Leveraging MBA Tours To Your Benefit

April 29, 2017  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Leveraging MBA Tours To Your Benefit It’s MBA fair season: a great opportunity for prospective MBAs to attend admissions panels and get tips on the admissions process, pick up GMAT/GRE advice, talk face-to-face with admissions directors, and figure out which schools are right for you. It also gives adcomm a chance to hear questions directly from applicants and make connections with future MBAs who may be a fit for programs. Here are 5 tips to ensure you make the most of these MBA events: Every touch point with a school reflects upon you as a candidate, be it with the Director of Admissions or the receptionist.  Smile, offer a confident hand shake, show your enthusiasm, and be professional with whomever you speak. Do your homework.  Nothing shows your interest in a particular program more than asking thoughtful questions beyond what can be found online.  Ask about an intriguing topic, campus initiatives, or an aspect of the curriculum reflecting your interests. Show genuine curiosity, rather than simply a desire for face time.  Book one-on-one sessions whenever possible.  Some programs offer a chance to reserve a time slot to meet with adcomm privately or in a small group.  Don’t miss this opportunity to make a positive impression and build a ...

MBA Applicant Survey: Win $500

March 22, 2017  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA Applicant Survey: Win $500 If you've just finished applying to business school, please spare <10 minutes and take AIGAC’s annual MBA Applicant Survey. First, you could win $500!  Second, your views will be tallied anonymously and shared at our June conference, then used directly by business schools, admissions consultants and key stakeholders to shape the admissions process for years to come. We know you’ve got a lot to say - let your voices be heard! Click here to take the survey. Responses are due by April 30 to be eligible for the $500 prize. We truly appreciate your time in helping us continue to improve the MBA application process. Thanks, Your friends at Shine

November Flash Sale – This Week Only!

November 01, 2016  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

November Flash Sale – This Week Only! Introducing our new Accelerated Applications offer at 15% off.  Complete your MBA applications in 6 weeks! Your winter holidays have never looked so good.  Book our services by this Friday Nov. 4th and we’ll lead you to complete up to 3 applications in 6 weeks – all for 15% off our standard pricing. You’re a great fit for this opportunity if… You’ve completed your test prep You have a good sense of your career goals and target schools You’ve researched your target schools You have sufficient bandwidth to dedicate to your applications, now Ready to gain some serious momentum?  Email us today at info@shineadmissions.com to set up a consultation and learn more.  Consultation times will be available on Wed. and Thurs. throughout the day and evening. Let's get it done! [Click here to learn more about our services and rates.  For additional questions, please contact us at info@shineadmissions.com] © Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting, November 1, 2016, 10:22am PST  

Advice From Past MBA Applicants (To Those About To Apply)

June 30, 2016  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Advice From Past MBA Applicants (To Those About To Apply) For the last few years, we've asked our clients who just completed the MBA application process to answer the following question: What is one piece of advice you’d offer to future applicants?  Here is what they wanted to say to you. (Notice some common themes?) Take some time to dig deep and really reflect on your career experience and why you want to go back school.  This will better prepare you for both the essay questions and the interviews. Talk to recent applicants. As many as possible. Talk to current students as much as you can before, during and after the application process. Create a business school plan well in advance and target Round 1 if at all possible. Try to visit each school’s campus before applying and speak to as many current students/alumni as you can. Start earlier than you think is early. Things take longer than you think. Plan ahead of time. Work hard at getting to know each program you are applying to. Really get to know students who are attending these programs because they are the ones who will be able to speak the most candidly and honestly about what the school has ...

How Are the GMAT and GRE Relevant to Business School Success?

November 11, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

How Are the GMAT and GRE Relevant to Business School Success? The following guest blog post was written by Brian Prestia of Reason GMAT: For many prospective business school applicants, their first encounter with the GMAT or GRE comes as a bit of a shock.  The predominant reaction is:  What the heck does this stuff have to do with business school anyway?  Geometry, rate questions, correcting grammatical errors…how can this be the measure of potential success in business school? The Real Nature of the GMAT and GRE What most people don’t realize is that the GMAT and GRE are really reasoning tests -– they give business schools a view into applicants logical reasoning, problem solving, and analytical abilities. Sure, a firm grasp of the quantitative and verbal foundation of these questions helps, but that’s not all it takes. And a less-than-perfect grasp of the foundation can often be overcome by good, old-fashioned reasoning and smart problem solving. Business schools know that incoming students are going to be inundated with lots and lots of new information. They are not looking for students who can memorize and regurgitate that information; they are looking for people who can think critically and solve problems creatively. The GMAT and GRE are designed to reward those kinds of skills and punish ...

Resources for MBA Applicants: 2015

November 02, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resources for MBA Applicants: 2015 In addition to sharing our own advice with you, each year, we like to share our past clients' recommendations of the resources they found most helpful in applying to business school. Whether you're gathering information about your target b-schools, preparing for the GMAT, or looking for the best approaches to a particular essay question, our most recent client alumni recommended the following resources: GMAT/GRE Prep To help increase their test scores by those precious points, our clients reported that they took advantage of the following publications, websites, practice tests, private tutors, and prep classes: Veritas Prep Manhattan Prep Kaplan Princeton Review Dominate the GMAT Advantage Testing Beat The GMAT GMAT Club   GMAT Hacks Khan Academy The Official Guide to GMAT Review by GMAC   Game Plan for the GMAT by Brandon Royal School & Admissions ...

What To Do After Submitting Round 1 Applications

October 06, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

What To Do After Submitting Round 1 Applications If you are one of the business school candidates who was driven enough to apply in Round 1, then it's time to give yourself a pat on the back. Though you might be wondering what you're supposed to do now. Here are a few ways to keep yourself productively occupied: Move on to Round 2 Keep moving forward and begin working on the next round of applications. Taking advantage of this extra time will allow you to really think through each question, work slowly, and avoid the last minute scramble. Worst case, you are accepted into your first round schools and don't ever have to submit them.  Yet if there’s one thing we learned in business school, it’s the benefit of preserving option value. And you will not have enough time to wait for first round results and then develop a polished set of second round applications. Keep your options open, prepare for the worst, and hope for the best. Learn From the Past Year after year, applicants pull the plug last minute on submitting their applications in Round 1 because they hadn't "nailed it" quite yet--either because they were struggling with a particularly tough question, or because they were overly-optimistic in the time involved to develop a strong, polished application. Use those lessons to get a jump start ...

