judgment to determine how much notice your employer should reasonably expect. Present your resignation in writing, and explain why you’re moving on. Remember, your supervisor and colleagues form a part of your developing network, and you should make every effort to avoid burning bridges from this point in your career.

Applicants who have just received word that they’ve landed on the wait list of their dream school need to manage this state of MBA limbo well. Follow the rules of your particular school and know that the wait list is often a test of your judgment.

If the program does provide the option of submitting additional materials, be judicious when deciding what to send. Exercise restraint in communications, but also convey your enthusiasm whenever possible, as they want to be sure you’ll say yes if admitted.

For those facing the dreaded “ding” from their program of choice, the blow can feel devastating. If possible, seek feedback from the admissions committee to learn precisely what, if any, were the weaknesses in your application.

Give yourself time to detox and cool off, but not too long. Planning needs to start as soon as possible, so you can show improvement before you apply in the next Round 1, which is only six months away. Schools look quite favorably upon re-applicants, as it shows a strong interest in the program.

Be ruthless in assessing the good and the less-than-stellar aspects of your application, and act on the feedback you receive so that when you do reapply, the admissions committee will be able to see real growth and commitment to strengthening your candidacy.

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