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Bouncing Back After an MBA Rejection Letter

Rejection is hard to handle. No matter how experienced you are, rejection hurts your confidence and leaves you questioning everything. However, an MBA rejection also presents a unique opportunity to learn more about your strengths and weaknesses. It’s how you bounce back that defines your success.

If you’ve recently been rejected from your top program choice, there’s no doubt that you’re feeling the burn. It’s not easy to receive a MBA rejection letter, but it’s all too common. Many top business schools send out 15-16 rejections for every acceptance, so if you drew the short stick, you’re not alone. The key is to figure out why you were rejected and how you can improve your application for next year.

We spoke with Deirdre M. Kane, the Director of Full-Time Admissions, at University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business, who provided insight into the rejection process. We hope that the knowledge she shared will equip you with some of the tools you need to make sure that, next time, you get an acceptance letter.

According to Deirdre, there are three main reasons candidates are denied admission.

  1. The admissions committee does not feel you are fully prepared personally or professionally to succeed in their program.
  2. The program may not be the best fit for your academic needs or career goals.
  3. You are ill prepared for the interview and do not perform well.
Deirdre Kane

Deirdre M. Kane

“As Director of Admissions for the Full-Time program, and as a member of the admissions committee, I have a responsibility to enroll students who will thrive in our culture as students and future business leaders,” shared Deirdre. “MBA programs, from the outside, look very similar at times. What differentiates each is the culture, so the ‘fit’ of each student to each culture matters a great deal. To do anything less is a disservice to the applicant, the Terry College of Business, and the University of Georgia. In addition, I want our students to succeed beyond their expectations, and they must be prepared to work very hard to achieve that success.”

Getting into an MBA program is as much about your qualifications as it is about the program. To make sure you’re the right “fit,” it’s vital to do your research. The best thing you can do is dive into every MBA program where you want to apply and find particular aspects, professors, courses, clubs, or opportunities that uniquely match your goals and ambitions.

For example, if you want to attend Terry College with the end goal of consulting, make sure your application essay and interview mentions things like the Consulting Club and consulting-focused curriculum. Or, you can focus on the volunteer aspects of the Terry College MBA program, if charity-work is important to your future. Whatever the case, make sure that the MBA programs you apply to are ones that have the culture and opportunities to suit your needs.

“The admissions process is an opportunity for each candidate to demonstrate that they are ready for the demands of our program and for the recruiting process,” said Deirdre. “It also provides us with a view into how they will handle their future challenges. It is important for candidates to consider that the admissions process is really the beginning of their next career step and prepare as strong an application as possible.”

Receiving an acceptance instead of a rejection letter starts and ends with your application. If you feel your application matches the average GPA, GMAT score, and experience level of other students based on the class profile, then, more likely than not, you were rejected based on more ambiguous terms. It could have been as simple as a less provocative essay or as obvious as limited managerial and leadership potential. The truth is that most MBA programs receive far more applications than they can accept, and since you’re competing against other applicants, it may not take much to miss the mark.

“Like most schools, we receive more applications each year than we have seats, and so although we review many qualified candidates, we cannot admit all of them,” revealed Deirdre. “We focus on selecting the most qualified candidates from the pool based on our desired criteria and attributes: academic and intellectual ability, quality of work experience, demonstrated leadership potential, cultural fit, among others.”

Just remember, when you receive a dreaded rejection, that doesn’t have to be the end. You can reach out to the admissions committee for specific feedback so that you can increase your chance for next year.

“We welcome requests for feedback, and we encourage applicants to reach out to us between application cycles so that we have adequate time to review their application before discussing it with them,” Deirdre said. “In the meantime, we suggest they review their materials to identify the gaps on their own between what we are looking for in a student and how they presented themselves in their application or during their interview.”

To learn more about the MBA application process, check out more blog posts here on MetroMBA and visit the Terry College website for more information about their world class MBA.

The following articles may also prove useful:

Can MBA Applicants Overcome a Low GPA?

5 Keys to Your MBA Application Essay & Interview

5 Tips to Improve Your Résumé for Your MBA Application

5 Tips for Writing a Winning MBA Essay

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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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