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The Do’s and Don’ts of Reapplying to Business School

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The Do’s and Don’ts of Reapplying to Business School [#permalink]

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Many business schools, even the most elite and well-ranked ones, welcome re-applicants. Reapplying to school shows you are very serious about your interest in the business school program.

http://www.stacyblackman.com/2015/03/23 ... ss-school/

The best way to approach the reapplication process when you’re targeting the same schools is to highlight how you have improved your candidacy. Take a closer look at the following aspects of the MBA application package to determine where you should focus your energies to improve your odds next time around.

Decide How Many and Which Programs to Target

If you received multiple dings in your first application attempt, add new schools next time in case the problem was that you applied to schools that didn’t match your profile. Make sure your focus is on fit over brand strength, and match your preferred learning style to the school’s style of instruction.

Do: Apply to at least four schools to maximize your chances of success. These programs should represent varying levels of competitiveness.

Don’t: Apply to too many schools – usually six or more – believing that hedging your bets in this way will guarantee admission somewhere. While that strategy sounds logical, in reality your efforts will become so diluted with each successive application that there just won’t be enough passion there to sway the admissions committee.

Do: Include your dream school in the mix. It may be a real reach, but go for it anyway and you’ll have no regrets later.

Tweak Letters of Recommendation

Unsuccessful applicants sometimes don’t realize that they were rejected because their letters of recommendation came across as weak endorsements at best.

Do: Make sure whomever you ask is willing to write a very compelling recommendation for you. Since it’s not a given that you’ll see the letter once it’s written, it’s perfectly OK to come right out and explicitly ask for what you need.

Don’t: Choose a recommender for superficial reasons. I’ve seen too many applicants dinged for committing this mistake. Asking the president of a company, an alum of your dream school or any other bigwig won’t do you any good if they cannot speak intimately and enthusiastically about your many virtues

Do: Remind your recommenders to address specific examples of your accomplishments and leadership abilities, and to discuss your work ethic or team-building skills. Writing a strong endorsement requires some effort, so make it easy for your recommender by providing a list of the accomplishments you want to highlight.

Pump Up Your GMAT

Business schools always stress that test scores are just one metric of admissions decisions, but they are important because the admissions committee has to make sure the people they accept can handle the quantitative work. If your initial scores don’t come close to those of an average student’s at the schools you’re applying to, you need to make significant gains on your GMAT score in subsequent sittings or have other, extremely impressive qualifications.

Do: Allow time to take the exam again. Nerves or lack of preparation might have torpedoed your first effort, and the familiarity of taking it a second or even third time will often lead to a higher score.

Don’t: Wait until the last minute to take your GMAT. Take care of it early in the year, before you have to juggle the other aspects of the application.

Do: Consider alternative preparation methods to see if they yield better results. If you studied on your own last year, see if a formal class or working with a GMAT tutor helps you improve your weak areas more efficiently.

Don’t: Cancel a score when the option appears upon completing the test, even if you’re pretty sure you’ve blown it. Schools will evaluate your highest score, so don’t worry about a low score reflecting negatively on you.

That initial score provides valuable feedback about your testing strengths and weaknesses. You may also find out that your performance was not as bad as you imagined.

Rock Those Essays

Sometimes applicants get hung up on writing the perfect essay, when in reality they should focus on writing a compelling essay instead. MBA blogger Scott Duncan applied to five schools last year and was rejected by all of them. This year, he wrote, he let go of perfectionism and changed his strategy to deliver a simple, clear message and add color to his application where possible.

The new tactic worked, and he’s been accepted at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, wait-listed at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and awaits news from Harvard Business School, where he recently interviewed.

Do: Use the additional essay question to explain what’s changed in your situation to make you a stronger candidate this time around. Make sure to address both professional and personal advancements, but show that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws can often help the admissions committee to like you.

Don’t: Recycle essays from the first time around, and don’t use the same essay for multiple schools. At best, the byproduct of being all-inclusive is that you will sound generic. At worst, you might accidentally leave the wrong school name in the essay and be rejected out of hand for your lack of attention to detail.

Finally, take comfort in knowing many people in business school right now were dinged the first time they applied. The MBA admissions process requires resilience, so take some time to recover, reassess and dive back in.

- See more at: http://www.stacyblackman.com/2015/03/23 ... ss-school/
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Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
MBA blogger, US News and Author, The MBA Application Roadmap

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Re: The Do’s and Don’ts of Reapplying to Business School [#permalink]

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New post 22 May 2015, 20:53
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StacyBlackman wrote:
Don’t: Apply to too many schools – usually six or more – believing that hedging your bets in this way will guarantee admission somewhere. While that strategy sounds logical, in reality your efforts will become so diluted with each successive application that there just won’t be enough passion there to sway the admissions committee.

I see things differently. If you invest more overall resources into the application process, you can apply to more schools without sacrificing quality. Also, unless you have a paid seat or a recommendation from POTUS, the selection process at top schools is a random crapshoot depending upon who reads your app and what mood they are in given that the number of qualified applicants they could admit far exceeds the number they can admit. Worse, if you are a super star, some schools will put you on the waitlist instead of admitting you to manage yield (total dick move but they supposedly do it). Given this, each additional school you apply to slightly increases the cumulative probability that you will get in. The burn gets more efficient over tip such that the more you do this sort of thing, the better you get at it and the more easily it will come to you. If you can do more schools in a later round, I highly recommend it.

