Getting rejected by a B-school is the last thing that any MBA applicant wants.
But rejections are a normal aspect of the admissions process. It’s understanding why you got rejected and what to do next that are important. Ilana Kowarski, a reporter at U.S. News, recently spoke to experts on potential explanations for an MBA rejection.
MINIMAL INTERESTS OUTSIDE OF WORK & SCHOOL
One of the potential reasons that experts say MBA applicants get a rejection letter is because they fail to show interest in activities outside of work and the classroom.
“Oftentimes, it is the personal story aspect that shows resilience or a unique hobby that shows a level of depth that can set a candidate apart,” Michelle Diamond, CEO of Diamond MBA Admissions Consulting, tells U.S. News. “For example, if you have two candidates from top investment banking firms with the same level of experience, the one who also practices and won awards in let’s say archery (this was from a past client), will have a better chance of acceptance because it is not only unexpected, but makes them stand out.”
When an applicant is too on brand with a B-school and its values, admissions officers will typically pass on their application. Experts say that applicants who tell authentic stories tend to catch the eye of admissions officers.
“No matter how qualified you may be on paper, authenticity counts,” Rebecca Loades, director of career accelerator programs at ESMT Berlin, tells U.S. News. “The biggest mistake we see candidates make is when they tell us what they think we want to hear, rather than showing us who they actually are. The essays and interview are a great opportunity for you to present your true self.”
Often times, a rejection doesn’t mean you aren’t qualified. Rather, it may just mean that competition is at an all-time high.
“This is the top reason why qualified candidates are rejected – there are a limited number of spots open and hundreds of qualified candidates are vying for those spots,” Mallory, vice president of marketing at Motivosity, a software company, tells U.S. News. “Choosing a less popular school increases your chances of getting in, and many schools have excellent programs, not just the big name schools.”
No matter the reason for rejection, experts say, the best next step is to do some self-evaluation.
“Spend some time and evaluate your application strategy and submitted package,” Cecile Matthews, director of MBA admissions consulting at Veritas Prep, tells Top MBA. “You want to determine whether you put together the best application package you’re capable of. If you feel there may have been some issues or there may be other opportunities to improve your profile, take action. “
Next Page: Bloomberg Report Shows MBA Programs Still Lag With Women
Bloomberg: Most B-Schools Still Lacking In Women Representation
Women still lag behind men in filling MBA seats.
A new Bloomberg study finds that women secured fewer than 40% of MBA spots at the 84 U.S. schools included in the study. In 27 schools, women made up one-third or less of the class.
B-SCHOOLS WITH HIGHEST SHARE OF FEMALE & NON-BINARY STUDENTS
College of Charleston School of Business in South Carolina had the highest proportion of women out of the study’s B-schools with 66% of its cohort being women. North Carolina State University’s Jenkins School of Business came in second with 65% of its cohort being women.
When compared to law school and medical school, where women have achieved the 50% mark, MBA programs as a whole still lag far behind. Just 38.5% of full time MBA students are women, according to the Forté Foundation.
While female representation at MBA programs has improved over the years (in 2001, overall women enrollment was at 28%), many say that there is more that needs to be done to reach true gender parity.
“If a woman goes into a classroom and she’s walking out of graduation with 42% or 45% women in her class, that’s pretty equitable, and we’re not going to say that’s not good enough, but the problem is so many business schools aren’t over that hump yet,” Elissa Sangster, CEO of Forté, tells Fortune.
To truly increase women representation across B-schools, experts say that MBA programs need to not only recruit for female applicants, but also ensure that they can retain them.
“An organization can be successful in recruiting more women, but if those women are not thriving and not getting advancement opportunities, they’re not going to stay,” Shari Hubert, associate dean of admissions at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, tells Fortune. “It’s not enough to just bring in underrepresented populations; they also have to come in and feel as though they can thrive.”
Next Page: Essay Tips From UNC Kenan-Flagler
UNC Kenan–Flagler Business School 2021-2022 Essay Tips
The B-schools required admissions essays are the ideal area for applicants to discuss their leadership potential. Stacy Blackman, founder of Stacy Blackman Consulting, recently offered a few tips on how applicants should best approach Kenan–Flagler’s two required essays.
The first required essay prompt asks applicants the following:
What are your immediate career goals and how will you benefit from earning an MBA at Kenan-Flagler Business School? As the business world continues to evolve, circumstances can change and guide you in a different direction. Should your goals that you provided above not transpire, what other opportunities would you explore? (max: 500 words)
Blackman says the best way to approach this essay is to do some self-evaluation.
“Knowing yourself is the best first step in this essay,” Blackman writes. “What has your career taught you, both in hard skills and soft skills? How have leadership opportunities grown your perspective? Think about the experiences of your work life. And what you have learned about yourself.”
Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll want to describe your short-term career goals and tie them to your Kenan–Flagler MBA.
“As a program, UNC provides individual career guidance and has a recruiter focus,” Blackman writes. “Therefore, realistic career goals help the admissions committee imagine you at UNC.”
An important component of this essay is your Plan B, or other opportunities that you would explore should your goals not transpire.
“To answer the question, consider how your experience and MBA can apply to different goals,” Blackman writes. “For example, your Plan A is to work in consulting and then transition to a strategy role at a CPG firm. If you cannot land that job, you could look for in-house strategy roles to gain experience. Or, you could work in a different kind of professional services firm such as marketing research. Finally, as long as you focus on the type of work that appeals to you and the roles that fit, you will find the right path.”
The second required essay prompt asks applicants the following:
We all belong to different communities representing various aspects of who we are, including groups we belong to, where we come from, how we think, what we believe, and how we see and experience the world. The process of discovery is strengthened when people with diverse perspectives and life experiences come together to share and learn from one another, negotiate differences, and engage in diplomacy. How have you dealt with differences in your personal or professional relationships? In what ways will you contribute to the community and learning environment by embracing your authentic self while respecting others? How do you envision furthering your growth in inclusive leadership as an MBA student and as a business leader? (max: 300 words)
When approaching essay two, Blackman recommends applicants to think about how their background has shaped their perspective and to provide specific examples that convey your perspective.
“Tell a story about a time you had a difference in your personal or professional relationships,” Blackman writes. “When you describe the situation, be specific about how you felt and acted. What did you do to resolve the problem and drive understanding? And, what did you learn about other people’s perspectives?”
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