Scott Edinburgh
December 3, 2020

Tips for Tackling the MBA Reapplicant Essay

Tackling the MBA Application Reapplicant Essay
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Rejected from your dream business school? While rejection can be discouraging, do not give up: Personal MBA Coach successfully guides MBA reapplicants every year.

And do not worry – even though your previous application(s) may be kept on file to assess your growth, MBA reapplicants receive unbiased evaluations just like everyone else. As Harvard Business School asserts, “reapplicants do not have an advantage or disadvantage in comparison to other applicants.”

Business schools do, however, require candidates to wait until the following year to reapply, providing ample time for you to take a step back and revise your application.

Each school handles reapplicants slightly differently. For some schools, the reapplicant application is unchanged. For others, along with changing application components, you may also have to answer a reapplicant essay question. MBA Reapplicant essays help the admissions committee understand how you have evolved personally and professionally between the time of your rejection and your reapplication.

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For example, Columbia Business School requests that applicants detail their progress and reiterate their MBA goals:

How have you enhanced your candidacy since your previous application? Please detail your progress since you last applied and reiterate how you plan to achieve your immediate and long-term post-MBA professional goals. (500 words maximum)

Wharton, whose reapplicants make up approximately 10% of their applicant pool in any given year, poses a similar reapplicant essay question but with a shorter word limit:

Please use this space to explain how you have reflected on the previous decision on your application and to discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, and extracurricular/volunteer engagements). You may also use this section to address any applicable extenuating circumstances. (250 words maximum)

Kellogg frames its reapplicant essay question in a slightly broader sense than do Columbia Business School and Wharton:

Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (approximately 250 words)

Taking an even more general approach, MIT Sloan asks the following, allowing applicants to respond to this question however they see fit:

Please let us know what’s changed since you last applied. (1000 characters maximum)

Regardless of the question, your general strategy should be the same. Here are four key tips for tackling MBA reapplicant essays:

1) Answer the question – directly!

While it can be tempting to spend the whole essay professing your love for a given business school, focus on what the question asks! Showing passion and interest is important but desire to attend is only one driver of success. Instead, tell the schools about your growth or goals.

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2) Be specific.

Most reapplicant essays ask candidates to demonstrate growth. Remember, past actions are the best indicator of future performance, so be sure to share very specific examples of growth.

3) Consider both personal and professional growth.

While of course it would be great if you were promoted since your last application, this is not essential. You can grow professionally within an existing role by taking on additional projects or changing your approach. In addition, for some candidates, personal growth can be more important than professional growth. Consider weaknesses you have addressed or extracurricular roles you have taken on.

4) Do not dwell on the previous application.

Sometimes reapplicant essays focus on what they think went wrong during the previous application. This is not the most effective strategy. Instead of apologizing, focus on the positive. Convince your readers how you are a better applicant, using the tips noted above.

Need help with the MBA reapplication essay?

MBA Reapplicant essays are included in all Comprehensive Packages. While time is running out for round 2, Personal MBA Coach will take on a limited number of highly motivated clients over the next week or two.