By Peter Ting, SCMb candidate 2019
To reapply or not to reapply, that is the question.
We regret to inform you that the Supply Chain Management Blended Program Admissions Committee is not able to offer you admission to the SCMb Program at MIT for the Spring 2018 academic term…”
Ah, the dreaded rejection letter. Back in August 2017, my journey with MIT seemingly came to an end when I received my rejection letter to join the 2018 blended program cohort. While getting an offer had always been a long shot for me, the rejection hit me harder than I thought it would. After all, I just spent a year and half of sweat and tears to complete the SCM MicroMasters, and I did not want my MIT journey to end there. Does this sound familiar to you, and are you finding yourself in similar position right now? Hopefully, my story can help you decide whether or not you should reapply, and hopefully the second time will be a charm for you.
Why go through the hassle to reapply?
Getting a rejection is never easy, and it’s okay to go through that period of self-doubt and bitterness. The truth is: grad admission is not an exact science, and there are factors not within our control. We are accomplished professionals with or without that admission offer. But after I passed that stage of self-pity, I asked myself long and hard: do I really want to go to MIT for a semester so badly that it would prompt me to reapply? For me, the answer was a resounding yes!
There are many reasons to come to MIT in person. First, the full MIT experience. Like Prof. Yossi Sheffi mentioned in an article, there are still (learning) experiences that cannot be duplicated online. When you are in a room with 40 similarly talented and like-minded classmates, the pace and quality of learning grows exponentially. Second, the research community. Let’s say that you are interested in some emerging technology like the Internet of Things; instead of doing desktop research, you can write an e-mail to the lab that coined the term (at MIT!) and schedule a quick chat with leading researchers in the field. Third, the guest speakers. Throughout the semester, there are countless opportunities to attend seminars and speeches from industry leaders and renowned academics who otherwise appear on TV and textbooks normally. For example, I remember walking down the hallway one day and saw a poster for a talk given by Google’s former CEO, Mr. Eric Schmidt, and I promptly attended. But the MIT experience goes way beyond learning. For instance, you can find inspirations from my classmates’ blogs on their experiences. As for myself, I have been in constant awe from meeting exceptional individuals both inside and outside class ever since I arrived Boston.
You will need to find your own inspirations for wanting to come to MIT no matter what. Once you do decide that it is worth the effort to reapply, the good news is that many people succeed in their second attempts – I am not the only reapplicant in my class!
What can be done to improve the application package?
Yes, everyone worked hard for his or her first application package. I did the same for mine. However, like everything else in life, there is always room for improvement. Remember that the admissions committee assesses your entire package, and that small improvement may be what it takes.
The first thing you can do is to ask the admissions committee for feedback. Although the rejection letter states that the admissions committee doesn’t offer individual feedback, it never hurts to ask. Just respect the fact that the committee members are extremely busy and may or may not provide a reply. If you are the lucky one like some of my classmates who got a response, then you can make improvements accordingly. However, even if you are like me, who did not get an answer, all hope is not lost. You can still reflect and improve your application package!
Using the below checklist for reflection, I improved my application in multiple fronts:
- Did you miss any hard requirements like CFx or SCx scores? Looking at historical averages might provide a good hint on what’s required, and you should aim for at least good enough grades.
- Was your capstone / thesis proposal credible? Did you provide sufficient evidence of data access, and was the business problem legitimate? Also, did your question align with a CTL faculty / researcher’s interest? At the end of day, you will need an advisor for your project / thesis. Additionally, was your proposal well written to the best of your ability?
- Did your resume match you to the SCM student profile? While not everyone in my class has the typical transportation and logistics background, myself included, your resume should tell the story of why it makes sense for you to pursue a SCM degree.
- Finally, did you select your references strategically, choosing those who could best present you to the admissions committee?
While I do not know the admission committee’s metrics, reflecting on my original application package helped me to come up with a better one. Yes, there is a diminishing return on how far one needs to go with the (re)application package, and there is no guarantee that the additional efforts will pay off. However, if you already made the hard decision to reapply, don’t you want to take a proactive approach rather than leaving things to luck?
In summary, my journey with the MIT SCM blended program thus far has been like going through a hype cycle depicted below:
There were ups and downs, but I am happy to report that reapplying was the right decision. I am glad that I passed that initial “hype”, and I am now enjoying every moment of my time at MIT. You too, can pass the hype cycle and come to MIT. That is, if you made the decision to reapply…