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Tips for the MBA Reapplication Process from UCLA’s Anderson School

A man contemplating MBA reapplication

It’s MBA application season! For some students it’s all good news from here, for others, rough waters are ahead. If you’ve already received a rejection letter from your top MBA program choice, there’s no reason to panic. There’s always the possibility of reapplying to your number one program. To make sure you have the best chance of success, we spoke with Jessica Chung, associate director of MBA admissions at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. She offered some valuable insight into the rejection and MBA reapplication process at the Anderson School.

MetroMBA: Is it appropriate for a student to contact you about why they were rejected?

Jessica Chung: “We regularly receive inquiries from students who were not admitted into our program, asking if they can receive feedback. After we’re done with round three interviews, at that point, anyone who requests feedback on their application through an email, will be contacted early summer when we open up slots for feedback sessions. Contacted students can sign up for a session with an admission’s officer to get feedback on the different components of their application. They’ll also receive recommendations for ways they can improve should they decide to reapply in the future. Each session is about 15 minutes and occurs over the phone.”

MetroMBA: For candidates who are submitting an MBA reapplication, what’s the best thing they can do?

JC: “Go through all the components of your application and look for areas that you could improve upon. For example, if your GMAT was below the 80% range, that’s probably a data point that you could improve upon—and the GMAT is always a test you can retake. Also, be proactive about looking for ways you can enhance your leadership and management profile, whether that’s in the workplace or as an extra-curricular activity. Basically, avoid submitting the same application the next year. If there’s no change, you’re not going to be a stronger candidate the next time that you reapply.”

MetroMBA: What is the worst thing a student can do when reapplying for an MBA program?

JC: “Beyond things like being dishonest in your application, the worst thing a candidate can do is submit a very similar application to their original; where there hasn’t been any significant changes or increased growth and development. Another issue is not taking the time to delve deeper, and get a better sense of the community that you’re hoping to be a part of. One of the things that you can always improve upon is learning more about the program, talking to students and alumni, and attending information sessions and events. A deeper insight as you’re making your case in your essay and interview, can help you make a more compelling argument about why you’re going to be a good fit. If your application is generic and does not convey a sense of enthusiasm, you’re not going to stand out.

Also, remember that you should always present yourself as a potential student for the program. If you want to continue staying in contact with the admission’s office, that’s great, but don’t call with questions every single day. Try to be respectful of everyone’s time. Combine a bunch of questions into one email or phone call so you can get your answers all at once.”

MetroMBA: If a student was rejected last year based on experience level, is one year enough time to increase their chances?

JC: “It depends on where you are in your career. Let’s say that you applied right out of undergrad and you don’t have any full-time work experience, I wouldn’t say a year would necessarily make you that much more competitive. So, for someone who may have applied their senior year of undergrad, I recommend getting at least two years of work experience until you consider reapplying—that gives you enough time to build out your skillset and gain a variety of different experiences that you can draw on to enhance your learning community, the classes, your fellow classmates, and how you contribute to group discussions. Two years of work experience can also help you become more focused in terms of your career plans and what you want to do after school.

For someone who’s had a little bit more experience—four or more years—if your work experience was the only factor that was holding you back, then an additional year is enough time. However, the key is that there should be some sort of growth and marked increase and progression in your career and in your experience since you last applied. Even in companies that are hierarchical about promotions, look for ways to challenge yourself and to grow in other activities. I’ve seen candidates become more involved in recruiting activities, community service, or other responsibilities outside of their day-to-day job. Be creative about looking for ways you can showcase your progression.”

MetroMBA: Do students who reapply have a better, worse, or equal chance of getting in as first time students?

JC: “Students who reapply have an equal chance of getting admitted. We still look at your application based on the overall strength of the applicant pool and admitted student profile for that given year. Reapplying doesn’t automatically mean that we’re going to raise or lower the bar for you. However, in a sense, I do feel like re-applicants have a little bit of an advantage. If you went through a feedback session, know the areas you need to improve upon, and you really worked on those, then, you know more than a first-time applicant who doesn’t have that same feedback.”

To learn more about the Anderson School MBA program and their MBA reapplication process, visit the school website.

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About the Author


Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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