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5December2014

Decoding MBA Admission Results

by Originally Published in The Hindustan Times Education Supplement

For global MBA applicants, round one results are starting to come in. Unfortunately it is the rejections that come first. For a lot of people, plans for getting a Global MBA are part of a lifelong trajectory, the next step in their professional process.

 

If your round one MBA application results are not what you had hoped, there are some useful strategies for moving forward.

 

The first thing you need to do is step back and look carefully at your application to try and understand what went wrong. Did you rush through the application and complete it at the last minute? Maybe you should schedule your time better on round two applications. Similarly, did you ask your recommenders too late? Recommenders need ample time and direction to complete the letters of recommendation if they are to be compelling. We typically advise applicants to approach recommenders 3-4 months before applying and to schedule at least two meetings to discuss recommendation content. Also, have you applied with too little work experience? If so, maybe push your applications off till next year.

 

Next, look at your list of colleges. Were you too ambitious? Were you more focused on winning the lottery than finding the right fit? Reevaluate your goals and find programs that are seeking students like you. Sometimes this is a matter of academics that are lower than admitted averages, but often it is simply a matter of the program not being able to meet your needs – have you applied to Wharton with a post-MBA career goal of working in the social sector? Of course Wharton takes a few students in this category, but very few. They have to keep in mind their placement rates and, for Wharton, it is much easier to place students in management consulting than the World Bank. Maybe you applied to Wharton because you think it is not “worth it” to apply to MBA programs outside the top five. This is a reasonable cost-benefit analysis for many people. Ask yourself if you really must go to business school, no matter where the program is ranked. If you cannot stomach the idea of paying up to $100,000 per year at a lower ranked college, then do not apply in round two and start focusing on other ways to enhance your professional trajectory.

 

While there are no guarantees for a successful application in round two, you can still make a conscious effort to work harder on your applications this time. Retake the GMAT after proper preparation. Start your essays early so you can brainstorm and solicit feedback from a wide set of friends and colleagues. Spend time learning about the different programs. Each top-business school around the world has a different ethos and mission. Read blogs like Clear Admit and Poets and Quants to learn more about these differences and try to network with alumni to understand how they pitch and position their programs.

 

Finally if you had an interview call in round one and still were not admitted, then focus on polishing your interview skills. The best way to do this is to get someone to conduct a mock interview and record it. Critique your own interview playback to find areas for improvement and ask a few others to watch it and give you feedback as a well. This is a simple exercise, but it adds significant value if you are preparing for interviews.

 

And finally if you cannot prepare a better application in round two, then consider waiting until next year. Qualified re-applicants can be successful if they submit good applications the second time and if there has been note able career growth. Whatever you decide, do not waste your time and money submitting a sloppy application. Take your time and do your best.

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