Researching MBA Programs: How To Find Your Perfect B-School Match

August 18, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Researching MBA Programs: How To Find Your Perfect B-School Match  The following guest blog post was written by Mansoor Iqbal of QS' TopMBA.com: An MBA is likely to be the last substantial formal education you undertake in your lifetime. It will be expensive. It will be difficult. And you’re going to be a little bit older when you’re done. (You’ll probably feel a little bit older just after applying!) Suffice it to say, you’re going to need to do your due diligence. So, how should you go about this? Here’s a rough guide to researching business schools. Establish your needs It’s hard to find something if you don’t know what you’re even looking for. So try to establish as much as possible about what you want and need from an MBA before getting started. Naturally, points you hadn’t considered will come up as you get further along. To begin though, think about career outcomes, how you like to learn, where you want to be based.  Then, realistically gauge how strong a candidate you are. Sure, it sounds dreamy to study at Stanford, but don’t waste your time if you know you won’t be able to compete. Besides, maybe you wouldn’t even be happy there; it’s all about finding the right fit. ...

Personal Branding for Your MBA Applications

August 03, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Personal Branding for Your MBA Applications We believe that the MBA admissions process is inherently a marketing exercise, plain and simple.  To be clear, 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, then adding a well-written label that lets your personality shine through, so that you stand out from all of the others. And as any good marketer knows, the key to marketing success is a solid brand foundation. It’s impossible to market a brand effectively if you don’t know what it stands for.  Similarly, before jumping into the application process, it’s important that you understand your own personal brand and have the same sense of clarity about yourself. You may have heard the marketing terms “brand identity” or “brand positioning statement.”  Branding a human is a very similar exercise.  While there are a number of relevant elements that can comprise one's personal brand, if you focus on these five, you’ll be off to a running start: Vision ...

International Applicants: Meet PrepAdviser

July 13, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

International Applicants: Meet PrepAdviser We just wanted to extend an introduction to our friends at PrepAdviser, an interactive online platform which assists international applicants in their preparation for MBA and masters programs worldwide. PrepAdviser is a free online community where you can connect with admissions directors and test preparation experts, fellow applicants, current students and alumni from all over the world (43,000 registered users and counting).  You can also find news, helpful articles, tips, videos, MOOCs, test prep advice, live chats and a forum for discussions and Q&A. We hope you'll enjoy this resource, set up a profile, and/or share with any others who may be interested.   [For help in applying to MBA programs, overseas or in the US, please contact us at info@shineadmissions.com] © Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting, July 13, 2015, 7:08am PST

Shining Brighter: We’ve Moved to Los Angeles!

July 01, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Shining Brighter: We’ve Moved to Los Angeles! Greetings from Santa Monica, California!  Why are we writing to you from the Los Angeles oceanfront, you ask--surrounded by gorgeous Malibu, edgy Venice, and posh Brentwood?  For starters, this sure isn’t a bad place to be. Outside the window are palm trees, chirping birds, a fresh ocean breeze, and beautiful sun.  And after spending quite a bit of time out here over the years, we decided to make Southern California our home. (What could be more fitting for our Shine, after all?!) So please join us in celebrating Shine’s new locale out west—where we’ll continue to advise top MBA applicants coast-to-coast and overseas, just as easily as we did from Colorado.  Our contact info even will remain unchanged; we’ll just be one time zone to the left :) Fondly, Hillary Schubach Founder & President Emma, first beach frolic   © Shine/ MBA Admissions Consulting, July 1 2015, 11:05am PST  

Crafting an MBA-Caliber Resume

June 29, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Crafting an MBA-Caliber Resume What exactly are the top MBA programs looking for in a resume? Can it be two pages? Should I include an executive summary? How should it be formatted? Relax. These details won’t be the determining factor of whether you are accepted. However, a compelling, polished resume makes a positive first impression and sets the stage for the rest of your application. The following tips will get you off on the right foot: Format There are no requirements on style, so just use your best judgment. The key is to make it neat, professional well-organized, consistent, and easy to navigate. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with Times New Roman font. Traditional as it is, it’s gold standard for a resume. 10-point is the smallest you should go. Leave some white space around your margins, entries, and section breaks. It gives your content breathing room and avoids a cluttered appearance. The rule of thumb, among admissions officers and corporate recruiters alike, is one resume page per 10 years of work experience. That means, if you’re a typical full-time MBA candidate, your resume should be no more than one page. Enough said. Layout Don’t waste valuable real estate on an executive summary. ...

Advice for Future MBA Applicants (From Our Clients Who Just Survived the Process)

May 13, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Advice for Future MBA Applicants (From Our Clients Who Just Survived the Process) We recently asked our latest group of clients: What is one piece of advice you’d offer to future MBAs? Here are the responses we received.  (Notice some common themes...?) Prepare early and plan ahead with the application timeline Work hard at getting to know each program you are applying to. Really get to know students who are attending these programs because they are the ones who will be able to speak the most candidly and honestly about what the school has to offer. Begin studying for the GMAT at least 10-12 months before you want to begin your applications (which should be started 3 months before the deadline). I would also recommend polishing/finishing your resume during this time period. With a decent score knocked out of the way along with a completed resume, the applicant can truly concentrate on putting together a coherent and tailored application to each school. Start early and talk to as many people as possible (colleagues, friends, alumni, current students). That really helped me to shape my story. Start early, drafting takes longer than you think. (And don’t get married during R1.) Research each school thoroughly. Visit the schools before applying if you can. It’s easier ...

The GMAT: To Retake or Not to Retake

May 01, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

The GMAT: To Retake or Not to Retake Virtually all business school applicants worry about whether their GMAT (or GRE) score is good enough for their target schools. If you’re deliberating whether it’s worth retaking the exam, the following might help you make your decision. How Prepared Were You, Really? How many weeks/months did you study? Did you use the best materials available, whether through a prep course or independent study? Did you take several full-length practice tests in test-like conditions (e.g. timed, no distractions, without stopping)? If you didn’t truly give preparation your all, you will likely be surprised to see how much you can improve with a head-down, intensive study effort. For a personal anecdote, I came into my prep course scoring a 590. 6 weeks later, after a hardcore study effort, I earned a 740 on test day. GMAT tutors regularly score 800s when they sit for the exam – are they all prodigies, or freaks of nature? No. They’ve just dedicated themselves to mastering the material. And you can too. It’s entirely learnable. Did You Face Extenuating Circumstances on Test Day? Were you completely prepared only to find yourself sick the morning of the exam? Or distracted by a major ...

Applying to the Right Business Schools

April 16, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Applying to the Right Business Schools You know you want to apply to business school, but there are so many schools to choose from, and you need to use your time wisely. Here are some tips in finding the right MBA programs for you. Fit, Not Rankings Ranking can be a helpful starting point, but they should NOT be your primary factor in school selection. Instead, determine the strongest programs in your areas of interest, taking into account the opportunities you can gain both inside and outside of the classroom. Does the school's curriculum and electives meet your academic needs? Do the companies you want to work for recruit on campus (and does that matter to you)? Are there extracurricular activities that will enable you to connect with like-minded students or attend relevant events? Also consider the school's location, culture, learning environment, and whether you can make connections through an active alumni network. Attend MBA Fairs MBA fairs are a great opportunity to attend admissions panels in your city. It's also a great time to pick up tips on the GMAT and speak directly with admissions officers from your target schools. Book one-on-one sessions when you can, which offer a great chance to ...

