Last year was an incredibly competitive year for MBA applicants, as more people applied to programs hoping to ride out the recession. So what can you do to increase your chances of admissions this year? Stratcase’s recent blog entry has some tips for reapplicants that are worth highlighting:
1. “Re-categorize your school – instead of applying to all dream schools, its time to apply to a safety school. So I would say 1 dream school, 2 fighting chance schools and 1 safety school.”
Amen. You should apply to at least four or five schools to best 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, 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 where you have a market share for what you have to offer.
2. “Review Your Letters of Recommendation – I was only able to review one of my recommenders but after reading the letter I soon realized that they weren’t doing that great of a job, so I cut them from the reapplication process.“
Absolutely. You should also 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.
3. “Expand the people who could be recommenders – I started using coworkers and people I knew who would take the time to write good recos, I think it helped.“
Hmm. You should definitely expand your list of potential recommenders. But using a coworker is questionable. It can work if this person makes a good case why he/she knows you better than anyone else, but the admissions committee might wonder why you couldn’t get your boss to write your letter. Acceptable recommenders are superiors, clients, or partners you’ve worked with to start a business.
4. “Create a one pager- For all your recommenders, making sure each recommender is hitting on a different part of your profile. Its kind of like a boxing batch, your stepping up with the first punch, and your recommenders are the second punch. Don’t let all the recommenders write about the same thing.”
Yes! 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.
5. “Start on the essays now – hopefully you’re not worried about the GMAT anymore so start on the essays now. It could be as simple as pulling last year’s essays and working on those. Schools don’t really change their essay prompts too much.”
Hold on. 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. According to this article in Businessweek, admissions and career placement offices are working 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.
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.
Michelle Stockman, an editor and admissions consultant at Accepted.com, is ready to help you with your MBA reapplication.