The ABCs of Reapplying to Business School — The Admit Lab

Philippe Barr, PhD
11 min readMay 1, 2023

Are you a business school applicant looking for another chance to make your mark on the world? Whether it’s your first or even second time reapplying to business school, there are certain steps that can help increase your chances of successfully being admitted to one of the nation’s top business schools.

It doesn’t matter if you received rejections earlier; today is a new day and with some planning, persistence, and strategy behind your application process, you can be three steps closer to making this dream come true!

In this post, we will share advice on how you can reapply to business school with confidence while strategically focusing on what universities look for in candidates. Keep reading to learn more about The ABCs of Reapplying To Business School Successfully!

Potential Reasons You Did Not Get Admitted

To understand why you were rejected, it’s essential to consider the reasons behind it. It might be just a question of numbers: highly selective schools with fairly low acceptance rates just simply don’t admit many students. Therefore, even if you have excellent credentials, you may not get admitted simply due to the high competition. Timing might also have been a factor. It’s crucial to note that applying late may increase your chances of being rejected, even if you are a competent candidate. Other factors could have been academics, professional experience, a lackluster application, or you simply did not demonstrate fit convincingly.

Let’s now see the steps to take to make ensure you will be reapplying to business school successfully this time:

Analyze: Take a Deep Dive into Your Weaknesses

Receiving a rejection letter after working hard on your MBA application is a tough pill to swallow. However, if you want to improve your chances of getting accepted the second time around, you need to take a deep dive into your weaknesses. Analyze your GMAT or GRE score, your essays, your recommendation letters, and your interview performance. Ask yourself what worked and what didn’t. Ask your recommenders for feedback on your essays, and consider hiring an experienced MBA coach who can help you identify areas for improvement. Once you identify your weaknesses, you can create a plan to address them.

Whether it’s your GPA, GMAT score, work experience, or extracurricular activities, make sure to focus on what you can do to strengthen your weak spots. Retaking the GMAT, enrolling in a course to improve your GPA, or getting involved in a volunteer organization are all great ways to show admissions that you’re committed to improving yourself.

Request feedback

It never hurts to ask for feedback on your application. Before reapplying to business school, reach out to the admissions committee, and ask for feedback on your original application. They may highlight areas that you need to focus on or give you some insight into why you were not admitted. Take this feedback constructively, and use it to strengthen your reapplication.

If you’re unsure what led to your rejection, it’s best to ask for feedback from programs that offer it. Some schools may provide feedback if they have the time.

To find out if you’ll receive feedback on your application, check the program’s FAQs. If feedback is provided, it is typically given during a 15- to 20-minute session with an admissions officer, who will review your application with you. To prepare for this session, make a list of questions you would like answered.

Now, if you walk out of your feedback session and don’t have answers to these questions, you’ve missed a golden opportunity. At the same time, as valuable as feedback from an admissions officer can be, just like everything else you read or hear, you have to evaluate it.

If the feedback you received highlights particular problems with your previous application, you’ll need to modify those areas of your profile or consider applying to a different school. Admissions committees generally evaluate how effectively you addressed their feedback in your new application when reviewing reapplications.

Reassess your goals

Take some time to reassess your reasons for wanting to attend business school. Make sure that your goals are still in line with the program you’re applying to. Talk to current students or alumni to get a better sense of the school’s culture, curriculum, and network. This will not only show your commitment to the school but also give you a better sense of what you can expect if admitted.

Be Bold: Make Substantial Changes

One of the biggest mistakes applicants make when reapplying is submitting the same application with minor tweaks. If you want to increase your chances of getting admitted, you need to make substantial changes. This may involve retaking the GMAT or GRE to improve your scores, taking additional courses to strengthen your academic profile, or rethinking your career goals and how an MBA can help you achieve them. You may also need to reframe your essays and show the admissions committee that you have made significant progress since your last application.

Connect: Build Relationships with the Admissions Committee and Current Students

Building relationships with the admissions committee and current students is key to reapplying successfully. Attend information sessions, reach out to alumni, attend webinars, and join forums and groups online. Show genuine interest in the program and its culture. You may also want to connect with current MBA students and get their perspective on the program. This will help you understand if the program is a good fit for you and show the admissions committee that you are invested in their program.

Differentiate: Stand Out from the Crowd

Finally, in a sea of qualified applicants, you need to find a way to stand out from the crowd. This may involve highlighting unique aspects of your profile that differentiate you from other applicants, showcasing your leadership and teamwork skills, or highlighting a passion or interest that sets you apart. You may also want to demonstrate your familiarity with the school’s culture and values and show that you are a good fit for the program

Tailor your application

Don’t reuse your old application. Make sure to tailor your application to the program you’re applying to. Do your research, and show the admissions committee that you understand what makes the school unique. This not only shows that you’re committed to the program but also that you’re a good fit for the school.

Academics

To determine your chances of being admitted to your desired school, compare your academic statistics with the school’s averages. If there is too much of a discrepancy between the school’s average and yours, then you may face challenges. If you have applied to multiple schools where your academic statistics are significantly lower than the average statistics of the schools, and you do not belong to any underrepresented minority, then it is likely that you are aiming too high and not being realistic. If you’re considering applying to lower-ranked schools, focus on the ones that have a good reputation in your particular field.

To demonstrate your academic potential, take courses and get good grades, especially in courses related to business school such as calculus, statistics, accounting, economics, or finance. Additionally, you can also explore online programs such as Harvard Business School’s CORe.