Advice for the AWA and IR Sections of the GMAT

April 01, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Advice for the AWA and IR Sections of the GMAT The following guest blog post was written by Rich Carriero of NextStep Test Prep: Analytical Writing Assessment As you likely know, The Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) essay is the first section of the GMAT. The task is for you to read and analyze a short argument and then critique it on the basis of its use of logic and data. One of the most important things to remember is that you must not take sides. Rather, consider your position like that of a professor grading a term paper: you are not so much concerned with the inherent truth or falsehood of the writer’s position as you are with how well constructed, supported and reasoned you find the argument to be. Planning the essay begins with dissecting the stimulus. You must determine what is the author’s conclusion, what evidence does the author use to support this conclusion and what are the gaps are between the evidence and conclusion--the assumptions. There are many types of assumptions but they can generally be divided into unproven premises the author is taking for granted and potential outside factors the author is ignoring. Dealing with your assumptions will be the meat of your essay. For example, your stimulus ...

MBA Application Planning Timeline: 2015-2016

March 02, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA Application Planning Timeline: 2015-2016 Planning to apply to business school this fall? Though it’ll still be a few months before applications are released, there's plenty you can do now to get ahead of the curve and reduce your stress when crunch time approaches. 6 Months Before the Deadline If you still need to take (or retake) the GMAT or GRE, now is a great time. Not only can you give it your undivided attention but you also give yourself wiggle room should you need to take the exam again. If you’re lacking in certain aspects of your undergraduate profile (limited quantitative experience, poor grades in business courses), you could also use this time to ace a local or online course in finance, statistics, or accounting. It’s never to late to show the admissions committee that you can handle the academic rigors of the program. Additionally, this is a good time to reflect upon your leadership experience. If you fall short, find or create ways to take on more responsibility. Propose improving an area of your organization that is in need. Step up to be the captain of your recrational soccer team. If your personal passions have been pushed by the wayside, reconnect with them. Volunteer at the animal shelter. ...

MBA Waitlist Strategy

March 18, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   1 Comment

MBA Waitlist Strategy You've turned in an excellent MBA application.  Unfortunately, the news was disappointing: you've been waitlisted. Being on the waitlist can feel like a rejection, but don't be discouraged. All hope is not lost. A spot on the waitlist means the admissions committee liked something they saw in you; this is positive feedback!  And every year, business schools admit people from their waitlists.  Here's how you can best position yourself for a spot in the class. Follow The Instructions Take a close look at the waitlist correspondence you received. First and foremost, respond in a timely manner to accept or decline your waitlist spot.  Second, know what the admissions committee's policy is on additional communications or submissions.  Some admissions committees are very open to hearing from you and/or receiving additional materials throughout the waitlist period, while others explicitly say not to contact them. Always follow their instructions. If They Will Accept Additional Submissions... Begin by writing a brief, enthusiastic letter confirming your interest in attending the program.  Passion goes a long way in standing out from other waitlist candidates.  Second, provide any updates since you applied that add value to your profile. Did you receive a promotion at work? Have you just passed your CFA ...

Which Test to Take: GMAT vs GRE

February 23, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Which Test to Take: GMAT vs GRE Many MBA programs are now willing to accept GRE scores in lieu of the GMAT. The question is, which test should you take? Do Your Target Schools Accept the GRE? Before you get too excited about closing your GMAT books forever, research what your target business schools have to say about the GRE. Some schools feel that the GMAT is still the best exam for their needs, and while they accept the GRE, they may state a clear preference for the GMAT. Others deny the GRE outright. Know the requirements for each school before committing to an exam. Which One Plays to Your Strengths? Both the GMAT and GRE assess your verbal and quantitative reasoning, writing, and critical thinking, though each tests these concepts in different way. If English is your second language, you may have an easier time with the GMAT since it does not directly test vocabulary. If you are a non-traditional candidate with a limited quantitative background, you may prefer the GRE which is considered less quantitatively rigorous. (Conversely, quant jocks and financiers who shy away from the GMAT may raise a few eyebrows.) What is Your Past Exam History? Did you already take the GRE ...

MBA Applicant Survey: you could win $500!

February 05, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA Applicant Survey: you could win $500! If you have just participated in the MBA admissions process, we hope you will take AIGAC’s annual MBA Applicant Survey.  First, you could win $500!  Second, your anonymous views will be shared at our upcoming conferences and will be used directly by business schools, admissions consultants and key stakeholders to shape the admissions process for years to come.  We know you’ve got a lot to say - let your voices be heard! http://bit.ly/1BZqvrC Thanks, Your friends at Shine    

MBA Interview Recap

February 02, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA Interview Recap By now, you should have heard from most of the business schools you applied to in Round 2 to find out if you’ve been invited to interview. If you’re lucky enough to be interviewing over the next few weeks, you won’t want to miss our recent blog posts covering MBA interviews, including whether you should interview on campus, what to ask your interviewers, and MBA interviews 101. To begin wrapping your head around the Dos and Don’ts, here are a few items to keep in mind as you prepare: Remember the basics of interviewing: dress to impress, make eye contact, speak slowly and concisely, and smile. Bring hard copies of your resume. Business cards are not necessary. Be friendly, positive, and courteous to EVERYONE you meet: student ambassadors, interviewers, and the receptionist. Be prepared to interview with someone other than who you were expecting. Know your own story inside and out. It should be consistent with what you wrote in your application. Listen to the question. Answer exactly as it was asked. A good framework to set up your examples is: situation, actions, results, takeaways. Demonstrate your passion for the school. If you’re not accepted anywhere else, it may quickly become your top choice. Avoid asking ...

What To Do After Submitting Your Round 2 Applications

January 15, 2015  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

What To Do After Submitting Your Round 2 Applications If you have just finished polishing and submitting your business school applications for Round 2, then congratulate yourself. What a way to kick off 2015! Now you may wonder, what are you supposed to do next? Here are a few ideas to keep you occupied: Prepare for Interviews Think it’s too early? Once you find out if you've been invited to interview, you won’t have much time to prepare. Get a head start now by researching commonly-asked questions and mapping out your responses. Spend time on interview report wikis where applicants have posted the questions they were asked, often just a few weeks ago in Round 1! Remind yourself of the details of several meaningful stories that could apply to a variety of interview question scenarios. Practice reciting them in the mirror or on video. Even better, hold mock interviews with friends or a Shine MBA admissions consultant. Thank Your Recommenders If you haven’t already done so, now is an ideal time to show your appreciation for the recommenders who have worked so hard for you over these last several weeks. Whether your budget allows for gift cards to a new restaurant, a nice bottle of wine, homemade treats, or a thoughtful card, your ...

