When people ask us whether or not they should reapply to B-school after getting shot down the first time, we toss a simple question right back at them:
Has anything about your portfolio and experience CHANGED, and even better yet, IMPROVED, since your last application?
If you’re the same exact candidate that you were last year, meaning that you don’t have anything new to offer other than the very high hopes that it’ll work out better this time… chances are it’s not going to. So what’s the game plan?
Show the schools just how far you have come since last year
It’s time to impress the admissions committee with how much progress you’ve made since the last time you applied. That means that you’ve got to display an enlightened understanding of why you failed last time around. You’ve got to show them just how much effort you’ve put into making yourself into a better business leader since the last time your application was in their hands, and the new lazer-focused path you’re carving toward your goals.
Sound easier said than done. Don’t sweat it. Here’s a quick list with some of the main things you can write in your reapplicant essay which will showcase your change and improvement:
1. Have you received any promotions?
Promotions rock! They are amongst the strongest things that you can write in your reapplicant essay because they show true advancement. Bonus points if you were promoted at a younger age than others, or quicker than others on your team.
We should note here that even the promise of an upcoming promotion is a helpful thing to include. Whatever the case may be, don’t forget to explicitly write how this promotion has positively affected you and is bringing you yet one step closer to your goals.
2. Do you have more (or new) responsibility?
Are you leading more people? Have you been sent on business trips abroad? Maybe you gave your first presentation to the board last month? Did you champion a new company soccer team (with totally awesome jerseys)?
Any and all additional responsibilities, at work, at school, in your volunteer organizations, and beyond, will show that you are always moving forward. Responsibilities can be especially good if you have actively sought them out. (Was it your idea to set up a 5K company run to raise 20,000$ to fight breast cancer? Go you!)
3. Do you have any new accomplishments?
A whole year has gone by since you last applied… what have you done other than scrolling through your timeline looking at memes and short pictures of puppies, or short video clips of people falling off of stuff?
Workplace achievements take the precedent since they are the ones that will best show your career advancement, but other achievements are also great. List’em off! Don’t be bashful – Quantify your success!
4. Innovations: have you made something BETTER?
Let’s talk about your ideas, your creations, and your initiatives. The admissions committee wants to see that you’ve stepped up in a big way, that you’re taking charge. Indicating this will not only boost your candidacy, but it’ll also show that you have the makings of a leader in you.
5. Have you completed additional community service?
What have done more since the last year? do you have any new achievements in your volunteer organization to report on? Or perhaps you joined another one? Awesome! (this is especially helpful if lack of volunteer work was one of your weaknesses previously.)
6. Have you made any entrepreneurial progress?
This could be an app you have been working on, a small family business that you have collaborated on, or a private real estate venture you have undertaken. Let’s show that you are a business all-rounder.
7. Are your test scores higher?
This is pretty self-explanatory. Higher GMAT. Higher TOEFL. Higher GRE. These things always help.
8. Have you received any new awards?
Is there a shiny new “employee of the month” certificate hanging on the wall? Go you! Any kind of awards or recognition from work that you’ve received in the last year can give you a push.
9. Do you have a new certification?
Finished your CFA level 3, eh? Got admitted to the Bar? Got some sigma six certification? These can also have a positive impact on your reapplication.
10. Have your goals changed?
It’s very possible that the career plan you presented in your prior applications didn’t make sense. Or maybe it just wasn’t ambitious enough or seemed too standard. This year, you have the opportunity to reconsider your goals, and to present new ones that are better, more plausible and more interesting. If you do though, don’t forget to explain WHY you’re revised them. That part is key.
11. What do you like so much about this specific school?
Consider the ways in which you can showcase your continued dedication to the school you’re reapplying to. Did you visit? Tell them about it! Tell the admissions committee that you are applying earlier this time around because you love the school, or that you met more students and professors, and that your read more blog posts and watched more videos, and that you went to more events, and that you did more research. Tell them about how you did all these things because you truly truly believe _____ is the perfect B-school for you for ______ reasons.
Do these things, and you will be GOLDEN…
Overall, if you’re going to reapply, show some introspection as to why you were not accepted last year. Talk about how you actively sought out all the changes and improvements we just discussed.
Not only does the school want to see that you have significantly improved, but the admissions committee wants to see that you have thought about your weaknesses and taken concrete steps to address them to both become a better candidate and move yourself closer to your goals. Likewise, if your goals have changed, you’ve got some explaining to do! Why did you present these other goals last year? Why did you change them this year? Dig DEEP!