Services, Core Services

Reapplicant realities: How to get it right the SECOND time

November 30 2012 By The MBA Exchange
Select viewing preference

Among the thousands of MBA applicants to top business schools every year is a special group: re-applicants. These individuals tried their best to gain admission the previous year, but ultimately were rejected. It’s a humbling experience, made even more stressful by the fact that the adcoms rarely provide any specific feedback explaining the rejection. But reapplicants are tenacious, energized by a fierce desire to overcome defeat with a second try.

If you intend to reapply, you’re probably trying to figure out how to reconstruct your application, capitalize on strengths and mitigate weaknesses for a better outcome. However, the reapplication process is riddled with misconceptions. Three of the most common fallacies are listed below…

Misconception #1: “Re-applying will automatically improve my chances for admission.”

Even if you were interviewed – maybe even waitlisted ¬– during your first application attempt, the mere act of “reapplying” is not enough to overturn the original decision. While preparing and submitting a reapp does show determination, that alone will not make your case. In many ways, this road is even more difficult than it is for first-time applicants since the candidacy is already “anchored” in the initial application and the reapp confirms rejection by comparable schools.

Our advice: Go back to the basics, and ensure that the underlying candidacy is rock solid – professionally, academically and personally. If you find it difficult to be objective and decisive, enlist the help of an expert. After all, the only thing worse than being rejected once is being rejected twice!

Misconception #2: “I have my essays and recommendations from last year, so that’s done.”

You put your heart and soul into last year’s essays. And your recommenders wrote positive reviews about you. However, assuming that your original essays and recs are sufficient for re-application success is a mistake. It’s essential that the content is updated with fresh examples that showcase strengths and address vulnerabilities in your previous application.

Our advice: Identify missed opportunities and unresolved weaknesses in your story, then use the essays and recommendations to help dismiss doubt in the eyes of the adcoms. If you have to start from scratch, so be it. After all, the original application didn’t produce the outcome that you were seeking, so why assume it will do so this time?

Misconception #3: “I was interviewed last year, then waitlisted. So surely I’ll be admitted this year.”

It’s very encouraging to have been invited to interview, and even more so to have been waitlisted. That implies that you satisfied the requirements for admission, but lost out probably due to the limited number of seats available. However, there’s more to it. There was probably something about your candidacy or application that gave the adcom cause to pause. To ignore that in the reapplication is like telling the adcom that they made a mistake in not admitting you.

Our advice: It’s essential to “zero base” your reapplication campaign. Ask yourself – and those you trust – why your first effort was good enough to merit strong consideration, but not sufficient to produce an offer of admission. The reasons can be very subtle and very addressable.

The biggest mistakes reapplicants make involve failing to identify and reverse weaknesses in the previous application, not looking at the entire package from a bird’s eye view, and taking too many shortcuts to avoid re-work. A skilled admissions consultant can guide you through the unique reapp landscape and make sure you take full advantage of your second chance. That’s why we offer an expert ding analysis, and why our Comprehensive Consultation for reapplicants starts with an assessment of the original rejected app.

To learn how The MBA Exchange can help you, please visit us at