OK. You didn't get accepted at any of the schools you applied to. What should you do now?
Deal. Get over it. And consider what you’re going to do next year. If you decide to re-apply, you need to assess what went wrong and resolve to improve it.
1. Determine what you need to change. You definitely need to do something different, because your previous approach didn't work. Don’t turn in the same essays.
2. Analyze your qualifications versus your target schools' average stats and requirements. If you are applying with below average stats at more than two schools and are not from an under-represented minority, you are relying on miracles and not applying effectively. You either need to improve your profile or apply to less-competitive schools.
3. Seek feedback. Some programs, particularly MBA programs, give constructive feedback to re-applicants. If your school provides that service, take advantage of it ASAP. You want to hear the criticism as early as possible so that you have as much time as possible to deal with any defects or weaknesses. Furthermore, some schools only provide feedback during a small window of time. So don’t delay.
4. Evaluate your application. Do your essays and letters of rec (if you have access to them) add to the reader’s knowledge of you? What could you do to improve them? Consider using Accepted.com's application evaluation service to help you with this step.
5. Work on weaknesses. For example, if you applied to medical school with limited or no clinical experience, start volunteering at a local free clinic or hospital. If you applied to business school with a low GMAT, study for and retake the test.
6. Prepare to highlight valuable recent experiences. When you reapply, you want to show that you are "new and improved." For example, if you are pre-law and worked for the last six months at the DA's office, you will highlight that experience, related achievements, and lessons learned in your resume and/or essay when you reapply. For a comprehensive guide on presenting a compelling reapplication, read
Create a Better Sequel: Reapplying Right to Business School.