The MBA application process is a lengthy and time-intensive experience that, for some candidates, can span multiple years of preparation. From carefully crafted resumes to diligent GMAT prep, a lot of time and resources will be invested in the typical MBA application process. Of all the investments. however, optimism is probably the most taxing for prospective students, especially if things do not turn out in a positive manner.
Part of applying to business school is anticipating rejection; in fact, for those pursuing a top MBA program, more will experience the pain of rejection than the joy of acceptance. The numbers bear this out every year, so it is less about whether you will receive a ding, but instead how you will deal with that ding. There is no tragedy in being denied admission from one of your target programs, but there is one if you are not prepared to handle it.
Let’s explore the best steps to dealing with the ding:
1) Self-Evaluate Submission
This is the first and probably most important step an applicant can take to kick-start the post-ding process. Really take a look back at your application and honestly assess the strengths and weaknesses of your profile. Look at where you stand on paper (GMAT, GPA, etc.) as well as how you fare in some of the softer areas like the essay – scrutinize your whole profile. The data side is easy; you can compare average and median scores to determine your competitiveness in these areas. The “softer” areas are a bit more complicated, but assessing whether or not you answered all questions as they were posed, and to the best of your abilities, is a good place to start. The information gleaned from this self-assessment should fuel your next steps as a potential re-applicant.
2) Re-Evaluate Timeline
At this point, you’ve come to grips with your rejection and have a good understanding of some of your missteps, so now is the time to determine next steps. Applications are all about timing, so consider if you have the time or capacity to implement the changes necessary to reach admissions success. For some, the changes needed will be minimal, for others the changes needed will be far more expansive.
3) Prepare for the Future
After re-evaluating your timeline, you’re ready to prepare for the future. The first question to ask yourself should be whether you plan to continue applying to business school at all. Creating a winning application is not easy, so making the necessary changes to a rejected application may not be seen as worth the effort for some. Now if you do plan to continue applying, it is important to address the issues outlined above and create an action plan. Whether that action plan is enacted in the current application cycle or in subsequent years, having an approach to correct the holes in your package is key.
A ding is not the end of the world! Follow the tips above to bounce back and earn the letter of admission you deserve.
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Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.