MBA admissions is tough at top schools. If you were rejected last year and are trying again, you definitely want a different outcome this time around. What can you do to increase your chances of admissions this year?
Tips for reapplicants
- Reevaluate your school choices
Instead of applying to dream schools only, make sure you add a number of safety schools to your list. A good breakdown may be 1-2 dream schools), 2-3 reasonable reaches (or “fighting chances”), and 1-2 safety schools.
Ideally, you should apply to around four or five schools to increase your chances for admission. Compare your numbers and work experience to the class profile of your intended program. For your dream school, your GMAT score and GPA should fit in the range provided. At a fighting chance school, your GMAT and GPA should be the average score or above. Your scores should be well above average for your safety school.
Bottom line: If you really want the skills an MBA will provide, think like an entrepreneur. Identify the strengths of your brand, and target the MBA program looking for what you have to offer.
- Review your letters of rec options
You should consider recruiting new recommenders for your reapplication because last year’s recommenders are old news. The admissions committee wants fresh and accurate information from people who know you now. The more people you can produce who support your candidacy, the more “evidence” the admissions committee will have that you are someone they want.
Sometimes applicants ask me if they can ask a coworker to be a recommender. Here are my thoughts: It can work if the coworker makes a good case why they know you better than anyone else, but the admissions committee might wonder why you couldn’t get your boss to write your letter. Absent a request for a peer recommendation, the best recommenders are generally superiors, clients, or partners you’ve worked with to start a business. Some schools ask for peer recommendations, and then of course, that’s what you should provide.
- Create a one-pager to give to your recommenders
This is a great way to prepare superiors to give you an excellent recommendation. Even though they might think very highly of you, your recommenders have limited time. Focus their efforts by preparing a one-pager that highlights your accomplishments. Provide descriptive examples of episodes when you worked together and exhibited your best attributes. And be sure to cater each one-pager to each recommender so that your recommenders each write on different aspects of your profile and highlight your various strengths.
- Start working on your essays now
Start early, but start smart. Thoroughly read through the program’s reapplication process. Some schools want the entire application again, but others only want one essay, with updates.
In your essay(s) this year, focus on refining your goals. Also make sure you highlight what has made you stand out from your peers and made you exceptional this past year. Remember: admissions and career placement offices work closely together to find applicants with a history of promotions and clear, achievable goals.
If your GMAT wasn’t stellar, don’t think you can make up for it through your stellar personality. You should definitely consider retaking it, as many schools will take your highest score, or the average of your two highest scores. This could bump you into the acceptable range.
- Find out more from your target schools
Finally, don’t hesitate to call the school to ask questions about their reapplication process. If at all possible, go to the school and meet with an admissions officer. Don’t ask for feedback on your past application. Most officers will find this annoying, and will voluntarily give you this information if you come ready to concentrate on the future. Ask what they are looking for from reapplicants. This is a great networking step, as the admissions committee will see that you are serious about their school.
Do you need help reapplying to b-school? Our advisors have been on both sides of the admissions process ad know what works…and what doesn’t. Check out our MBA Admissions Consulting & Editing Services and work one-on-one with an expert who will help you make sure that this application is the one that gets you ACCEPTED. Learn more here.
• Best MBA Programs, a free guide to selecting the right one for you
• How to Reapply Successfully to Top MBA Programs [Video]
• Stand Out! A Critical Goal for Your Application, a podcast episode