Well, you had applied to your target schools last year, and your applications were not accepted. We all know that it is getting harder every year to get into top MBA programs; the seats are few, and the competition is fierce. Every single season, the top schools reject thousands of highly qualified candidates. Frustrated, some applicants decide to enroll in the different programs. Simultaneously, some analyze the weak areas in their application, make sincere efforts to strengthen their profile, reapply the next admission cycle, and succeed in obtaining that coveted admit letter. The good news is every year; business schools do accept reapplicants.
As a reapplicant, your priority is to evaluate what went wrong. Identify potential issues that you need to focus on this year and then highlight specific actions required to address your application's weaknesses from last year. Many schools provide an additional reapplicant essay for this very purpose, so you must write a reapplicant essay to demonstrate your growth from your previous application. Your strategy to strengthen your application will depend on your individual application, your strengths, and weaknesses; therefore, no one solution will work for all. Here are some of the steps you can take, based on your individual needs:
1. Retake GMAT
If you applied last time with a low GMAT, then you should definitely take another stab at it. Simple! After the first or second attempt, some applicants give up and decide to take a shot at top schools with a not– so- competitive GMAT. For those candidates, the first step should be to retake the GMAT with better preparation and focus on earning a competitive score. A higher GMAT will not only increase your odds but also boost your confidence to reapply to your target schools.
2. Demonstrate Professional Growth
If you are one of those applicants who applied last year with 2-3 years of work experience that lacked leadership roles, it’s time to show to the Ad Com that you challenged yourself with tougher projects last year, received a promotion, and contributed significantly to your organization by accepting leadership responsibilities. Your resume should clearly indicate your professional growth in the past year.
3. Be articulate about your Goals
If you think you were not articulate about your career goals last year, you can do that now. Also, you must indicate how you see yourself progressing from your short term to long term goals. However, you should not change your goals because that might project you as someone who has no clue about his career goals. Rather, you should explain to the Ad Com what steps you have taken in the past year in preparation for your goals. If you have attended any networking event or done research, or taken any extra courses to pursue your goals, don’t forget to mention that in your application.
4. Strengthen your ECs
Strong ECs brighten up your resume and present you as a well-rounded candidate. Business schools indeed value academic background, professional experience, and career progression. But they also give significant weight to your extra-curricular and community service activities because they want to see that you are not just focused on work but are well rounded and have other interests as well. So you should plan to volunteer for new experiences at work and outside of work. Try to get involved in an activity you are passionate about. Whether it is practicing sports, singing in your church’s choir, or volunteering in a temple or a Gurudwara, get involved regularly.
5. Reevaluate your Choice of Schools
Are you one of those candidates who applied to only 1-2 top schools? Was your list of target schools unrealistic the last time you applied? If yes, you need to reevaluate yourself and change your strategy. I always recommend that you apply to 4-6 schools to have better chances of success. I have seen applicants who apply to 2 dream schools, 2 reach schools, and 2 safe schools usually get accepted into one or more of these six schools.
6. Schedule a feedback session
If you have been rejected by a school that offers feedback to applicants and are planning on reapplying to the same school, you should take advantage of this opportunity to learn about the Ad Com’s perspective. This not only tells you about the areas of improvement but also shows your commitment to the program. Some schools (such as Darden) even provide explicit feedback to the rejected candidates on different aspects of their application to strengthen, e.g., GMAT, essays, EC’s, and encourage them to apply again. The school’s feedback gives you a clear direction for your next course of action.
7. Apply in Early Round
Another reason for an unsuccessful application is applying in the last round. There are only a few seats available in the last round, so chances of success are slim. If you belong to an over-represented applicant pool (Indian, male, IT, for example), you should reapply in Round 1. Last year, I worked with an applicant who had previously applied to 4 schools and was dinged by all of them. One of the key reasons for his unsuccessful application was that he had applied in the third round. Next application cycle, he worked with myEssayReview, in Round 1 and was accepted into 3 schools with substantial scholarships.
If you are considering reapplying this year, it’s time to get started, create a solid plan, strengthen your application, and reapply as a much stronger candidate.
Good luck with your application.