Tips for Improving Your MBA Reapplicant Strategy
If you are an MBA reapplicant looking for redemption after last year's applications didn't go your way, you found the right blog post. At Critical Square we believe in second chances and, luckily, so do the admissions committees. The key to any successful MBA reapplicant strategy is simple - be different and be better. With that in mind, the team here at Critical Square put together a few tips that will help you leave a better impression the second time around. Who said first impressions were permanent?
Something important to note before we dive in - schools approach reapplications differently. Some want an entirely new application. Some don't. Some ask for new recommendations. Some don't. How you attack the reapplicant position will depend on what you've been given to work with. There is no "blanket" one-size-fits-all solution here.
Your first priority as an MBA reapplicant is to highlight specific actions you have taken to address weaknesses in your application from last year. Many schools provide an additional reapplicant essay for this very purpose so don't be shy using it. While some things like a higher GMAT score or a promotion are easier to spot on an application, other efforts to improving your candidacy such as gaining additional leadership experience or taking on tougher responsibilities at work require some effort to call out. Or maybe you spent more time researching the program and plugging into the school. Make sure to gather as much evidence as you can to support your story of improvement by using anecdotes in your essays and recommendations.
Another key area that the admissions committee will focus on is how the reapplicant has continued to demonstrate professional and personal growth over the last year. Top MBA programs are only interested in high performing individuals with an upward career progression and stalling on your job performance after getting dinged isn't acceptable. Expect additional attention to be given to assessments from your recommendations and achievements from your resume. It should be very clear when comparing your application from this year to last year that you have made [significant] progress towards a promotion and have increased your capabilities as a business professional.
You can also make an impression on the admissions committee by how you discuss your short term and long term career goals (note that these goals need to be similar to goals from last year's application because inconsistency signals to the admissions committee that you don't know what you want out of an MBA). What the admissions committee is hoping to see with your professional goals is that you have taken steps towards achieving them despite getting dinged. Evidence of your research, networking, or learning efforts related to your goals should be noted somewhere in your application. Strong commitment and focus on your career goals will win bonus points with the committee so dial up the passion. For example, if you wanted to become a product developer, take up coding. If you had a business idea, try to launch it. Do something.
Finally make sure you take some chances on your application. If you can't get in with your second try then there isn't a lot of reason to keep reapplying. So treat the application as your last shot at the school and open up in your essays and interviews. Rather than trying to tell the admissions committee what they want to hear (never do that), take a gamble by bringing out unique things in your personality and taking a more aggressive writing style to your essays.
For more information about the business school process and your MBA reapplicant strategy check out our other blogs and remember to schedule a free consultation. We also offer a great Ding Review service to help walk you through weaknesses in your application along with providing you with personalized advice to maximize your odds of success the second time around. Oh, and follow us on Facebook and sign up for our newsletter to get access to our latest tips!