MBA Reapplication Strategy: What Bschools Look for in Reapplicants?

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MBA Applications for Reapplicants

MBA Reapplicantion Strategy: Top Business schools and the right strategy

Applying to business schools and then the nail-biting wait for the news is something that is pretty common for most students applying to schools. At times you make it throuh and on the others, you are kept wondering what really went wrong. Many times, it is not about what went wrong on your side but understanding what the business school needs from you. Also, what most students do not realize is that most business schools are quite accommodative of reapplicants. It is important to address every tiny aspect of your application and seek out the weak areas. If you are reapplying, then make a good MBA Reapplication strategy and attempt to change your candidature to suit the needs of the school or the program you are applying for.

Top business schools and their reapplication trends

  1. Harvard: Schools typically do not disclose the number of reapplicants to any of their programs but in the year 2017, 94 of the students out of the 930 students were Harvard business program reapplicants. It all boils down to understanding what went wrong the first time and doing things the right way the second time around It is critical to study the school and provide a tailored, well-researched and a persuasive essay that speaks to the individual culture.
  2. Stanford: The year 2017 saw 7,700 odd candidates getting rejected out the 8,100 that applied for the business program. A small number of candidates end up applying for the program within a year or two after re-working their applications. The candidate’s progress/change since rejection is considered by the school and hence an overhaul of your application is a smart approach.
  3. Wharton: Wharton has an acceptance rate of 19.8% which is much higher compared to both Harvard which has an 11% acceptance and Stanford which is even more selective at 7% (but the size of the class is half that of Harvard). Superficial recommendations can be a strong case for rejections in this school.
  4. INSEAD: INSEAD is considered one of the best schools in Europe and its MBA program has been consistently ranked number one in 2016 and 2017. One factor that seems to work constantly in favor of reapplicants as far as this business school is concerned is a significant change in your application such as an increased international responsibility or a promotion in your work. As far as acceptance rates are concerned, 12% of Indians are accepted into the business program as compared to Americans who seem to have an acceptance rate of 31% at this school.
  5. Kellogg’s Business School: This one is considered one of the best management schools for leadership and is known for its pioneering approach to learning. With a rejection rate of 79%, 2017 saw approximately 4000 candidates rejected out of 4600 odd applicants. However, Kellogg business school is considered to be more receptive to reapplicants as long as the shortcomings in your previous application have been fixed.
  6. London Business School: Out of 2740 applications, 685 candidates have been accepted into the program and that gives us an acceptance rate of 25% for the year 2019. However, this school is considered to be one of the toughest for reapplicants. One of the biggest attractions of this program is the international outlook that it provides and therefore those that reapply will have to convince the school of their changed perspectives and circumstances sufficiently before they get accepted the second time around.

MBA Reapplication Strategy

When you reapply to a school, do it with conviction knowing that you are the right fit for the school. Business schools including the top ones are receptive to reapplicants as it not only shows commitment to the program but also doggedness to accomplish your goal.

One of the best ways to ensure that the school changes their mind about you is to show an improvement in your candidacy.

While it is important to analyze your profile and apply to schools you are interested in, ensure that you cover additional schools the second time around. This will drastically improve your chances of an acceptance.

Here are a few thoughts on the most important aspects when you are reapplying to a business school.


One of the most important criterions for a business school is the GMAT score. If you have been rejected the first time and you plan to reapply, review your GMAT score.

While business schools play down the importance of a GMAT score if the score is not great schools may feel that you are not capable of handling the quantitative stuff that is bound to come your way in school.

Take another test if you have low scores especially if you have other weaknesses in your application. A higher score may compensate for those.

Letters of Recommendation:

Many rejections are due to weak letters of recommendations. One of the best ways to ensure that this does not happen a second time is to get those who have worked closely with you to endorse you, your work, leadership skills, and accomplishments.

The endorsements should specifically address your work experience and personal qualities. Ensure you pick your recommenders carefully and provide them with the information you need to be highlighted.

Business schools are becoming aware of shallow letters of recommendations. To arrest such a trend, Wharton Business school has changed the format of letters of recommendation (changed format in effect since 2017-2018).

The recommendation writers will have to now write two essays on the candidate they are recommending. They have stepped away from the common format that was being followed by top business schools such as Stanford and MIT Sloan.

Personal Story:

When picking the right candidate, business schools are more concerned about the person than the professional. It is important to present a complete picture of yourself and that includes beliefs, passions, and values that represent you.

Good business schools may ignore a high GPA and exceptional work experience when they do not find anything personable about the applicant. It is therefore important to present your story in a way that it reflects your goals in a passionate manner.

Appeal to the culture: It is important that you appeal to the culture of the school you are applying to.

For instance, HBS has always been synonymous with leadership and appealing to the school’s culture and convincing them that you are a perfect fit would mean highlighting the leadership roles you’ve held throughout your career whether in extracurricular activities, hobbies or workplaces.

Most of the times, making sure that the school sees your real personality and goals through your application and essays will ensure that you cross the finish line a winner the second time around!


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