The MBA Rejection Letter: Three Reasons Why You’ll Receive One

MBA Rejection Letter: Three Reasons Why You’ll Receive One

Nobody wants to get a rejection letter from a business school. Unfortunately, rejection is part of the admissions process. Understanding the why behind a rejection can offer context and help you reposition your application for the next cycle.

Susan Cera, Director of MBA Admissions Counseling at Stratus Admissions Counseling, recently highlighted some of the top reasons why an applicant might get rejected from a B-school.


Cera breaks down the MBA admissions process into two parts: evaluation and selection.

In the evaluation phase, the admissions committee looks at each application to determine the applicant’s suitability for their program.

“More specifically, will the applicant be able to handle the academic rigor, will they add value to the cohort and the broader community, and will the MBA program be able to help the candidate achieve their goals?” Cera says. “In any given year, for virtually every MBA program, there are significantly more admissible applicants than there are seats in a class.”

The evaluation phase is relatively quick and the first person to read your application will typically only spend 15 minutes to make a decision.

After identifying which applicants would succeed in their MBA program, admissions officers then determine the optimal mix of individuals to make up the best and most diverse class. This is what Cera calls the selection phase.

“In business school, much of your learning comes from those sitting in class with you or working with you to plan a conference or career trek,” Cera says. “If you are surrounded by classmates whose perspectives and experiences are remarkably similar to your own, you will learn less than if the cohort is diverse.”


One of the most common reasons why you didn’t get into your dream business school? The application process is simply too competitive. Acceptance rates at the most prestigious B-schools can range anywhere from 6% to 20% — which means getting into a top MBA program isn’t easy.

Cera notes that it’s also important to understand ‘potential yield,’ which refers to the consideration of how many admitted applicants will actually enroll in the MBA program. B-schools aim to minimize offers in order to fill seats in their program.

Although your stats may be well above the averages for a particular program, you could find yourself waitlisted or denied because the admissions committee figured you would pick another program over theirs,” Cera says.


Every business school publishes stats on their MBA classes, from average GMAT/GRE scores to years of work experience. Before applying, be sure to understand where you stack up with a business school’s average numbers. If your numbers are below average, the chances of getting in get lower.

“If you’re below the 80% range, acceptance becomes nearly impossible,” Cera says.


Many applicants make a common mistake of crafting a single essay and adjusting it slightly for each business school where they apply. Although this approach saves time, it results in essays that lack a compelling narrative.

“An outstanding essay for one MBA program is not a compelling read for another,” Cera says. “Each program has its own strengths and mission and provides specific prompts for you to address. If you wrote one personal statement and tried to tweak it for each school, that’s likely where you went wrong. Take the time to understand what each program values and how your background and goals align.”

Sources: Stratus Admissions Counseling, P&Q

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