When Should You Hire an MBA Admissions Consultant?

MBA AdmissionsApplying for a graduate degree in business, better known as an MBA, is arguably one of the more involved processes of any of the prestigious graduate tracks (law, medical, etc.). With such a complex undertaking and ever-increasing competition from all corners of the globe, admission into business school has become more challenging than ever. That is why so many applicants hire admissions consultants – to help them develop the most comprehensive, thoughtful, and strategic applications possible.

When hiring an admissions consultant, timing is everything! The earliest I would probably recommend hiring an admissions consultant would be April. The average applicant will probably hire a consultant between June and July.

If you’re really trying to make life tough on yourself (and your admissions consultant) you will hire one a month before your application deadline. The longer lead times above allow you to make the process less transactional, which is what can sometimes happen if you hire a consultant at the last minute. A longer lead time not only allows you to have more time to prepare your application, but it also helps you build a relationship with your consultant. When a consultant understands your background and the intricacies of your profile, it can increase the odds your partnership will be fruitful.

It is also important to get things done early because the more iterations you have, the higher the caliber of your application materials and the greater your chances of being accepted. As far as your specific application timeline, it should vary based on whether you are doing five long, complicated applications or just one application. These are instances where the recommendations outlined above are more fluid.

Another aspect of choosing a consultant that few factor in is the availability of the consultant’s time (and also your time). If you are a traveling management consultant or investment banker, who can barely squeeze an hour into the day to do anything, you’re going to want to start really early. This will allow you to slow-roll things based on your limited time to engage with your consultant, and make material progress on your application in any one week.

Overall, the key here is to really understand your needs when choosing a consultant. Thinking through the amount of applications you will be tackling, the support you’ll need, and your own availability will allow you to begin working with your consultant at the right time.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How MBA Admissions Directors Value Your GPA

RecommenderOne of the most important criteria that will be evaluated by admissions directors will be your GPA. Contrary to popular belief, this criteria can be a bit more complicated of an assessment than one would think. Now you are probably thinking how complicated can a simple GPA be? Doesn’t the GPA just have to be high? Very complicated in fact! Let us explore the key aspects MBA programs will evaluate, and why they are so important to how your GPA is received by decision makers.

Overall Undergraduate GPA
This is probably the most obvious aspect of the GPA that schools will focus on. Your overall GPA is considered a fit if it is around or above the average GPA at your target school. Now, all GPAs are not created equally so program’s will certainly factor in the prestige and perceived rigor of your undergraduate school. Same rules apply, the higher the GPA the better your application will be positioned.

Quantitative Classes
Your performance in qualitative classes is really important to your overall candidacy. MBA curriculums are very quantitative in nature, particularly with regards to the traditional core curriculum that includes classes like Stats, Finance, and Accounting. So, schools put a major onus on showing a track record of strong performance in quant classes. Now, not everyone has been exposed to quant classes which is another issue. So even with a high overall GPA not having taken any quant classes, in the past, can be a red flag for admissions.

GPA Trend
Did your GPA trend up or trend down during your time in undergrad? Your overall trend is another area where admissions will focus on. A strong trend upwards showcases maturity and a consistent focus on your studies, and also will be an indicator for future performance in b-school. Now contrary to that, a trend of low performance can signal the exact opposite. Slight dips here and there should not cause concern on your part, but major swings and a trend downward year in and year out may prove to be a red flag for admissions.

Graduate GPA
If you have already completed a graduate degree, this can be another evaluation point for admissions. Strong performance here can help elevate your candidacy. Now, generally your graduate degree performance will not outrank your undergraduate degree performance but strong performance in power degrees like law can certainly showcase your intellectual aptitude and ability to handle graduate level work.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Surprising Insights from the 2018 U.S. News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Stanford Drops to #4

US News College RankingsAdmit it: In today’s online world, we just can’t peel ourselves away from top-10 lists of anything! And the world of MBA admissions is certainly no exception. Schools and applicants alike are obsessed with rankings.

In our opinion, the U.S. News & World Report ranking of business schools is the “best” in terms of ranking schools by selectivity in admissions and their reputations in the marketplace. Quite honestly, most MBA candidates are looking for an environment where they’ll be surrounded by incredible peers and where they’ll get the best job upon graduation, so we believe it’s a very good ranking method.

You’ll hear some admissions “gurus” tell people to ignore rankings altogether, but at Veritas Prep, we see an important role for them. If you understand the methodology used behind the rankings, then they can be a helpful first step in your MBA research process. The problems lie when rankings become your first and only step in selecting target schools!

The biggest headline to come out of the 2018 U.S. News & World Report survey of business schools is that perennial powerhouse, Stanford Graduate School of Business, has dropped from #1 to #4 this year. Stanford remains the most selective business school in the world, with an admissions rate of just 6% and an average GMAT score of 733 last year (and the Class of 2018 has a record-breaking 737 GMAT score average!). The average salary and bonus for Stanford MBA graduates is a whopping $153,553 – essentially the same as Harvard’s and just $2K behind Wharton’s. So what happened?!?

Employment is Stanford’s downfall

Stanford’s drop in this year’s rankings was due to two statistics that carry significant weight in the U.S. News Ranking: percentage of students with jobs at graduation and percentage of students with jobs three months after graduation. By all objective measures, Stanford’s performance in this area is abysmal: just 63% of GSB students had jobs at graduation last year, and only 82% were employed three months out. Compare that to the Tuck School at Dartmouth, where 87% of graduates already had a job lined up when they received their diplomas, and 96% had jobs within three months! In fact, Stanford ranks #74 when it comes to jobs at graduation. But, there’s more to the story….

Stanford graduates aren’t just “looking for a job”

The #1 priority of students at most MBA programs is to have a job once they graduate. During my time at Kellogg, for example, job offers were always greeted with the greatest celebration and the lack of them caused the greatest stress among my colleagues. One’s entire 2nd year might be dedicated to the pursuit of a job offer. However, Stanford GSB students tend to be different than just about anybody else – they aren’t just looking for a job; they’re looking to change the world…TODAY. “Pursue your dreams” is a mantra drilled into Stanford MBAs from the moment they step onto its Spanish Colonial-inspired campus.

As a result, in our analysis, we’ve found that fewer Stanford students are looking for “traditional” post-MBA jobs than at any other top-tier institution. It has the highest percentage of students who pursue their own entrepreneurial ventures upon graduation, although these students who report that they are starting their own business do not impact the school’s reported employment statistics.

In addition, more Stanford grads are willing to be patient to find just the right position to enable them to make a big impact in their chosen profession, industry, society, or the world. Armed with a Stanford MBA, they recognize that they can get a job eventually, so they tend not to worry about whether that’s before graduation or several months after.

In short, the U.S. News statistics expose a growing trend at Stanford to be extremely picky when it comes to job offers. However, it doesn’t properly capture what U.S. News is trying to show through the data, which is the availability of job opportunities for graduates of each program. Stanford grads have at least as many job opportunities as graduates from any other global MBA program, so this drop in the rankings should not deter any candidate from applying.

ASU Carey jumps 10 spots after offering free tuition

In our opinion, the biggest news from this year’s U.S. News rankings comes from Arizona State’s W.P. Carey School of Business. Jumping 10 spots in one year, Carey has landed a spot in the top-25 for the first time ever. Outside of the top-25, it’s not entirely uncommon for a school to jump or slide 10 or more spots in one year, but this news comes on the heels of some major innovations at the Carey MBA program.

Most notably, the school announced in 2015 that it would make its full-time MBA program tuition-free for 100% of students. As you can imagine, the prospect of free tuition sent applicants in droves to the school, driving down its admission rate to just 14% – this makes Carey one of the most selective MBA programs in the country, ahead of Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck, and Booth.

The school’s admissions stats, such as average GMAT and GPA, improved dramatically, as did it’s yield—71% of admitted applicants chose to attend, far stronger than most top MBA programs. It’s employment statistics are equally impressive, with 79% of students landing a job before they don their graduation caps and robes, and 95% securing work within three months. Not bad!

Arizona State University grabbed the #1 spot in the U.S. News’ 2018 ranking of the nation’s most innovative colleges and universities (Stanford is #2 and MIT is #3). Before we learned of Carey’s parent institution’s honor in the ranking, Veritas Prep had also dubbed ASU’s business school as the most innovative, as not only did the school drop its tuition for the full-time MBA program, but it also merged with Thunderbird School of Global Management, long known as the top international business school in the world (though it had struggled in recent years).

