Success the Second Time Around: Reapplying to B-School

Recovering from a B-School rejection? Some dreams are worth a second try. Learn how you can make reapplication worth your effort.

There's only one feeling worse than having your MBA application rejected — wondering 10 or 20 years later if you could have gained admission the second time as a reapplicant.

Regret is not an emotion that goes away quickly or effortlessly. Rather than wondering "what if," take the initiative to maximize your chances for success as a reapplicant to business school?

Here are three important steps to consider:

1. Re-examine your application.

As tough as it may be, take a long, hard look at your rejected application. If you were on the MBA admissions committee, what would you have thought about this application? Do you feel as if you know and respect the person portrayed in the application? Is there solid evidence of professional impact, personal integrity, and academic competence? Are there unexplained flaws, gaps, or disconnects in the transcript or employment history? Does the post-MBA goal seem bold yet achievable?

Learn how to evaluate and improve your work experience before applying to business school.

It's possible that you left out valuable content, included material that raised doubt, or just produced an unclear or undifferentiated message. All of that is fixable the second time by devoting more time and thought to your presentation before you apply. If you want help analyzing what may have gone wrong, a ding analysis by an admissions consultant can help you drill more deeply into your rejected apps.

2. Reassess your candidacy.

Consider the credentials and achievements behind the application. Are your job duties as rigorous and demanding as an admissions officer would expect for someone at your experience level? Is your GMAT or GRE score competitive? Do you complement your professional profile with equal or greater leadership roles in the community?

You can browse by test what are tutors near you on Noodle. If you're not sure whether to retake the test, first read "Should You Take the GMAT or GRE?"

Even if there are only a few months left before the next application deadline, you can make dramatic improvements in your underlying candidacy. Take on a high-visibility project at work, earn an "A" in an accredited online course in calculus or statistics, advance from "just a member" to "active leader" in an organization that's important to you.

If you are having trouble being objective in your self-assessment, it can be helpful to get an outside opinion. Speak to former or current MBA students, program staff, or get an expert evaluation from an admissions consultant.

3. Recalibrate your targets.

Finally, think hard about the schools that denied you admission. Have they admitted others in the past with qualifications and limitations similar to yours? Did you make an honest effort to engage one-on-one with students, alumni, and administrators before you applied? Are there other, somewhat less selective schools where your past, present, and future are a clear match for the curriculum, culture, and community?

Published rankings alone are not enough when choosing which b-schools to target. Talk to MBA grads who now have the kind of job you dream about doing in 10 or 20 years; ask them how their alma mater helped them get there. Explore LinkedIn profiles to confirm the correlation between specific b-schools and leaders in your chosen industry. If you want a personalized analysis of which MBA programs are the best match for you, admissions consultants can describe schools where past applicants like you enrolled and then advanced into the type of career you envision.

A top-tier MBA education, like anything else that’s truly valuable in life, is worth the time and effort to achieve it. The sense of pride that a reapplicant feels upon being admitted to an MBA program makes the pain of the initial rejection vanish. So, go for it!

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