So the final emails have come in with the admission results and the one magical business school on your list has eluded you, despite the fact that you thought yours was far better than most in your circle. Heartbroken, you may spend a few days/weeks in denial and may even curse the schools for not having assessed your potential well.
Sooner or later though, if the MBA dream wasn’t a fleeting flavor-of-the-season for you, you’ll re-start your efforts. And that’s when you are likely to be bogged down by two conflicting schools of thought. One says – make a fresh start. Other pulls you back – history could repeat itself. You get torn and most of you would like to dissect what may have gone wrong.
In this quest, a self-assessment may come out cropper given the huge personal bias that most of us carry – which could be of the positive or negative variety.
Broadly speaking, as you plan your MBA reapplicant strategy, there are 4 variety of feedback you can muster. Let’s look at each one of them in a bit more detail and evaluate what should be your go-to savior.
As hinted at above, this is usually the first resort and often a misleading one. The reason is because ‘philosophically’ speaking, no one would put in a sub-optimal application. Let me explain the philosophy bit here.
Hardly anyone would knowingly put in a bad application. If you had less time, you did what best you could. If you aren’t great at math, you did what best you could on the GMAT. The best here is a function of time and interest level really.
While some enlightened ones may know what may have gone wrong, several others would beat around the bush and curse yourself or the world. Easier said than done, but get out of this cursing rut sooner rather than later.
Remember, you did what best you could, given the circumstances at the time of the application. So instead of beating yourself up, try to take a more objective view of the situation and evaluate the circumstances that may have been favorable.
Did you start the process too late leaving little time for soul searching? Did you rely purely on internet search to understand what a school offers? Were you aiming too high? Did you project your differentiators well? Start with some of these questions on the journey of self-discovery.
Even though the temptation is high to take external help, bear in mind that this you are your best friend/guide. So spend sufficient time in this aspect before you move to the other sources.
No, we aren’t talking about the likes of UTV or Balaji Films here; neither are we asking you to go watch Fashion TV!
This is the Friends and Family network. In times of happiness and in times of distress, this is the bedrock of your life. So why keep them out for a thing that has the potential to change the person you are?
While it is prudent to take suggestions, be discerning here. Just because a friend made it to Ivy league doesn’t mean he knows what it takes for a general candidate or more importantly, what it would take for you to get in.
So how do you decide what to believe in?
The answer is – you don’t. The best you can do is try and gather multiple data points and not just one. And instead of relying on say your uncle who may be a corporate CEO but has no idea of how the admissions process works, try to hunt for those who have experienced it.
In essence, try and avoid random data points; quality, not quantity is the key here.
Though the analogy is a crude one, the horse in this case is the business school in question. Since they are the ones who rejected you, why not ask them what more do they want? Though that’s a bright idea and could be your cheat sheet to success, the story here is pretty bleak unfortunately.
But I got an email personally addressing me saying that I missed by a whisker and that I should definitely reapply you say? Surely, the admissions committee can’t be bluffing or lying here?
Well, to give them the benefit of doubt, they are not.
But just go out and if you can, compare your email with another unfortunate soul like yourself and you’ll see the assembly line spewing the emails out in motion. Nearly all schools use a standard template to send out the rejection news.
Some such as Darden and ISB do provide feedback – though the medium and quality varies. ISB has been known to send emails and many a time, arrange 1:1 calls with a member of the admissions committee. Most of the time though, candidates have a tough time surmising as to what the school is really looking for or what was missing.
So why can’t the school just tell you to go work on 2 things and if you do, all will be well?
The reason is because it’s real-world and unlike this blog post, it is hardly ever so objective and structured. After slicing and dicing the data, most admissions committees spend a lot of time having subjective discussions and debates on the selection.
More often than not, it is a holistic, subjective assessment that may have left you out. Though this can be verbalized and communicated, but here comes the time factor. These are very lean teams and if they start putting a lot of effort in writing individualized feedback, the committee members may have to burn the midnight oil even more than they do already.
There are just about thousands of candidates who do not get in for a few hundred that do.
The bottom line is, don’t rely too much on this data point and don’t try to use an English Language expert to discern the hidden meaning in that ‘personalized’ email cause there is none!
There are many teams out there who offer a ding analysis service. While this may give you some insights, but most teams would not spend the time it would take to really get to the bottom of things. More often than not, you would end up getting a high level view and how the team can help overcome it.
At MBA Crystal Ball, we believe in making fresh starts. So when we work with re-applicants, we do take a short glance on the past but then start afresh to never really look back.
The pain and misery of revisiting the past to cull out the missing aspects in the profile are just too much in most cases to be worth the effort.
So there you have it. In addition to the four point strategy outlined above, also be aware that reapplication is always a bit of a double-edged sword.
If you missed getting into your target university by a whisker, reapplying is a great thing to do. The converse however may also be true – the school may have found no fit at all in which case getting them to have a re-look may not be a great idea.
So as a strategy, do not only reapply – also look for a few additional (new) schools in the mix. And then, make a fresh start.
While it’s still tough applying to the same business school that rejected you, we may be able to improve your reapplicant chances in the coming application season. Get in touch with us, and we’ll let you know if we can help or not.
Read these MBA reapplicant success stories.
– Michigan Ross MBA reapplicant success story
– Reapplicant who got full MBA scholarship & graduate assistantship
– ISB Hyderabad Reapplicant’s strategy
– Oxford MBA success story as a Reapplicant and Bitcoin Entrepreneur