Additionally, Carey’s online MBA program is one of the nation’s top online schools, and the university continues to expand its online offerings. While we wouldn’t be surprised if the offer of free tuition doesn’t last more than a couple of years, we believe ASU’s Carey School is the up-and-coming business school to watch.

What do you think of the 2018 MBA rankings? Let us know in the comments below!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Travis Morgan is the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and earned his MBA with distinction from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. He served in the Kellogg Student Admissions Office, Alumni Admissions Organization and Diversity & Inclusion Council, among several other posts. Travis joined Veritas Prep as an admissions consultant and GMAT instructor, and he was named Worldwide Instructor of the Year in 2011. 

Take the 2017 MBA Applicant Survey and Win $500!

AIGACThe Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) has just launched its annual MBA applicant survey. By filling it out you’ll be entered for a chance to win $500!

Take the survey here.

Since 2009, AIGAC has regularly conducted a large survey to study trends among business school applicants. The results are shared with AIGAC member consultants and with MBA programs to help them better anticipate the needs of those who will soon apply to business school. Over the past few years, there have even been changes made to some business schools’ applications as a result of AIGAC survey findings, including more streamlined letters of recommendation at some MBA programs!

This online survey should take just a few minutes to complete. We would love to receive as many responses as possible before the survey closes in early April – and we would like to see one of our readers win the $500 cash prize!

Simply click here to begin the survey.

More about the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants: AIGAC promotes high ethical standards and professional development among graduate admissions consultants, increases public understanding of graduate admissions consulting, and enhances channels of communication with complementary organizations. The annual MBA Applicant Survey is just one way in which AIGAC serves the admissions and admissions consulting communities.

Thanks in advance for your participation, and good luck with the drawing!

All About Business School Interviews: Questions and Much More

InterviewThe process of applying to business school involves several steps. Filling out an admissions application, writing an essay, and submitting GMAT or GRE scores are just a few of those steps. Another important step is the interview. An interview allows business school admissions officials to get a look at the student behind the application. It also gives a student the chance to ask the admissions officials a few questions.

At Veritas Prep, our knowledgeable consultants help students prepare their admissions application, create a convincing essay, and organize all of the documents and deadlines involved in applying to business school. We know what business schools are looking for, and we share that valuable information with our students. Consider some typical questions asked of business school applicants, and learn some other helpful tips for students getting ready for an interview:

Typical Questions Asked During Business School Interviews
For students who want to study business, interview questions can range from the academic to the personal. Generally, the official conducting the interview starts by asking a student why they want to attend that school. The interviewer is looking for specific answers to this question. For instance, a student may bring up certain internship opportunities available due to the school’s longtime relationship with a variety of companies. Or a student may mention the school’s average class size of just 30 students. These answers show that the candidate is familiar with what the school has to offer.

Another typical question asked in business school interviews concerns a student’s strengths and weaknesses. This question reveals the character, motivation, and work ethic of a student. The answer helps to reveal a student’s suitability for the study program. It’s a good idea for a student to mention what they are doing to improve in any weak areas.

Generally, students are asked about their career plans and how a degree from business school will help them in the pursuit of a particular profession. Students will also be asked about their academic accomplishments and their leadership skills. All of these answers and others help an interviewer to envision the candidate as a student in the business school.

How to Prep for the Interview
One of the best ways to prepare for interview questions is to review a school’s website. Most school websites include information about class size and faculty member qualifications. Also, there are statistics on the number of students who find jobs after graduation. This is an efficient way to find specific facts.

Students should practice answering potential questions with a friend or family member. The person playing the interviewer can offer helpful suggestions on how the student can improve upon certain answers. Plus, students can use this opportunity to come up with questions for the interviewer about the school and its courses. Our consultants at Veritas Prep have the skills and experience to assist students as they prep for their business school interview. Our online experts have inside knowledge about the admissions process.

What to Bring to the Interview
Most of the time, a business school has a copy of a student’s résumé at the interview, but it’s a good idea for students to bring a few extra copies of their résumé with them too, since there might be additional officials in the interview room. Students may also want to bring a copy of their GMAT or GRE test scores as well as a copy of their latest transcript. A student may not need to take any of these documents out of their folder, but it’s a good idea to have them on hand just in case.

What to Wear to the Interview
Dressing in an appropriate way plays a part in a student’s success in an interview at a school of business. Interview questions and answers are the most important elements of an interview, but a student must also make a good visual impression. It’s best for a student to wear conservative clothes and have a well-groomed appearance. A student doesn’t have to invest in designer clothes to make a positive impression on an interviewer – just look neat and professional.

Our MBA consultants at Veritas Prep guide students through the process of applying to business school. We have the resources to prepare students for the GMAT, advise them on their admissions application, and offer strategies for success in business school interviews. Call or email Veritas Prep today and let us partner with you on the path toward an advanced degree in business.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Applying to Business School with a Gap in Employment on Your Resume

Successful ApplicantOne of the biggest red flags Admissions Committees encounter during the business school application process is an employment gap on an applicant’s resume. This is unfortunate because for those afflicted, this is often an area that is usually out of the applicant’s control.

Most people are not looking to have an employment gap on their resume, and such periods of joblessness are usually the result of a series of unfortunate events. This problem was much bigger during the global economic crisis a few years back, but the effects of this event still remain on many resumes.

If you have a work gap on your resume, know that it is not the end of the world and that you are not alone on this front – how you mitigate this blip on your resume will be more important to MBA programs than the gap itself – however, don’t completely ignore this issue altogether. Do not treat a gap in employment as something that will not be a concern for the Admissions Committee.

At the very least, if it is a material employment gap, this issue should be addressed in the optional essay. As with most topics you discuss in your optional essay, your explanation and clarification of the employment gap should be concise and to the point. Admissions Committees are not looking for a long-winded string of excuses here – be direct, take ownership of the incident, and identify lessons you learned from it, if appropriate.

Another way to confront an employment gap is through one of the more traditional MBA application essays. If the reason behind the gap or the results of the gap have had a profound impact on your life or career (and it makes sense given the essay prompt), it may be appropriate to take a deeper dive into your situation. A full-blown response like this requires a more nuanced degree of thoughtfulness, so it will be key to do some self-reflection and really identify the underpinnings of your employment gap.

The business school interview represents another area where your employment gap can be addressed by a member of the Admissions Committee. This is probably the most direct way your employment gap will be explored. Keep your explanation simple and avoid making excuses or blaming others. A major mistake many in this position make is disparaging an old employer or an ex-boss. This may actually come across as unprofessional and it generally leaves a bad impression on the interviewer.

Do not let a past employment gap set the tone for your future success at business school. Be prepared to address your history, and take ownership of it in a way that positions yourself for success in the MBA application process.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Use a 1-Year MBA Program to Make Your Career Switch

MBA Admissions1-year MBA programs represent a great opportunity to secure a graduate business education at an accelerated pace. This program format has long been a staple in Europe, with venerable programs like INSEAD establishing a successful track record of success in producing top flight candidates via their accelerated curriculum.

The 1-year program has taken a bit longer to gain steam in the United States, but largely pioneered by Kellogg’s 1-year program, this format has begun to pick up in popularity in the U.S. as well.

The benefits of these 1-year programs are obvious to interested students – the ability to shave a year off of one’s time away at business school is attractive to many MBA applicants. This shorter program format also typically comes with a reduced price tag and a much lower opportunity cost, allowing students to get back into the work force much faster.

Time and money aside, most applicants are primarily considering business school for career reasons. The ability to pursue desired career opportunities, which are directly provided by their business school, tends to be the leading decision driver for those interested in a 1-year program. Given the shorter timeline of a 1-year program, it has largely been seen as an ideal choice for MBA candidates seeking to remain in the same industry or with the same employer. For those seeking to make a career switch post-MBA this program may not be ideal, but it certainly presents some opportunities.

For more traditional MBA feeder industries like management consulting and investment banking – where recruiters are looking more for raw talent and intellectual horsepower than for work experience – having pre-existing industry experience is less important. The key loss here is the inability to test out an industry through internships prior to accepting a job, which many MBA candidates on the traditional 2-year track have the opportunity to do. Also, the reduced opportunities to secure a job offer, given the 1-year program’s tendency to focus only on full-time employment, puts an intense emphasis on making the most of the chances a 1-year business school student does have.