Respect the Data Form

November 24, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Respect the Data Form When beginning an MBA application, many candidates jump right into the essay portion, without much consideration of the part one of the application (what we like to call the “data form”). What they often find out the hard way is that the data form takes a substantial amount of time, and they are left scrambling at the last minute to finish it. The data form is more than simply filling out your basic information. There are often challenging short answers buried within it, such as “What was your most significant accomplishment?” or “What are your immediate post-MBA goals?” These are questions are to be taken as seriously as the full length essays. For this reason, we recommend tackling the data form (or at least reviewing it thoroughly) before diving headfirst into essay-writing. It will ensure you’re being strategic about your content for the entire application package, and that you don’t waste precious essay real estate on topics that you’ll already be telling them in your short answers. (Note: pay attention to whether the short answers have character limits vs. word limits. You’d be surprised how many people miss this in their initial drafts.) Thus, give the data form your full attention and a few days to complete. ...

Deciding Whether to Interview on Campus

November 17, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Deciding Whether to Interview on Campus If you're one of the lucky MBA applicants who have been invited to an interview, congratulations! Most business schools offer you the choice of going to campus for your interview or meeting with an alumnus in your city. The question is, which should you choose? Should I Stay or Should I Go? Know that the schools truly will not hold it against you if you live far from campus and can't make the trip. Furthermore, if you're concerned about traveling due to finances, family needs, or taking the time off work, there’s no need to add further stress to the process. That said, if you are being offered an interview at Columbia and you live in Philadelphia, it would behoove you to hop on Amtrak and make the trip to campus. You’re still very much in the courtship phase at this point, and your effort will be noted and appreciated. Why Interview on Campus? There are lots of upsides to interviewing on campus. Making the effort to travel there certainly indicates a high level of commitment and enthusiasm for the school. Most of all, it offers an ideal opportunity for you to make a day out of it and immerse yourself in the b-school experience: have ...

What To Ask Your Interviewer

November 06, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   1 Comment

What To Ask Your Interviewer Pop Quiz:  When your MBA interview wraps up, and your interviewer asks, “Now, do you have any questions for me?” the correct answer is_______? Hopefully your response was, without any hesitancy, “YES.” The best way to demonstrate your interest in an MBA program is to ask thoughtful questions when given the chance at the end.  (Everyone likes to feel that someone’s interested in them, right?).  So how do you navigate this point of the interview and make a good impression? Think Positive Frame your questions in a positive light. Regardless of where this program falls on your wish list, at this point, you're still marketing yourself. (And this program may turn out to be your only option!)  So don’t put the interviewer on the defensive or express any hesitations you may have.  Questions like, “I am very excited by the tech concentration; can you tell me more about XX aspects of it?” will go farther than implying that you're still sizing up whether the tech program works for you. Think Passion Admissions officers want to feel that, if they extend an offer to you, you will be eager to accept.  Show them how much ...

MBA Interviews 101

October 29, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA Interviews 101 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: dressing to impress, making eye contact, bringing hard copies of your resume, and showing interest in the organization. But are you familiar with what MBA admissions officers specifically are looking for?  Here are four tips to help you seal the deal: Show Your Likability When a business school interviews you, above all, they’re looking to assess your fit.  Beyond your impressive application, are you socially functional?  Can you play nicely in the sandbox with others?  Will you thrive there and make friends?  (One top business school’s directive to its interviewers: “No jerks or weenies.”)   So, smile warmly.  Build a connection.  Give examples that showcase your positive interactions with others.  And show them that you know the difference between confidence and arrogance. Do Your ...

Why Should Your Reader Care?

October 20, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Why Should Your Reader Care? 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 class?  How has it shown us that you’re primed to have an impact in the world?  In your future organization? At our business school? What value will you be adding to our MBA community? This short and sweet blog post is a reminder to always ask yourself the question, “So what?” as you’re going about your business school applications. To use my favorite tennis analogy: “Follow through.”  Even a solid hit will lose its momentum if you don't follow through on your swing.  In essay-writing terms: you’ve just told them a great story, now finish your thought.  Why are you sharing this with them?  The reason, hopefully, is something to the effect of:  because it conveys what I’m capable of, and what I’ll assuredly accomplish in ...

Which Business School is Right for Me?

October 09, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Which Business School is Right for Me? 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 rankings, none more meaningful than the other? (We track several ourselves.) And each measures different criteria, from student satisfaction to admissions selectivity to ROI. So while rankings can certainly be a helpful way to get started, it’s critical to do your own research about each school from there.  Just because a school is highly ranked doesn't mean it's going to be the best fit for you. How will it set you up for success? Core classes and electives that fit your goals are extremely important. Do your needs align with the academic strengths of the school?  Are you looking for a general management program, or one where you can select a concentration in your target field? Are there campus resources, student organizations, and activities that ...

MBA First Round Deadlines: Final Checklist

September 24, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA First Round Deadlines: Final Checklist 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 a “fake deadline” several days before the real deadline. Minutes before the application was due, the recommender was still having trouble uploading the file, out of the country, and not returning calls. Fortunately, HBS was kind enough to offer a 24-hour grace period, but that is not the situation you want to find yourself in amist your other deadline stresses. Don't be shy about checking in with your recommenders. While you want to give them ample time and show them tremendous gratitude, it is ultimately your project to manage and your deliverable in the end. Fill out the Data Form Often, MBA applicants will wait until the last possible moment to fill out the data form (a.k.a. part one) and then find out the hard way ...

Resources for MBA Applicants: 2014

October 01, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resources for MBA Applicants: 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 question, the Shine MBA Class of 2016 recommended that you check out the following: GMAT/GRE Prep To increase their test scores, our clients this past year took advantage of private tutors in their area, as well as the following prep courses: Manhattan Prep Veritas Prep Kaplan Princeton Review Dominate the GMAT Advantage Testing For practice exams, The Official Guide to GMAT Review by GMAC has actual GMAT questions from previous tests with answers and detailed explanations. Additionally, they recommended Beat The GMAT and GMAT Club for online forums, links and tools. School/Admissions Insights As always, they recommended the school's own websites, blogs and social media pages as your first resource. Use these pages to learn about the characteristics of ...

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications–Part II

September 16, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications–Part II 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 that the strongest job entries begin with a few lines describing your general roles and responsibilities. What were you hired to do every day? This paragraph can also include big picture details about the business, such as annual revenue and growth trends. Then below that, list three to five bullet points highlight your ownable achievements, notable projects or awards. This approach shows the reader not only what your job was, but exactly how you added value in that role. Be very specific about your accomplishments, quantify everything possible, and take credit where credit is due. If you created a system to save the company $125K in operating costs, say so. Even better, don’t just say that you did it; explain why you did it and how. Use vibrant details to describe the impact you ...

