Got Dinged? It’s Not Over Yet…

So…you got dinged.  One thing’s for sure—we can feel your disappointment from here.  But all is not lost!  The truth is, despite what it feels like, this is not the end. In fact, the only way it IS the end for you is if you think that it is. Do NOT lose hope and, for the love of God, don’t fall into the following three tempting mental traps.

1) If one school dinged me, the rest will too.  This is flat-out false.  Many applicants will be accepted to their top choices, and outright dinged at lesser places.  Why might this happen?  Well for one, every application is different.  Your responses may have not been as strong for one school as for another.  But also, many lesser schools will see your application and instantly know that you will get into a “better school.”  Because they don’t want to be rejected by their acceptees, they will reject you instead.  “Why accept the kid if he’s clearly going to Stanford or HBS anyway?”  That happens quite a bit, as the schools LOVE to keep their retention ratios high.  That ratio is a large part of how they measure themselves against one another.

2) If a few schools dinged me, I blew it and should stop applying.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The more schools you apply to, the better your chances will be.  Period.  If you have been rejected from a few schools in a row, add some safeties to your list!  Better to have some options than no options in April.  And the great news is, sitting here today, you have nearly a month to craft those final applications. That is plenty of time.

My advice? Get a second set of eyes to review your work and find the holes. It can be a friend, a family member, or a professional. As long as it’s someone NEW who can see your apps from a fresh perspective, you’re on the right track. Then… fill in those holes and put out a BETTER application this time around.

3) Once I’m done submitting, I need a break!  Nothing could be less true, guys. If you are gonna sit around ‘til results come back in April, you will only have…4 months to improve your apps for next year.  So start that process the SECOND you finish your R2 apps.

Improve your GMAT score. Not only will this show that you are committed to the program, but it will also prove that you are TRYING to improve your candidacy.

Plug into some extra-curricular activities! Again, not only can you get some great experience this way, but you can also prove to the schools that you are doing your best to improve your candidacy.

And finally, VISIT!  Reach out to the adcom. Learn everyone’s names. Become “that guy,” if you can. Next year, you need to write something like, “When I didn’t get in last year, I did some soul searching. I did tons of new research, and now I only want to go MORE than ever.”

Hope this helps, gang, and keep the faith! If getting into b-school were easy, everyone would be doin’ it…

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The Tuesday Q&A: What To Do When You’ve Been Waitlisted