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Improve your MBA reapplicant strategy by avoiding these common mistakes

MBA Reapplicant mistakes

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.

1. Self-assessment

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.

2. The F-network

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.

3. From the horse’s mouth

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 (Top reasons why you got an MBA rejection letter)? 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!

4. Professional Ding Analysis

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
Oxford MBA success story as a Reapplicant and Bitcoin Entrepreneur

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Manish Gupta
About Manish Gupta
Chief Consulting Officer at MBA Crystal Ball, ex-McKinsey, IIT & ISB topper. MG can help you get into the top B-schools. Read more about this top MBA admissions consultant. Connect with MG on Linkedin, Facebook or Email: mcb [at] mbacrystalball [dot] com

12 thoughts on “Improve your MBA reapplicant strategy by avoiding these common mistakes”

  1. Hi,

    This is Domnic, i have 5.5 years of experience along with i have done from, BITS Pilani Rajasthan. So, am thinking of taking up with M.S. in cyberSecurity. So can i know which exam is better whether it is GRE or GMAT

  2. Dear Mr.Manish,
    ur blogspot is very useful and inspiring. This is thanuj native of India.Iam doing my 2nd year BS Mech engg in Kaunas Institute of technology in Lithuania.
    iam about to take my 3rd year erasmus in technical university Denmark.
    My ambitiown is to do PhD in ballistics / weapon designing and thats why I chose Europe for bachelors degree.As of now, my CGPA is 9.2

    Pl suggest me which is the best university offering Ms + PhD in weapon designing in US /europe.
    I learn that US is the best place. Please give me your guidance on the best US university, requirements etc.,,
    Thanks, thanuj

  3. Hello, I am Abhilash.
    I am an Indian student, just completed my bachelor’s degree in computer Science& Engineering from Biju pattnaik university of technology. – Odisha, India. My CGPA is 7.5, where the best is being considered between 8.2-8.5 out of 10. I worked in many research projects as a research intern in some companies, Along with my graduation. I have certification of many programming languages. And want to peruse masters in MIT / Harvard / Princeton / UCB / Stanford like top universities. So I am planning to take GRE, and TOEFL. I can get a good Score like 320+ in GRE and 100+ in TOEFL. As I am not from the fancy universities like IITs. Nor I have the Best GPA in my university. None of my professors are scientists. So I didn’t work under any professor. But I managed to work as intern in several small companies. I was involved in many outdoor activities. So in this situation what are the chances of me to get selected in top universities most preferably MIT? (After getting a good score in GRE &TOEFL) if i lack in something what to do?

    • Abhilash, the grades and college are not going to change. So you have to look ahead and do the best on GRE. Apart from that, any research work in your area of study will be really useful. Since you have already graduated, it would be worth exploring opportunities to build your profile on that aspect.

  4. Hi sir

    I’d like to request you for recommending a list of US B schools (at least 12 (4-ambitious,4-moderate, 4-safe) for which I am applying in Early round with the following profile:

    GRE – 316 (Q170 (98perc) V146 (29perc)) AWA – 3.5 (38 perc)

    Current Designation – Deputy Manger (one promotion in fast track 5% employees achieve it in our company) in Production Engineering Dept (Techno-commercial segment)

    Total Work Ex – 5 yrs in India’s largest car manufacturing company with an elite experience of project management by handling 3 green field projects of Engine and transmission assembly line set-up in the role of project manager)

    B Tech – 7.64/10 CGPA in mechanical engineering from National Institute of Technology (among top 25 colleges in India)

    Achievements: Promotion in Fast track 2016, Rising star award 2015 (best 10 employees with 3< work ex <5, Best project Initiation 2014, Stood first in project presentation as graduate Engineer trainee – Star performer 2013

    Professional Skills : Project management, Logistics and Inventory planning, Technical and commercial negotiations, Experience in handling multiple green field engine and transmission assembly line projects

    Extra curiccular:
    Volunteer for poor children empowerment at an NGO
    Teaching experience in IIT-JEE Maths & Physics
    Directing Short films and choreography

    Kindly recommend some other b schools that I can apply this year with my profile
    – preference full time MBA operations & supply chain management

    Also kindly suggest that what GRE score can be considered a safe one to apply ISB this year with my profile provided
    excellently drafted essays.

    Thanks in advance

    Best Regards

  5. Hello Sir,
    I am a undergraduate student from BIT MESRA currently in my 3rd year. Here’s what my profile looks like till now:
    10th/12th/graduation – 91.3/88.6/7.6
    I was the team captain of the college team which took part in ASME’s HPVC an event held internationally
    Now i am a member of the college team taking part in SAE BAJA 2017.
    Till now i have also taken part in many robotics event which i have won.
    intern – NTPC .
    I was also the team member of my athletics team.
    Does blood donation also count?
    Sir i am having a lot of confusion in choosing the MBA exam which i should take CAT or GMAT .
    Most colleges in GMAT demand work experience. I was thinking of giving the GMAT exam at the end of 3rd year itself. Should i give it or not?
    Is work experience really necessary??

  6. Hello Sir,

    This is Preet.

    I’m a re-applicant at ISB this year. Last year, I was selected for the interview but was rejected after that.
    As I plan to write the essays, I’m confused for the prompt of Essay-1. The problem is whenever I read my last year’s essay-1, I get the feeling that it very well highlighted most of my differentiating traits. I have new achievements but the one I mentioned last year was my best till date.

    So, how fatal is it to repeat my last year’s essay since I’ve come to know that Adcomm doesn’t look at last years’ essays.

    Also, if its wrong to do so, can I rephrase my essay and highlight that achievement again since I still want to highlight that experience.

    Thanks in advance,



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