Strategies for Re-applying to Business School
‘The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over-and-over and expecting a different result.’
No doubt, you’ve heard that maxim from Albert Einstein. Of course, it’s easier to remember it than follow it. And that’s certainly true after you’ve been dinged. Sure, you’ll undertake weeks of soul searching. If you’re honest, you’ll come back with plenty of ideas. But just try tearing up your essay and starting over – I dare you. Go ahead: Crack open that GMAT study prep. And please, sign up for that class or shoulder those extra responsibilities at work. It’s a little harder than you thought, isn’t it?
There’s no shame. Everyone goes through it. It’s hard to start up again. And you can bet you’re already bargaining, no different than if you were grieving. ‘If I can just tweak here, tighten up there, expand this, and cut that,’ you tell yourself – we’ll get the thumbs up next time But re-applying to business school isn’t like re-arranging puzzle pieces. You didn’t get dinged because it didn’t come out how you wanted. You got dinged because key pieces were missing. And fixing that means adopting a new strategy altogether.
In her latest U.S. News column, Stacy Blackman, Kellogg grad, author, and MBA admissions consultant, is clear on how to improve your chances: “Highlight how you have improved your candidacy.” To do this, she counsels readers to evaluate their application in these four areas:
1) Raise Your GMAT: GMAT scores are how adcoms evaluate candidates side-by-side. But if your overall number rests in the lower percentile – or your quant score doesn’t pass muster – you’d better have a compelling narrative, stellar references, and eye-popping resume to compensate. As Blackman notes, adcoms are very concerned about students’ ability to handle the quantitative end of business school. If your score is anywhere below the class average, she advises students to re-take the GMAT – and start prepping for it now. Even more, to further Einstein’s maxim, take a different approach than the one that resulted in your last score. “If you studied on your own last year,” she writes, “see if a formal class or working with a GMAT tutor helps you improve your weak areas more efficiently.”
2) Re-Tool Your Essays: Speaking of aphorisms, you’ve probably also heard that “Perfect is the enemy of the good.” In Blackman’s experience, “perfect” can undercut candidates’ authenticity and muddle their message. Instead, she advises candidates to keep the essay simple and peppered with colorful anecdotes that drive the key points home. At the same time, Blackman counsels candidates to use the extra essay question to share how your candidacy has grown stronger over the past year. “Make sure to address both professional and personal advancements,” she writes, “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.”
3) Review Letters of Recommendation: According to Blackman, “unsuccessful applicants sometimes don’t realize that they were rejected because their letters of recommendation came across as weak endorsements at best.” To counter this, she encourages applicants to get new letters or have their recommenders modify their existing ones. “Remind your recommenders to address specific examples of your accomplishments and leadership abilities,” Blackman writes, “and to discuss your work ethic or team-building skills.”
4) Target the Right Schools: In this case, more isn’t necessarily better. While Blackman suggests applying to “at least four schools,” she adds that too many applications can work against you. “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.” In addition, she encourages applicants to treat each school application differently. “Don’t recycle essays from the first time around,” she writes, “and don’t use the same essay for multiple schools. At best, the byproduct of being all-inclusive is that you will sound generic…Make sure your focus is on fit over brand strength, and match your preferred learning style to the school’s style of instruction.”
Click on the U.S. News link below for additional advice on how to improve your odds the second time around.
DON’T MISS: HOW TO RE-APPLY TO BUSINESS SCHOOL
Source: U.S. News & World Report