Rejected from your dream schools? Here is all that you need to do now

Success is buried on the other side of rejections!

-Tony Robbins

The last rounds of most schools are over now, and people are waiting/getting the results of their Round 3 and Round 4 application efforts. Some got accepted, some have been waitlisted, still waiting for their closure, and for some, the journey has come to a disappointing end and they have been rejected from their dream schools. You’ve spent countless days and sleepless nights studying for the GMAT, researching schools, writing essays, preparing for interviews. But today, all you have is a rejection letter right in front of your eyes which you never thought of receiving even in your dream. Let’s get into finding out what your choices are now and what did or did not make the first cut, why you were rejected from your dream schools, and what should be the best way forward for you.

This article will help candidates whose application got rejected from their dream schools and unfortunately, they did not park into any of the MBA programs they applied to and are now stressing over which path to follow. We’ll discuss different strategies to tackle this situation in the coming future and get every process right. 

WHAT CHOICES DO YOU HAVE IN YOUR CAREER NOW AFTER REJECTIONS FROM YOUR DREAM SCHOOLS?

Even before you go into the ocean of introspection into your application, the first part is to evaluate the options you have in your career now. Very straightforward, there are two ways to go- reapply following season/other schools in the next rounds or go ahead with your job. Now, we can’t tell you what’s good for you. You will have to analyze where you want to go- is an MBA something you want to do and help your career? If yes, then go ahead with the first option as it will also involve, now, less effort and better planning to help you get into your dream schools. But if you can not go through with the whole process again and go ahead in your career even without an MBA- then move on! 

Here we have simplified this whole decision-making process for you into five paths:

Apply to other schools you may be interested in for Round 4: If you have been rejected from your dream schools in Round 3, this is an option you have but something we explicitly would not suggest. But as an option, there are still some schools that have their last rounds open. This path would be suitable for those who, at any cost, can not apply next year- it’s either this year or not at all. If you’re open to applying to MBA only this year, then you may want to go for some schools that still have their applications available and make that last effort count to get into a school. However, the chances of getting into a school in the last MBA rounds would be very slim. 

Reapply in fall intake: Again, if you have been rejected from your dream school recently, well, this is something that we consider a bright option! The September deadlines are only a few months away, and you have already made many efforts into the application process for this cycle to get into your dream school. Thus, without losing much time and going through the whole process, you will have the brightest chances of going into your dream school if you reapply in fall intake. It will also exhibit your genuine interest in a school, something that each school would like to see in their potential students.

Reapply at an appropriate time in the future: If you have been rejected from all the MBA programs you applied to, the most important thing to do as a reapplicant is to reapply at the right time. And this time, make sure you have something new to talk about that would strengthen your candidacy and help give a completely new face to your application. You can read the success story of a reapplicant here and how he made his way to Darden this year.

Apply to other programs: If you did not get into your preferred school, it’s okay to look to other schools which can still help you reach your destination. Search through the MBA Programs that align well with your career aspirations. Look into their curriculums, what they will be offering you and how all that will help bolster your chances of getting in. 

Move forward in your career without an MBA: A wise choice for those who think they can still move forward in their career and may not need an MBA right now. MBA applications are exhausting, and we understand how getting rejection from your dream school is hard, and going through this whole process without a guarantee can be tiring. And this includes opportunity cost as well. It’s weird for us to tell you not to apply to an MBA, but this is life, and you have to make hard choices. So, if you think you should move ahead in your career without an MBA, you may be right. But, do not make this decision without consulting with experts and your family and friends. Because every action would have an opportunity cost- sometimes it can cost you more than you have expected. 

REFLECT ON WHAT WENT WRONG WHICH LED TO REJECTIONS FROM YOUR DREAM SCHOOLS:

Retrospect, spend some time and evaluate your application. Hash out your weaknesses which catalyzed the rejections from your dream schools. And ask yourself specific questions like:

How did my GMAT score stack up?

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Undergrad GPA  (was it at par with the school’s average)? If it was not, did you do anything to compensate for it and exhibit that you have the academic potential?

Did I sufficiently talk about ‘Impact’ in my work experience?It would be best to convince the admission committee that you are experienced enough to grapple with the competitive B-school environment, building upon your prior business skills. Show that your work experience is an asset to the business school and its community, whether it’s two years or ten years. Exhibit how you have gained relevant skills necessary to achieve your post-MBA goals. Bring maturity in your profile and talk about impact and leadership experience in your work-ex and personality. Impact is a very distinguished factor in adding weight to your candidature and if this is something you may have missed on or could not present sufficiently, this can be one reason of you getting rejected from all MBA programs or your dream school.

