I was denied admission at my first choice school. What do I do now?

Feb 14, 2011
Tags: Admissions Process, Applications, Career, Choosing the Right School, School Selection

Written by Laurie Wilson, Director, Graduate Business Degree Programs, Baylor University

The path to an MBA degree is often different from what you first expect. There are so many opportunities in the MBA arena that an admissions denial will often cause applicants to expand their search and to find a better fit.

 If you are denied admission to your first choice school but truly believe that school is the best choice for your career, ask for feedback from that school. Find out about the percentage of applicants who reapply and get accepted for a different term. Is that percentage acceptable to you, or do you want to move forward and find a different program now? 

The feedback will also help you evaluate whether any change in your application would lead to a different outcome. While you cannot go back in time to change your GPA, you can take post-graduate courses and/or retake the GMAT to demonstrate academic potential. You can also continue to work to enhance your resume, or take on a special project to showcase your leadership skills. 

If you do not get direct feedback from the school, you can still compare your qualifications against the class profile. If your academic scores and work experience are better than average, then evaluate your essays and interview. Did you genuinely describe your achievements and goals? Schools want to learn about you and to evaluate whether their MBA program will help you succeed. They are not looking for generic answers that come from an MBA viewbook. 

If you decide to reapply for the next year, follow the school’s reapplication policy. 

If you cannot change the reason for your denial, you may want to expand your search and think differently. There is more than one MBA program that meets an applicant’s needs. Your second- or third-choice school may offer similar characteristics that are important to you and is very willing to accept you into its program. 

Explore new possibilities. Do you need to be in a specific geographic location? Is there another concentration to consider? Are you competitive for financial awards? Would you learn better in a more cooperative culture? How involved do you want to be in student activities? Do you want to compete in MBA case competitions? How important is ranking? Are graduates getting jobs? Are they the kind of jobs you want? 

By thinking differently, you may find that a different program is a better option for you.