Many 1-year MBA programs do offer in-term internship opportunities that give interested students the chance to test out industries and jobs in other fields. The key for 1-year students is to really come into business school with a plan. By understanding the limitations of the 1-year program, students can better plan paths to achieve their post-MBA goals. The clearer one’s goals are prior to matriculation, the more realistic it will be to make a career switch after graduation.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Successfully Ask for an MBA Admissions Deferral

AdmissionA deferral is when an applicant is admitted to an MBA program they plan to attend but they desire to delay their matriculation to a later date due to some sort of extenuating circumstance. (This is different than the official deferred enrollment programs that are offered at some schools, such as the HBS 2+2 Program, which you can read about here.)

A big part of applying to business school is affirming why right now is the ideal time for you to pursue your MBA, so when a candidate asks for a deferral, it kind of flies in the face of that statement. As such, deferrals are often difficult to secure at most top MBA programs.

Generally, when deferrals are secured at top schools, it is due to personal illnesses, deaths or illnesses in the family, or military deployment – essentially, extreme circumstances that are outside of the control of the admit. Financial or work related deferrals are more commonly requested, but they are also less commonly approved. If you feel that you really need a deferral for one of these reasons by all means request one, just know the odds of the deferral being granted will not be in your favor.

If you are going to make the request to have your business school admission deferred, see if you can have a conversation about your situation with the Admissions Committee in-person, or at least on the phone, rather than over email. This will add a personal element to your request and increase the chance that the Admissions Committee will make their decision in your favor.

It also helps if you can position the reason for your deferral as a once in a life time opportunity while reaffirming your commitment to pursuing an MBA at that particular school the following year, and reminding the Admissions Committee of how you will be able to offer more to the student community upon your eventual matriculation. Remember this is a difficult decision for the Admissions Committee as well. If the school admitted you, then they are invested in you becoming a part of their community, so engaging in discussions around a deferral is equally challenging for the Admissions Committee.

Make sure to follow up your conversation with the Admissions Committee via email, and include a special thank you for their consideration as well as a reminder of the above notes, as this request is ultimately outside of the typical application process. The best thing you can do when engaging in the process of requesting an MBA deferral is to be humble. Remember, you are making a BIG request that the school does not need to grant you. Being humble and appreciative of the consideration you are receiving can only help your chances.

It is important to enter this process understanding the limited odds you have to actually secure a deferral, so follow the tips above to increase your chances, and make sure you are properly evaluating whether the alternative to matriculating in the year you applied is worth the overall hassle.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Learn from the First Moon Landing: Avoid Using Technical Details in Your MBA Essays

ToBoldlyGoThe new movie, Hidden Figures, rightly shines light on the roles played by the mathematicians who helped the United States catch up to Russia in the Space Race and eventually land on the moon in 1969. This accomplishment was politically significant at that time as it was a show of technological prowess between the bitter Cold War rivals.

“One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Most of us are familiar with this quote and can still hear the words clearly in our heads. We can also vividly recall astronaut Neil Armstrong taking his first steps on the moon and planting an American flag.

These iconic words and images are what the general public recalls of this event, and what inspires young kids growing up today to dream of becoming astronauts or scientists. The breakthrough mathematical, technological, and research milestones that were necessary to reach this point, however, are only recalled by a limited audience (even though they created the foundation for this defining moment).

Just like the mathematical accomplishments highlighted in Hidden Figures were long forgotten by society, technical details that you mention in your business school essays may be hard for the Admissions Committee of your dream school to grasp. Let’s examine two key ways you can avoid this problem:

Create interest with highlights that appeal to the senses.
Applicants from technical fields are often so immersed in their specializations that industry jargon litter their essays; they forget to write these terms with context that non-industry readers will be able to appreciate.

One way to avoid this issue is to quantify this technical language in terms of monetary equivalents (e.g. dollar amounts), percentages or ranks to show scale of responsibilities and accomplishments. However, making the leap towards using imagery in your writing that complements these achievements will make your essays even more powerful. Always use the opportunity your MBA essays give you to show how your work has impacted other people. For instance, you can share how your accomplishments in the workplace have helped people learn new skills, save time, or be safer, rather than simply listing your technical day to day activities.

Make your story more relatable by sharing your relationships.
No matter what blockbuster movie you see – whether it’s about an inter-galaxy war or an animated underwater adventure – interpersonal relationships always drive the story. Even historical accounts of world events or biographies take cinematic license to play up personal aspects of the protagonists’ life stories. Thus, when you write your essays, be aware that mentioning relationships is one way to make your stories come to life.

Readers are interested in humans, so detailing relationships you have made while in the workplace will help your profile become more relatable and display empathy towards others. This can be done by describing the way you have handled challenges on projects or how you have collaborated with others towards shared accomplishments — these stories should not be ignored. Rather than utilizing all the essay space you are given for the financial details of the deal you executed or the legal intricacies of the contract you negotiated, make sure you share how you grew from these experiences. You could also include the lessons learned and how these experiences have helped you become a better leader, or simply a better person.

Follow these tips and your MBA application essay will become a more compelling and relatable piece to read.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

4 Predictions for Test Prep and Admissions in 2017

There goes another year. Seemingly no sooner than it started, 2016 has packed up and stormed off, leaving many dizzy in its wake. Now that 2017 is underway, it’s time to dust off the old Veritas Prep crystal ball and see what may be in store for 2017 in the worlds of test preparation and admissions. Odds are that we won’t be right on all of these — and we may even manage to get all four wrong — but let’s dig in and predict a few things that we expect to see in 2017:

One-year MBA programs will reach a tipping point in the United States.
For decades, one-year programs have been more popular in Europe than in the United States, although some prominent American programs, such as Kellogg, have moved to expand their one-year programs in recent years. With more and more articles appearing in the media about students and their families questioning the costs of higher education, accelerated programs will keep looking more and more appealing to applicants who don’t want to spend six figures on an MBA. The globalization of management graduate education will continue, and more American business schools will start to embrace what’s traditionally been a more Euro-flavored program type.

Video prompts will become much more common in business school applications.
Yes, we predicted this last year, and it didn’t quite come to fruition. But, schools are becoming more and more comfortable with video as a medium for learning about applicants, and — probably more importantly — applicants themselves mostly seem to be comfortable with video. In AIGAC’s 2016 MBA Applicant Survey, only 16% of applicants surveyed said that video responses were the most challenging part of the application. That’s far smaller than the percentage of applicants who said that standardized tests (61%) and written essays (46%) were the most challenging! Rotman, Yale, Kellogg, and McCombs have helped blaze a video trail that we expect others will soon follow.

An Asia-scale cheating scandal will hit the SAT or ACT in the United States.
News articles about standardized test cheating scandals like this one and this one seem to come out nearly every month. Much of the blame lies with the pressure that students — and especially their families — put on themselves to do well on these exams.

It’s also greed. For every student that will do anything to do well on an exam, there’s a person or company who’s happy to take their money and do whatever it takes to give that student a leg up. Sometimes that means legally and ethically training that student to perform to the best of their ability, but many other times it means falsifying documents or providing students with live test questions for large sums of money. This kind of greed exists everywhere in the world, and it’s only a matter of time until a similar large-scale scandal happens in the U.S.

Community colleges will gain a lot more recognition.
Did you know that more than half of students who enroll in college first do so at a community college? Most Americans don’t know that, even though community colleges have been the engine that educates millions of Americans each year. We’ll see the federal government putting more emphasis on jobs and job training in the coming year, and community colleges are perfectly positioned to serve that role. While it remains to be seen whether community colleges get all of the funding they need to keep serving their mission, we expect that, at a minimum, they’ll start to get more recognition for the job they do to train and retrain America’s workforce.

Happy New Year, everyone. We can’t wait to check back in 2018 and see how this year turned out!

By Scott Shrum

4 Things to NOT Do When Waiting On an MBA Admissions Decision

08fba0fOne of the most nerve-racking times for MBA applicants is not before they submit their applications, but rather, is while they are waiting to hear back from their dream schools after they have sent in their application components.

In fact, I firmly believe that more strange activity and anxiety manifests during the two months applicants spend waiting on their admissions decisions than during any other time of MBA application process. With this in mind, it is important to maintain your composure AND your sanity when handling your post-submission moves.

