MBA Reapplication.

Last year you applied to business school…but all didn’t go as planned. Perhaps you got into an MBA program but declined the offer. Maybe you’re still on the wait-list at a school you would love to attend…but as time passes, the likelihood of being offered a place is dwindling. Whatever the case, it’s a new application season and you’re looking to make a fresh start.

Getting into a good MBA program is a lot like dating. How many times has this happened to you: You leave a first date thinking ‘Mmmm let’s never do that again…‘ but then, a few days later, you begin saying to yourself, ‘I should really see if X wants to go out next weekend‘. I’m guessing it’s unlikely you’ve ever found yourself in that situation. That’s because first impressions matter. When contemplating a reapplication, it’s important to ascertain what sort of first impression your application might have made on the admissions committee.

The explanation for why a past application didn’t result in admit usually falls predominantly into one of two categories: ‘Weak Points’ or ‘Damaging Information’. Weak points can be addressed in your next application but it’s almost impossible to walk back damaging information. If you’re dealing with addressable weak points it’s usually a green light to reapply. When something ‘damaging’ is identified many times it’s best to move on and target MBA programs that have never received an application from you. Examples of damaging information can range from divulging too much information about one’s personal life, to simply coming off as immature or egocentric. Such was the fate of a former client. In year 1 he applied to MIT Sloan (on his own). Ding without interview. In year 2 I got him in at Harvard (where he had not submitted an app in year 1) but MIT still wouldn’t interview the guy in year two.

Unfortunately these people are in a catch-22 situation (no egomaniac thinks he is one) so for all intents and purposes everyone is going to assume that their application was merely weak, and not damaging. So let’s turn our focus to areas of weakness.

Troubleshooting your previous MBA application. Weak Points.

Weak points are objective areas of your application that you could improve upon. The most common areas of weakness include:

  • Problem: Spotty academic performance. Remedy: Show better academic potential by increasing your GMAT score, getting an A in a master’s-level course
  • Problem: Work experience that doesn’t stand out. Remedy: Use the time between your first and second application to demonstrate professional advancement. Take on more responsibility at work (i.e. volunteer for special projects or to help out in other teams/departments), get a promotion, change employers (only if you plan to remain in the position for 24 months).
  • Problem: Unrealistic professional goals or goals that weren’t specific enough. Remedy: Re-evaluate the professional goals you presented to the admissions committee and possibly adjusting course.
  • Problem: Shoddy recommendations. Remedy: Analyze whether other recommenders might be more effective communicators or be in a better position to speak to your most recent achievements

What business schools say about MBA reapplicants.

Reapplications make up 10% of Booth’s applicant pool in any given year. Reapplicants must demonstrate through their essays, career growth, and/or academic preparation that they are now a stronger candidate who will add to the Booth community.
– Booth Adcom

If a student applied in a previous year, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We love that you love Tuck and want to attend.  Each year, we offer admission to some reapplicants who present a great case for why them and why Tuck.
– Tuck Adcom

INSEAD is blunt:

We are expecting a significant change in the applicant’s profile. Perhaps it is a promotion, international assignment or change in job. An improved GMAT score is not sufficient however.
– INSEAD Adcom