While it’s important to take some time to deal with the disappointment, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the next season, and there are a number of steps you can take to improve your candidacy and move toward a stronger application.
1) Reevaluate. While it’s certainly difficult when things don’t go to plan, this is actually a great chance to take stock of your career and goals, and make sure that an MBA is still a logical and necessary step at this point. It’s this sort of reflection that can lead to refined career goals and a clearer sense of the reasons you need a business education.
2) Revisit your applications. Once you’ve gained some distance from the emotional and time-consuming application process, it’s wise to review the materials you submitted to the schools with a critical eye. Having learned much about the process simply by applying, it’s likely that you’ll be able to identify a number of things that you could have done better.
Whether you suspect your downfall was something like a strategic misstep in an essay or interview, or a more glaring weakness like a low GMAT or lack of extracurricular involvement, there is plenty of time to address your shortcomings before submitting an application next year.
3) Consider your data points. Your results this year may reflect some valuable information about your competitiveness at a top program. It’s important that you only apply to schools that you would be happy attending, but if you were unsuccessful at all of the programs to which you applied, it might be time to think about how realistic your list of target schools was and to add a few more to the mix.
This is especially true for applicants who only applied to one or two programs this time around; there is an element of randomness and luck in the admissions process, and no matter how qualified the applicant, we recommend that a candidate target 4-6 programs to have a strong chance of success.
4) Schedule a feedback session, if applicable. While it’s possible that you’ve identified your weaknesses in retrospect or even were aware of them when you went into the process, if you’ve been denied by a school that offers feedback to applicants and are planning on reapplying, you should absolutely take advantage of this opportunity to learn of the adcom’s perspective and demonstrate your commitment to the program.
In fact, reapplying without seeking feedback when offered can raise questions for the adcom concerning how seriously an applicant is taking the process and the school. Of course, some schools do not offer feedback to anyone and others, such as Tuck, selectively offer feedback only to particularly promising candidates.
There is naturally high demand for this service at programs that provide slots on a first come, first served basis, so it’s important that you make a point of requesting a feedback session at the earliest possible time.