Failed To Get Into B School In Round 1? Here’s What You Need To Do

It’s easy to take rejection personally, but your MBA application journey isn’t over yet! Angela Guido is here with three awesome pieces of advice to help you pick yourself up, improve your application and get into business school the next time around – all without dwelling too long on the negatives and falling into that pit of despair.

Round 1 gives way to Round 2, winter thaws to summer, and there is plenty more opportunity to get into the business school of your dreams.

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Prefer to read? Here’s the transcript:

For today's MBA Monday, we reference the Great Buddha because we're talking about failure: how to bounce back if round 1 was unsuccessful. Buddha is about taking a broader perspective on everything in life, including the setbacks, which, let's be honest, is really how we learn and grow in this life. Have you ever noticed that you're not learning quite as much when you're winning? We tend to learn a lot more when we have to face our own limitations, failures, setbacks, defeat, rejection. Those are the most potent learning opportunities we have in life and if you applied in round 1 and were unsuccessful, I hope you're going to take that experience and use it to make yourself stronger, more successful, and a better applicant when you apply in round 2 or next year or whenever you decide to get back on the MBA horse. 


Start Round 2!

So the first thing I want to say about applying in round 1 and failing to get in round 1 is that if you wait until you know, until you have the final decision from all of your programs, to begin working on round 2, you're going to be in a tough spot because most schools notify round 1 applicants towards the middle of December, whether or not they've been successful, and it depends, some schools will release you earlier if you're not invited to interview. Other schools will not invite you to interview until the last minute. So, if you're looking to get all the decisions for round 1 before you start round 2 applications, you're looking at having really only about two or three weeks to construct your round 2 applications. That falls during the holidays, which most people like to enjoy with family, so that complicates things, but the most important reason not to wait until after you have all of your round 1 decisions to tackle round 2 is because you're not going to feel great about yourself when you get multiple pieces of bad news at the end of the long journey to applying to round 1. You're going to need a little bit of time to bounce back from that and to regain your sense of self-confidence, so that when you submit your round 2 applications, you're able to show your best self, which includes your confident self and also your humble self. You have to be both of these things in your application. In my experience, when people wait until they have all the round 1 news, it takes them a while to bounce back from that bad news before they start working on their round 2 applications. And you really don't want your round 2 applications to be tainted by the disappointment of round 1. The best piece of advice I can give you on bouncing back from round 1 is to start working on round 2 right now before all the failures come down. While you're still in this weird limbo zone of not knowing what's going to happen, start working on round 2 right now, refer to our video from last week on School Portfolio Strategy and start working on some safer schools for round 2 so that if you are not successful in round 1, you've already taken some ground on your essays. You've already begun constructing those applications from a position of strength based on what you learned about yourself in your round 1 applications. That's the number one piece of advice I have: don't wait until the last minute really get started now, working towards round 2.

There Is A School That Wants You!

Second piece of advice is to remember that, if you really want an MBA, you will find a school that wants you. It's really easy to take rejection personally, especially because there's typically no recourse. Most schools are not going to give you feedback, and even if they do offer feedback, you're almost certainly going to find that that feedback is not satisfying. That's been our experience, is that it relates to something either nebulous like school fit, or it's about your GMAT, or your GRE score, or your GPA. It's rarely something that is very satisfying, and sometimes it's not even in any way actionable. So the feedback that you're going to get is usually going to be nothing. You will get bad news and there'll be nothing you can do about it, and you won't even really understand why it happened. So here's what I encourage you to do. Assume the reason that it happened is because that school was not a fit for you. Whether it's true or not, we'll never know. But just assume that if you didn't get into that school, it's because you don't belong at that school. There's a better place for you. So look ahead to round 2 and try and find a set of schools that you're excited about, and keep working on your application so that you can submit a strong application despite the setbacks of round 1.

Do A Brief Post-Mortem

Third tip – step – for bouncing back from round 1 failure is to briefly, very briefly, take a critical eye of your application. Look at all the pieces you submitted, essays, resume recommendations, short answers, and ask yourself “Is there anything here that I could have done better?”. If you haven't watched all of our videos, please do that because it will give you a sense of where the difference between a strong application and a so-so application is. Is your career game plan strong? Are your essays inspiring? Are your resume bullets impactful and do they convey what you did to a stranger who knows nothing about your industry? Did your recommenders really sing your praises? Were your short answers thoughtful and well-crafted or did you just copy and paste bullets from your resume? Look and see were there any gaps, were there any executional points of your application that you want to improve upon for the next set of applications that you're going to submit either in round 2 or if you apply next year in round 1? And I say to take this briefly because you don't want to get lost in a pit of self-despair and flagellation.

Don’t Be Too Hard On Yourself

The next step after you look and see if there's anything that you would like to do better is to forgive yourself for having done whatever you did that led to the rejection. You did the best you could do at that time. So have some compassion for yourself. Move on and focus on what's going to make your next set of applications as strong as they can possibly be. If you discover that in your profile, there is a major weakness that could be addressed, say, for example, a weak test score without any complementary coursework, then consider taking the test again. Consider taking some classes that are quantitative that will show the admissions committee both that you're serious about the MBA and that you can hang in a difficult quantitative classroom. Take time to address any weaknesses that can actually be addressed before your next set of applications, but then move on to focusing on just excellent execution on the next set of applications that you're going to submit, and make sure that you're applying to a set of slightly safer schools. So again, reference and our video on school portfolio strategy to choose some schools that are going to give you a greater likelihood of success the second time around.

If you're going to go at it again in round 2, the whole Career Protocol team is rooting for you. We love MBA applicants, and we know from experience that no matter what is wrong with your candidacy, no matter what weakness you have, you can find an MBA program that is right for you. So don't give up. Don't lose heart. Keep going and follow our advice to submit the best applications you can submit for round two or whenever you decide to reapply to business school. Best of luck. See you next time.

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Angela Guido

Student of Human Nature| Founder and
Chief Education Officer of Career Protocol

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