MBA Interviews 101

October 29, 2014

Congrats, you've been invited to interview by one of your target business schools!  This is your first glimpse of positive feedback on your applications and should certainly make you feel good.  Though it's important to keep your head in the game.  The application process is not over, and an interview is definitely not a done deal. Most of you are already familiar with the basics of interviewing: ...

Why Should Your Reader Care?

October 20, 2014

As we review our clients' business school essays, we often find ourselves responding back to them with this simple question:  So what? That’s great that you’ve told us that interesting story. However, why should we care about what you just said? That sounds harsh. Think of it from the admissions committee's perspective though. How has your story just conveyed your potential as a valued addition to our incoming MBA ...

Which Business School is Right for Me?

October 09, 2014

Plenty of you out there are targeting Round 2 for your applications and are still deliberating your final list of target schools. We’d like to offer a little advice. Take Rankings With a Grain of Salt Business school rankings can be a great starting point for determining your "long list” of schools, but you must not (under any circumstances) make them the only factor. Did you know that there are numerous well-respected ...

MBA First Round Deadlines: Final Checklist

September 24, 2014

Just about ready to turn in your MBA applications? Maybe you're still putting the finishing touches on your essays, or waiting for your recommenders to upload their writeups. Use this last-minute checklist to help you finish–and finesse–the best round one business school applications possible: Check in With Your Recommenders It has already happened to us again this year: one of our clients didn’t take our advice to give his recommenders ...

Resources for MBA Applicants: 2014-2015

October 01, 2014

In addition to providing our own advice through the Shine blog, presentations, and private MBA admissions consulting services, each year we like to share the outside resources that our past clients found helpful on their journeys to business school. Whether you’re looking to supplement your GMAT prep, learn more about your target schools, or find new ideas on tackling a tough essay ...

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications–Part II

September 16, 2014

Here is our second installment of resume FAQs, straight from our clients’ mouths. In the era of the incredible shrinking essay section, the resume has become increasingly important in the business school application process. Take the time to make sure yours is as polished a reflection of you as the rest of your application is. I’ve seen job entries written several different ways. Which one is right? While there’s no rule, we feel ...

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications

August 20, 2014

Applying for business school means crafting an outstanding resume that exhibits your talent, clarifies your work experience, and shows off your leadership roles, all while convincing them that you can handle the rigors of a top MBA program. Whew! While schools are not going to reject you for minor details, like whether you list your work experience before your education, there are some legitimate dos and don’ts. Here are some responses to some ...

Making the Most of School Visits

August 13, 2014

As summer begins its wind-down and business school starts up another year, you're hopefully planning a campus visit to your target schools so you can be as informed as possible when applying. How To Prepare Before you visit, do your homework. Be well-versed in what the school has to offer and why that program is a good fit for you. You’ll want to feel confident in having conversations with ...

Getting the Best MBA Recommendations

August 06, 2014

An important component of the MBA application is the recommendations. While it seems that this piece may be out of your control, you can do plenty to ensure that your recommendations shine as brightly as the rest of your application. Who are the Right People to Ask? I’m often approached for advice on who candidates should ask to write their recommendations. You have to choose the right people—that is, those to whom you ...

Taking the GMAT vs. the GRE

July 29, 2014

Did you know that many MBA programs now accept GRE scores in place of the GMAT? The question is: which test will play best to your strengths and demonstrate that you're the most capable candidate? Make Sure Your Target Business Schools Accept the GRE Before you get too excited about the prospect of throwing away your GMAT books, make sure your dream schools accept the GRE. Some MBA programs still ...

Retaking the GMAT: 3 Ways to Know It’s Time

July 24, 2014

Are you wondering whether your GMAT is “good enough?” Did you nail a 740 total score but bomb one section? Did you fall just short of a threshold you were aiming for? Not long ago, one top-five school examined the profiles of students who struggled in their MBA program, and they had one thing in common: low GMAT scores. This is NOT to say that a low GMAT score is ...

