Rejected From an MBA Program? Here's What to Do Next

We delve into the constructive steps you can take after receiving an unfortunate rejection letter. This article offers insightful advice on how to cope with disappointment, reassess your goals, and create a strategic plan for your next move.

Posted January 9, 2024

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Receiving a rejection letter from an MBA program can be disheartening, and it can feel like the hours upon hours of time and effort you’ve invested into the process have gone to waste. But, it is essential to remember that this setback is not the end of your career aspirations; this will not define you! In fact, this moment can be a fantastic opportunity for growth and self-improvement. In this article, we will explore five constructive steps to take if you find yourself rejected from an MBA program and how to rebound from this experience.

1. Process Your Emotions

First and foremost, it is crucial to take a step back from the rejection. Understandably, emotions may be running high, so it’s important to take some time to yourself to process your feelings. It might seem counterintuitive, but we encourage you to spend some time away from MBA applications; instead of working on next cycle’s application, spend time with family, friends, and do the things you love. Ultimately, this will help you to cultivate a positive mindset and be in the right place mentally to focus on the next steps on your MBA journey.

2. Reflect On Your Application

Now that you’re ready to step back into the MBA world, this is the time to reflect on the rejection. If you haven’t already, request feedback from the adcom. Some schools offer personalized feedback to rejected applicants. Understanding the shortcomings in your application can help you identify areas for improvement and enhance your chances in future applications.

Next, revisit your application, essays, and interview performance, if applicable. Identify any areas of weakness or gaps in your candidacy. Were your career goals and motivations clearly articulated? Was your GRE/GMAT score below average? Identifying these aspects will help you understand where improvements can be made in the future.

A trusted third party perspective can be instrumental in helping you to see your application through an objective lens and identify key points to improve upon. Sign up for a free intro call with one of our top expert MBA coaches below:

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3. Make a Game Plan


With the valuable reflection takeaways and feedback you collected during Step 2, create a timeline outlining specific milestones for your reapplication journey. For instance, set achievable goals for obtaining relevant work experiences, pursuing higher test scores, and engaging in extracurricular activities that align with your career aspirations. Simultaneously, invest time in networking and seeking mentorship from professionals who can guide you on this reapplication journey. Remember that patience and dedication are vital, as this process may take time, but with a well-structured game plan, you can present a stronger and more compelling case for your dream MBA program.

Below is a sample goal and strategies for success to help you better understand how to go about this process:

Goal:

  • Improve my overall GRE score by 5 points
  • Test Date: October 1, 2023

Study Plan:

Week 1-2: Diagnostic Test and Goal Setting

  • Look at scores from previous test attempts; identify the sections where I need the most improvement and set specific score goals for each section
  • Take a full-length diagnostic GRE practice test to assess my current skill level, if needed
  • Re-familiarize myself with the GRE test format, question types, and scoring system.
  • Meet with my Leland Coach to over test strategies and learn key insights

Week 3-4: Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing

  • Focus on improving my vocabulary by learning common GRE words and using flashcards
  • Practice reading comprehension passages and answering related questions to enhance my verbal reasoning skills
  • Work on crafting well-structured essays for the analytical writing section. Practice outlining and writing essays on various topics to develop my analytical writing abilities

Week 5-6: Quantitative Reasoning

  • Review essential math concepts tested on the GRE, such as algebra, geometry, and data analysis
  • Practice quantitative problem-solving and data interpretation questions regularly to build speed and accuracy
  • Work through practice sets and timed GRE-style quizzes to simulate test conditions

Week 7-8: Full-Length Practice Tests and Review

  • Take two or more full-length GRE practice tests to gauge my progress
  • Analyze my performance to identify weak areas that still need improvement
  • Review the solutions for questions I answered incorrectly and understand the reasoning behind the correct answers
  • Focus on time management strategies to complete each section within the allotted time
  • Meet with my Leland Coach a final time before the test to go over final tips and techniques

4. Execute Your Game Plan

Executing your game plan is the pivotal phase that transforms your strategies and aspirations into concrete actions. It encompasses taking deliberate steps towards achieving your goals and staying committed to the process. At this point, you’ve already created a timeline and broken down your goal into smaller, actionable steps – so it’s time to get to work! Remember that flexibility is key; be prepared to adapt your approach as new challenges and opportunities arise. Consistent effort and discipline are paramount during execution, and maintaining a positive mindset will help you overcome obstacles and stay focused on your goal of gaining acceptance to your dream MBA program.

During the execution of your game plan, maintaining momentum is crucial for sustained progress. Regularly review your performance against the set milestones and make adjustments as needed. Celebrate achievements, even the small ones, to reinforce positive behavior and keep morale high. Stay accountable to yourself or involve a trusted coach or mentor who can provide encouragement and support. Embrace the learning process and stay open to feedback, recognizing that there may be setbacks along the way. Perseverance and resilience will be your greatest allies during execution, driving you forward even in the face of challenges. By staying true to your game plan and remaining adaptable, you'll be well on your way to turning your aspirations into tangible MBA success!

Read:

5. Reapply

Once you’ve accomplished the improvements you set out to make in your MBA application, you're in the home stretch! Now, all that’s left to do is apply!

Keep in mind the key application requirements as you begin to work on submitting your application. Most schools require:

  • Application Fee
  • Academic Records
  • 2-4 Letters of Recommendation
  • Personal Statement
  • Supplemental Essays
  • Interview
  • Resume
  • GMAT/GRE Score

Note that while you can use the same test scores as your previous application (assuming it is within the school’s established testing window), you will likely have to submit NEW letters of recommendation, essays, and other application materials for the school you are applying to. Check with your school’s web page to confirm these details.

Also, be sure to have a clear understanding of when you need to have your application turned in by. Listed below are some key dates for a few top MBA programs in the U.S.:

  • Stanford GSB
    • Round 1: September 12, 2023
    • Round 2: January 4, 2024
    • Round 3: April 9, 2024
  • Harvard Business School
    • Round 1: September 6, 2023
    • Round 2: January 3, 2024
  • UPenn Wharton
    • Round 1: September 6, 2023
    • Round 2: January 4, 2024
    • Round 3: April 2, 2024
  • Chicago Booth
    • Round 1: September 21, 2023
    • Round 2: January 4, 2024
    • Round 3: April 4, 2024
  • Columbia Business School
    • Round 1: September 13, 2023
    • Round 2: January 5, 2024
    • Round 3: April 3, 2024

For a complete list of the 2023-2024 deadlines at top MBA programs, see here.

Finally, take note of the fact that many programs require additional information from reapplicants. Typically, this involves submitting one reapplicant essay that gives you the space to fill the adcom in on what you’ve been up to since submitting your previous application.

Read: How to Write a Powerful MBA Essay—With Examples

Conclusion

Facing rejection from an MBA program can be a defeating experience, but it is also an opportunity for growth and self-discovery. By seeking feedback, staying positive, and taking proactive steps to improve your candidacy, you can position yourself for future success in the MBA application process! Best of luck this upcoming cycle, you got this!

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