Scott Edinburgh
October 3, 2019

Find Out Why You Were Rejected from Your Dream School

Harvard Business School released round 1 interview invites and rejections earlier this week. If you were one of the many applicants who received bad news, you may be wondering what went wrong. While there are countless reasons for an application rejection we will cover five of the most common reasons candidates are rejected to help you plan your round 2 strategy.

1) Problem: A lack of a compelling story.

Your MBA applications must stand out. The reader should come away understanding who you are, what you are passionate about and why. It should be clear how you are unique from your peers. If your application essays could have been written by any other candidate in a similar role, it will be difficult for you to stand out and be memorable. Successful candidates are memorable! But remember, this does not mean you need to save a third world country. It all comes down to story and execution.

2) Problem: Application inconsistencies.

All aspects of your application should tie together. This includes your essays, resumes, extracurriculars and LORs. The strengths you share should match those cited in your recommendations. If your recommenders paint a picture of a detail-oriented candidate while your essays focus on your free-spirited nature, the reader will be confused. Similarly, your activities should align with your passions and expertise and your weaknesses should be consistent. If any two pieces of your application do not fit together, this will raise a red flag about your intentions and sincerity.

3) Problem: Low GPA and/or GMAT/GRE score.

This one may be more obvious but no matter how amazing your applications are, if you do not have a competitive academic record and test score, you may not get into your dream school. While there are always outliers on either end, you must set reasonable expectations. As you begin to craft your second chance plan, think about whether there are classes you can take to demonstrate strong quantitative skills if you have a low GPA, or how you can better prepare for the GMAT/GRE this time around. In addition, you may need to cast a wider net. My average client applies to 5+ schools including reach schools and some safer options.

4) Problem: An abundance of applicants with a similar profile.

For better or for worse, sometimes it will come down to numbers. This is particularly true at the most competitive schools. While we use compelling personal stories to help our clients from overrepresented backgrounds stand out, diversity is important in the MBA classroom. You cannot fill an entire class with former MBB consultants. This “numbers game” is the second reason why I advise candidates to broaden their school lists.

5) Problem: Insufficient leadership experience.

It should come as no surprise that business schools look for leaders. While this is especially crucial for Executive MBA hopefuls, leadership is important for all MBA candidates. Luckily, there are many ways one can demonstrate leadership. Leading a team at work is an obvious one but taking on informal leadership roles within a team, stepping up outside of the office, or mentoring junior team members are also great ways to demonstrate leadership. As you plan now for round 2 or next year, think about how you can step up your leadership experience AND better articulate it in your essays.

Founded by a Wharton and MIT graduate, Personal MBA Coach regularly helps applicants navigate their applications each year and is the #4 ranked admissions consultant on Poets & Quants. Personal MBA Coach’s comprehensive support includes mock interviews with a team of former M7 interviewers and customized GMAT/GRE tutoring with tutors who scored in the 99th percentile.

Personal MBA Coach has been guiding candidates through all aspects of the MBA application process for over 11 years with a 96% success rate. Call us today at +1 617-645-2424 or email for a free consultation on your profile along with how we can help make your MBA dreams a reality!