MBA Admission Denied: Now What?

You applied to your dream business schools, had sky-high hopes for admission, but were denied. This is a tough blow for anyone to overcome, especially those who invested the most time, effort and emotion in their campaign.

As this reality sinks in, you probably have four immediate questions racing through your brain:

1. Why did the admissions committee reject my application?
Unfortunately, very few schools provide any feedback, insights or explanations for their decisions. Whatever the rationale for the adcom’s silence, a denied applicant is typically left alone to ponder and second guess his or her candidacy and application. Family, friends and colleagues may commiserate and speculate but ultimately they lack the experience and expertise to answer the “why” question.

2. What should I have done better, differently or not at all?
Trying to do a post-mortem analysis on your own is difficult at best — and misleading at worst. A candidate can speculate on flaws, gaps and disconnects that might have prompted the ding. However, without an experience-based understanding of how a given school has treated similar applications this round – and in past years – there’s insufficient context to accurately assess why they perceived your app as not deserving admission now.

3. If I reapply, should I expect admission?
The act of reapplying requires a combination of determination, humility and confidence. However, unless the underlying candidacy, application, essays and recommendations are visibly strengthened, there’s little reason to hope for a better outcome on the second attempt. In fact, one could argue that the adcom is even more likely to deny an unchanged reapplication because they perceive the candidate as either unable or unwilling to look within and improve the submission.

4. What should I do now?
First, you should confirm whether attending business school, albeit a year later than originally intended, is still important and valuable for you. If the answer is yes, but you’re still having difficulty getting past this year’s denial, then the next step should be to get a professional review of your original application. Commonly called a “ding analysis,” this assessment by an MBA admissions expert can help solve the mystery by identifying contributing factors, prioritizing future tactics, and launching you down the path towards a successful reapplication.

In choosing the best resource for your ding analysis, be sure to consider the depth and duration of the consulting firm’s experience, the credentials and knowledge of the individual consultant, and the usefulness of their process. Over the past three decades, The MBA Exchange has helped more than 5,000 candidates – including many reapplicants — achieve admission. Our stellar consulting team features more former MBA professionals and ex-admissions committee members from more top schools than any other firm. Our ding-analysis process includes a forensic review your rejected application, followed by a written report covering: strengths that should have been better presented and leveraged; vulnerabilities that should have been better explained and/or repaired; and missed opportunities that should have been pursued and showcased.

The lifetime value of a top MBA degree is unmatched and undeniable. This value doesn’t diminish in any way according to when an applicant was admitted. Success on the first attempt is wonderful, but absolutely not essential. Gaining admission on the second or even third try is just as rewarding.