Let’s explore a few things to avoid while you are waiting to receive your MBA admissions decision:

1) Read Message Boards:
Online message boards and forums are often a good source of information from other like-minded individuals experiencing similar situations to yours during the application process. On the negative side, however, message boards can also encourage and exacerbate a fair amount of anxiety when it comes to waiting for your official admissions decision. Sometimes message boards become bastions for fear mongering and misinformation, and when coupled with the stress of the application process, this can manifest into some really irrational thoughts and behavior. I highly recommend avoiding these boards if possible while you are waiting on an admissions decision, especially around decision days when programs release their application decisions.

2) Unnecessarily Contact the Program:
MBA admissions committees evaluate all touchpoints they have with a candidate. So just because your application has been submitted does not mean the non-application evaluation period is over. Avoid the temptation to call into the admissions offices of the business schools you have applied to asking questions about decision timelines or other publicly-available information.

Keep in mind, MBA admissions officers receive tons of outreach from candidates all over the world, so although you think your question is unique and necessary, more than likely it is not. Use your discretion here when deciding whether to reach out or send additional information to schools, but keep in mind that a major part of being a good business person is judgment – make sure you use good judgement in deciding whether or not that outreach is truly necessary .

3) Slack Off at Work:
For many business school applicants, it is easy to slack off on day-to-day work activities during MBA application season and divert all of one’s energy to crafting the perfect application, but anything can happen once an MBA application is submitted. Once you send your application to your schools of choice, it is a great time to double down on tasks in the office. Also, if you are not admitted to your school of choice, you may need to stay at your company longer than expected, in which case, you will want to continue to position yourself for success in your current role (especially if you plan to reapply to business school in future application cycles).

4) Get Into Trouble:
This probably goes without saying, but keep yourself out of trouble while you are waiting for you MBA admissions decision to arrive. Post-application-submission is not the time to completely let loose. Keep your social media account clear (and private) and avoid any other problematic activity – it would be a shame to lose an admission to your dream school based on poor post-submission behavior.

Remember, maintain your composure and positive behavior during that dreaded post-submission waiting period to avoid compromising a potential admission.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Everything You Need to Know About GMAC’s New Common Letter of Recommendation

GoalsLetters of recommendation are the one key part of the MBA application process that most applicants have little to no control over. Of course you can influence the quality of your recommendation through your performance leading up to the ultimate request, but the actual delivery is totally out of your control.

What further complicates the recommendation process for many is the fact that applicants also have to deal with two, three and sometimes four recommenders for an application season, or even for a single application. For some the process can be simple, but for others it is more difficult, especially with recommendations often coming from busy senior management members.

The level of anxiety MBA candidates have over letters of recommendation is often through the roof! But fear not – the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) has heard your pleas. GMAC, better known as the organization that administers the GMAT exam, has recently introduced a Common Letter of Recommendation (LOR).

The main goal of this new initiative is to save recommenders and applicants time during application season. The Common LOR will offer recommenders a single recommendation form with a common set of questions. GMAC also offers an application system that houses these LOR responses for each participating school so each recommendation is in one central location, making updates or edits a breeze.

The Common LOR assessment grid is based on 16 leadership competencies which are grouped in five categories: Achievement, Influence, People, Personal Qualities, and Cognitive Abilities.  The form also includes three more qualitative and open-ended recommendation questions that are very similar to other independent LOR questions asked by MBA programs in the past. These questions are based on the applicant’s overall performance, comparative performance, and required development in an organization.

There are currently only a handful of schools that are part of the common LOR form, with some business schools (like Michigan Ross, Cornell Johnson, and Columbia) using the entire form, and other schools (such as Stanford, NYU Stern, Darden, and Berkeley Haas) using just the recommendation questions. GMAC is still trying to evangelize the Common LOR to the remaining MBA community, which will take some time as the form has not been available for long.

As more business schools begin to utilize the GMAC’s Common LOR form, make sure you stay abreast of the latest and greatest information, as this form can certainly save all those who are involved in the recommendation process tons of time.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Turn Your Negative Thoughts Into MBA Success

MBA EssaysAre your doubts about business school and thoughts of impending failure creeping in? Well, the good news is that this can work in your favor, according to best-selling author and Wharton’s top rated teacher, Adam Grant. In his book, Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Grant shares one approach of those challenging the status quo: defensive pessimism.

The good news is that negative thoughts can be channeled positively. Feeling worried and imagining all the things that can go wrong with future plans can actually help you approach potential challenges with defensive pessimism.

In the case of your MBA applications, an effective way to use this anxiousness is by diligently covering all your bases – taking care to go through the list of tasks you need to accomplish and finding the right steps to take before officially submitting your application. Converting a realistic assessment of your candidacy into actionable plans can help turn your anxiety into motivation and focus.

In my nine years of working with clients who have diverse backgrounds and personalities, I have helped applicants who have varying levels of available time and effort to put into their business school applications. Time and again, those who made the most progress were the ones who could motivate themselves, reflect honestly, and take the following incremental steps towards their MBA goals:

Have Appropriate Fear
Professional sports coaches often talk about having “appropriate fear,” or the need for a team to respect their opponents and guard against complacency. Similarly, in the case of your own MBA applications, being conscious of timelines and honestly assessing how much time each application step takes will help keep you on track towards your end goal. This will  also allow you to you remain engaged with the tasks on hand, and not feel like you can magically finish them perfectly in one sitting.

Procrastinate Strategically
Another tip from Grant is to procrastinate strategically through actions such as taking a break in the middle of the brainstorming or writing process. I agree with this and have seen the benefits of clients first writing down initial ideas (even just bullet points) for their MBA application essays, and then letting their thoughts marinate while they take a break.

Coming back to an essay later on helps applicants reflect on what they have just written and better relate ideas with their underlying values and future goals, or even come up with better examples to use. The key is to take the break in the middle of the task (and not for too long) and to not use it as an excuse to delay getting started!

Welcome Criticism
Much of the stress from MBA applications comes from criticisms, whether from family, friends, or from your likely worst critic, yourself.

How you handle these criticisms will be the difference between defensive pessimism and harmful pessimism. You can let doubts about your worthiness as a candidate paralyze you, or be in total denial of critique regarding your profile and miss out on dealing with obvious blind spots. Alternatively, you can honestly appraise your perceived weaknesses and take the opportunity to address them with thoughtful reflections and powerful examples.

Use the steps above to help turn your business school worries into powerful motivation to keep you on track toward application success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

3 Things to Avoid When Applying to Business School as a Consultant

MBA AdmissionsOne of the biggest industry feeders to top MBA programs, year in and year out, is consulting. Consultants often come to business schools with an impressive list of client experiences, analytical skills, and business presence.

Now, given the surplus of candidates applying from this applicant pool, application season can be very competitive. This competitiveness makes it even more important for consultants to avoid the following issues when applying to MBA programs:

1) They Have No Clear Need for an MBA
A career in consulting presents many opportunities to develop a myriad of skills. Consultants are regularly poached to work with some of the top companies in the world, as well. The challenge sometimes for consultants applying to business school then is properly communicating why they actually need an MBA.

This may come across as a little odd, given that one would assume if you are applying to business school you should have this detail mapped out, but sometimes a candidate’s rationale can seem muddled in their application. In a weird way, business schools want to feel like they are needed by the applicant, and if there is not a clear opportunity to add value to a person’s life post-MBA, that can be problematic for a candidate applying from such a competitive applicant pool.

2) Using Too Much “We” and Not Enough “I”
One of the great advantages of working in consulting is the teamwork-oriented work culture the industry is known for. As MBA programs move increasingly towards a more collaborative approach to learning, the ability to work with others becomes more and more valued. However, given their predominantly team-based work, many consultants struggle to communicate their individual contributions to the greater good of a company. As such, resumes and essays often read as too much “we” and not enough “I,” thus making it difficult for the Admissions Committee to discern the true impact the individual applicant has had during their career.

3) Minimizing Accomplishments
Consultants can drive huge impact for clients and their firms on almost every project they work on. This exposure to top companies and major projects on a consistent basis can sometimes make it difficult for consultants to properly contextualize the impact of their work. Avoid minimizing your accomplishments by focusing on your own individual contributions, not just through quantitative numbers but also through qualitative experiences. Focus on highlighting your most impactful moments while contributing a holistic view of your work to best inform the Admissions Committee of your accomplishments.

Follow the tips above to avoid wasting all of the great experience you have developed as a consultant when applying to business school.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How Long Should Your Harvard Application Essay Be?

Harvard Business SchoolHarvard Business School has really gone out of its way to present itself in opposition to the stodgy, elitist image it tends to hold in the MBA world. Through the use of its blog and a more simplified application and essay format, HBS has taken a much more casual approach to letting candidates tell their story during this year’s application season.

