Bouncing Back Strong for Round 2

round two Round 2

If the results coming in from your round-one MBA applications haven’t panned out as you’d expected, don’t lose hope. Instead, use those disappointing results as a learning opportunity for round two. Remember, setbacks are simply setups for comebacks. So, let’s dive into how you can tweak your strategy for an even more successful round two application.

“For those who were dinged from round 1, now is the time to get an objective, expert opinion on what went wrong and how to get on track to admit success for round two deadlines,” says SBC Principal Consultant Esther Magna.

“Have conversations with a qualified, experienced professional to gain self-awareness about your strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can ensure you’re optimizing all facets of your candidacy to ensure you’ll get admitted and be able to matriculate in the fall of 2024.”

Reflect and Learn: Turning Dings into Steppingstones

Receiving a rejection in round one is disappointing—not gonna lie. But it’s crucial to reframe it as a growth opportunity. Take a step back and make a brutal assessment of your round-one application. What were the strengths? What areas can you improve? Seek feedback from mentors, admissions consultants, or even peers. This reflective process is the cornerstone of a robust round two strategy.

Your application is your story; sometimes, it’s all about how you tell it. Revisit your personal and professional journey. Is there a compelling narrative that didn’t shine through in round one? There could be an experience that makes you stand out or a skill set you could have emphasized more. Over the coming months, build a narrative that highlights your unique strengths, experiences, and value to an MBA community.

Round two round 2

In Round Two, Tailor Your Applications Wisely

School fit is not just about what the institution can offer you; it’s also about what you can bring to the table. Take another look at the schools on your list. Does your application echo their values, culture, and academic offerings? Tailor your essays, interviews, and even your resume to align with the ethos of each school. Admissions committees appreciate candidates who’ve done their homework.

Also, make sure your stats align with the averages listed on the class profile pages. Often, a reevaluation of your target schools makes sense if the first batch didn’t go as hoped. You might have applied to ones that didn’t match up well with your profile. Make sure your focus is on fit over brand strength, and match your preferred learning style to the school’s instruction style.

When facing rejection, demonstrating resilience and a growth mindset is critical. Showcase instances where you faced challenges, learned from them, and emerged stronger.

When possible, emphasize how these have shaped your character and approach to success. Admissions committees appreciate candidates who can adapt, grow, and thrive in dynamic environments.

Stacy Blackman Consulting offers a Ding Analysis service to evaluate your materials and provide feedback you can use when you reapply. Contact us to talk strategy with a free 15-minute advising session with an SBC Principal Consultant.

Did You Get Wrecked By Rec Letters?

Next, consider the quality of your letters of recommendation—these can be game changers. Do you suspect weak recommendations tanked your R1 chances? Then try a fresh approach for round two. This time out, seek letters from those who can provide a different perspective on your skills, achievements, and potential.

Round two also offers a chance to feature any new successes or projects you’ve started since the fall. Whether it’s exceeding targets at work, starting a successful project, or contributing to your community, highlight real examples where you’ve made a positive impact. This adds substance to your application and reinforces your commitment to making a difference.

Above all, you want recommenders who can talk about many aspects of your character and professional abilities. Most people don’t know how to write a persuasive MBA recommendation. They imagine that talking about how great you are is enough to seal the deal. Unfortunately, these types of letters totally miss the mark. So, be sure to guide them on salient points you’d like them to emphasize.

Remind your recommenders to address specific examples of your accomplishments and leadership abilities. Also, they should 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.

Finetune Your MBA Resume for Round 2

A well-crafted resume serves as a quick reference for admissions committees and reinforces your professional narrative. “A weak resume tells the admissions committee that you don’t know how to make good use of a page to highlight the best of your academic and professional and extracurricular life to date,” SBC consultant Erika shared in this episode of the B-Schooled podcast.

“It means you don’t have the communication skills that the best executives and industry leaders have where you can make powerful statements briefly. It means you don’t know how to use numbers or details to make your case in a compelling way. And it might also tell them that you don’t have the confidence to sell yourself in a way that doesn’t make you come off like a jerk.”

Your resume is a snapshot of your professional journey, so make every word count. Highlight achievements, quantify impact where possible, and ensure that your resume complements the story you’re telling in your essays.

As this Michigan Ross MBA admissions blog post emphasizes, “Don’t let the first thing we look at be the item you spend the least amount of time on! Be sure to show us what impact you’ve made at your current and previous jobs. Remember: we’re not looking for a job description. We’re looking for what you specifically brought to each role that you have taken on and how you have impacted your company and your team.”

“Additionally, be mindful of length…and overuse of industry jargon. A good, strong resume should be one page. Clear communication and concise deliverables make for a strong candidate in this process.”

Embrace the Second Chance

Big picture, the round two deadline is not just another shot—it’s an opportunity to showcase your resilience, growth, and unwavering commitment to your MBA aspirations. Remember, setbacks are not the end of the road; they’re detours leading to better paths.


Stacy Blackman Consulting offers multiple services to meet your MBA application needs, from our All-In Partnership to hourly help reviewing your MBA resume. Contact us today for a free 15-minute advising session to talk strategy with a Principal SBC consultant. 

Here’s a snapshot of the caliber of expertise on our SBC team.

Stacy Blackman

SBC’s star-studded consultant team is unparalleled. Our clients benefit from current intelligence that we receive from the former MBA Admissions Officers from Kellogg, Booth and every elite business program in the US and Europe.  These MBA Admissions Officers have chosen to work exclusively with SBC.

Just two of the many superstars on the SBC team:
Meet Beth who held the position of Director of Admissions for Kellogg’s Full Time MBA program selecting candidates for the 2-year, 1-year, MMM and JD MBA programs.

Meet Kim, who was an Senior Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth.

Tap into this inside knowledge for your MBA applications by requesting a consultation.


(323) 934-3936

Latest Blog Post

10 Common MBA Application Mistakes of Finance Professionals-Part 1

Are you surprised to hear that MBA applicants from financial services, private equity, and VC make up the largest percentage of the incoming classes at many of the top business schools? We didn’t think ...