Spotlight on UCLA Anderson School of Management

July 15, 2014

  Recently, I got to spend some quality time at UCLA Anderson School of Management with Associate Director of Admissions Jessica Chung. On a sunny day in Los Angeles (is there any other?), I got to take a closer look at what makes UCLA’s MBA program so fantastic.   Did You Know? Anderson offers lots of flexibility after revising their curriculum several years ago. They now offer more tracks and ...

Planning Timeline for MBA Applicants

July 08, 2014

Are you ready to apply to business school this year? Maybe you’ve been prepping for the GMAT or staring at your resume, unsure of what to say. Think you can’t do much right now? Think again! It’s time to start thinking ahead to when you will be applying and how you can make the most of these early months. You’ll be a stronger candidate that’s not only ...

MBA applicant survey (win $500!)

March 06, 2014

Calling all recent business school applicants (2013/2014): As a member of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), we hope you will participate in an industry-wide survey to hear your feedback on the MBA application process.  AIGAC will be sharing the anonymous results with admissions officers of the top schools  to help them better meet the needs of today’s applicants—and to help the admissions consulting community better serve our ...

Branding yourself for business school applications

July 24, 2013

We believe that the MBA admissions process is inherently a marketing exercise.  This does not mean “spinning your story” to impress the admissions committee or telling them what you think they want to hear.  It means, presenting your authentic self in the best light possible.  It means taking a premium product (YOU) and wrapping it in beautiful packaging, showing off your true colors inside, ...

Applying to the right business schools (and the right number of them)

July 10, 2013

July is here--and you may be feeling the pressure to finalize your business schools target list and begin strategizing for those first-round essays.  Your instincts wouldn’t be steering you wrong.  The question though is which schools, and how many of them, should you choose.  Rankings: For Entertainment Use Only     Rankings can certainly be a helpful starting point to build your initial b-schools list.  (The latest rankings are always available in ...

Insights from the 2013 MBA admissions conference

July 03, 2013

After attending our annual AIGAC MBA admissions conference in Philly—and tweeting up a storm—I stand before you armed with insights directly from the mouths of the admissions directors who’ll be reading your future applications.   In attendance were Wharton, Columbia, Tuck, NYU Stern, Yale, Cornell Johnson, Texas McCombs, UNC and others—as well as representatives from GMAC, test prep companies big and small, and ...

MBA Tours: what, why, when (and how to use them to your advantage)

May 09, 2013

It’s MBA tour season again.  And along with it comes our advice for using these events to your benefit in the admissions process. First, the what MBA tours, or fairs, are like job fairs for business school candidates.  Traveling city to city, they offer a great opportunity for you to attend panels, accumulate admissions and GMAT advice, speak ...

Considering an International MBA?

May 01, 2013

What an interesting and life-changing proposition.  To not only earn an MBA, but to do so in such a unique environment that extraordinary diversity, cultural immersion, and hands-on international experience are a part of your daily life.  There are very real factors for why pursuing an MBA overseas may make perfect sense for you.  Here are several ...

Spotlight on Duke’s Fuqua School of Business

April 24, 2013

Last week, in the midst of a vibrant Duke Alumni Weekend, I had the pleasure of spending time at the Fuqua School of Business. It was as if the perfect 70 degree weather and blue North Carolina skies were planted intentionally to impress, however it was my conversation with Director of Admissions Megan Lynam that shed the most meaningful light into what ...

Communicating with the admissions office

April 03, 2013

You have a question about your upcoming MBA application deadline, so you write up a quick email to the admissions office and hit send.  No problem, right?   Wrong. The email itself may be perfectly innocuous… or it may just have cost you in the admissions process.  Let’s break it down so you can determine when and how it is most appropriate to communicate with the admissions ...

Spotlight on DU’s Daniels College of Business

March 13, 2013

Once again, to pay homage to the MBA programs in our Colorado stomping ground, I am pleased to shed light into the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver.  I recently took the opportunity to sit down with Allison Sharpe, Graduate Admissions Manager, to learn more about the program. Did you know: Daniels is the 8th oldest ...