This approach has primarily manifested itself through the school’s choice to only offer one essay prompt in their application. As opposed to other MBA programs that require applicants to write two, three, and sometimes even four essays, Harvard’s sole essay requirement puts a lot of pressure on applicants to make the most of the limited word count they are given in this one chance to impress the Admissions Committee.

But wait, what word count? The last few years, Harvard has also done away with adding a word count to their essays, putting the decision of length for the school’s only essay in the hands of the applicant. I know this is HBS, and like most applicants you will probably want to share as much of your story in this essay as possible to convince the school of your merits, but this essay is more about how you can effectively communicate a response to an open-ended question in a concise and compelling fashion than it is about cramming every detail of your professional and personal life into one essay.

The best way to do this is to answer the question asked and only the question asked. Harvard is looking to get a response to the question they have asked for a reason – if they wanted additional information from you, they would have asked or will ask in other stages of the application process (through the application form, interview, etc.). As such, you’ll want to keep your response to this essay short.

Avoid responses that stray above 1,000 words and settle into the 500-750 word range, instead. An essay that is 1,000 or more words is almost a whopping 15-minutes when read aloud! Keep in mind the school’s guidance: “don’t overthink, overcraft, and overwrite.” This is literally the approach you should take here. HBS receives almost 9,000 applications every year – that is a lot of reading, so the further you stray over 1,000 words, the more of a disadvantage you put yourself at.

If you are struggling keeping your essay concise, make sure you are avoiding answering traditional MBA essay topics that are not actually being asked in the prompt. Often applicants get nervous if they do not have the opportunity to formally communicate common business school information like “Why HBS?” or “Why MBA?”. Avoid this temptation and respond to the prompt in a concise, authentic, and compelling fashion to give yourself the best chance of success in crafting your Harvard application essay.

For more tips on applying to Harvard Business School, check out our Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to Harvard or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

The International Learning Opportunities Available to You in Business School

Passport Number 2Business schools have placed an increasing emphasis on global training to prepare students for the international nature of business today. To do this, schools have implemented a diverse set of programs aimed at the global business landscape. Let’s explore a few different program options currently available for students interested in cultivating a deeper understanding of international business:

Study Abroad
One of the best ways to immerse oneself in an international market is to study abroad. Taking part in a study abroad program will not only allow you spend some time in an international market to better understand its customs and business culture, but it will also allow you to study business more in a more formal setting. In addition, the networking opportunities available via study abroad programs can help students cultivate a strong international network of like-minded business professionals.

International Immersion Programs
The second-best option to studying abroad is engaging in an international-themed business immersion, such as a global lab program. These programs offer tailored training on specific topical areas, and often in collaboration with a specific business in-country. They also often include an in-country component where students actually spend time in the country they are studying solving a specific business problem or learning more about the region through company visits, alumni chats, and government briefings.

Language Study
Another great way to prepare for a career in international business is to learn or refine your skills in a foreign language. Many programs now offer training in a foreign language, either through a sponsoring undergrad program or an external company like Berlitz. For students interested in studying abroad, language study can be a natural precursor to this. For many international, post-MBA roles, a competency in a foreign language can be a requirement, so spending time developing this skill can be very advantageous for the recruiting process.

International Classes
In recent years, business schools have done a great job increasing the amount of coursework they offer (and sometimes even require) around international business. These classes can provide some nice academic training and knowledge in key functional areas like international marketing, international finance, and global markets. Taking international courses during your time at business school can help prepare you for a career working abroad or in international-themed roles at a global company.

Business schools offer a wealth of international learning opportunities – make the most of your two years pursuing your MBA by preparing for a changing global marketplace.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

3 Common Mistakes MBA Applicants Make Choosing Essay Topics

Law School Applicant SurveyOne of the most undervalued steps in the business school essay-writing process is to make sure it the essay ties in with each component of the MBA application – the essays, CV, letters of recommendation, transcripts, and GMAT scores. In the process and stress of making the major life decision of attending business school, many applicants often anchor their essays by one of the common factors below, and thus, lose out on presenting a stronger overall profile.

Let’s examine these mistakes one by one:

Professional Domain
A candidate’s pre-MBA industry, company, and job function are all important, so it is understandable that these may become top of mind when brainstorming for examples and highlights to include in your essay. When it comes to the MBA essay, however, it is always best to consider mixing in different elements of your life experiences – ones that would help complement your resume and not just elaborate on what the reader will already glean from it.

Extracurricular activities, especially those that are not related to your profession, help show a multidimensional personality, so it would be wise to discuss the ones you are involved with in your essays. For instance, an accomplished banker with excellent academics may be better off sharing leadership experiences with his mountain hiking group rather than detailing how he was able to do well in the CFA exams. In this case, valuable space in the essays can be better used to show additional dimensions to the applicant’s profile.

Most Performed Activity
Another common error, especially when creating your resume and even preparing for your interview, is to focus on the activities you perform most frequently. As critical as operational and maintenance tasks are, it would be better to play up more attention-grabbing tasks. For example, it would be better to showcase how you led the financial review for your company’s new distribution model or new product lines than to describe the regular payroll disbursements you assist with.

In short, when asked to describe what you do, it is not always best to prioritize your activities by the number of hours you spend on them. Instead, choose the ones that would be the most exciting to discuss, and the ones that will highlight more of your strengths.

Technical Accomplishments
Applicants from technical fields typically want to share their most technically challenging work. Sharing complexity does demonstrate deep expertise, and that your company trusts you to take on tremendous responsibilities, however you must also consider if there are better examples that would better showcase your experiences with collaboration and leadership.

Remember, the MBA is geared towards developing your ability to work with people, whether it is through motivating teams of people, mentoring individuals, or managing challenging relationships. Thus, details on your technical accomplishments should be shared in a way that is understandable to non-industry readers. Details on these more technical achievements should be descriptive enough to show impact and expertise, but concise enough that you still have room to display the key transferable skills you learned from this accomplishment, such as leadership and teamwork.

Following the tips above should help you decide how to use the limited space in your MBA application package and present a complete picture of your unique personality.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

3 Things to Avoid When Crafting a Thank You Note

writing essayKnowing how to write a great thank you note will really come in handy during your business school journey – you’ll send them to recommenders to thank them for writing your letters of recommendation, to school representatives you encounter during campus visits, and to company representatives you meet during corporate presentations while at school. There are definitely some things you should avoid doing, however, when crafting these notes.

(Before diving into what not to do, be sure to take a look at Part 1 of this lesson: 3 Ways to Write a Successful Thank You Note.)

Do not copy and paste thank you emails and send them to multiple people. This should be a given, but unfortunately, I don’t think it is. When you copy and paste, the format of your email sometimes gets messed up, but you won’t realize it. Only the reader will notice, and it just looks tacky if the only thing you changed is the recipient’s name. This also goes back to authenticity – it’s hard to create an authentic email if you end up sending the same message to multiple people.

Do not add people on LinkedIn. This is especially true for admissions officers (and corporate recruiters once you start interviewing for internships and jobs). Admissions officers do not want to be connected to thousands of prospective students who they may or may not remember, and who may or may not end up at their school. If you have a really great conversation with an alumnus or a current student, feel free to ask them in person if it is alright to add them on LinkedIn. Chances are they will say yes, but they will appreciate the gesture before you just go home, find them on the internet, and add them into your network because you think they have something to offer you.

Do not freak out if they don’t respond to you. The people you are meeting are incredibly busy. Put yourself in their shoes – if you met them on the road, it is very likely that they have other events and cities that they are traveling to before going home to get back to their work and catch up on everything that happened since they left.

Next time you go to a recruiting event, keep in mind the conversations you are having and make sure to follow these tips as you write those thank you emails. Good luck in the admissions process!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. You can read more articles by her here

3 Ways to Write a Successful Thank You Note

HandshakeThe University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently hosted hundreds of prospective students through their Up Close Diversity Weekend and Women in Leadership Conference events. I spoke with a handful of excited prospective students and most of them remembered my name and found ways to email me thank you notes, which was great – definitely write thank you emails! But there are ways to write and not to write these important emails, so listen up.

Whenever you meet a school representative at an event – whether that be an admissions officer, alumni, or a current student – you should always send them a note to say thank you. It is a good idea to get in the habit of doing this now because once you get to business school, you will also need to send thank you notes after conferences, corporate presentations, coffee chats, etc., and if you can get the hang of crafting these quickly now, it will only save you time later.

