What to Do If Facing Rejection From Your Dream B-School?

4 minute read

In the past two decades, the MBA credential has acquired the reputation of being the magical passport to untold riches and a comfortable life with banks, consulting firms, and multinationals. Top MBA graduates are in demand on a global basis, forcing leading business schools to revamp their programs to include the all-important “international” component as part of the curriculum in order to prepare their students for positions in America, Europe, and Asia – even India. Given this fact, most of the Indian MBA aspirants wish to apply into the top global business schools only.  But, there simply may not be enough place to accommodate the increased flow of Indian candidates to the global top business schools. The number of places available for students at the leading MBA programs in Europe and the USA is limited at best. Even INSEAD, the largest European school with a total intake of over 600 students per term, has historically accepted only a small number of Indian applicants.

How to deal with a situation where in we have not been able to make through the top B-Schools? First of all, the failure to receive admission to any business school is probably more the result of a flawed application strategy (i.e. only applying to the highest-ranked programs with the most competitive entrance requirements) than any demonstrable weakness in the underlying application.

In this situation there are two options available: 1. Re – assess the application in order to Re-apply for the next admission session. 2. Consider lesser known business schools if application deadlines are available.

1) Re – Assess the application in order to Re-apply for the next admission session. There are essentially two reasons why candidates are refused admission to an MBA program: (1) failure to articulate the uniqueness of the application (2) a lack of “excitement” in business. These two weaknesses can be easily addressed and used as the focal point of the re-application process. However, once a school has denied acceptance to a candidate, it becomes incrementally harder to win the favor of the admissions committee in the next application cycle. Candidates must demonstrate a “quantum leap” in background or experience. This is important to bear in mind, since a jump of 30 – 50 points in the GMAT score is not enough. In thinking about this quantum leap, candidates should focus on increased managerial responsibilities at work, extra-curricular activities, and possible new international experience.

Once the deficiencies in the overall package have been isolated, it becomes important to highlight any changes within the new application essays. Focus on what makes you unique and distinctive from other candidates, not on how you are similar to every other candidate to B-school. In the absence of an admissions offer, it is sometimes instructive to re-assess career goals and ambitions. The MBA degree may not always be an appropriate move in one’s career even though it confers a visible distinction which is accepted globally. If business school is viewed as simply fodder for the resume, then it is probably the wrong choice. As such, the admissions process to the leading global business schools is often more challenging than landing any eventual job offer after graduation.

Take few hours to read through the admissions process and program – most of the interviewed students speak about truly life-changing experiences and a wholesale changing of their approach to business.

2) Consider lesser known business schools if application deadlines are available. There are many MBA programs in the world which are well-known and commit a lot of things in order to build their PR image. However, there are a number of other programs that are regarded just as highly (or in some cases, higher) in the eyes of future corporate recruiters. Applying to lower-ranked or less-visible MBA programs is not an admission of defeat. In fact, most of these programs offer an academic program that is just as rigorous as that at a “Top 10” business school. The difference between a school being in the “Top 10” or not being in the “Top 10” is often just a matter of perception. In the realm of the MBA, perception is reality..

In the final analysis, for professionals intent on attaining a world-class business education in the world, there are various options other than the traditional full-time MBA at one of the “Top 10” name-brand business school programs. Candidates can (1) wait for the next deadline and simply re-polish the application package (2) “trade down” to lesser-known, but equally respectable MBA programs or (3) attend Master programs like Finance, Operation, and Supply Chain etc. at a business school. The appropriate choice depends completely on the unique profile of each candidate.

– Team Leverage


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