Rejected at HBS. Now What? Apply Elsewhere in Round 2?

By - Oct 22, 11:51 AM Comments [0]

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Rejected at HBS. Now What? Apply Elsewhere in Round 2?

It’s the time of the year when some candidates have received the results of their Round 1 HBS applications. Unfortunately, if you know the final decision of the HBS admissions committee already, this means that you have been “released” or rejected without interview. You are not alone, nor does the outcome mean that you cannot have success at other top MBA programs such as Wharton, Stanford, MIT, Chicago, Haas… the list goes on. Because many of the Top-15 MBA programs have acceptance rates of only 12-20%, a large number of applicants will be disappointed with their outcomes, particularly if they approached the application process without doing sufficient homework and preparation as needed to complete an outstanding, compelling MBA application.

If you are in the unhappy position of having been released from the HBS admissions process, you must consider the best next steps to take if you still wish to attain an MBA degree from a top business school. Do you have a strong shot at the other programs to which you applied in Round 1? Do you need to add on a couple of more sure-shot business schools in Round 2? Should you wait to re-apply next year?

The first step to answering these questions is to identify the weaknesses in your HBS application and candidacy. You don’t want to assume you are a strong candidate at other Round 1 schools to which you have already applied if you made the same mistakes in those applications as you did with your HBS application. Similarly, you don’t want to put together Round 2 applications and repeat any mistakes that might have contributed to your HBS outcome.

A Ding Analysis can be important for determining exactly what factors were obstacles to your HBS admission. Do you have a shortcoming with your credentials? Or was the outcome a reflection mostly of a poorly prepared application? Dissecting the key elements behind your rejection can give you a stronger sense of whether you are truly competitive at some of the other Round 1 schools to which you have already applied (hence, no need to prepare Round 2 applications for other schools). It can also help you understand how to present more effective applications in Round 2.

After securing a solid understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your application, there are some immediate options for you as you strive for an MBA degree from a top business school.

Apply to other top programs in Round 2. After you secure a solid understanding of the weaknesses of your candidacy or application, you may conclude that you are indeed highly qualified and can have success in admissions by selecting additional schools carefully and presenting a stronger application. You should proceed to prepare Round 2 applications soon, recognizing that you have a couple of months to work on them. You should correct any problems that existed in your presentation of your credentials in your HBS application, and you should also strive to strengthen any credentials that were weak spots (such as a low GMAT score).

Wait until Round 1 of next year. After you secure a solid understanding of the weaknesses of your candidacy or application, you may conclude that you are qualified for your dream school, but you did not put a great application forward this year. In this case, you may want to try again. If so, recognize that there are no guarantees and make sure to apply next year to other schools in addition to your dream school. Also, make excellent use of your time between now and next year’s Round 1, continuing to strengthen your record professionally, academically and through extracurricular activities.

Interested in securing a detailed “Ding Analysis” that can help you identify the weaknesses and strengths of your rejected application(s)? You can opt to have our president and founder, Dr. Shel Watts, look at your application and draw on nearly 25 years of experience to help you understand your application’s deficits and identify a plan of action. Feel free to reach out to us for a Ding Analysis at

Need Assistance with your application? Contact us at
For a free Profile Evaluation, fill out the profile evaluation form on our homepage at

Best wishes,

Dr. Shel (Shelly Watts)
President, MBA

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