My Inbox brought me good news this week. Here’s a sample:
"This week was awesome. I got accepted to Darden on Monday and on Thursday I got the call from Ross…"
At the same time, on the Businessweek Forum, I saw this post:
"I just got my final ding and am starting to plan for next year."
So while I love getting emails and forum posts like the first one, this blog post is devoted to those facing their final ding for the year.
You can sulk and mope. You can reapply next year. But first you should coolly analyze your qualifications for the schools you applied to: Were you competitive at those schools? Did you demonstrate that those schools were the best ones for you? If you were qualified, did you do something wrong in presenting your qualifications?
If you conclude that you aimed too high, I want to encourage you to look at schools that are a little lower ranked than those where you previously applied. If you applied exclusively in the US News’ top ten, broaden your horizons. Look at the schools in the top 30. Are any of them particularly strong in your area of interest? Are they well regarded in the part of the world where you want to live and work? And most importantly, will these schools enable you to achieve your professional goals? If the answer to these questions is yes, then perhaps it is worth your while to submit an application to the most appropriate of these schools during the last rounds of this application year or along side next year’s reapplications to higher ranked programs.
The schools outside the top fifteen know and plan that applicants will apply after being rejected at higher ranked schools. A few years ago I visited Georgetown, and at that time the director of admissions told me that he knows applicants rejected by Wharton, et.al. frequently apply at Georgetown third round. He was quite pleased they did so.
During a chat with Sherry Wallace, MBA Admissions Director at UNC’s Kenan Flagler Business School, she repeatedly emphasized that Kenan Flagler welcomes third round application and has space for qualified applicants:
"We have four deadlines for a reason — we really want and expect to make offers in each of the four rounds. We get the largest number of applicants in our January deadline. Still, we expect to see many more talented candidates after the Jan 13th deadline."
And later in the chat she said again:
"We expect to make offers of admission well into the spring. If you wait until April to apply, that might be a problem. I fully expect to admit candidates who apply in Feb. and March. It is much better to be in a later round with a strong application, than to be in an early round with a weak application."
So if you conclude that you simply don’t have the qualifications for H/S/W, but you may have for a UNC, UT, Georgetown or other schools outside the top ten, and you also realize that these schools support your goals, apply to these schools.
Of course, no MBA program is worth the out-of-pocket and opportunity cost of business school if it doesn’t help you achieve your goals. If you really require the panache, education, and network of an elite MBA, then you must reapply. Start your reapplication with these tools:
Article: "Six Steps to a Remarkable Reapplication"
Finally, if you don’t believe you can objectively evaluate your qualifications and application, invest in a professional Application Review. For $200 you can have an experienced Accepted.com professional analyze your qualifications, evaluate your application, and provide advice for the future. Considering the out-of-pocket and opportunity costs of an MBA, not to mention the time and expense required to apply, that money can be a very profitable investment. Certainly much more profitable than spending tons of time creating applications that go "Ding. Dong."