With the pending release of 2014 MBA applications, you may be considering trying again at a school where you were rejected last year. Schools are generally encouraging with re-applicants, but it’s a good idea to also come up with a plan B for this go-round. It’s fine to re-apply to your dream school, but you if you happen to get rejected again, you need to have a fallback this time—a program you’d be satisfied attending even if it’s not your top choice. Life is too short to spend three years trying to get into grad school, and if you haven’t been able to impress the committee for two years in a row, it may simply not be in the cards for you to go there. Often we see clients becoming enamored with a particular school, when in reality, they could receive the same or very similar education and tools (and networks and contacts and jobs) from another school. We are very much in favor of dogged determination, but at the end of the day, we want to see you get your MBA and not spend half your career applying to school.
The biggest factor in deciding whether or not to re-apply has to do with what you have done since last year to make you a better candidate this year. This is far and away the number one most important issue to consider when re-applying. In fact, many schools will only require one essay for a re-applicant, which is basically some version of “what has changed to make you a more viable candidate?” This is where you should focus, and hopefully you recognized this task soon enough after your rejection last year so that you have spent the past 12 months doing things to improve your candidacy. From bettering your GMAT results, to getting a promotion at work, to seeking out new leadership opportunities, there is really no limit to what you can do to improve your profile. If those efforts happen to directly address an identified weakness, even better.
Many schools show favor to re-applicants. Some say your odds go up 30% when you reapply. Maybe schools like the determination they see, or appreciate the demonstration of passion for and commitment to their program. Or perhaps it’s a self-fulfilling prophesy, with re-applicants simply working harder in the 12 months between seasons to sharpen their attractiveness as a potential MBA candidate. Whether it’s self-fulfilling prophesy or statistical advantage, there are good reasons to try again at your target schools, so long as you give some thoughtful analysis to why you didn’t make it and apply some concerted effort into new achievements to enrich your profile.
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Scott Bryant has over 25 years of professional post undergraduate experience in the entertainment industry as well as on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs. He served on the admissions committee at the Fuqua School of Business where he received his MBA and now works part time in retirement for a top tier business school. He has been consulting with Veritas Prep clients for the past six admissions seasons.