Rejected. Now What? There’s Hope – 4 Top Options…

Posted By SWatts on Mar 11, 2016 |

Rejected. Now What? There’s Hope – 4 Top Options…

It’s the time of the year when candidates receive the results of their Round 2 applications. Candidates also begin to learn if they have made it off of Round 1 waitlists. Because many of the Top-15 MBA programs have acceptance rates of only 12-20%, a large number of applicants can be disappointed with their outcomes, particularly if they approached the application process without doing sufficient homework and preparation as needed to complete an outstanding, compelling MBA application.

While it is always disheartening to receive a rejection, at MBA we have helped many candidates who came to us having been rejected when applying on their own to schools like Stanford, Wharton, Harvard and INSEAD (they did not even receive an interview), and with our guidance they were able not only to secure an interview the very next year, but also to gain admission! Your application and how you present your qualifications matter that much!

If you are in the unhappy position of having received rejections from all of the MBA programs that most excited you, you must now consider the best next step to take if you still wish to attain an MBA degree from a top business school. The first step is to identify the weaknesses in your application and candidacy. A Ding Analysis can be important for determining exactly what factors were obstacles to your admission. Some weaknesses can be addressed easily, and others are more difficult to address. Some candidates we have worked with came to us with very false understandings of what factors were causing their problems in MBA admissions. An accurate analysis is crucial. After securing a solid understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your application, there are four top options.

Apply to additional schools in Round 3. The odds for admission in Round 3 at most top MBA programs are not as good when compared with the odds for admission at the same schools in Round 1 and Round 2. Still, some candidates need to enroll in business school urgently and a Round 3 application therefore becomes imperative. If applying in Round 3, make certain to prepare a truly outstanding application in all areas, particularly the essays and recommendations. Also make sure to target schools that are known for having a good number of seats still available in Round 3.

Reapply with a strengthened application in Round 1, beginning your preparations now. If you are not in a rush to enroll in business school and you have identified key ways in which your candidacy can be strengthened, it can make sense to re-apply in Round 1 with an improved candidacy and application. In many cases, candidates were qualified to be at the schools from which they were rejected, so presenting a stronger application to the same schools to which they previously applied is what they need to do. With a clear understanding of how you need to improve your application and candidacy, you should take the opportunity in the months you have before the Round 1 deadlines to continue building your record professionally, in the extracurricular arena and also academically, if possible. In Round 1, you can consider applying not just to some of the prior schools you applied to without success, but also adding additional schools in order to cast your net more widely.

Apply to a top-tier part-time or EMBA program. After you secure a solid understanding of the weaknesses of your candidacy or application, you may conclude that one or more of those weaknesses will prove fatal in full-time MBA admissions at top business schools. For example, perhaps you are 40-years old. Your odds of success at Harvard will be slim. Perhaps your undergraduate GPA was a 1.8. You will likely have a hard time overriding this in full-time admissions at Top-15 MBA programs. With notable weaknesses like that, you may find that EMBA programs or part-time programs at top business schools like University of Chicago, Kellogg, MIT, Columbia and UCLA give you greater latitude to override your weakness.

Wait one to two years before re-applying. Finally, after you secure a solid understanding of the weaknesses of your candidacy or application, you may conclude that a notable weakness of yours is best addressed or mitigated with time. For example, perhaps you have only 6 months of work experience and you recognize your candidacy will be stronger with more work experience. Perhaps you just made a major career switch and your candidacy will be more appealing once you have remained in that new career for a couple of years. In cases like this, the best avenue may be to wait and make excellent use of your time to build a strong record.


Interested in securing a detailed “Ding Analysis” that can help you identify the weaknesses and strengths of your rejected application(s)?

You can opt to have our president and founder, Dr. Shelle Watts, aa professional with Harvard admissions experience, look at your application and draw on nearly 25 years of experience to help you understand your application’s deficits and identify a plan of action.

Feel free to reach out to us for a Ding Analysis at