What to Do if You Didn’t Get In Anywhere

While we know that lots of people are still waiting for the results of their Round 2 application efforts—or are hoping to get off of waitlists or be accepted somewhere in Round 3—we also know there are MBA hopefuls whose journey has come to a disappointing end. What should you do if you were not accepted into any program?

In general, there are five different paths forward:

  • Apply to other schools you’re interested in before Round 3 deadlines hit. If you chose this option you’ve likely already submitted additional applications, as the vast majority of Round 3 cutoffs have now past. As you probably already know, Round 3 is usually not an ideal option unless you have a strong reason for waiting so long and can communicate that reason to the AdCom. Otherwise they may view your application as a last-ditch effort to go somewhere and not believe you are genuinely interested in their program. There are, of course, some unique circumstances in which we would recommend this route, but typically it’s not the way to go.
  • Reapply at the appropriate time in the future. We work with successful re-applicants every year, so this route can definitely lead to acceptance at your dream school. However, for the most competitive programs, your odds of being admitted as a re-applicant are better if you were asked to interview during your previous attempt; it’s clear the program in question was interested in you before, but luck just wasn’t on your side. (And no, you weren’t dinged last time because you bombed your interview—trust us.) The most important thing to do as a re-applicant is to reapply at the right time. As anxious as you may be to go back to school, you really have to demonstrate growth and have something new to talk about that strengthens your candidacy. (And in case you’re wondering, a higher GMAT score alone usually wouldn’t be enough.) This might mean waiting more than one application-year cycle before you reapply, especially if you are on the younger side of the candidate pool.
  • Apply to different schools in the next application year. If you’re willing to cast a larger net, so to speak, then applying to business school again sooner rather than later is a totally acceptable plan. In fact, the process will still be fresh in your mind and you might not need to change much about your resume or data forms—you may even be able to ask your same recommenders to prepare additional letters. Just be sure you take a really objective look at what your weaknesses might have been in your previous materials so that you can tweak as necessary.
  • Apply to part-time or evening MBA programs. If you really want to get an MBA but full-time programs are not working out for you, a part-time, weekend or evening program may be the way to go. You’ll still make lifelong friends, get a top-notch education, have access to the same alumni network as the full-time program and earn the same degree in the end!
  • Forgo business school. We know you may not even be able to imagine this path right now… and we also know it’s a bit weird for MBA admissions consultants to tell anyone that getting an MBA might not be the way to go. But the reality is that a good chunk of the world’s most respected and inspiring leaders and innovators do not hold a business degree. If you really want to achieve your long-term career goals, we have no doubt that you can do so without an MBA.

Think of it this way: If your ship doesn’t come in, swim out to it.

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