Oxford MBA Reapplicant Gets Her Dream Admit (Finally!)
When Pragya applied to b-school for the first time, she thought she ticked all the boxes: Her GMAT score was strong, her essays showed depth and vulnerability, and she knew what she wanted to do after her MBA. But she got dinged.
When she applied again a year later, her GMAT was the same, her essays were just as interesting, and her post-MBA goals had not changed either. But this time, she got accepted to Oxford and Rotman (with a CAD 25,000 scholarship).
So, what was the difference between her applications? Pragya and I talked about the changes she made to her application that tipped the scales in her favor the second time around.
Mindset going into the application
When Pragya applied in 2021, she had 4 years of work experience in Marketing at a well-regarded global digital talent solutions firm. She wanted to transition to a growth strategy role in brand management, which requires skills in finance and strategy. An MBA from a top business school like Oxford or Cambridge was her first choice, largely because she wanted to be in an English-speaking geography with friendly visa policies. But when she applied, she found that her biggest challenge was the GMAT.
She managed to score a solid 710 in the GMAT, but it took longer than expected. When Pragya was done with her test, she only had 20-25 days till the Oxford and Cambridge deadlines. The time crunch meant that she needed help with her application. That’s when she reached out to me.
We got to work immediately, focusing on extracting deeply personal stories that gave her professional achievements a human touch. This process helped Pragya learn how to be more vulnerable and strategic about her strengths, values, achievements, and failures while writing essays.
Despite her efforts, Pragya got dinged that year.
The difference between the two applications
After the results of her first application, we did a ding analysis to understand the gaps in Pragya’s application. We found 3 key weaknesses:
Post-MBA goals: While Pragya had a clear post-MBA goal in mind, it was too much of a stretch given her experience at the time.
Community participation: Pragya’s lack of real community participation hindered her application. She did casually volunteer at an NGO, but this didn’t position her as someone serious about their community contribution.
International exposure: Pragya’s lack of international experience or inter-cultural exposure could have positioned her a less competitive candidate.
So, she decided to do something about it.
Over the next year, Pragya systematically addressed all of the profile weaknesses that were within her control.
She started by switching her job to e-commerce to be more aligned with her post-MBA industry. Here, she assumed a more senior role in seller marketing and drove two major brand campaigns in six months. She also took on more responsibility in her activities outside of work. She invested more time in the NGO she worked at, progressing from Volunteer to Fellow. She moved cities and built relationships with colleagues from diverse backgrounds, and also went on a few international trips.
Taking all of these steps in 1 year was challenging, but Pragya was serious about demonstrating that she had moved closer to her post-MBA goals.
So, when she applied the second time around, she was a far more impressive candidate. Her essays still had the right mix of professional strengths and personal values, but now they were more aligned with her goals.
But what really stood out was Pragya’s reapplicant essay. It was clear that Pragya had thoroughly analyzed her previous weaknesses and tackled them one by one. Her efforts over the past year showed initiative and maturity, two important leadership qualities that AdComs look for.
The result was two successful admits to Oxford and Rotman (with a CAD 25,000 scholarship)! Despite the scholarship funding offer from Canada, Pragya decided to join Oxford Saïd, and is getting ready to join the Oxford SBS Class of 2024.
Advice for Reapplicants
So, what advice does Pragya want to give other reapplicants?
“It doesn’t get easier the second time around! So hang in there.”
For Pragya, her second application was just as intense as her first. While you may be more familiar with essay structures and the application form, it is still a time-consuming and intense process. So, keeping yourself motivated is key to applying for the second time.
Review your application to identify what could have gone wrong. Get essays checked by others to flag any gaps. Like Pragya, you might be ticking all boxes on paper, but your professional narrative is just as important. For example, reapplicants often think first about resitting the GMAT. For many applicants, that’s a smart move. But if your GMAT score is above the class average for your target schools, like Pragya’s was, it might be wise to focus on your career narrative instead.
Inspired by Pragya’s story? Watch the full interview here.
Need a professional to review your application and create your reapplicant strategy? Book a free 20-minute chat with one of our experts.
Learn how to write the reapplicant essay and get real example essays from successful reapplicants on MBAconsultant.com.