Reapplying to B-School? Read This.
If at first you don’t succeed, try again.
That’s great advice for MBA candidates who didn’t get in the first time. How do you know you’re making the most of your application this time around? Will you get rejected again?
Stacy Blackman, of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently discussed the do’s and don’ts of reapplying to b-school for an MBA.
“Many business schools, even the most elite and well-ranked ones, welcome re-applicants. Reapplying shows you are very serious about your interest in the program,” Blackman writes. “The best way to approach the process when you’re reapplying to business school is to highlight how you have improved your candidacy.”
How Many Schools Do You Apply To?
When applying the second time around, it’s important to note how many and which programs you’d like to target.
“If you received multiple dings in your first application attempt, add new programs next time you’re reapplying to business school,” Blackman writes. “You might have applied to ones that didn’t match up well with 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.”
Blackman recommends reapplicants to apply to at least four b-schools to maximize their chances of success.
Linda Abraham, founder of Accepted Admissions Consulting, follows a simple rule of thumb. She breaks down schools into specific categories: stretch, competitive, and safety. A typical candidate, she says, might apply to roughly five to seven MBA programs: with one to three in the stretch category, two to four competitive programs, and one to two safety schools.
“This strategy gives you a shot at your dream schools, a decent chance of acceptance at competitive programs, and a strong likelihood of acceptance at your safety,” Abraham writes for P&Q.
It’s important not to apply to too many schools in an attempt to play the numbers game.
“While that strategy sounds logical, in reality your efforts will become diluted with each successive application,” Blackman writes. “There just won’t be enough passion there to sway the admissions committee.”
Letters of Recommendation
When applying to MBA programs a second time, it may be helpful to tweak letters of recommendation.
“Unsuccessful applicants sometimes don’t realize that the rejection occurred because their letters of recommendation came across as weak endorsements at best,” Blackman writes.
When asking for recommendations a second time around, Blackman says, applicants should reach out to their endorsers and ensure that the recommendation is a compelling one.
“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,” Blackman writes.
It’s also important to choose wisely when asking for a letter of recommendation. Your endorser should be someone who can speak “intimately and enthusiastically about your many virtues,” Blackman says.
You may have been rejected the first time around due to a low GMAT score. If that’s the case, Blackman says, you should consider looking at the average GMAT score of accepted students at your target school.
“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 when reapplying to business school,” Blackman writes.
Retaking the GMAT can be nerve-wrecking – which is all the more reason to prepare wisely.
“Allow time to take the exam again,” Blackman writes. “Nerves or lack of preparation might have torpedoed your first effort. The familiarity of taking it a second or even third time will often lead to a higher score.”
Strengthen Your Essays
The essay component of the MBA application can be tricky. Rather than try to write the “perfect” essay, Blackman says, applicants should focus on writing a “compelling” essay.
“Candidates must really do their homework about the schools they have targeted,” she writes. “By doing so, they can create compelling essays that convince the adcom how the program will help them reach their career goals. This also predicts how they would contribute to the school as students and eventual alumni.”
When reapplying, it can be helpful to explain in your essay why you’re a stronger candidate this time around.
“Make sure to address both professional and personal advancements, but show that you are realistic and self-aware,” Blackman writes. “Revealing your humanity in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws can often help the admissions committee to like you.”