As an MBA Program aspirant you are clearly in one of these three spots at this time of the year – you have your dream admission (or may be any admission!), you were dinged by all the schools you applied to and after a long wait are now a re-applicant, or you are that ubiquitous first – time applicant looking forward to the year ahead as the year of change! Whoever you are, remember there is a mantra for you, a list of do’s and don’ts that if adhered to will optimize your position no matter what it presently is.
In the fitness of things, I will start by enumerating the tips for re-applicants. My own experience with helping students apply to business schools has been enlightening and very cumulative and while first-time applicants are clearly the majority to deal with in any year, the small, almost insignificant number of re-applicants justifies my attention to them. The re-applicant needs to tread safe and yet make a bold and confident statement of his candidature’s fitness for a program that had found him not so fit earlier. A daunting task to say the least, and not one that the weak hearted and nonchalant should attempt.
To be a worthy re-applicant, one must have strived hard to improve his profile in the interim period between the rejection and the point of reapplying. If you have not done anything that substantially augments the previous resume, it is pointless to make a reapplication. So, reapplying is never a last minute decision; it is a decision that is taken almost simultaneous to the heartbreak of being rejected!
Presuming you are chronically obsessed with a particular school, though it is hard to understand why one should be, considering the array of brilliant MBA programs available today, the first thing to do after being rejected is to confirm that the school allows a reapplication. Yes. All schools do not entertain such applications. And if the school you were rejected by does, settle down and engage in constructive deconstruction of your candidature to understand what is missing, why possibly the school rejected you and what more needs to be done to walk through the portals of that great institution. In this exercise it will be wise to take the views of people who are familiar with you and with the application process.
Havingdone this, plan out the ways to build more muscle and add punch to your application. Apart from taking on challenging projects, going in for certifications, participating in community work and retaking the GMAT, you could focus on churning out better essays. Remember, the reapplication essays include an essay on why you think you are now worthy of being given a second viewing. You need then to rewrite the main essays and to draft a smart re-applicant essay that will actually be the deciding factor. The new essays should clearly outline how you have progressed professionally and personally since the last time even if this requires you to put up altered career plans. You might also think of changing the recommenders or of getting them to tweak their earlier letters of recommendation to include more updated details about you. Schools like well-articulated and insightful statements about prospective students and what recommenders say about you is vital.
In short, re-applicants should leave the past behind them and avoid regurgitating what they had put up previously. The effort is worthwhile if you can come up with a fresh (but not contradictory) version of your self- goals, strengths, weaknesses, achievements and justifications for the program.