After you’ve hit “submit”

February 20, 2013

Often, we receive questions from MBA candidates who have completed their applications and are now wondering what to do with their time.  Is it OK to quit my job now and travel?  I was offered a new job; should I take it even though I may be leaving for business school in six months?  My company has taken a down turn; should I leave ...

Resources for MBA applicants

February 06, 2013

In addition to the insights that we provide through our blog, speaking engagements, and 1x1 MBA admissions consulting services, each year we always like to take stock of the additional resources that our clients found valuable in preparing their applications.  Whether you’re focused on nailing your GMAT or preparing for that final interview, here are some of our clients’ personal recommendations ...

Should I apply to business school in round three?

January 30, 2013

For most candidates, the answer is no.  However, under certain circumstances, it makes perfect sense to submit a 3rd round application.  Here are some ways to gauge whether you should apply this late in the game, or whether you’d be better off waiting until the 1st round next fall.   First, the pros of submitting an application in round 3:

Gratitude during the MBA admissions process

November 21, 2012

With Thanksgiving upon us, this seems a perfect time to think about all of the people who have helped you in the MBA admissions process thus far. Very often, in the throes of essay writing and interview prep, we get lost in your own heads.  We’re sleep-deprived, focused on our own deliverables, balancing full-time jobs on top of it all.  Perhaps we’ve even felt the ...

I’ve submitted my round one MBA applications, now what?

October 24, 2012

Congratulations!  If you’re one of the motivated few to get your business school applications in early, you may be wondering what to do with yourself next.  Here are a few suggestions: Apply to 2nd round schools You’ve already got great momentum from all of your hard work in the 1st round; why not continue moving forward?  Worst case scenario, you develop an additional set of ...

Mastering part one of your MBA application

October 03, 2012

Did you finally finish writing your business school essays--excited that you were at the “end” of your MBA application--only to discover that Part One was actually chock full of enough short-answer questions and mini-essays to put you into a deep depression. Fortunately, you discovered this before the day your application was due.  And fortunately you had enough guidance to do yourself justice on this ...

Networking and the MBA admissions process

September 26, 2012

Does networking with the staff, students or alumni of your target business schools help you in the admissions process?   The answer is, it depends why you’re networking. If you’re interested in meeting school affiliates to help sway the admissions committee, you’re likely wasting your time.  Derrick Bolton, assistant dean and director of Stanford GSB Admissions, has indicated that those types of unofficial recommendations really hold no weight.  ...

Your essay is terrible

September 13, 2012

There I’ve said it.  You’re trying to get off too easy with your choice of essay topics. Be careful not to underestimate the caliber of your competition.  They’re using every inch of essay real estate to sell themselves and fight for their precious spots in the class.  They’re showing themselves as future leaders, future managers, people who inspire change, ...

Developing an MBA application with impact

August 14, 2012

Essays get the lion’s share of the attention when it comes to business school applications.   They're the scariest beast to tackle, and they take the most time.  You might even believe that they hold the most weight, though they actually do not.  An MBA application is truly a package deal:  resume, data form, essays, recommendations, transcripts, test scores, interviews—the admissions committee has it all in ...

Overcoming MBA essay writer’s block

July 31, 2012

It’s time to start outlining your business school essays, and your mind is a blank.  What do I wish I had done better?  What matters most to me and why?  What has fundamentally transformed the way I think?  Where should you begin? Here are a few tips to jumpstart your writer’s engine and get those creative juices flowing: Ask your friends and family Get the input ...

International MBA insights

July 10, 2012

How much do you know about the top European business schools? At our 2012 AIGAC conference in Spain last week, we asked admissions directors from several top European business schools to tell us “three great things” about their MBA programs.   Not surprisingly, every one of them highlighted the tremendous diversity of their student populations.  The number of nationalities represented, by both students and faculty, is incomparable at these programs – and makes for a truly global ...