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications

August 20, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resume FAQs for MBA Applications 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 of our commonly asked questions:   How much time must I spend finessing this? It’s just the resume. Your resume makes the first impression in your application. In that moment, admissions officers develop a crucial first sense of who you are, what you do, what you've done, and how much value you added along the way. They get a glimpse into your organization skills (does it have a logical flow?), your attention to detail (is your punctuation consistent?), and your ability to communicate with someone outside your industry (is it written in Greek?)—all of which goes into their assessment of whether you’d fit in well to the business school environment. How long should my resume be? The rule is: one resume page for every 10 years of work experience. For the typical MBA applicant, this means your ...

Making the Most of School Visits

August 13, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Making the Most of School Visits 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 both students and admissions representatives about your goals, reasons for pursuing your MBA, and why you want to be a part of their program. Reach out to the admissions office well in advance to schedule time to sit in on a class, attend info sessions, take a campus tour, and/or meet with current students. Are you interested in any specific clubs or affinity groups? See if you can meet their leaders for coffee. Perhaps you’ll have success scheduling time with a professor who interests you (not always possible, so do be understanding.) If you have friends at the school, plan to take them out for a meal and listen to every story they’re willing to share. Some MBA programs provide summer reading lists online. If you have ...

Getting the Best MBA Recommendations

August 06, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Getting the Best MBA Recommendations 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 have reported in some way, formally or informally.  People who were in a position to judge you.  And, most importantly, people who have worked with you directly and can speak about you from their firsthand experience. An ideal set of recommenders can talk about you from varying perspectives (rather than two people from the same project team). They also think extremely highly of you, and they are willing to spend the time writing about it to help you achieve your dreams. Should you make an effort to ask an alum of the school to which you’re applying? If all things are equal, then sure, why not. If you’re choosing between two great options, it can't hurt for the admissions committee to see an endorsement from someone personally invested in the school.  ...

Taking the GMAT vs. the GRE

July 29, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Taking the GMAT vs. the GRE 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 only accept the GMAT, citing that it more directly tests the analytical and quantitative concepts you'll need to utilize in business school. Others do accept the GRE, yet they state a clear preference for the GMAT. Know what the admissions requirements are at each school you’re targeting before you commit to an exam. GMAT vs GRE Structure While both tests assess verbal and quantitative reasoning, critical thinking, and writing, the way in which these tests ask you questions varies. It's similar material being presented in different ways, which means that for some people, the GMAT makes perfect sense, but for others, the GRE approach is more intuitive. Only the GRE tests vocabulary, which could be a challenge for those for whom English is a second language. However, the GRE is a bit shorter in time ...

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

July 24, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Retaking the GMAT: 3 Ways to Know It’s Time 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 a predictor of failure in business school; rather, a high GMAT score is generally a predictor of success. It gives the admissions committee confidence that you can handle the academic aspects of the program. Your GMAT score is therefore a very important component of your MBA application, though it’s not the only factor. Here are three ways to know whether you should consider retaking the exam. 1. Is Your Score in the Mid-80% of Accepted Students? Most schools publish the range in which the middle 80% of their students’ GMAT scores have fallen. For example, Wharton's GMAT range of accepted students last year was 630-790, but the middle 80% of students fell between 690-760. That means if you’ve scored in the mid-to-upper 700s, you have a very competitive score for Wharton. Conversely, if ...

Spotlight on UCLA Anderson School of Management

July 15, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Spotlight on UCLA Anderson School of Management   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 specializations to provide more structure for students who wish to gain depth and expertise in particular industries/functions. Given its close proximity to Hollywood, UCLA is an obviously excellent choice for those interested in entertainment and media, and it is well known for that strength. However, it’s an equally great school for those interested in finance, entrepreneurship and technology. The career paths that students pursue most are technology, finance, and consulting, and recruiters from major firms in New York and the east coast come to UCLA for all-star talent. Much like its counterparts to the east, the city of Los Angeles is home every industry imaginable—including world-class finance and asset management firms, as well as biotechnology, alternative energy and emerging tech. Just 10 minutes away from campus is ...

Planning Timeline for MBA Applicants

July 08, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Planning Timeline for MBA Applicants 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 ahead of the curve, but also (hopefully) a little less stressed about the process! 5-6 Months Out Use this time to assess and evaluate. Do you still need to take the GMAT or GRE? Now is the perfect time, considering how time-consuming preparation will be. Are you dissatisfied with your GMAT score? Sign up for new prep classes. Or if you feel like your undergraduate coursework wasn’t top notch, then take--and ace!--a local or online course in accounting, finance or statistics. At this point, you should definitely be scouring school websites to identify the best MBA programs for you. Ask yourself the tough questions: beyond ranking and reputation, does the school offer what you truly need? Does it offer coursework that will help you achieve your career goals? ...

MBA applicant survey (win $500!)

March 06, 2014  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA applicant survey (win $500!) 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 clients. To thank you, you'll be eligible to win a $500 cash prize--and you will provide invaluable perspectives that will help shape the future of MBA admissions. Make your voices heard! The survey should take 10 minutes to complete and can be accessed by clicking this link: http://bit.ly/1neJdUx. Responses are due by March 31. (If you are interested in reading the results of last year’s survey, click here.) On behalf of AIGAC, we truly appreciate you taking this time to help us improve the MBA admissions process.

Branding yourself for business school applications

July 24, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Branding yourself for business school applications 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, then adding a well-written label that lets your personality shine through, so that you stand out from all of the others. And as any good marketer knows, the key to marketing success is a solid brand foundation. It’s impossible to market a brand effectively if you don’t know what it stands for.  Similarly, before jumping into the application-writing process, it’s important that you understand your own personal brand and have the same sense of understanding about yourself. You may have heard the terms “brand identity” or “brand positioning statement.”  Coming up with your personal brand is a very similar exercise.  While there are a number of meaningful elements that comprise the branding process, we recommend that you focus on these 5, and you’ll be off to a running start: Vision ...

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

July 10, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Applying to the right business schools (and the right number of them) 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 the notes section of our Facebook page.) However, they should be taken with a grain of salt. Each of them measures different criteria: Forbes calculates ROI five years after graduation, Businessweek looks closely at student and recruiter satisfaction, US News includes GMAT/admissions selectivity as well as a survey of MBA program leaders.  Which is why a phenomenal program like Yale SOM is ranked everywhere from #8 to #24, depending on who you ask. Instead, through your own research, identify the strongest programs in your areas of interest.  Consider opportunities to gain knowledge and connections both inside and outside of the classroom.  Rank them for yourself.  And then, weigh the other factors that will help you determine if the school is ...