I applied to twelve schools between R1 and R2 this past cycle and would it do again in a heartbeat. How did I do it? I worked my ass off and skipped schools with too many or weird essays prompts (like Fuqua) and recommendation forms that are not consistent with other schools.

Recommendations:
- My direct supervisor wrote a recommendation to all twelve schools. He is amazing. I am lucky to work with a lot of supportive senior management so I was able to diversify my other recommenders from school to school. This mitigated the real risk of someone writing a damaging mediocre recommendation (I think one of my recommenders did this) and allows you to ask an alum to write an essay specifically for their school without asking them to do essays for any other programs (otherwise they have to write two or it becomes generic). Asking many different people for recommendations gave me a lot of insights into how I could improve myself professionally. I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone. Your options for recommenders may be a binding constraint on how many schools you can apply to, especially if you don’t have a lot of experience. You definitely want the best recommendations possible, but I recommend looking outside the box.

- I did NOT write my letters of recommendation despite a lot of recommenders asking me to. I provided meaningful background regarding my past interactions with them, my accomplishments vis-a-vis our professional relationship, my strengths/weaknesses according to my 360, and potential superlatives adjectives they could use. Shortly after they submit the recommendation, I recommend asking them to also submit a condensed less candid version on LinkedIn. This was about the same time suck for me as the school essays but well worth it. I also found it strengthened my relationship with my recommenders (if you write an original recommendation for someone you may start to find yourself believing what you wrote – go figure!). A worthwhile investment to strengthening the stronger chain links in your network.

Essays:
- While I am a very slow writer when it comes to memoirs / personal nonfiction, I found the incremental time to complete additional applications and essays relatively modest vis-a-vis one-time investments required to apply to business school (GMAT/GRE, prepping your recommenders, crafting a career plan). This assumes you have a relatively consistent story and do the thorough deep dive introspection that the applications are designed for you to do. I thought the Stanford app is great for this, even if you don’t hit the submit button. I had to slowly bleed the first few essays out, but by R2 I was cranking out UNIQUE essays in under 1 day per school. While it sucks to throw away another $200-300 per application, the time I invested was immensely valuable in crafting my personal story and motives. The essay writing process for me was integrated with a lot of soul-searching about what I REALLY want to do after school. For many, essays are terrible to do in the moment but the quality of the energy you put into it will be proportional to personal growth you will receive from the process independent of the decision if you are accepted or not into that school. There definitely was a synergistic element at play here where content I wrote for one essay would show me a new perspective regarding a separate essay with a different topic.
Interviews:

- With the exception of Tuck, I did alumni interviews in my area and did not visit schools for budget reasons. I found my ability to connect with the person interviewing me improved as I did more interviews. I recommend mock interviews with friends who are MBA grads.

- You can also apply in a late round a cycle early as practice. Do it for a school that interviews nearly everyone and doesn’t mind re-applicants (like Kellogg) way to practice your interview (and the rest of the app) before the real cycle begins. This increases grind for adcoms, but they are charging you a ridiculous fee and will treat you like an unemployed vagabond until you are admitted so go for it if you are willing to spend the money.

- Practice & outreach: Before interviewing, email current students and schedule phone calls to learn about their experience. Ask them how to succeed in the interview and what sets their school apart from others (why they like it). Some of them will talk to admissions on your behalf in addition to whatever feedback your official interviewer says about you. From what I can tell, these unsolicited recommendations can make the difference between being admitted and a WL or ding. I got waitlisted or into every school I did outreach with and wish I did it with the other schools I applied to. This is one area where you might get spread too thin. I would rather invest a day of time conversing with current students at a school you are applying to than completing another school’s application in a day. Generally there is only upside here since people students won’t say anything negative about you to admissions unless they are being asked to evaluate you (which often makes them more critical than if you are just calling for help). It will also give you a sense if that school is right for you. I decided against a few schools after some of these conversations.

I didn't hire a consultant. I have a feeling that it may have helped with crafting my essays for particular schools given that consultants are the few people outside of admissions staff who sees what makes the cut by school and what doesn’t. If I were to do it again and had more money, I might have paid for some essay feedback.

StacyBlackman wrote:
Unsuccessful applicants sometimes don’t realize that they were rejected because their letters of recommendation came across as weak endorsements at best.

Do: Make sure whomever you ask is willing to write a very compelling recommendation for you. Since it’s not a given that you’ll see the letter once it’s written, it’s perfectly OK to come right out and explicitly ask for what you need.

Agree fully.

StacyBlackman wrote:
Finally, take comfort in knowing many people in business school right now were dinged the first time they applied. The MBA admissions process requires resilience, so take some time to recover, reassess and dive back in.


Agreed, but easier said than done. Don't discount the emotional impact of being accepted / dinged. Unless you have a paid seat at a particular program (in which case there is no reason for you tor read this), you're going to pour a lot more of your life into this than you expected. I recommend applying to a safety school in round 1 so you'll get some good news early. It will help with R2 apps. WashU is a good option since there is no application fee.

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Re: The Do’s and Don’ts of Reapplying to Business School [#permalink]

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New post 19 Apr 2017, 20:05
Hi,

How long should someone wait to reapply? How soon is too soon?

Thanks

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Re: The Do’s and Don’ts of Reapplying to Business School   [#permalink] 19 Apr 2017, 20:05
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