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Rejected, Now What?

So you poured your heart into the admission process and invested hundreds of hours into fine-tuning your application.

And what do you have to show for all your efforts? Or maybe you dashed off an application at the last minute after learning that your group was being fired.

Regardless of where you fall on the effort continuum, getting that email that says “sorry we are unable to admit you given an extraordinarily competitive pool and year…” still stings.

Here are Three things I encourage anyone considering reapplying to do:


Examine what was weak in the application. And be objective. Have an expert assess your entire application to give you honest feedback.

If cost is a factor, consider a friend/colleague you trust (especially someone who has an MBA from a top school as they can also provide insight gleaned from their own experience.

Follow up with MBA programs that give feedback (eg. Wharton) but don’t count on them to spend a lot of time going over the old application.

And try to read between the lines as sometimes schools are not going to explicitly tell you why your application didn’t meet their criteria.

Finally, the reality may be simply one of timing (you left it too late and are now a better fit for an executive or part time MBA instead of a full time program).


Once you have a clear sense of what you need to improve upon, you will need to devise an application strategy that will increase your odds of success the next time around.

If the issue is a weak GMAT, you should absolutely invest in a course/private tutoring to make sure you make it a non-issue.

I have a wonderful client who took the GMAT and applied with a score of under 600 to later retake the GMAT and score over 700.

His very low GMAT contributed in keeping him out of several of his top schools. Fortunately, he was able to gain admission to a top program.

If the issue is the reverse, great GMAT scores but weak GPA, in some instances, it is worth taking a couple of business courses and earning grades of As to show that you can sit through an academic course and have the discipline to do well.

Weak leadership can also torpedo an application. Beef up your leadership in the interim (even if you have a 9 month track record).

The quality of your impact can go a long way so start today to build leadership experiences if you are lacking in this area.

Another common weakness in applications is a poor choice of Brand Champions (recommenders).

You need to set a plan to reconnect with people you have worked for in the past who were brand champions.

Seek out new brand champions who could write honest, detailed and compelling recommendation letters on your behalf.

The reality is that you may need to put off the reapplication for over a year to address the weaknesses (depending on your age/where you are in your career).


Now that you are reapplying, it is critical to avoid having a chip on your shoulder. It is equally important not to be paranoid.

The most important message a reapplicant has to convey is why he/she is reapplying. Success can’t be achieved without effectively addressing this point.

So make sure that you convey to the admissions board what is new about your application and why your new application demonstrates that you are a fit for their program.

Having taken an objective view of your application, identified the gaps and proactively addressed them, you should approach the reapplication with calm and confidence.

Pace yourself effectively and split your application (consider 3 applications in round 1 and 2 or 3 in round 2).

Take advantage of open house events, visitation programs at the schools, network and get to know the admissions staff (this can be helpful at schools with an open door policy, for example, Tuck).

Give your recommenders at least 4 weeks head start so that they have enough time to work on your application.

With the applications submitted, you can take a deep breadth and relax, knowing you sent in the absolute best application you possibly could.

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