Insights from the 2013 MBA admissions conference

July 03, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Insights from the 2013 MBA admissions conference 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 fellow AIGAC consultants deliberating the hot issues of today’s admissions process. Here are a few of the highlights: We first dissected AIGAC’s annual applicant survey results, administered by Huron Consulting Group and completed by this past year’s applicant pool.  Among the takeaways:  respondents spent 70-110 hours on their applications (plus another 21-30 hours on GMAT prep)!  50% scored a 700+ on the GMAT.  And 57% used an admissions consultant last year—99% of whom would recommend that future applicants do the same. Of strong interest was the issue of candidates being asked to write their own recommendations—a definite admissions mistake.  (Our recent post “Securing the strongest MBA recommendations” tells you why, and offers our advice).  38% of survey respondents faced this very ethical dilemma last year.  Be on the lookout for ...

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

May 09, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

MBA Tours: what, why, when (and how to use them to your advantage) 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 1×1 with admissions officers from your target schools, pick up brochures, and evaluate which programs are the best fits for you. In addition, it gives the admissions officers a chance to hear questions directly from the front lines, and make connections with prospective applicants. Why bother? I can just do my school research online, can’t I?  Yes, and you absolutely should.  However, attending an MBA fair can expose you to programs you may not have considered.  It enables you to hear diverse panelist perspectives on topics that will help you in the admissions process. And it gives you the unique chance to get your questions answered firsthand, demonstrate your passion for your target programs, and make a favorable impression on the admissions representatives well before you even apply. (And they will remember you.) How ...

Considering an International MBA?

May 01, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Considering an International MBA? 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 worth considering: Building a Global Network According to GMAC, 38% of US business school students are from foreign countries. In European business schools, this number increases to 83%.  University alliances and exchange programs contribute to highly diverse, international student bodies that cannot be matched at US business schools.  For candidates pursuing a career in international business, there is no better way to expand their networks overseas and abilities to work on a global level. High Employability; High Salaries Whether in times of economic growth or in times of crisis, an international MBA is highly marketable to employers—both in the US and overseas.  GMAC also states that 87% of 2012 European MBAs were employed after graduation; nearly half were with a new employer.  Furthermore, median starting salaries in Europe were over $22,000 higher than those ...

Spotlight on Duke’s Fuqua School of Business

April 24, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Spotlight on Duke’s Fuqua School of Business 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 makes an MBA from Duke so special. Did you know: Fuqua operates on six-week terms, which means more opportunity for more classes—along with a more rapid pace of learning. If you’re the type of person who can juggle many balls in the air successfully, you’ll be primed for success at Fuqua. If not, this is a program that will teach you quickly to become adept at prioritization and time management. Fuqua students are very deeply engaged and have an important role in taking the school to the next level. Through opportunities such as the carefully-selected second-year Fellows, students can work alongside department leaders and greatly influence strategic decisions throughout the school. With campuses all over the world (London, Dubai, Shanghai, St. Petersburg, New Delhi), Fuqua is the first truly global business ...

Communicating with the admissions office

April 03, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Communicating with the admissions office 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 office. Everything is considered It is fair to assume that every piece of correspondence you have with admissions will be added to your application file.  I’ll let that sink in for a moment.  Every piece of correspondence.  Phone conversations are captured, emails are filed, social media posts are copied, front desk chats are noted. If you contact admissions too frequently, they may perceive you as needy, unconfident, entitled.  If your style is too casual, they may question your maturity, or how you will handle yourself during job recruiting.  If your correspondence is full of spelling and grammatical mistakes, they’ll be concerned about your communication skills, your proficiency. Ask yourself: does the contact you’re about to make reflect the level of professionalism that the rest of your application does?  That ...

Spotlight on DU’s Daniels College of Business

March 13, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Spotlight on DU’s Daniels College of Business 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 business school in the US and one of the first to integrate business ethics into its curriculum.  Ethical leadership is woven into the core of the program and is a key to who they are. For an MBA candidate seeking variety, flexibility, and a fully-customizable experience, Daniels is the ideal program.  Concentrations are not required, and students can take as many electives as they like.  And at a university with more graduate students than undergrads, cross-registration options are plentiful. Daniels offers a strong focus on globalization and is closely connected to companies, and even governments, around the world.  Students can choose from 10-14 international project trips to pursue their global interests. The program’s other famed strengths include: accounting (Daniels was initially founded as a school of accountancy), real estate (its Real Estate ...

After you’ve hit “submit”

February 20, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

After you’ve hit “submit” 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 and just spend my time volunteering?  I may go into finance; should I take the CFA exam before beginning school? There’s no wrong answer here.  Here are a few tips to help you make the best decision for you: Are you certain that you’re going to business school next year? If you’re still waiting for an admissions decision, don’t quit your day job just yet!  As you know, you can’t be certain of being accepted to any top business school, even if you’re deserving, and even if you’ve been invited to interview. If you end up on the waitlist, you’ll want to show the admissions committee that you’re continuing to progress in your career.  And if you end up being rejected, it will be much harder for you to find ...

Resources for MBA applicants

February 06, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Resources for MBA applicants 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 for future MBA candidates: GMAT Preparation Kaplan Manhattan GMAT Veritas Prep Princeton Review "The Official Guide to GMAT Review," by GMAC Beat The GMAT blog Admissions/School Insights Shine blog (Illuminations) School websites, admissions office blogs, Twitter feeds, Facebook pages, campus visits “How To Get Into The Top MBA Programs” by Richard Montauk “65 Successful Harvard Business School Application Essays,” by Dan Erck Beat The GMAT blog Business Week MBA articles GMAT Club “Calling All Applicants” threads Clear Admit blog Admissionado (formerly Precision Essay) newsletter MBAadmission.com blog Alumni/Student Conversations School admissions offices LinkedIn Interview Prep Shine blog (Illuminations) Clear Admit interview reports [For more information about preparatory resources or general MBA admissions consulting, please contact: ...

Should I apply to business school in round three?

January 30, 2013  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Should I apply to business school in round three? 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: If accepted, you get to attend business school this coming fall. Now the cons: Most of the spots in the class have been given away by this point.  For this reason alone, you’ll have a much tougher time getting in than you would otherwise. If you are not accepted, and you decide to apply again in the fall, now you’re not just a typical candidate, you’re a reapplicant.  This puts the onus on you to improve your candidacy in a significant way over the next six months.  If you were rejected once, submitting the same set of qualifications/stories will not yield a different result. People are accepted though in round 3, right?  Yes they are. The candidates with the best shots at 3rd round admission include: Those with a compelling story ...