Here are a few tips to writing a successful thank you note:

Do write meaningful thank you notes. The people you meet are likely meeting dozens of other prospective students too, so be sincere and authentic in your communications. Don’t say thank you because you have to, but make the content of your email somewhat substantial. Make sure to ask good questions and get to know the people you’re chatting with so you can have something to write about in your follow up email.

Do include the details of how you met. Because they are meeting so many others, include how and where you met, and a little bit about what you talked about. You can do this by saying something along the lines of, “It was so great to meet you during dinner at the Up Close Weekend and hear more about your project work with the Business Impact Group.” It is helpful to include this so that they remember who you are and can match the name from your email to the face they spoke with at the event.

Do ask a follow up question, but only if your conversation prompted one. If not, don’t feel compelled to ask anything. Sometimes it is best to end the email with saying you’ll be in touch, rather than ending on a question.

If you had a conversation about a certain club on campus that sounded interesting to you but you don’t remember the name, however, feel free to ask and see if you can get in touch with someone from that club. For example, a question such as, “You mentioned the new club on campus that works on consultant teams with social enterprises. I’d love to learn more about that. Can you please remind me of the name, and possibly put me in touch with someone involved with that club?” would be appropriate to ask in your thank you email and show that you were truly interested in the conversation you had with that person.

Follow these tips and you’ll be able to quickly write a successful thank you email that may make a big impact on the way you are viewed by a school.

Stay tuned for our next article, 3 Things to Avoid When Crafting a Thank You Note.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. You can read more articles by her here

How Many Letters of Recommendation Should You Submit with Your MBA Applications?

RecommenderThere are many facets of the typical business school application. Application components like one’s GMAT score, resume, and essays always garner a strong amount of attention from applicants year in and year out. These components tend to have a pretty straightforward submission process. When it comes to procuring letters of  recommendation, however, both the formal and informal submission processes may be less clear.

The formal recommendation process is a bit more straightforward than the informal process, so let us start there. Letters of recommendation require you to identify recommenders whom you feel can accurately speak to your work and contributions in an organization. Their recommendations are then formally submitted through the school’s application tool, and the Admissions Committee reviews them as part of your overall application assessment.

Now here is where things get tricky – most schools strongly discourage additional recommendations. I would guess the reason is because most admissions departments are already overwhelmed with the amount of paperwork and communication they receive from applicants, and anything additional might be tough for them to maintain, track, and evaluate. Also, more practically, allowing for additional recommendations would create an uneven playing field for MBA candidates – some applicants would submit additional letters of recommendation while others would not be able to (for a variety of reasons).

Now, not all schools have this policy and some even welcome additional recommendations, so read the fine print and identify whether there is an opportunity for you to send in additional letters of recommendation or not. If this option is available to you, using your discretion will be key. This should not be seen as an opportunity to just submit more of the same types of recommendations. If you are going to submit an additional letter of recommendation, it should really be a “letter of support”.

These additional recommendations should only be submitted if they are coming from highly visible, impactful, or unique people. The best examples of this are alumni or high-profile individuals who can speak to your business potential. Alumni tend to be a group that the Admissions Committee likes to hear from – alumni letters of recommendation should generally be submitted directly by the alumnus and be short and to the point.

As for letters of recommendation from high-profile people, these are far less well-received, especially if the person doesn’t have much of a relationship with the applicant. In most cases, if the relationship was actually strong, the person probably would have already been the applicant’s main recommender.

However, if the relationship is legit and if the person has considerable sway with the university, the program, or in the general business community, this type of recommendation can be really positive. The business school admissions process is very holistic, so schools will take information like this into consideration.

Now, if you are just not a qualified applicant, even the best of recommendations will not save your candidacy. For those fringe candidates, however, a great letter of recommendation can make or break an application.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

What’s Next After Submitting Your Business School Application?

SAT/ACTAfter all those months of hard work, you have finally submitted your application to the business school of your dreams. With that burden off of your back, what else should you be doing after you submit your application.

Let’s explore a few action items to tick off your to-do list post-submission:

Finish Other Applications
Most MBA applicants don’t apply to only one school, so don’t bask too long in your finished application – there are probably plenty more where that came from. Keep the momentum going, buckle down and get moving on the rest of your applications. Make sure you leverage what you have learned from your previously-submitted application to make each version even better than the last.

Thank Your Recommenders
Recommenders play a huge role in the success of your application. Make sure you acknowledge their hard work, especially if they are providing recommendations for multiple schools. Also, don’t be afraid to send your thanks after each submitted application, or take them out for lunch to show your appreciation of their contribution to your success.

Interview Prep
The best time to prepare for an interview is when all of the information relating your application is still relevant. Some schools can have upwards of 2-3 months in between the application deadline and when they eventually begin interviewing candidates, so try to begin your prep for a potential interview early. Business school application interviews can have a major impact on your candidacy, so getting an early start on your preparation is never a bad thing.

Apply for Scholarships
Business school is not cheap and with very few full scholarships available, it is important to consider all alternatives to paying for your education. External merit-based scholarships are a great way to pay for all or a portion of your MBA. Many of the deadlines for these scholarship opportunities are much earlier in the application cycle than you would expect, so don’t wait until you are admitted to figure out how you will pay for school. There is a lot of money out there, so use your post-submission time to give yourself the best chance at securing some funding.

Relax
Relax! Applying to business school is stressful so it is very important to find pockets of time to relax. For those who still have additional applications to churn out relaxing may be difficult, but if you have submitted all your applications, enjoy the brief break and rest up for the next phase of the process.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Is Cornell’s Tech MBA Right for You?

Cornell UniversityIn 2012, the Johnson Cornell Tech MBA was born. This program offered Cornell Johnson an entry into New York City, thus extending the brand from the more rural town of Ithaca into the business hub of Manhattan. If you’re looking to enter the tech industry post-MBA, let’s discuss some things you should evaluate when deciding whether or not Cornell’s Tech MBA is right for you:

Location
Can you handle the Big Apple? Going to school in New York City is not for everyone, so make sure that “the city that never sleeps” is an environment that would be conducive to reaching your development goals as an MBA student. New York also offers considerable career and lifestyle opportunities that can be advantageous to many students – the remote location of Cornell’s traditional two-year MBA program can be a negative for some, so with access to the bustling metropolis of New York City, the Tech MBA program offers a combination of Cornell’s great academics with a vibrant environment.

Timeline
Cornell’s Tech MBA offers an accelerated program that gets students back into the job force quickly, while still offering the Johnson School’s world-renowned core business curriculum. With a quick, one-year completion timeline, this program represents an ideal format for those looking to get back into the workforce as soon as possible. Also, for those already deep in their career and who cannot afford too much time away from their companies, this focused curriculum and accelerated timeline makes a ton of sense.

Career Focus
The most important aspect of deciding whether Cornell’s Tech MBA is right for you is whether you have a passion for entrepreneurship and technology. This program is looking for people who have existing experience in digital, tech, and engineering – given the tech focus of this MBA, this should come as no surprise. The program is primarily focused on helping students secure roles in project management, product management, product marketing, and entrepreneurship in the tech industry, so if these subjects interest you, then the Tech MBA may be a good choice for you.

Network
This program offers students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a tech-focused business program with other industry leaders. Although still a relatively new program, the alumni and potential connections that come from this space will offer an impressive network for both current students and other alumni. Given the entrepreneurial focus of the program, opportunities for collaboration are one of the tantamount benefits of the Tech MBA. In fact, this entrepreneurial mindset is baked into the curriculum of the program through the “Startup Studio”, in which a team of students work together to develop a new business idea from concept to launch.

Pursuing a technology-focused MBA degree may not be for everyone, so use the above factors to determine if Cornell’s Tech MBA is right for you.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Beyond the Numbers: How to Stand Out From Other Qualified MBA Applicants

MBA Applicant VolumeIt is getting harder and harder to stand out from the pack when applying to business school, especially when it comes to the quantitative side of the equation. The average GMAT scores of top schools are higher than ever and only continue to rise, with programs like Kellogg and Wharton reflecting higher and higher average scores on a yearly basis. You have a top GPA? Join the club! You won’t be the only applicant who got good grades in undergrad.

