By the end of March, candidates for the class of 2016 will know whether or not they have been admitted to the MBA program of their choice. For those of you who were denied or placed on the wait list, you may be considering trying again next year. I have helped many candidates through this process, with great results. Here are 5 tips to help you successfully reapply to business school:
Honestly assess your previous application.
For most people, it is uncomfortable and difficult to examine the applications that you just submitted. Because you are so close to your candidacy, I highly recommend that you get someone else to help you with this. Someone honest, who hopefully has an informed perspective on MBA admissions. If you do not have a viable friend or mentor, please consider investing in a consultant who can guide you.
Get feedback from the school.
Some schools will schedule individual feedback sessions and tell you exactly why you didn’t get in, and what you need to do to strengthen your candidacy. This is invaluable insight, and while taking the suggested steps obviously does not guarantee admission it definitely gives you an advantage. Two caveats: Do not act defensive or argue with the admissions officer, and be prepared to follow their advice. For instance, if advised to retake your GMAT or to take additional courses you should strongly consider doing so. Otherwise, the school may feel like you weren’t listening or aren’t sufficiently motivated and may hold it against you.
Consider a broader range of schools.
How did you choose your initial target list? Was it based primarily on rankings? It’s possible that you did not apply to the schools that are ultimately the best fit for you, which may explain why you were not successful. This is not to say that you shouldn’t reapply to your dream school, or that you need to choose less competitive schools – although this may be the case, depending on your situation. However, I have often seen candidates aim higher the second time around and matriculate to schools that they didn’t apply to the first time because they thought that the programs weren’t a match, or were unattainable. Keep an open mind, and thoroughly explore all of your options.
Don’t be afraid to switch gears.
Are you a candidate who articulated a career goal that felt safe and easy to explain, but that wasn’t what you really wanted to do? Or who only applied to schools in your city, so that you wouldn’t have to move? Reapplying gives you the opportunity to challenge yourself in new ways, and to pursue unusual opportunities. I have worked with clients who described completely different career goals and priorities the second time around, and who were admitted in part because they credibly explained their true motivations. Tell the committee what really matters to you, not what you think they want to hear.
You will be asked to explain how your candidacy has evolved – in some cases, only a few months after your first application attempt. This can feel daunting, but is an opportunity to share new information that you didn’t initially present. Even if nothing material has changed, please rewrite all of your essays and talk about how the re-applicant process has sharpened your focus. If you submit the same application again, without demonstrating reflection and effort, you are unlikely to receive better results.
The bottom line: Don’t be afraid to reapply – with the right approach it is absolutely possible to succeed.