Gratitude during the MBA admissions process

November 21, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Gratitude during the MBA admissions process 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 heartbreak of receiving disappointing news from one of our dream schools. We’re likely not thinking about too many other people right now. However, it’s never too early, or too late, to show your appreciation to those who have given their time and support to you through the admissions process. First and foremost, your recommenders.  They’ve spent hours upon hours hearing your story, preparing their write-ups, glowing about you, and doing everything within their power to help you get accepted to business school.  Secondly, your friends and family.  The ones who’ve diligently proofread your essays, encouraged you to aim high, listened to you complain, and missed spending time with you as you holed up with your computer.  Thirdly, all of the alumni, students, and faculty members you may ...

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

October 24, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

I’ve submitted my round one MBA applications, now what? 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 applications and end up with the fantastic news that you’ve “wasted your time” because you were accepted to your 1st round schools.  Best case scenario, you use these next few months wisely to write outstanding applications and create options for yourself--rather than scrambling at the last minute, if 1st round decisions don’t go your way. Prepare for interviews You may not know yet whether you have been invited to interview at your 1st round schools, but once you are, those interview dates come up quickly.  A great use of your time would be to begin preparing your responses to the long list of commonly-asked questions—which can be found through independent research or by working with an MBA admissions consultant. Mock interviews are also great confidence-builders, whether conducted ...

Mastering part one of your MBA application

October 03, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Mastering part one of your MBA application 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 portion of the application, rather than detract from the value of the beautiful set of essays you’d just poured your heart into creating for Part Two. Here are a few tips to make Part One of your application as strong as possible: Characters vs. Words First the basics: follow the instructions.  We’ve seen plenty of people share with us their 250 word answers to a question calling for 250 characters.  Read the question carefully.  Determine whether “characters” includes or excludes spaces.  Test your theory by filling the data form with Xs, cutting and pasting it onto a MS Word document, and then running your character counter. Resume Redundancy If you’ve already done an outstanding job with your resume, there’s no reason that you can’t repeat the same language ...

Networking and the MBA admissions process

September 26, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Networking and the MBA admissions process 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.  Given the many thousands of alumni they have, if every one of them reached out to the admissions office to “put in a good word” for a candidate… Let’s just say we wouldn’t encourage the practice. So how can networking with members of the school community benefit you?  By giving you insight and information that you can use in your application.  What better way to understand the culture of an MBA program than to talk with its current students.  If you’re interested in a professional club on campus, its president would be a great resource to help you understand the type of programming the club offers and the ways you could get involved.  Talking with local alumni can give you a great sense of a school’s ...

Your essay is terrible

September 13, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Your essay is terrible 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, who impact their organizations, and who initiate new ways of doing and thinking.  They step up when the opportunity calls, they persuade others, they get chosen as team captains.  They excel above and beyond their peers. What are you writing about?  Something you wish had gone differently (passive)…or a time when you screwed up and can own it--and have learned from it since (active)?  General impressions of your experiences (nice)…or a vivid story about a specific example that has impacted you well beyond that moment in time (meaningful)? Here are a few indicators that your essay might be terrible: A failure that isn’t really a failure Missed opportunities are less compelling than admitting a true error in judgment. Consider picking a single story as your example.  Explain what you did and why, show ...

Developing an MBA application with impact

August 14, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Developing an MBA application with impact 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 front of them, and it all matters.  Your grand vision should be the combined impact of all of those items, not just the essays.   With plenty of blog posts to choose from about writing strong essays, here are a few thoughts on the rest of the application: Resume First, the resume.  Take the time to make it the strongest possible reflection of all of your professional and academic accomplishments.  Use this opportunity to highlight your extracurricular activities, community involvement, certifications and memberships, special skills, and even your personal interests.  Feel free to read our earlier blog post on what makes a strong MBA resume.  The point is, you’ve got valuable real estate in the resume to communicate items that you can’t otherwise fit into your ...

Overcoming MBA essay writer’s block

July 31, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Overcoming MBA essay writer’s block 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 of people close to you. What is their perception of what makes you tick?  How would they describe your values, attributes, and opportunities for improvement?  What are you doing when they see your eyes light up the most? You’d be surprised how an outsider’s input can inspire a seedling of an idea that ultimately blossoms into your best essay. Find creative inspiration Go to the local book store and flip through one of those “essays that worked for the top business schools” books.  There are plenty of them.  You might be moved by the unique approaches others have taken to an otherwise straight-forward question.  Think outside the box.  There’s no rule that says your essays should be conservative (and dare I say boring)  in tone.  The admissions committee loves ...

International MBA insights

July 10, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

International MBA insights 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 experience.  Programs like IESE and INSEAD also offer campuses on multiple continents, and many also offer exchange programs and partnerships with US business schools. Here are the other two “great things” they described: Cambridge Judge “The people and Cambridge,” says Conrad Chua, head of  MBA Recruitment & Admissions.  Judge is a highly collaborative program, and with such a small class size, anonymity is not an option.  Every student is active and involved, including their participation in 3 major team projects.  As for Cambridge, the university environment emanates excellence, and Judge values students showing potential to be inspired and make a difference in the world. ESADE “Personalization and Creapolis,” according to Christina Sassot, Director of Admissions.  After nine months, ESADE students can decide whether they’d like to finish in 12, 15 ...

Securing the Strongest MBA Recommendations

June 26, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Securing the Strongest MBA Recommendations 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 someone who you reported to in some capacity (formally or informally) and who has firsthand experience of your work style, attributes, strengths/weaknesses, and potential.  By far, your best recommenders are those who can speak about you in intimate detail, and can highlight their commentary with specific examples and anecdotes from their direct experience with you.  Candidates often fail by asking their CEO for a recommendation, which ends up being positive yet devoid of intimate details.  Titles don't impress, content does. They will do the writing themselves Writing recommendations for a business school candidate is a lot of work.  You may come across recommenders who tell you that they're happy to sign the form if you'll do the writing for them. If you do, thank that person generously, and then ...

How to get into the top business schools from China

June 20, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

How to get into the top business schools from China 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 GPAs, GMAT, and TOEFL scores.  The key for the Chinese applicant is to differentiate yourself by all of the unique experiences you bring to the table: professional, extracurricular, and personal. Share your passions, hobbies and activities.  Let them see your special skills and strengths.  Show off your personality, creativity and distinguishing attributes.  Find your personal brand, know your differentiation from others, and let it shine through in your essays. Showcase your experience Because test scores are so elevated among Chinese applicants, the admissions committees also will be eager to learn the details of your work experiences and how you uniquely excelled in those roles.  For both your resume and your essays, take great care to think through each position you’ve held (professional or otherwise!) and highlight your ownable accomplishments, ...

Upcoming MBA Admissions Fairs: Making the Most of Them

June 05, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Upcoming MBA Admissions Fairs: Making the Most of Them 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 with prospective applicants. Here are 5 tips to ensure you make the most of these MBA events: Remember that every touch point with the school reflects upon you as a candidate, be it with the head of admissions or the receptionist.  Smile, offer a confident hand shake, show your enthusiasm, and be professional with whomever you speak. Do your homework.  Nothing shows your interest like coming armed with thoughtful questions, beyond what can be found on the website.  Ask about a topic that intrigues you, an aspect of the curriculum, campus initiatives.  Show your sincere curiosity about the MBA program, rather than simply a desire for face time.  Book 1x1 sessions when possible.  Some schools offer a chance to reserve a time slot to meet with the admissions team privately or in a small group.  ...

