Rejected by HBS/GSB/Wharton? How to bounce back in R2

December 23, 2015 | by Matt Symonds

A little more than 900 of the round one MBA applicants to Harvard have been invited for interview. And with Stanford and Wharton reaching out to applicants, it’s the first reality check for many applicants about their chances of securing their place at a top business school for next year. For those who did not receive favorable decisions from their R1 target schools, there is plenty you can do to strengthen your applications for round two:

Get up and brush yourself off.

Getting turned down by two or three of the most competitive business schools doesn’t mean you’re not an attractive candidate: H/S/W reject thousands of extremely qualified candidates a year. If you’re feeling down, only allow yourself to sulk for a day or so; you don’t you’re your negative thinking and mood to impact your application process for round two.

Learn as much as you can about your new target b-schools.

Remember that the most competitive schools will see a spike in round two applications from those rejected in round one. The admissions offices are looking for real interest; they don’t want to be thought of as an afterthought so prove to them that they’re not. Show your commitment to schools by visiting campuses, attending information session, or participating in webinars or live chats with Admissions.

Read your own application file.

Review everything you submitted as part of your round one applications. Take an honest inventory of your shortcomings: perhaps you could have been more articulate, or more passionate, in communicating your career goals. To help you identify blind spots,ask a friend to read over your application and provide honest feedback.

In your next set of applications, you can use the supplemental essay to describe any weaknesses and expand on what you’ve learned or hope to learn.

Retake the GMAT or GRE

If you realistically believe you can increase your score by twenty points or more, sign up to take the GMAT again. Or, alternatively, consider retaking the GRE. Worried you’ll miss the deadline? Call Admissions and explain, that while your application will be on time, your second test score be headed their way shortly

Touch base with your recommenders

When you discuss your new school list (and the new deadlines) with your recommenders, give them more guidance. Provide a document that summarizes the overall message of your application, notes your strengths, and highlights your accomplishments and career goals.

Remember that a great recommendation focuses on who you are more than what you do. So encourage your recommenders to share details about your personality, your values, your professionalism, and your potential for growth and leadership.

You can always reach out to the team of former b-school admissions officers at Fortuna Admissions to discuss how you can enrich and enhance your applications for round two. They have reviewed thousands of applications, and can help you to revise and strengthen your applications.

Whatever approach you choose, remember: you’re a future business leader, not a luxury sports car. Forget about a few dings and move forward. Practicing resiliency and a willingness to improve is an excellent skill that will serve you well in b-school and during your long and rewarding business career.

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