Plan B for Your MBA Applications: Five Things to Think About

by Stratus Admissions Counseling, Nov 27, 2020


As Round 1 MBA decisions start rolling in, in terms of both admits and invitations to interview, now is the time to think about a Plan B—including MBA programs that you now wish to target for Round 2.

Let me begin by reassuring you that there is time to create a compelling application for nearly all of the new schools you will be looking at, but the time to start is now.

So, here are some things to consider:

1. Is Plan B just Plan A for next year?
If you don’t have to be in business school in 2021 and are comfortable starting a year later, figure this out now. Being a reapplicant can be an advantage (roughly 10% of Harvard Business School students didn’t get in on their first try). But remember that you need to have something new to say to each school you are reapplying to, so make sure you are a better candidate in a meaningful way.

2. Maybe you should fix that fatal flaw.
If your GMAT is less than stellar or your GPA needs some work, there is still some (though maybe only a tiny) amount of time to fix that before the deadline for Round 2. Beware, though, if you can’t work on both addressing your fatal flaw and writing a stellar application, one will have to go.

3. Try a different mix.
For many, Round 1 means only applying to their dream MBA programs. If that’s the case with you, then Round 2 is the time to broaden your list of schools to include a healthier dose of “target” and “likely” schools. At Stratus, we recommend applying to six to nine schools: one-third reaches, one-third targets, and one-third likelies. Is this what you did in Round 1? If not, maybe this should be your Plan B for Round 2.

4. Do more research.
Whether you are applying to an MBA program in Round 1 or Round 2, you must really get to know the school so you can explain why that school is a great fit for you and you are a great fit for it. Now is the time to do this. Connect with some current students and recent alumni. Don’t stop at the website. The most compelling applicants are the ones who are dying to go to a particular MBA program and can explain why. Be that applicant.

5. Find other schools.
Although you may have focused on your dream schools during Round 1, a ton of great schools are out there waiting to be found. These schools share a lot of the same characteristics as your number one choice and will get you all you need from a business school education but aren’t quite the same reach for you. These are what we call the “doppelgänger” schools, and we discuss them in another blog post. By the way, a doppelgänger is a double or twin—though for our purposes, it might mean the perfect business school for you.

No matter which of these next steps you want to follow (hopefully all!), now is the time to get started.