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.

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...