If you submitted multiple apps in Round 1 and you’ve realized that, shoot, you’ve now got to do it again for Round 2, here is the most important first step for you:
You need to know WHY those Round 1 apps haven’t panned out yet.
First, there’s a handful of schools that seem to take for-ev-er to issue interview invitations, and you can really go through the wringer in the waiting game there. In the past, Stanford GSB has been in this category, though not getting an interview there is what happens to the majority of BSers. They seem to be trying to speed up their process this year, which is awesome, but they still may not get back to you on your app for some time.
Berkeley Haas has also been a problematic offender in the crime of making applicants wait, though they apparently have introduced a new process this season where they are releasing interview invites every Tuesday. Not sure how much better that is, if it means that every single week, you get your hopes up, and potentially crushed. Over and over. The one-and-done process that HBS has is infinitely better, but not all schools have the resources to manage their app flow that way.
Not yet getting an invite isn’t necessarily putting you in the category of getting rejected, so this is truly a case-by-case situation.
However, if you do have the good fortune of having already had an application turned down, then let’s use that for figuring out what to do with Round 2.
Did we just say “good fortune”?
Since when is getting rejected a good thing?
Obviously it’s not — but if you’ve been turned away from Columbia or INSEAD or Duke or Darden with an early-season application, then that’s valuable information indeed. That means that there’s something you need to do differently with your applications for Round 2. If it’s your GMAT or GRE, then you already know that that’s a weakness. If you have poor academic performance from college, then that means it wasn’t handled effectively. If you had a test score and a college GPA that are in range of your target school’s averages, then that almost definitely means that your essays were simply not strong. If your GMAT and college GPA are at the top end of your school’s class profile ranges, then that’s definitely what’s going on.
Now that there’s some distance between that application you submitted in September and where you sit today, you can go back and try to self-assess your performance on what you turned in. Reading over it, do you see anything you could have done differently? Knowing what we just assessed, that an admissible profile that’s turned away from one of these schools at this stage of the season was likely due to problems with essays, can you see anything in what you wrote or how you presented that gives you a hint of the problem?
Diagnosing your own writing problems may be quite challenging — after all, you wrote it, and you thought it was good, or you wouldn’t have clicked Submit on the app. This might be a case where getting some objective feedback can help. Our Post Mortem Rejected App Review can do exactly that for you.
Oftentimes, it’s those that have some pretty good abilities with words who end up not presenting as well as they could through the essays. This is counterintuitive but we see it all the time. If you consider yourself a strong writer, then that could’ve hamstrung you in this process. It’s because writing essays is different than what you likely have done before. You can lose yourself in the ‘snarchives on the topic of writing essays if you want to dive deep and discover why we say this, and how to make improvements to your approach to accommodate the realities of this particular writing task.
If you were turned away from Harvard a few weeks ago, then that experience is likely to be much less useful in the context of applying knowledge to your Round 2 applications. That’s because huge numbers of highly qualified candidates are rejected from HBS every year. You could have done a very, very good application — one that would get lauded over by the admissions teams at many other schools — and still get turned away from Harvard. Still, sometimes people like to get the Post Mortem done on their HBS materials, just to find out what went wrong or why it didn’t work out for them. Sometimes it can only be chalked up to how competitive things are, that you didn’t do anything wrong, it’s just that the pool is too crowded. This may not make you feel any better in the end, so we don’t always see the Post Mortem as terribly useful. Again, it depends on your ability to self-assess and suss out what was the issue. A great app to HBS with a lower GMAT score could still get in. A stellar GMAT and GPA might not move the needle there at all if the profile is too common. It’s not a school where that many conclusions can be drawn from a rejection, in ways that could help you figure out what to do on the next one. Except that we could tell you if you did in fact do an excellent job, and you should have great chances for Round 2 with a similar level of quality.
So along with this important question of figuring out WHY you didn’t make it through with the apps so far in Round 1, which boils down to profile strength and execution on your side, the other important consideration is if you have targeted the right schools for the right reasons. Sometimes it’s a mismatch on profile, as stated above, but sometimes it’s because unfortunately the BSer is not aiming in the right places, given the realities that they are dealing with. This can happen with a more seasoned applicant trying for a standard two-year full-time MBA without giving an appropriate argument behind why that track is the right one. It can come through in being too vague and non-specific on the reasons cited for trying for a school, which is more in the category of poor execution and not being convincing. Unfortunately though, there are often cases of BSers applying only to stretch schools and not recognizing the hypercompetitiveness that they will be facing. This is often profile-dependent, if you’re coming from an especially crowded sector of the applicant population. Or it can be just misunderestimating what such schools really require and expect to see in the core stats of GMAT/GRE and GPA.
So. Today’s post is to encourage you to figure out the reason why you were not selected to interview, or were already rejected at the schools you tried for in Round 1. It’s to encourage you to assess your core stats of the profile against the school’s published entering class, and not make assumptions that you will be the one who with much lower scores that they decide to accept into the Class of 2022 (they will definitely accept one or two with lower scores/stats, but obviously that’s going to be 1 out of like 3,000, or 1 out of 7,000, depending on which school we’re considering — very low odds indeed). Knowing the why of your outcomes to date will be useful input to inform your Round 2 approach.
If you really positively no doubt about it want to be going to bschool next year, then this means you can consider adjusting the targets you’d had in mind for Round 2, and/or suck it up and tackle that GMAT or GRE one more time, in the weeks you have available before Round 2 is due.
If you now know, after going through this process so far, that the MBA isn’t as critical for you to succeed in life and career, then that’s super useful information as well. You can look at your written execution, in the essays and resume and maybe your recommender strategy, and see what you can do to truly optimize the pitch that you’re making. EssaySnark’s tools are designed to support you in exactly that process.
Outside of a renewed attempt and increased score on the GMAT or GRE, if that’s your current app weakness, there isn’t much new that you could add to your profile right now that would significantly affect your chances in Round 2. But. There is still plenty of action you can take, to up your essay-writing game, improve your presentation on the resume, and revisit your strategy of who you’re selecting for recommenders (and possibly support them more directly so they can do a better job on your behalf) — and all of these components can absolutely make a difference in how things turn out.
And yes. Keep coming back to these parts. Maybe one (or more!) of those pending Round 1 apps will come through and we want to be among the first to help you celebrate when that happens!
And in the meantime, you can start thinking about essays, if you’re finding yourself still standing on the sidelines, nobody to dance with. We’ll be focusing on essay topics, writing tips, and, yes, motivation to get you back in the saddle and taming this procrastination beast, so you are set up for success in this project that is of so much importance.