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Is London Business School (LBS) Admission Office full of themselves?

June 9th, 2009 · 9 Comments

One reader of this blog recently emailed me for advice. He had applied several top business schools. Recently, he received the official "ding letter" from London Business School. He was very disappointed since he put in a lot of time and effort into it.

But, what made him feel even worse was the tone and content of the ding letter — not only they informed him that LBS won’t offer him a space on the MBA program, they also told him not to apply again.

The reader wasn’t sure if he understood the message correctly, so he emailed the LBS admission office again, asking them to clarify if they didn’t want him to apply again. And he got a confirmation.

This is someone who has spent a lot of time, money and effort on his application. LBS said that they had informed a small group of applicants to reapply next year — a lot of things could change in a year. What made LBS to decide that they knew which candidate should apply next year? Why not give everyone a chance?

A lot of factors could go into an application. An applicant might simply did a very poor job to market himself/herself. He/she could do much better in the following year. 

The application process is difficult. Every candidate puts in a lot of effort. They deserve better treatment from admission offices.

Applicants deserve more humility and respect from LBS admission office. For me, the sheer arrogance and tasteless ding letter from LBS admission is simply embarrassing.

Below are the initial ding letter from LBS, and a subsequent email from LBS. Names have been removed to protect confidentiality. Also, I’ve bolded certain sentences.

Initial Ding Letter from London Business School (LBS):

From: <Admission Officer Name> <email address>
To: <applicant>
Sent: Thursday, June 4, 2009 
Subject: London Business School Decision

Dear <applicant name>
Thank you for submitting your application for a place on the London Business School Full-time MBA Programme commencing in August 2009 (MBA2011).

Members of the MBA Admissions Committee have now carefully considered your application.  It is with regret that we have been asked by the Committee to inform you that they are not able to offer you a place on the MBA Programme this year.  The applicant pool has again been of an extremely high calibre, and consequently competition has been very rigorous.

The MBA Admissions Committee has asked me to advise you that their current decision is final and confidential. Regrettably, no appeals can be considered, and we are unable to provide individual feedback. We have included some general feedback for you below.

Admissions for the London Business School MBA are very competitive this year and we have to make some really tough decisions. We are very sorry to disappoint you and wish you every success in the future. There are however other options detailed below you may like to consider.

Yours sincerely,
MBA Marketing & Admissions Team
London Business School

Should I reapply?
This is a decision for you, but you should know that we do specifically invite those candidates we actively wish to reapply. You should also note that competition for places is tough each year.

You may like to consider applying for one of the other world-class programmes offered by London Business School , such as those available through our Executive Education portfolio. In particular, our Emerging Leaders Programme may be of interest to you. This intensive three week programme is designed for high potential individuals in, or about to take on, their first management role, and who are looking to fast-track their career progression. For information on applying for this or one of our other Executive Education programmes, contact Tim Pearson in our Client Services Team on +44 (0)20 7000 7391 or email elp@london.edu

How do I reapply?
If you do intend to reapply, you must complete a new application and send it to us with the correct application fee.  We can only hold original transcripts and references from your first application for one year.  To improve your chances of admission the new application must highlight aspects of personal and professional growth or list improvements made in areas of academic weakness. Unfortunately we are unable to predict your chances of admission if you make a new application, as the applicant pool changes from year to year. Please remember that competition for places is intense and we have to make some difficult choices.

Applicant emailed LBS admission asking for clarification

From: Applicant 
To: <admission officer name>
Subject: Re: London Business School Decision

Since there is no invitation for me to reapply, does it mean I am not considered a competitive candidate?

<Applicant>

 

LBS Reply after Applicant asked for clarification

Dear <Applicant>

I am sorry that you received disappointing news in relation to your MBA2011 application to London Business School .

I’m afraid that we cannot give any personalised feedback on applications and, in fairness to all candidates, will not make any exception to this rule. I think you can appreciate that the large number of applications we receive does not allow us to give individualised comments on admissions decisions. It is also the Admissions Committee’s policy not to discuss their decisions any further as they are final and without appeal.

You are of course welcome to re-apply next year but please bear in mind that we do ask a small number of candidates to re-apply when sending out our admission decisions if we deem their application to be promising. As the selection is very competitive, we recommend that you only re-apply to the School if you have been invited to do so and if there has been a major change to your application or you can demonstrate a significant progress in your career.

