What to do if Your Dream Business School Rejects You | TopMBA.com

What to do if Your Dream Business School Rejects You

By Francesca Di

Updated February 18, 2021 Updated February 18, 2021

You studied hard for your GMAT to make sure you earned the highest score possible. In addition, you sought out opportunities to lead projects at work to ensure you had viable demonstrations of leadership. Finally, you turned in a winning application to your dream business school – or so you thought.

But today you’re staring at the rejection letter you never expected to receive. Now what? Well, after you pull yourself together, you can take action. Find out what to do if you have been dinged:


Step 1 – Throw a pity party

Getting rejected in any walk of life is a bummer. Don’t feel badly if you shed a few tears. Or stay in bed with the covers over your head for a day. Just don’t let the sadness linger. Let it out and move on.



Step 2 – Reflect on what went wrong

“Spend some time and evaluate your application strategy and submitted package,” says Cecile Matthews, director of MBA admissions consulting at Veritas Prep in Malibu, Calif. “You want to determine whether you put together the best application package you’re capable of. If you feel there may have been some issues or there may be other opportunities to improve your profile, take action. “

Think through the entire process and try to pinpoint your weaknesses. Consult a trusted friend or mentor. Did your essay have holes in it? How did the interview go? What would make your case stronger?

Shelly Heinrich, interim associate dean of MBA admissions and director of marketing at Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, suggests asking yourself certain questions. Specifically, she advises rejected applicants to compare their profile with that of current students. How does your GMAT score stack up? Grades? Work experience?

If you’re lacking in comparison, then try to address the issue. For instance, you can take a quant class to show improvement, if your undergraduate GPA is low. Next, you should consider the timing of your application, says Heinrich. If you submitted it in the last round, you could have lowered your chances of getting in because there are simply fewer slots still available.

Finally, consider whether you showed excitement for the school and provided a customized application. Admissions committees want to know why you believe their school is uniquely suited to you.

After a good deal of self-reflection, you could still be confused about why you didn’t get in. Then, you might also consider paying to hire a professional admissions consultant, who can help you pinpoint areas that need improvement. In addition, a consultant will guide you in crafting your story, preparing for interviews, and finding new schools to which you can apply.  



Step 3 – Refrain from contacting the school

Most business schools are bustling places. The admissions team members do not appreciate phone calls asking for feedback on rejected applications. Certainly not immediately anyway. Calling about your rejection, in fact, might put you on the admission committee’s radar for all the wrong reasons. The one exception is to obtain basic information about the reapplication process.

U.S. News and World Report recently wrote that rejected business school applicants can call the school to ask about its policy regarding reapplicants; then, they can see what, if any, additional information they can garner about their own application.



Step 4 – Decide where to apply next

The big question is whether you want to continue to pursue your dream school or find a new dream. Most business schools allow you to reapply. If that’s what you’d like to do, you should seek out the rules of reapplication at your school of choice.

In fact, schools often recognize a person’s reapplication as a sign the applicant is determined to get into their program. The McDonough School has admitted roughly 50% of its reapplicants in the last few years, according to Heinrich.

“Successful reapplicants are those who have done self-reflection to see where they can improve, taken the steps to do so, and then communicated this to the admissions committee,” she says. “When I see an applicant who has taken significant effort to truly improve upon his or her previous perceived weaknesses, it shows me that he or she has grit and determination to work hard for what he or she wants, qualities that we seek in our student body.”

If you decide to apply to a different school, then you have to restart the application process. Research the program (if you haven’t already). Reassess your GMAT score, essays, and talking points. Customize the application for the new program. Consider applying to more than one business school if you didn’t the first time around.



Step 5 – Improve your candidacy

Look at the class profiles at the schools that interest you to see what GMAT scores, grades, and experiences current students are bringing to the table. Do you match up? Do you have an area of weakness? How can you improve upon that area of weakness?

Consider retaking the GMAT if the school that interests you requires higher scores. Aspire to snag that promotion if you think it would boost your resume. Practice with mock admissions interviews and elevator pitches in which you best explain your reasons for attending business school.



Step 6 – Reflect on what makes you a good candidate

Take the time to really think about your candidacy. Demonstrate examples of your leadership through your essays and interviews. Don’t just say you worked on budgets; tell the school exactly how much money you saved the company and how you did it.

“Determine what it will take for you to become competitive at that school and create a plan to get there,” adds Heinrich. “This might mean that you need a few years to transition into a new job, gain additional responsibilities at your current job, increase your academic profile, or simply gain more experience and perspective on how to make your application as competitive as it can be.”

Make sure you give thought to why you’d be a good fit at the school in question. Point out ways the school’s culture and your candidacy are the perfect match. Use specific examples – such as something you witnessed on campus that captured the vibe of the place – within your essays. Schools want to know you recognize their unique qualities, what separates them from the other business schools.



Step 7 – Step back a bit

Obsessing only stresses you out more. Certainly, you should be thorough and thoughtful in applying to business school. But, you can also take a break – or two or three. Go for a walk. Unwind. Do the best you can, turn in the new applications, and dream on. One rejection is not the end of your story.

“We know applicants who did not get into their top choice school the first time they applied,” says Matthews. “They reapplied and were admitted to their top choice school. It can be done.”


This article was originally published in November 2017 . It was last updated in February 2021

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Written by

Francesca Di Meglio has written about higher education for two decades. She covered business schools and all aspects of management education for what became Bloomberg Businessweek from May 2004 to December 2013. Di Meglio was the consultant editor for the book Admitted: An Interactive Workbook for Getting into a Top MBA Program (85 Broads Publishing, 2011), which was written by admissions consultant Betsy Massar. In addition, she is a family travel and parenting blogger at the Italian Mamma website


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