Rejected MBA Applicants: What’s Next?

Since that gut-wrenching moment when you were denied by your dream business school, you’ve probably gone through the classic stages of grief: Denial (“This is impossible!); Anger (“I hate that @#&%Z* school!”; Bargaining (“Maybe they’ll reconsider if I just call or write the adcom”); Depression (“I’m just not good enough”) and Acceptance (“Okay, now that’s over”).

This emotional roller-coaster ride is behind you, and the sun really did rise again this morning. So, it’s time to make some important decisions about your future. Here are some key questions to help denied Round 1 applicants get grounded and move forward, positively and productively:

1. “Is an MBA education really for me?”
You gave a lot of thought to your near- and long-term professional objectives. Can you achieve those goals at the pace you envision without attending business school? Can you gain the necessary knowledge, expand your perspective and build you network some other way? Is an MBA education still the most reliable path to your preferred future? If the picture is unclear, consider working with a qualified, professional career advisor, who has expertise across industries and job functions, to help you decide.

2. “Why wasn’t I admitted this time?”
“Was the problem my qualifications? Am I lacking the academic, professional and/or personal attributes that the schools require? Were my essays lacking in terms of topics, examples or writing style?” To get an objective sense of how strong your prior applications were, and to discover gaps and disconnects to avoid, consider getting a “ding analysis” from an experienced admissions consulting firm like The MBA Exchange. Based on thousands of past applications — successful and unsuccessful — a professional advisor can tell you with confidence what led to the rejection.

3. “Should I reapply to the same schools next year?”
“How close did I really come to being admitted there? Can I just tweak my apps and try again? Will I have a better chance the second time around?” Answering these questions is especially challenging and stressful since business schools almost never provide feedback to those who they deny. So, again, a “ding analysis,” or a customized hourly consultation, could be valuable, especially if provided by a former admissions officer or MBA graduate of the school in question.

4. “Are there different schools that I should pursue?”
“Did I aim too high? Was my target list too limited?” Almost everyone would prefer to attend the highest ranked, most prestigious MBA programs rather than “settle.” But surely there are several other schools that have a curriculum, culture and community that could benefit you for a lifetime. Additional online research, campus visits, conversations with students and alumni, and a school-targeting consultation are resources that can help you make an informed decision about where to apply. And, if you want to do so this year, the sooner you get started the better. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by all of the options, how about getting a school-targeting consultation from a firm that has helped numerous past candidates like you determine where to apply?

5. “How should I improve my candidacy going forward”
“How can I improve my job responsibilities and achievements? Have I done enough to overcome my modest undergraduate GPA? Do I need to re-take the GMAT or GRE? How can I improve my non-work leadership? Should I choose different recommenders?” Once you’ve decided you’re going to pursue MBA admission, it’s time to confront those issues and optimize your overall candidacy. The first step is to get a free, expert evaluation of your candidacy. Then, if you’re serious about moving forward, consider a comprehensive admission consultation that includes objective analysis, thoughtful planning, authentic positioning, and thorough implementation of the campaign with a savvy, dedicated advisor.

The past is past. The present is now. And the future awaits. If you examine, learn from, and leverage your rejected applications, the probability of your admissions success can increase dramatically.

So, what are you waiting for?