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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 align ...

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 ...

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 ...

Mike, Dartmouth Tuck MBA

January 30, 2013  |   Testimonials   |     |   0 Comment

Mike, Dartmouth Tuck MBA Hillary is an extremely talented, honest, creative, and caring person. Through the homework exercise and in-person meetings, she truly got to know who I am as a person, which made a huge impact when she reviewed my essays and resume. Instead of just proofreading and watching the word count, Hillary helped me get the best out of my stories and experiences and helped me to put my best foot forward in the admissions process. Whenever I had questions about any aspect of the application process, she was always quick to respond and made me feel like I was her only client. I am so thankful to have worked with Hillary, and I will be attending my first choice, Tuck, next year. For anyone applying to any MBA program, I would strongly recommend working with Shine. - Mike (New York, NY)