There are so many complexities involved with applying to bschool — and applying as a reapplicant is especially complicated.
To a large degree, your reapplicant strategy needs to be built around what the specific school you’re trying for values.
The strategy you develop to reapply to Harvard is going to be less similar than what you develop reapplying to Yale.
For Harvard, your reapp strategy really only needs to be an APPLICATION STRATEGY.
Meaning, you need to showcase how you’re the “Harvard type” to use our parlance.
You clearly did not do that effectively enough the first time through. So set that app aside, and start fresh. Don’t worry so much about what you said last time. Tackle the project for Harvard anew. Try to clean-slate your approach. Obviously you don’t want to repeat the same errors as last time, but you also don’t want to get trapped into thinking that you need to be different. You need to be YOU, and just present the full-throated you-ness in a more effective way.
Whether it’s a fresh app or a reapp, Harvard is looking at all apps the same.
Does this person show differentiation? Leadership? Qualities that are uncommon among the same-old/same-old approach that everyone sends in?
(Note: This does not mean that there are no best practices to deploy for writing your HBS essays. When we say “is it not the same-old as everyone” that just means that most people’s HBS essays kinda suck! If you want to learn proven techniques for approaching this beast of a project, then our Harvard Essay Guide is your friend.)
So for Harvard or Stanford, a reapplication is your chance to do your application more effectively this time. Hopefully, if your GMAT score was in the crapper last time, you’ve fixed that. But that alone doesn’t change the calculus for whether it’ll turn out differently this year or not. You’ll need to pitch the school on how you’re the person who deserves a coveted spot (or at least, the interview — remember, your objective with writing your apps for these two schools in particular is to earn an opportunity to be interviewed; you’re not writing essays to get in).
Once you’re confident that you’ve truly presented who you are in the way that Harvard (or Stanford) values (which we explain in our respective essay guides) then you’ll want to cross-examine your This Year App against the original app, looking for inconsistencies that are so glaring to cause problems. If you end up sounding like a completely different person in your application this year, then yeah, that can cause problems — though it may be less of an issue for Harvard if, for example, your original app was through their 2+2 process. You would’ve applied to 2+2 when you were a young whippersnapper not even out of school. It’s to be expected that an app that you submit today, as a working adult who’s matured further and developed into a real person out in the world, will be significantly different. If you come across as quite different in your This Year app, that’s fine. If your prior app was only last year, then there should be less obvious demarcations from original to today — but even then, if you totally switch up your “matters most” essay for the GSB, you can still make compelling case for admission. Provided you handle it appropriately. The execution is, as always, where the outcomes will lie.
Now, what about all the other schools, most of which have very different requirements in essay questions, and many of which are examining your profile through at least slightly different lenses?
The first step is to figure out if you’re considered a “reapplicant” or not — and very important, this policy is changing at many top schools! Used to be, only an app submitted last season or the season before was ever considered “reapplicant” but that’s not at all the case in many admissions offices now. Some schools want you to write a reapplicant essay regardless of how long ago you first applied.
For ALL the schools, you need to assume that your prior app will be reviewed in conjunction with your new app today. It just differs based on when that review might take place.
Hmm…. seems we’re a little long-winded on this topic. We’ll pick up again tomorrow with specifics on reapplying to non-HBS/GSB schools. In the meantime, you can click below on the category of “reapplying” to find more posts on this topic. If you’re reapplying to any school, be sure to pick up the SnarkStrategies Guide to help you know what they care about and walk you through the process of putting together a better pitch!!