Did I demonstrate my ECs well? Suppose a candidate has no activities other than work. In that case, an application reader will wonder how much the person will actively participate in the school community and how that lack of participation might reflect the school’s future. You can read more about what activities to talk about to add to your ECs.

Did my essay have holes in it? You should be in a position to figure out whether your essays were sufficient enough to provide a gripping narrative to your personality and achievements. Check whether your career goals were realistic, or you kept it cliche. Make sure that you kept the content natural and honest, because just Ctrl C &V ing your essays for each application will make adcoms suspicious and then eventually reduce your chances of getting in. Also, ask yourself – Did I focus enough on creating my personal brand and work it as if I was selling it to an interested investor? Take learnings and implement them in the future application process.

How did the interview go? Nothing can hollow your chances for admission faster than an unsatisfactory interview. If you make it to the interview round, that means the admissions committee believes your candidacy justifies a second look, and you have 30-45 minutes to prove it. Make sure you portray your true self in the interview process too. Don’t sound too cocky. It will ruin your chances. Stay humble and folksy and exhibit your genuine interest in the school.

What would make my case more potent in the following rounds?

Did my long-term goals align with the prospect school? If you can’t express your goals in such a way that indicates how an MBA will help you achieve them, particularly from the school you are applying to, this omission is another open and shut case to get dinged. If you want an MBA just for the prestige or come across as a serial degree-seeker, you have a problem.

Last and most important, did you spend enough time on your application to understand yourself and the schools you targeted?Most applicants think that they have spent enough time on their applications but sometimes that enough is not enough! And not spending adequate amount of time in introspecting, connecting dots can lead to rejections from all your dream schools. Also, it would help if you keep a hang of your safety, reach and target schools at the back of your mind to keep things right on track. 

HOW TO BOOST YOUR APPLICATION AFTER REJECTIONS FROM YOUR DREAM SCHOOLS?

Look at the class profiles of the schools that you are looking to get into to check what GMAT scores, grades, and experiences current students are bringing to the table. It will help you understand how your background and experience can contribute to the school.

Find answers to questions such as:

Does my profile stand up to the school’s admissions criteria?

What is my area of weaknesses? 

How can I improve upon that area of weakness? 

Should I consider retaking the GMAT? If the school’s average is higher than what you scored. 

DECIDE WHICH SCHOOLS TO TARGET IN THE NEXT CYCLE:

Selection of the right MBA programs is critical for you to increase your chances of selection at a school. So, take time to get school-specific insights and reflect on why you have not been selected to a school. And if you still want to reapply to the same mix of schools or wish to change some schools in the portfolio. 

Sometimes things happen for a reason, so view rejections from your dream schools as necessary encouragement to strengthen your application in the next round. Even if you don’t get a ‘yes’ from your number one choice, your chance of admission to a rival prestige school could be pretty good. 

 If you are willing to cast wider nets and not thinking of reapplying to the same schools, you should self-reflect and check where you can improve. The process will be crisp in your head if you decide to apply to a different school. You don’t need to change everything in your application. You may even ask the same recommenders to prepare additional letters. But it would help if you are very careful while examining your flaws in the earlier business school admission cycle. 

Maybe it was your resume that didn’t highlight your leadership or growth over time, or perhaps it was your recommendation letter that ended up being generic and didn’t help your case. Or maybe your essays were way off base, or it can simply be that the schools that you applied to were long shots for you. Consider taking a safe bet by applying to more than one business school.

For those reading this article and for the ones who think of reapplying in the future, please know that it would be best to be thorough and thoughtful in applying to the top business programs. The key is to understand your potential and improve your candidacy. One rejection is not the end of your story and if it helps, here is the story of a reapplicant who got into Darden without changing one single aspect of his application.

We believe if you work on the missing links, you can turn the stars in your favor. After all, ‘When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’ 🙂 And we would love to be that part of the universe for you.

We are here to give you the best admission advice. If you are keen, let’s strategize to get you into your dream schools in the upcoming fall deadlines because all is not lost! So, do make sure that you bring out the best version of yourself on paper.

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