Today’s post comes from Manhattan Review, a well-known provider of MBA Admissions Consulting for Top Business Schools.
You realize you’re not the first one to be turned down by your dream program. This shouldn’t be the end of the world…or the end of your dream. Rejection can sometimes mean that you might not be ready; have to work harder; or re-apply to a school with a lower place in the rankings. Whatever the reason for rejection, at Manhattan Review we offer our expertise to any and all who are open to scoring a home run in the MGA game the second time around.
Did you know that five out of six applicants to the top MBA programs get rejected? It’s true. We deal with this every season as we counsel a great many disappointed applicants. Interestingly, many of them are unaccustomed to rejection having been comfortable with successful early career endeavors. One of our former clients noted, “When I was rejected by Harvard, I really found out who I was.”
Clearly this was not the end of his world. While recovering from the devastation of rejection, with our advice he devised a new and infinitely better approach. He firmly decided that his second time around was undoubtedly an opportunity to rethink his strategy; improve the quality of all his application elements; add a bit of his singular humor to the essays; and most of all, cast a wider net in his choice of schools. Slowly his devastation began to disappear replaced with a new sense of determination. With regard to considering a new set of business school programs, he came to this conclusion: “Just because I was rejected by a top-tier school doesn’t mean there’s not another school I’m going to enjoy…where I’ll thrive…and where I’ll get a great education.”
Here are six ways to a winning second application:
- Put on your thinking cap.
Was going to business school really the only way to my dreams? Does it have to be now? If business school was not an option, what would I do? Did I apply to the right schools for me? Think these questions through, as they are crucial to the next steps. No two individuals will have the same answers. Be honest with yourself. Whatever is right for you is right.
- Start fresh.
The biggest reason for a second rejection is to submit an unchanged application. Here’s the opportunity to start fresh and you should definitely take it. You might want to rethink your essays or take a second look at some of the schools you rejected initially. Several re-applicants decide the second time around to apply to a lower ranking school where they might thrive instead of applying only to top-tier choices where the stress levels of keeping up with the competition might be phenomenal.
- Try a different approach.
Wherever possible, we urge re-applicants to try something different. Remember, a virtually unchanged application is the biggest reason for a second rejection. You are being given the chance to tear everything up and start anew, and you should do exactly that. This is your last time to hit a home run with the schools where you’re going to submit second applications. Check your essays, did you sound genuine? Did you come off arrogant? One of our clients wrote his essays to concentrate on his engineering career. Once he spent time wearing his thinking cap, he realized that “…my essays only showed one aspect of who I was.” In his second attempt, he used each essay to show various facets of his personality and capabilities. Lastly, we advise re-applicants to be very careful not to appear so different with regard to career goals from what was stated in their initial applications. A different approach is not the same as a difference in your career goals.
- Search for feedback.
Because you’re competing with the best, getting feedback from your particular school (if they offer the option) is key. Not only does this give you inside information from the source, but also demonstrates your commitment to the school. If there’s an opportunity to talk with the admissions committee, take advantage of it. You might be clued in to a specific weakness you were unaware of or pointed to key areas in your career path where improvement is desirable. If possible, ask questions about every part of your application and make sure you understand what is being said.
- Reevaluate recommenders.
Whether given intentionally or not, a lukewarm endorsement is a definite red flag for an admissions committee. Chose recommenders who respect your work and can attest to your career growth with praise. Be sure to guide your recommenders by reminding them of actual examples they might write about regarding your excellent leadership skills or job promotions.
- Stress new achievements.
Many schools offer an additional essay question directed at re-applicants so they’re able to voice what has changed in their lives. This, if answered well, can make you a stronger candidate. Stress any new accomplishments or courses you’ve taken to enhance your career path. All admission committees know there is no “perfect” candidate and one of the best ways to show your self-awareness is to be humble and acknowledge your shortcomings.
At Manhattan Review, we strongly believe: everything that happens to you in life can be turned into an opportunity. We hope you’ve been convinced that there’s another chance waiting for you – an even better one – whatever it is you decide to do. We also recommend that you attend our free interactive MBA Admissions Webinars where you gain lots of useful insight into the MBA Admissions process from our consultants who have worked on the other side of the table and evaluated candidates for top business schools. Use the information you’ve gained here well and we hope to see you soon in one of our interactive info sessions. Good luck with your conquest for an MBA!