Top Tips for MBA Reapplicants

Being rejected from business school can be incredibly disappointing. You spent a year, or perhaps even longer, studying for the GMAT, GRE, or EA; completing applications; preparing for interviews; and waiting for the schools’ decisions, only to learn that you did not get in. But all is not lost! Not only can you reapply, but reapplicants can, and do, get accepted!

If you are a business school reapplicant, you need to do a few key things before you submit a new application. If you have what could be considered an obvious flaw in your candidacy—a low test score, insufficient work experience, a lot of job movement—you need to take steps to rectify the problem area if you are to succeed. This might require, for example, investing in a class or tutor to help you study more effectively for the GMAT, GRE, or EA. Or, you might consider switching to a different test altogether or looking at programs whose average scores are in line with yours. Perhaps you need another year of work under your belt. Whatever your particular area of weakness is, you can most likely fix it with some time and effort.

If your profile does not have an obvious shortcoming, and you were perhaps surprised by your rejection, you can still find ways and opportunities to improve. The leading business schools generally have incredibly low acceptance rates, which unfortunately means that many deserving applicants must be rejected each year. We once asked an admissions officer at a top-ten MBA program how many more candidates she could admit without negatively affecting the quality of the class, and she estimated that should could add 50% more students or even double the size of the class! So, you might have simply been the unlucky victim of a uber competitive applicant pool and some tough choices on the part of the admissions committees. But if this is why your original application was unsuccessful, you could nevertheless benefit from taking a quant class to shore up your analytical capabilities, deepening your commitment to a community organization, or working hard toward a promotion at work. Even if you were—and are—a strong applicant already, you should take advantage of the opportunity to bolster your candidacy even further.

One very practical step to take is to make your target program(s) aware of your determination. For example, if you have a contact at a school—such as a waitlist manager who has come to know you or a member of the admissions team you have networked with—let them know that you plan to reapply in the first round (and yes, if you are a reapplicant, applying in Round 1 is crucial). By showing them that you are, in a sense, not taking no for an answer, you are indicating that you will very likely accept an offer of admissions from the school. Because admissions officers care about yield, this is a useful and appealing bit of information for them to have when evaluating your application. They also appreciate resilience and determination and would be far less likely to say no to an applicant who had previously been on the cusp.

Know that at many top MBA programs, reapplicants make up 5%–10% of the class, so you might have been knocked down, but you really have no reason to stay down. Pick yourself up, and reapply with confidence!

If you have been rejected or “dinged” by an MBA program and want to improve your chances for success the next time around, we can thoroughly review your original application to identify potential areas for improvement. Read more about our Ding Review/Reapplicant Strategy service here.

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