Professional experience

Before reapplying to business school, it is essential to assess both the quantity and quality of your work. Assuming that you have progressed in the past year, if your job application was previously impacted by insufficient work relevance, then the passing time might have helped you to improve. However, if you’re an older applicant, and time is not on your side, you might have an abundance of valuable experience. In that case, you should think about applying to schools that value experience more.

While having substantial professional experience is valuable, it’s essential to also prioritize the quality of that experience. If you have assessed yourself and found that your work experience is not as strong as other candidates or if the school has provided this feedback, it may be worth considering whether a promotion or responsibility change has already addressed this issue. If you haven’t received a promotion or your job is very specialized, consider transitioning to a role that’s more business-oriented. If you’ve only worked domestically, seek out opportunities to gain international experience.

To demonstrate significant change, you could consider taking initiative outside of work. This is particularly valuable for elite MBA programs that appreciate leadership skills.

Emphasize What Makes You YOU

To make a good impression on the school, it’s important that your essays showcase your personal qualities that match their values. These mainly include leadership skills, teamwork abilities, initiative-taking abilities, and interpersonal skills. Your academic and job records are valuable, but your essays should cover other aspects of your profile. The admissions committee also considers the positive impact you’ve had in your personal or professional life, such as mentoring someone and creating a major change.

It’s crucial to demonstrate community service, regardless of its type. Community service encompasses more than just volunteering at a soup kitchen; it can involve assisting your community in any way that resonates with you, such as your professional, ethnic, political, or religious community. The key is to display responsibility, leadership, and the ability to influence those around you, as these are the traits that business schools value.

Emphasize Fit

Have you explained in a clear manner how the program offered by the specific school will assist you in accomplishing your goals? As you are in the process of reapplying to business school research the schools you’re interested in. Visit their websites and look into their curriculum and special programs. You can either attend an online information session or visit the campus yourself, where school representatives may be available to meet with prospective students. To get a feel for the different programs, it’s wise to attend school receptions and MBA fairs.

Moreover, it would be beneficial to speak with current students and recent graduates about potential career paths in your desired field. Confirm that graduates of the school are being hired in the specific job areas that pique your interest.

It is recommended to research the professors at the school and their work. You may want to consider taking a class with a specific professor, or explore their involvement in research or consulting for a firm that aligns with your interests. Having this knowledge can add authenticity to your essay about why you want to attend the school.

Are Reapplicants Viewed Differently Than First-Time Applicants?

In general, MBA programs usually welcome applications from candidates who have applied before. This is particularly true if you were on the waitlist before. While there is no guarantee, being a reapplicant may give you a slight advantage.

When reapplying to schools, you may be to submit a completely new application, including new essays and letters of recommendation, as well as your previous transcripts and test scores (if they have improved, include them!). If the school provided feedback on your previous application, it is important to ensure that your new application addresses any issues raised in the feedback. It is unlikely that the entire file from the prior year will be read, but the previous reviewers’ notes will most likely be consulted. Only if there are any questions, the previous application might be referred to, but this is not usual.

If you are reapplying to a school and only need to submit essays or a letter explaining updates since your previous application, along with any new scores or transcripts, your previous application still carries considerable weight. However, if you believe your previous essays or letters of recommendation were subpar, or your application was flawed, you may ask the school if you can submit an entirely new application.

If your previous application was weak and had problems, it’s recommended to submit a new request. Some schools are not as extreme in their standards. It’s up to you to decide if you want to rewrite your application or simply add to the original one.

When Is the Ideal Round to Reapply?

It is recommended that you try to submit your reapplication in the first round, especially if you were previously waitlisted. This shows that you are prepared and enthusiastic. Additionally, some schools require reapplicants to apply in the first round, so be sure to review the reapplication requirements. If you don’t have enough work experience and reapplying in Round 2 or Round 3 would give you time to build up your resume, and if the school doesn’t require a Round 1 reapplication, you should consider this option. It’s best to discuss this with an admissions consultant, but you could also prepare your application for Round 1 and hold off on submitting it until Round 2 if you think there will be a significant change at work that you want to include in your application. One option is to submit your application in the initial round and inform the admissions committee if any changes occur. However, ensure that you only send significant updates later and not minor or surface-level changes.

In Conclusion

Reapplying to business school is a process unlike any other. It takes hard work, resilience, and patience, but it’s totally worth it if your ultimate goal is earning an MBA. After reading our advice on how to come back stronger than ever while preparing to reapply to business school, you may feel inspired by the possibilities this could bring for your future. Don’t just dream about the success of attending a prestigious business school and all the knowledge you will gain, make it happen! Revisit all of the tips we have provided in this article and get started!

Still, feeling uncertain? Don’t worry; we’ve got you covered. Our MBA services can help guide you through every step of applying to business school, from crafting an impressive CV or resume to strategizing for upcoming interviews, we are here to help you succeed. So don’t wait any longer — check out our MBA services now and make reapplying for business school the first success story in your career portfolio.

With a Master’s from McGill University and a Ph.D. from New York University, Philippe Barr is the founder of The Admit Lab. As a tenure-track professor, Philippe spent a decade teaching and serving on several graduate admission committees at UNC-Chapel Hill before turning to full-time consulting. With more than seven years of experience as a graduate school admissions consultant, Philippe has stewarded the candidate journey across multiple master’s and Ph.D. programs and helped hundreds of students get admitted to top-tier graduate programs all over the world.

Originally published at https://admit-lab.com on May 1, 2023.

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Philippe Barr, PhD

I am Philippe Barr, founder of The Admit Lab, a graduate school admissions consultancy that helps students get admitted into grad school: https://admit-lab.com/