Best of luck with all your future endeavours,

<Admission Officer Name>

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Tags: MBA

9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 JFrank // Jun 11, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    I think the candidate should reappy if he winds up putting off b-school for a year. Although the LBS letter does “recommend” that only invited candidates reapply, it doesn't explicitly say that you can't reapply. Unless you hear from a credible source that LBS admissions won't even look at uninvited reapplies, why not put yourself in the running again? The worst that will happen is that you're out the hefty application fee and you get another ding letter, but you never know…. Hopefully the candidate has applied or will apply to other schools.

    BTW, the tone of the letter seems pretty standard to me (I received a few ding letters when I applied to b-school). In general, external b-school admissions communications are self-aggrandizing. Don't take it personally.

  • 2 GeekMBA360 // Jun 11, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Thanks for the comment! I agree with you — the applicant should go ahead to apply again if he feels that he would be more qualified and/or can execute better next year.

    I also agree with that about the “self-aggrandizing” communication coming out of business schools. It's actually one of the main reasons that I decide to write this article — the top business schools have become such marketing machines that they start to believe their own PR. It could become quite dangerous. Just like what's happened to our financial industry, I think there needs to be major overhaul/improvement on MBA education. After all, top business schools are major feeders to the investment banks! 🙂

  • 3 todd // Jun 20, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I would reapply and I would not interpret the letter as insulting.

    Yes from experience and observation, the MBA application process is very grueling.

    I stumbled upon your letter and read the letter more than once. I personally believe that the LBS ding the letter was excellent, friendly considering the situation, and typical of a standardized letter that has been sent through the proper legal channels to prevent law suits or claims of discrimination.

    Personally, I think the real issue is that the applicant was a little bit sensitive, misinterpreted the letter, and was shocked by the rejection. I got the impression that the applicant may have only submitted an application to LBS and to no other school. If the applicant only applied to LBS, the applicant may have understandably over reacted.

    First, there is no good way of rejecting someone.

    Second, many MBA schools as well as other graduate programs in the US do have an appeals process and/or do provide individual feedback. LBS is stating that it does not engage in this process.

    Third, every ding letter I have seen for undergraduate, graduate, and PhD for both business and non-business schools state the same thing “very competitive this year and we have to make some really tough decisions.”

    Forth, the “Should I reapply?” response statement was “VERY INTERESTING.” My impression about looking at other LBS programs is that the applicant may have been too old for the traditional MBA program or the work experience may have been significantly above average.

    Fifth, the “How do I reapply?” response statement was informative. I know that some programs in the US will hold applications for 1 or 2 years and re-application would just have to submit new information and a fee. LBS is indicating that its re-application process is different.

    Sixth, “Since there is no invitation for me to reapply, does it mean I am not considered a competitive candidate?” I think there is a lack of information for me or anyone on this board to make that determination. Do you have any major holes in your application that can be fixed with in a 1 or 2 years? GMAT score, math ability, and etc.

    Seventh, the last statement “…only invited candidates reapply…and…” I am not really sure what to make of this statement. My opinion is that a certain type a candidate may not have all of the check marks and needs to develop in some key area. My impression is that this statement may target people who are still in undergraduate school or just 1 year out of undergraduate school and have insufficient work experience or candidates who have clearly shown to have weak math skills, but everything else is stellar.

  • 4 Future MBA // Jul 7, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    The letter seems pretty clear that the candidate needs to improve in the areas of education and experience before reapplying. It doesn't say not to reapply, but rather to strengthen the likely areas of weakness before so doing. Research into the backgrounds of accepted candidates should provide some insight into the best areas on which to focus.

  • 5 Future MBA // Jul 8, 2009 at 3:22 am

    The letter seems pretty clear that the candidate needs to improve in the areas of education and experience before reapplying. It doesn't say not to reapply, but rather to strengthen the likely areas of weakness before so doing. Research into the backgrounds of accepted candidates should provide some insight into the best areas on which to focus.

  • 6 Future MBA // Jul 8, 2009 at 3:23 am

    The letter seems pretty clear that the candidate needs to improve in the areas of education and experience before reapplying. It doesn't say not to reapply, but rather to strengthen the likely areas of weakness before so doing. Research into the backgrounds of accepted candidates should provide some insight into the best areas on which to focus.

  • 7 bpr81 // Apr 5, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Actually i received a similar letter from INSEAD last year. After getting my ding letter, i improved upon my candidature, got some professional certifications, promotions in my company, more leadership roles and after 4 months, mailed them about these developments and asked them whether i can reapply. And all i got was.. “We don't encourage re-applicants”. INSEAD was my first choice, but after that reply, i just did not reapply.

  • 8 Rent Offices Soho // Jul 6, 2010 at 7:01 am

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  • 9 Offices in London // Oct 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    the same happened to me as well

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