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7 things to consider if you weren’t accepted to your dream MBA program (this year!)

What to do if the application process and didn’t produce the results you had hoped for.

It can be frustrating when you feel you did all you could do in the application process and didn’t see the results you had hoped for. It’s also a good time to step back, reflect, and think about what you can change to have the outcome you want when you reapply.

1. Make sure you take time to develop a cohesive “story”

The most important thing that successful applicants have is a clear and compelling story – Why MBA / Why Now / Why the Program – with consistent themes and goals ACROSS THEIR APPLICATION.  It can be helpful to approach with a clean slate and think through your differentiated story.  A reapplication allows the Admissions Committee to understand your “whys’ more clearly.

2. Can you deepen this story to strengthen your application…

Earning a promotion, taking on a new leadership or community service activity or retaking the GMAT are all things you can do to make your application STRONGER.  Are there steps you can take to be promoted at work? Take on more responsibility? An international project? Is there a class you can take that ties to your future career goals?  Maybe there is a volunteer activity that highlights your commitment to the community?  Ideally you are able to show what is “new and improved” from the last application.

3. …But not change your story altogether

If you are reapplying to the same school it can be helpful to show how your thinking, interests or goals may have evolved over time (but not changed entirely).  Perhaps you took on a project at work that exposed you to a new area of interest within your chosen field or you traveled to a foreign country and it provided new insight into how a specific business plan might work?  Explaining how and why your thinking has evolved can provide useful insight into “what’s different” from the last application.

4. About that GMAT

If your score is not at or above the average for your choice school, consider retaking and make sure you study and practice.  If your quant score is relatively weak, consider taking an online course to demonstrate your quantitative abilities.  The same applies if you have a lower-than-average GPA or studied a ‘softer’ subject during undergrad.  It is important to demonstrate readiness to take on the quantitative rigor of an MBA program, so explain in your application the steps you have taken to make sure you are prepared.

5. Make sure the school knows it is your top choice

Can you SHOW rather than TELL the Admissions Committee what you will add to the campus, to your class, the community and as an alumni.  Learn as much as you can about the school and the attributes it values. Connect with alums.  Attend local admissions events or MBA tours.  If you are able, visit the campus and attend classes.  Your essays should be specific about how the school will help you achieve your goals and what you will add to the community.

6. Reconsider whether this is the right school for you

If you have your heart set on a specific school, make sure it’s for the right reasons.  A lot of times a decision is simply about fit.  So make sure your reasons for applying to this school are compelling.  Consider expanding your research to include other schools that may be more closely aligned with your career goals or interests.

7. Go for it!

If you have decided to re-apply, be confident.  Pull together your strong and differentiated story and share it with the Admissions Committee.  Re-applying lets the school know just how much you want to be there.  Most schools offer an essay specifically for re-applicants so make sure that puts your best foot forward. Each MBA class has a limited number of spaces, many of which are ‘taken’ in early admissions rounds. Demonstrate to the Admissions Committee why they should select YOU for their class.

About Stratus

Stratus Admissions Counseling is a full service admissions counseling firm distinguished by its team based, multi-step process ensuring each application is crafted for optimum impact. Our MBA counseling team has a representative from virtually every top 20 MBA program, enabling us to provide school-specific guidance.


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