Navigating the Reapplication Journey

Rejection can be mentally and emotionally draining! No one likes them, but at the same time, it is a part of life. Some of the most successful stories have been from initial failures which were turned around through sheer passion and perseverance. 
If you encountered rejection in the last application, don’t worry, take a step back and introspect on your last experience.

What to do next?

First, analyze the reason for rejection. A good starting point can be reaching out to the admissions committee, however, not all would be open to providing feedback. In case they do, admission committee members when evaluating your reapplication, look at how well you addressed the concerns provided in the feedback.
Secondly, when the new program’s new class profile is published, benchmark your application against the median to see if you were competitive in the application pool. While historical class profiles can also be a good indicator, do note that the application pool varies year on year and hence there are chances that old data may not yield an effective peer analysis.

Lastly, taking an independent third-party analysis of your application can go a long way in helping you understand your areas of improvement. Typically, this can be from MBA admission consultants, members of the school community such as current students / alumni or even some one within your professional network. Application analysis from personal acquaintances can be biased and hence its recommended to not take them from members of your personal circle.

Areas of Improvement

Following can be some of the broad buckets under which you can focus your reapplication efforts:

1. Fit for the program

Most business schools look for candidates who are strong fit to their community and their culture, hence it is vital to demonstrate this fit through the application. This can often be done by analyzing their core values and thinking about how they match with your personal values. Enunciating specific instances in your life where you would have demonstrated these values can go a long way in convincing the admissions committee about your fit.

Additionally, for a professional fit, you must tap into the unique features of the program you are applying for and how it will help you achieve your goals. To answer this question, the first step is self-evaluation. The first of the many questions must be ‘What are my aspirations?’, ‘How will a certain program help me accomplish these?’ The second step must be browsing the school’s website and analyzing its curriculum and programs. Attend on-campus information sessions, or zoom lives, and get in touch with school representatives, and current students. Additionally, have a look at the faculty profile. Is there a particular professor whose classes you would like to attend? How will it benefit you? Also, have a look at the placement profile of the graduating batch. Is it in line with your aspirations? Are they in your dream profile? Or a dream company? Adding these aspects to your re-application profile will give it an edge.

2. Whether your test score/GPA was on the lower end of the application pool

If the average GPA of the school you have applied to is 3.5, and your GPA is 3.2, or if the average GMAT is 720 and yours is 680, that factor could have potentially worked against you. Business schools use your test scores and your academics to determine your potential to perform in the vigour of the MBA program. There is an expectation that you demonstrate a strong academic aptitude to ensure that you don’t have to struggle with the coursework, since that can substantially reduce the quality of your experience during the course. Thus, having test scores that fall broadly in the median range, even better if they are a couple of points above the median score, of the class will send a strong signal that you will be able deliver on your academic expectations.

Additionally, taking extra academic coursework such as certifications, diplomas or signing up for additional course related classes will send a strong positive signal regarding your academic aptitude

3. The ‘why we should admit you’ factor

This is related to your personal brand (Read: The Importance of Personal Branding). The schools want to know who they are admitting, what makes them unique, and a how they will add value to their cohort and the broader community during their MBA. The personal brand can be a differentiating factor to help you stand out from a competitive pool of applicants. Spend time on building you brand by focusing on key themes, some questions to ponder upon include ‘What makes me unique?’, ‘What are my strong suits?’, ‘What is the impact I have created in my community?’, ‘Have I volunteered?’, ‘Am I a first-generation graduate?’, ‘Do I have unique hobbies or personal interests?’ among others. Pondering on some of the above aspects will go a long way in helping you create an impression with the admissions committee. Always remember, the likeability factors should be one of the most crucial elements of your personal brand.

4. You belonged to an over-represented segment       

DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) tends to be the hallmark of the MBA cohort. Hence, Business schools look at diversity as one of the key elements of their incoming class due to which certain overrepresented segments can be at a significant disadvantage in the application process. Diversity is not just limited to gender, ethnicity, nationality, it also entails diversity of thought process, and hence that can be a critical element to be stressed upon by candidates that belong to the overrepresented segments. Showcasing how you differently view certain situations, problems, and how you interpret things in manner which is not the usual norm can go a long way in making you stand out from your pool.

Additionally, striving for above median test scores, endorsements from senior leadership within your organization, undertaking leadership roles, and working in multicultural high impact projects will add weight to your application if you come from an over-represented segment.  

5. Among many other parameters!

This evaluation can help you understand the potential areas of improvement you can work upon. Use the interim time to work on these areas: gaining more international experience through projects, pivoting into a new function, getting a promotion, or even a job change. Your action will show our commitment to the school.

Do reach out to members of the school community to network to establish your brand. The insights they provide during your coffee chat can help you add a unique flavour to your application. Harvard, for example, says, “Reapplicants do not have an advantage or disadvantage in comparison to other applicants.” Stanford on the other hand states, “We will evaluate your new application on its merits in the context of the new applicant pool. It is likely that the person reviewing your application has not seen your previous one. We do have access to previous applications, however, and may choose whether to review and consider them before making a final decision.”

For reapplication, it is always good to remember the school will compare your current application with your previous application, so be mindful of your story. It will be in your best interest not to take a 180-degree turn on the application but talk about how you have worked on your weaknesses to strengthen your profile and how you can add immense value to the classroom. Try to get an unbiased evaluation of your new application in the context of your old application as that can be crucial.

Most schools keep your previous application on file for 1-2 years (depending on the program) and hence if you feel you need time to improve your application beyond the above-mentioned time frame, your application will be considered a fresh application and there will be no reference to your previous application.

When to reapply?

As a reapplicant, it I best to apply in the first round. In fact, this is even mandatory in some places. To be sure you must evaluate the criteria for every school. However, if you need time to rebuild your application and add more credentials to it, then applying in the second round maybe given a consideration or you can even think about applying in the subsequent cycle when you will be considered as a fresh applicant.

The reapplication journey can be tricky and hence it is advisable to follow disciplined approach to ensure success.

Reach out to us at to have a 1×1 discussion regarding your reapplication.