Admissions into business school are as competitive as ever so it is really important to find non-quantitative ways to stand out. Let’s explore some strategies you can take to stand out in a more qualitative fashion:

Passion:
Business schools love applicants who love them, so the more you can show your passion and excitement for the program you are applying to, the better off you will be. Passion can come across in a few different ways, the most accessible of which is via the essays. A well-written essay that oozes enthusiasm is not only a good read, but also really makes the candidate memorable and thus, stand out to the Admissions Committee. In addition, in-person interactions like class visits, information sessions and interviews can go a long way in differentiating a passionate candidate and allow the application to really jump off the page.

Fit:
It’s not just about whether you seem qualified on paper to attend a school – it’s also about whether you are a good fit for the school you are applying to based on the strengths and characteristics of the program as well as your unique development needs. Expressing a strong fit with the program will make you to stand out because so few candidates can effectively address this and make a real case for why they should be admitted.

Personalization:
One thing most applications seek to do is unearth YOUR unique reasons for being interested in a program, and how the program is the ideal next step for you both personally and professionally. It is not enough to simply answer application-related questions. It’s also critical to personalize your responses so your application is a unique package that personifies your fit with the program in a memorable way.

School Knowledge:
School knowledge plays more of a role in allowing a candidate to stand out than most ever truly comprehend. This knowledge will be obvious to the Admissions Committee during each stage of the evaluation process, and doing your research can really pay dividends come decision day.

Numbers don’t lie, but they rarely tell the full story – to truly stand out in today’s highly competitive application climate, applicants must go beyond the numbers and implore the tactics above to guarantee their success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

What Impact Will You Have on Your Dream School?

YaleThe business school application process is all about IMPACT – the impact you have made on the people and organizations you have worked with in the past, the impact you’ve made at the company you’re currently an employee of, and (most  often overlooked) the impact you will make on the student community at your target business school.

The Admissions Committee wants to know what you will take away from the MBA experience, and one thing that will help you stand out from the sea of other applicants is offering up your thoughts on what you will give to the student community. If you can vividly paint a picture of what campus life would be like with you as a student – in a positive and personalized fashion – it can add a very unique component to your application package. Let’s explore some ways to highlight the impact you will have on the MBA student community:

Personal Contributions
Business schools are looking to admit people – real people! So don’t be afraid to lean on how your unique qualities will manifest themselves on campus. Will you start a Basketball Club because you love the sport? Will you organize bake sales because it combines two of your passions: cooking and charity? Find your own personal secret sauce and figure out what value you can bring to the school. Keep in mind, your impact doesn’t have to be super lofty. If you are a natural motivator, there will be a place for you on campus when it comes to coursework, recruiting, and other aspects that will relate to improving the lives of others.

Cultural Contributions
Business schools embrace diversity in a big way. The changing makeup of campuses all over the world are a testament to this. As such, don’t hide from your culture or the diversity that you will bring to campus. Whether it is by helping others better understand your culture or bringing disparate groups of people together, think through what impact you will have on campus through culture. Involvement in global and affinity groups and other extra-curricular activities are another clear way to be engaged on campus.

Professional Contributions
Do you plan to bring your knowledge or network to support others on campus? Professional contributions are often the easiest to bring to bear, but also get consistently overlooked. Someone you might consider to be just a friend or coworker could be the integral piece to helping a classmate break into a difficult industry. Using your application package to show that you will offer access and opportunities to other students will showcase you as a selfless person and highlight the fact you truly get what a high-functioning MBA community is all about.

Control the narrative in your business school applications – don’t make the Admissions Committee guess what you would contribute as a student. Use the above tips and various application touch points to show how you will make a unique impact on campus at their school.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

MBA Interviews: How to Answer the “Where Else Are You Applying?” Question

MBA AdmissionsUndertaking the interview process for business school applications can be a nerve-wracking experience for many MBA candidates. Along with the excitement of having the opportunity to make your case to the representative of a school in person, comes the anxiety of potentially saying the wrong thing.

For the most part, as an interviewee, you will know what is coming during the interview – most interviewers will ask you about your career progression, life experiences, career goals, and interest in pursuing an MBA at their school – but one specific oddball question often sneaks in for many programs every year. What other schools are you applying to?

This questions presents a confusing challenge to interviewees, and figuring out how to approach this seemingly benign question tends to cause more anxiety than comfort. Let’s explore a few tips on how to best address the question of where else you are applying:

1) Answer the Question
This is not the time to be philosophical about your opposition to sharing this information with the Admissions Committee or the moral conundrum this question may put you in. The more of an issue you seem to have with this question, the more trouble you will be in with your interviewer. Answer the question directly and prepare to move on to the next one.

2) Answer Strategically
Do not feel like you have to list out every school you plan to apply to when this question is posed. Be strategic here, and only share the schools that align with the applicant narrative you are pushing. Out of the schools you are applying to, I would say pick the schools that relate most to the one you are interviewing with, and avoid bringing up any unrelated schools you may also be applying to. The Admissions Committee will be assessing the consistency of the narrative you are spinning and your thought process. If you are telling them you want a small school experience at Tuck, then don’t tell them you plan to apply to HBS, otherwise everything else you have said will ring hollow. So just make sure you are being consistent and that your overall story makes sense.

3) Answer Concisely:
There is nothing worse than a candidate rambling through a long-winded response during an interview, and this gets even worse when a tough question is involved.  Avoid the potential for the perception of a disingenuous response by keeping it tight. Being concise is your friend here, and limits the opportunity for any potentially misplaced words.

Ultimately, this question is not a major source of information for the interviewer and only really trips up the anxious, nervous and unprepared. So make sure you are none of those three descriptors and use the above tips to knock this simple question out of the park!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Be a Superhero in Your MBA Applications

Veritas Prep Customer ExperienceWith their extraordinary genes, powers, and privileges, you may wonder what lessons you can learn from popular superhero characters, such as Batman or Spiderman, to help with your MBA applications. Apart from having superhuman abilities, these characters effectively use their more human qualities to connect with their audiences, both in comic books and in movies. Just like them, your aim is to win over your audience – the Admissions Committee and interviewers at your target MBA programs.

Let’s look at the basic formula superhero movies have used to win the approval of audiences worldwide and how you can use it to your advantage in crafting your MBA applications:

Create Interest with Extraordinary Powers
Draw the Admissions Committee in by presenting them with your unique strengths and accomplishments. The first things that come to mind when we think of superheroes is their amazing powers or feats. Thus, these heroes become associated with their unique abilities. For example, Superman is marketed as someone who is “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.”

Not only are these powers described in an attention-grabbing manner, but they are also written about in a very visual and easy-to-imagine way. This strategy should be helpful in writing about the impact you have made with your own accomplishments and responsibilities.

Show Your Vulnerable Side 
From viewing Superman’s weakness to Kryptonite to seeing Spiderman’s difficulty juggling his responsibilities as Peter Parker, we as the audience are shown that our heroes are less than perfect – they each have great struggles to overcome. Rather than diminishing them, these weaknesses make them more relatable, prompting us to root for them even more.

As you write your admissions essays, don’t stress that you are not perfect – even superheroes aren’t! Instead, demonstrate your self-awareness by identifying how you can grow further, or acknowledging failures that you have learned from. This will allow you to present yourself as a mature candidate who will benefit from an MBA experience. Just as importantly, it will also present an authentic profile that your audience, the Admissions Committee, will appreciate.

Share Personal Stories
Another important way to fully engage an audience is to share personal stories. Superhero movies and comics do a great job with this by allowing us to know the reasons for each character’s decisions, which helps us understand them on a more human level. For example, Bruce Wayne (Batman) seems to have it all – riches, power, looks, and all the coolest gadgets. However, his characterization doesn’t stop there; we are also clearly shown his motivations for taking the actions that he does.

Sharing why you have chosen your current path will help show the rationale for your post-MBA goals. Even if the path you have taken is not very straightforward, you still want to show that a logical thought process has guided you, and how this logic fits with your desire to attend your target MBA program. Core values and turning points in your personal life are related to your career decisions, thus, sharing these personal stories will help you connect with the Admissions Committee on a deeper level, and allow you to submit an overall memorable application.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

How to Successfully Prioritize in Business School

ChecklistOnce you get to business school, you’re going to hit the ground sprinting. It’s like a tornado picked you up and is whirling you through school, almost literally. The best way to not get stuck in this tornado is to have strict priorities, and actually stick to them. It’s fine to not know exactly what you want to do when you graduate yet, but you should at least have a general idea. And if you can figure out specifically what your goals are before you get to campus, you’ll certainly benefit.