Writing a resume worthy of a top MBA application

May 29, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Writing a resume worthy of a top MBA application 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 tips from my experience at Harvard Business School that may impact your resume choices. As a first-year HBS student, to be considered for on-campus recruiting, every student’s resume must be constructed in an identical format.  It evens the playing field for students, and prospective employers can count on HBS to deliver a consistent set of polished resumes for consideration.  Do I have a copy of that template?  I sure do—and will share its takeaways with you--though of course, it requires great content above all.  Still, with these five key pointers, you’ll be well on your way to writing a resume that already makes you look like you’re a first-year student at a top business school. Format You just can’t go wrong with Times New Roman.  For a business ...

Spotlight on CU’s Leeds School of Business

May 22, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Spotlight on CU’s Leeds School of Business 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 unique aspects of this MBA program. Did you know: CU Leeds is known for its outstanding program in corporate social responsibility and environmental sustainability.  With a dual degree option in environmental studies, and a strong partnership with nearby organizations like the National Renewable Energy Lab, this track is one of the primary draws—and a popular elective set among students of all disciplines. Among Leeds’ other strengths are its finance and entrepreneurship programs.  This year, a team of Leeds students won the premier International Venture Capital International Competition (VCIC), beating out finalist teams including Wharton, Michigan, Berkeley, Cornell, and Oxford.  Since 2000, Leeds teams have won eight VCIC regional competitions and placed in the top four in the international finals. For those pursing a marketing career, particularly in natural/organic consumer products, Leeds is the ...

Spotlight on Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business

May 15, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Spotlight on Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business 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 complete flexibility in defining one’s curriculum.  With no majors, and the freedom to select any combination of second year electives, the program is equally ideal for students pursuing traditional and non-traditional career paths. Georgetown is a great fit for students who understand that business is about the impact on both society and the bottom line.  Grounded in the university’s Jesuit heritage, the MBA program values principled leadership and an appreciation of diversity, tolerance, and ethics. These same values have also fostered a warm and caring culture at McDonough.  The small class size and tight-knit community leads its students to be frequently found sharing recruiting insights with one another, running study sessions for classmates, and helping each other succeed. Beyond its location in Washington DC, Georgetown’s new curriculum places even greater emphasis on the global aspect of ...

The Months Before Applying To Business School

May 01, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

The Months Before Applying To Business School 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 this waiting period over the next few months, you’ll not only be ahead of the game, you may strengthen your candidacy as well. Resume There’s no need to wait to update your resume.  Certainly leave room underneath your current position for additional updates, but your past positions won’t be changing.  Take the time now to think through all of your professional accomplishments, roles and responsibilities.  Remind yourself of all of your community and leadership positions, your hobbies and personal interests, your activities and committees.  It’s actually the ideal way to kick off the brainstorming needed for your applications. Recommenders Identify your target recommenders and approach them now to ask them if they’d be willing to write your recommendations.  Look at past applications to familiarize yourself with the types of questions asked, ...

Getting off the MBA waitlist

April 24, 2012  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Getting off the MBA waitlist 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 would welcome you in the class, given unlimited room.  Here’s how to position yourself best for those precious last spots at the school of your dreams. Listen to your admissions committee While many admissions committees welcome additional submissions to support your candidacy, others explicitly state that they do not.  Respect their wishes, and carefully read their instructions before you begin any waitlist campaign.  You’ve come this far; you don’t want to do anything now that could potentially harm your candidacy. Let them know how much they mean to you First, write a brief letter confirming that the school remains your clear first choice, and if admitted, you would definitely attend.  (Assuming that’s true.  If it isn’t, consider letting the waitlist spot go to another candidate.)  Add any support points ...

Writing Like a Future MBA

September 05, 2011  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

Writing Like a Future MBA 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 at the reader’s nerves. Things that distract the reader from the points you’re trying to make, and that make the experience of reading your application a less pleasant one than it could have been. And without meaning to, that slowly but surely begin to separate a weaker writer from other candidates in contention Before you finalize your resume or get too deep into essay writing, I wanted to share some of the more common writing-related issues I see on candidates’ applications year after year. May these suggestions help you to come out of the gate with your best foot forward: Active voice Always use active voice (“I did X”) rather than passive voice (“X happened to me”). Take credit for the choices you’ve made—particularly when they generated a ...

When To Re-Take The GMAT

August 05, 2011  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

When To Re-Take The GMAT 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. Here are a few considerations to help you make this assessment for yourselves: There’s no such thing as a deal breaker Those that have attended one of my "How To Get Into The Top Business Schools" presentations can tell you that this is a dominant theme. Other than an ethical violation, there really is no one element that would take an otherwise qualified candidate out of the running. My favorite example comes from the Harvard MBA Class of 2013 profile. The GMAT range of students in the incoming class is 490-790.  490!!!  Is this a good target GMAT score for anyone applying to HBS?  No, no it is not. It does however prove that if you’re an extraordinary candidate, you are going to get your chance.  (On a ...

The Road To Be Traveled

October 25, 2010  |   Blog   |     |   1 Comment

The Road To Be Traveled 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.  There’s a whole professional world out there to explore...isn’t that part of why you’re going to business school? Let me take the pressure off you:  the admissions committee knows this too.  And the good news is, no one will ever withhold your diploma in the end--cross-referencing your career plans with your application essays, making sure you stuck to your plan.  Unfortunately though,  in the admissions process, there’s nothing less attractive than someone who doesn’t have a clear sense of direction.  “Soul searchers” are sadly not a recognized attribute of future business leaders.  So, you just need to take a leap of faith based on everything you know today—and make the best case for your chance to explore tomorrow at the schools of your choice. Where to start Think down the road, maybe 7-10 years. Whose role could ...

What To Write About

September 10, 2010  |   Blog   |     |   0 Comment

What To Write About 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 have any time outside of work for extracurriculars!"  "I can't think of a time when I really, well, failed." Let it come I conduct a number of speaking engagements, and I often begin my presentation with a section entitled: First and foremost... Slide #1 then goes a little something like this:  BREATHE.  It may not be hilarity, but it's one of the best pieces of advice I can offer.  A creative mind needs some breathing room - and the best ideas likely won't come while staring stressfully at your computer screen. Plant some seeds and sit with them for a while.  Carry a small pad with you and capture ideas while you're driving to work, out walking the dog, or laying at the pool.   Pick your mom's brain while cleaning up dishes after family dinner. ...