Dinged Everywhere? Here’s What Business School Applicants Can Do

Dinged Everywhere? Here’s What Business School Applicants Can Do | The Red Pen

Okay, so it seems the worst has happened. After a long and arduous MBA application process, despite all your hard work, you didn’t get accepted to a single MBA programme where you applied. We realise this is disappointing, even demoralising.

As you struggle to understand why this happened, what you should do and whether you should reapply, here’s our advice: take some time off and gain some perspective so that you can make informed decisions.

When you’ve had some time, here’s what you can do:

1) Figure out what went wrong:

Knowing where the application went amiss is the first step in this process. Start by taking an objective and thorough look at your application materials. If you aren’t able to look at them dispassionately, ask a friend to take a look. Or work with a consultant who can conduct a ‘Ding Analysis’ – a detailed review of your MBA application materials. Some schools offer feedback on applications, so if this is an option from any of the programmes to which you had applied, then by all means take advantage of it!

There are many reasons why business schools reject applicants. Completing the application at the last minute, lack of maturity, poor communicational and interpersonal skills, unrealistic expectations and lack of fit are often among the culprits.

In some instances, there is dissonance between your background, your goals and your application material. An analysis of your materials can lead you to the startling discovery that you don’t actually need an MBA. One of the strongest indicators of this is your goals statement. If your goals are easily attainable without an MBA, or it appears that way from your application, you will need to think long and hard about whether business school is critical for your career path. If you conclude that it is, then you need to work on reframing your goals statement to reflect this in a convincing way.

On the other hand, your application might reveal that you will be better served by pursuing a different type of graduate programme to enhance your skills or knowledge for future professional development. If your background, goals and application material was focused on, for example, education and social sector impact, a degree in education or public policy might be a better fit. If your interest is in statistical modelling and data-driven decision making then it might be better for you to consider a Master’s in Business Analytics.

2) Have a new perspective and new strategy:

If, after looking at all of your materials and evaluating your goals again, you decide that reapplying to MBA programmes is the right next step, it is important to plan and prepare. There are a few factors that are crucial for improving your chances of success. These include:

  • Conducting in-depth research to get school-specific insights. This will help you determine fit and set realistic expectations. Perhaps in the last round of applications, you aimed too high. Adding some more realistic programmes might yield different results next time.
  • Seeking a new recommender who can speak to any enhanced capabilities and progress.
  • Strengthening your profile to help close any skills gap, increase knowledge and build confidence. This will help you submit fresh applications that are more robust. The way you build strength will, of course, depend on your weaknesses. For example, if you have been a chronic job-hopper, commitment to your job and the quality of your performance will be an important criteria to demonstrate in your updated application. Or if you have been in the same organisation and role for several years, consider making a rewarding change. If that isn’t an option, see how you can expand your current role and responsibilities to take on new challenges and leadership opportunities.

When you are developing a plan, consider the timing of your reapplication. If your target list includes some of the same business schools, do not apply in Round 1 of the following year if you applied in Round 2 of the prior year. Applying too quickly leaves only a six-month gap between one application and the next. This doesn’t give you a chance to really develop your profile to the point that it is distinct from your last round of applications.

If you’ve decided that you really do need an MBA and you are willing to go through the application process again, make sure that this time you really set yourself up for success. For more unique insights on reapplication to business school or for a ding analysis, get in touch with us to see how we can help.

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