Securing the strongest MBA recommendations

June 26, 2012

Did you know that one of the most common MBA application mistakes is making a poor choice of recommenders? Who are the right ones to choose?  Follow these guidelines to ensure that you’ve selected well, and that your recommendations work to your advantage in the admissions process, not detract from your candidacy. They know you really, really well The admissions committee favors recommendations from ...

How to get into the top business schools from China

June 20, 2012

As applications to the top business schools in the US continue to increase from China, schools are forced to make difficult admissions decisions amidst this highly competitive applicant pool.  Here are four tips for Chinese applicants to ensure excellence in the application process and differentiate yourselves from others. Brand yourself Many applicants from China are academically qualified for the top schools and offer high ...

Upcoming MBA Admissions Fairs: Making the Most of Them

June 05, 2012

It’s MBA admissions fair season: a great opportunity for MBA candidates to attend admissions panels in your city, pick up GMAT tips, talk 1x1 with admissions officers from your target schools, and evaluate which programs are the best fit for you. In addition, it gives the admissions officers a chance to hear questions directly from the frontlines, and make connections ...

Writing a resume worthy of a top MBA application

May 29, 2012

If only the top MBA programs would provide resume examples.  What are they looking for??  One page or two?  Executive summary or not?  Education above or below professional experience?  Can I trust the MBA resume template I found online?   Will a top MBA program reject you because you chose to list your professional experience below your education?  Certainly not.  However, I can share a few ...

Spotlight on CU’s Leeds School of Business

May 22, 2012

With our home base in Denver,  I meet a lot of MBA candidates who are considering our local business schools.  So I was pleased for the chance to talk with Jen Smith, head of admissions at the Leeds School of Business at the University of Colorado – Boulder, to gain insight into the ...

Spotlight on Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business

May 15, 2012

Last week, I was  lucky enough to spend some quality time at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business with admissions team members Kelly Wilson, Hilary Prokop, and Kristen Bautz.  On a perfect sunny Washington DC morning, I got a firsthand look at what makes this program so special. Did you know: Georgetown is a true general management program, and offers ...

The Months Before Applying To Business School

May 01, 2012

So, you are planning to apply to business school this fall.   Anxiously, you’re awaiting the release of the essay questions you’ll have to answer, possibly studying for the GMAT as we speak, and likely feeling a bit hopeless that there isn’t more you can do NOW.  The good news is, there is.  If you make the most of ...

Getting off the MBA waitlist

April 24, 2012

You’ve put in your full effort, delivered an outstanding MBA application, and the disappointing decision comes back: waitlisted.  You feel like you might as well have been rejected. Don’t despair.  It’s NOT a hopeless cause.  Every year, at nearly every top business school, people are taken off the waitlist and given that long-awaited admit letter.  The waitlist spot means they already like you and ...

Writing Like a Future MBA

September 05, 2011

When you think of common business school application mistakes, I’ll bet some of the famed horror stories come to mind: the wrong-school typo, the too-personal essay topic, the inappropriate Facebook photo… What about writing ability? Not the baseline question of whether you can put an English sentence together—but the little things. The ones that aren’t deal breakers in and of themselves, but that pick away ...

When To Re-Take The GMAT

August 05, 2011

Raise your hands if you’ve ever second-guessed whether your GMAT score is good enough. Now, keep your hands raised if you’ve scored over 720 and wondered the same thing.  Thought so.  Hands down please. There are very few applicants who haven’t at least wondered, if not worried, whether their candidacy is at risk due to their GMAT score. ...

The Road To Be Traveled

October 25, 2010

The dreaded “career essay" What are your career aspirations and why?   Why do you want your MBA (at our school)? It’s causing you angst to no end.  Of course you don’t know 100% what you’re going to do after you graduate.  Even if you think you do, you probably don’t.  ...

What To Write About

September 10, 2010

For my first ever blog entry (which I'd been putting off because I didn't know what to write about), I thought it only fitting to write about...what to write about. It's the concern I've heard most this week from the business school candidates I work with privately.  "I can't think of any good leadership examples!"  "I don't ...