So, here’s how you can prioritize both before and during your time at business school:

1) Get really comfortable talking to people on the phone. The more phone calls you can have with current students and alumni, the better. These will be helpful in initially determining where you want to go to school, and eventually in determining what you should get involved with once you get to campus.

2) Set a list of 3 priorities for yourself. What do you really want to get out of your time at business school? These can include finding a post-MBA career, gaining Quant skills, making new friends, having a lot of fun, etc. Determine why you want to go to business school and make sure you’re sticking to your priorities while you’re there. These priorities could change from month to month. In August, maybe your priority is meeting as many of your classmates as possible. In November, maybe your priority is learning how to case for consulting interviews. Just continue to check in with yourself throughout the year and make sure you’re on track with your goals.

3) Do your research. Every MBA program will have a huge selection of clubs for you to choose from. Looking to get into real estate? There’s a club for that. Want to do business in Africa? There’s a club for that too. Once you know what your goals are, you can then find clubs that align with your interests. But remember, don’t get too distracted by the allure of the Ice Hockey Club (or any other club that doesn’t really relate to your goals) if it’s going to pull you away from your main priorities.

4) Figure out what time commitments you want to add to your class schedule, because class already requires a lot of effort, especially if you don’t come from a quantitative background. In addition to general club membership, you’ll have the opportunity to take on leadership positions in your first year of school. Do you want to be your section’s president? How about the VP of Career Development for your target club? Holding a leadership position like these will take up more of your time than general club membership will, so factor these potential time commitments in when you’re deciding which clubs to join.

5) Know what you don’t want to do. If you don’t want to go into consulting, don’t waste your time on it. It’s really easy to get caught up in a sea of corporate presentations when all of your classmates are talking about really interesting companies, but if you know that you want to go into marketing, you probably don’t need to spend two hours at that BCG presentation with your consulting-focused classmates.

6) Determine a scheduling system that works for you. If you don’t use iCal or Google Calendar, etc., you might want to start. During your time at business school, there will be a lot of meetings, company presentations, study sessions, and social events that you’ll want to keep track of on the go. Make sure you have a way to remember everything so you don’t miss out on what’s important.

Before business school, I was very paper-oriented and I had a schedule written out almost daily. Now I almost exclusively use my iCal and sync it to my phone since I sometimes only have 5 minutes to get from one event to another, and it’s much easier to have my phone automatically tell me where to go than to have to pull out my paper planner.

Business school is only 2-3 years of your life. Make sure you’re prepared to take advantage of all of the resources that will be available to you, and be sure to make the most of it. Having priorities before you get to school will help you stay focused and on track for success. If you’re not sure what you want to go into yet, talk to the people at Veritas Prep – we’re here to help!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. You can read more articles by her here

Tackling the Management Leadership for Tomorrow MBA Prep Program Application

Stanford UniversityThinking about applying to the premier MBA prep program for underrepresented minorities? Then you have already made a great decision! Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) offers a comprehensive MBA prep program that has a track record of successfully landing minority applicants at some of the top MBA programs in the world. Before you read on, learn more about this program here.

Unlike other similar programs, MLT’s admissions process and criteria are almost as selective as the top MBA programs for which it serves as a feeder into. Let’s explore a few things to keep in mind as you begin to tackle your MLT MBA Prep application:

Eligibility:
As far as eligibility goes, you will need to be a U.S. citizen and an underrepresented minority to qualify for this program – only African American, Latino, or Native American candidates can participate. Also, you will need to be a college graduate of a four-year university and have at least one year of post-graduate work experience.

GMAT Score:
As part of the application process, candidates will need to take an official or practice GMAT exam and score at least a 500. If admitted into the program, candidates will have to submit an official score by January 15th 2017.

Essays:
Essays for an MBA prep program? Yes, you guessed it! Applying to the MLT MBA Prep program is serious business. MLT asks for its applicants to complete both traditional essays as well as video essays to be considered. Take the essay portion seriously – the more you can connect your career goals to some underlying passion and ability to give back to the community, the better off you will be. MLT loves mission-based MBA journeys, so if there is an underlying passion driving your MBA goals, make sure to communicate this in your application essays.

Application:
As I’m sure you can tell by now, there are many similarities between actual MBA applications and the MLT MBA Prep application. Your application will need to include a resume that captures your work experience and other relevant interpersonal skills, like leadership and teamwork. Another factor that is important in the evaluation process is your recommendations, so I would also make sure you have sound recommenders lined up.

Cost:
Very few things in life, are free and something as valuable as the MLT MBA Prep program also comes at a cost. But hey, when considering admission into the school of your dreams is a potential outcome, then the costs seem may seem more negligible. The actual application fee is relatively minor – coming in at $95 – but if admitted, fellows are required to submit a $750 program fee. The silver lining here is that $250 of that program fee is refundable at completion of the program.

MLT’s MBA Prep program represents a fantastic opportunity and a great pre-MBA program for minorities. Although the application process may seem cumbersome, the opportunity to take advantage of all of MLT’s resource and achieve your MBA goals is something that cannot be passed up!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

What GPA Should You Report in Your MBA Applications?

08fba0fThe question of what GPA an MBA applicant should report is, at first glance, one of the simpler questions one would expect to receive during the business school application process. However, year in and year out, many applicants struggle to sort this question out.

For those who have received only one degree from the one university, this aspect of the application process tends to be pretty straightforward – your GPA is the number listed on your transcript and that is the number that should be used.

For those who tend to have confusion over what GPA to report, the challenge usually stems from having multiple transcripts from multiple schools. This is primarily the result of one or more of the following four situations:

Transfers:
Did you transfer from another college? Having two transcripts from two different schools can be the source off a lot of confusion. Generally, the degree-granting institution takes priority here, but if you transferred from a similarly-structured university, your GPA from your first school can also be factored in. The key here is that only courses that gave you credit toward your first bachelor’s degree count.

Study Abroad:
Did you study abroad? Most study abroad courses tend to be pass or fail and usually do not influence your GPA too much, given there cannot be a grade point associated with this result. Generally, your study abroad transcript is not necessary to include in your application package, but if you plan to discuss your study abroad classes elsewhere in your application, it may make sense to include your study abroad GPA as well.

Non-Degree Coursework:
Have you taken coursework in the past that did not relate to your degree? Many MBA candidates take classes online or at a community college after they graduate from undergrad to bolster their application profile. If you have taken such non-degree classes, you should include the transcripts from them in your application, but don’t worry about incorporating this performance into your reported GPA.

Graduate Degree:
If you have secured a graduate degree prior to applying to business school, your GPA cannot be included in your MBA application as part of your reported GPA. Typically, there will be a separate area in your application to report your graduate GPA, but don’t look to combine this score with your undergraduate GPA. Remember, the only courses that count here are the ones that gave you credit towards your first bachelor’s degree.

All of the elements above can be positively associated with your academic aptitude, so just because they don’t feed directly into your reported GPA does not mean they are irrelevant. MBA programs will take a holistic look at your performance across these various touchpoints, as well as at the type of coursework and trends within your reported GPA.

The key with any of the situations above is to follow the guidelines of the school that you are applying to – many schools caution against calculating your GPA on your own, while others encourage it. You generally want to avoid converting your college’s scale to a different GPA scale, as that can open up even more confusion. Assume that the Admissions Committee is experienced with school-specific grade scales from all over the world, so defer to their expertise in this matter. Make sure you are clear on the GPA reporting protocol for the schools you are applying to, and don’t be afraid to use the optional or additional information section to address any potentially confusing aspects.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

All About the New INSEAD Video Essay Requirement

 INSEADA new component of INSEAD’s admissions process for its MBA program is the video essay. INSEAD is the first non-American business school to include a video essay component in its admissions process. The video essay does not replace the face-to-face interview with an INSEAD alumnus – it does, however, reduce the number of written essays you applicants are required to submit, replacing a prompt about cultural sensitivity from last years’ application set.

How It Works:
After submitting the general INSEAD application, each candidate receives a link to complete four video questions. For each question, you will have 45 seconds to prepare and 60 seconds to answer the prompt. The questions are picked randomly from a bank of 70 questions. Because the questions are randomized, this component of the application will allow you to show your personality and ability to think on your feet.

Your ability to genuinely present yourself, as well as your English fluency and communication skills, will be extremely important to these video essays. As with the rest of the application package, your responses will want to show the international outlook and cross-cultural awareness that fits the INSEAD mindset. These include showing respect and open-mindedness with diverse cultures. Although you do not want your answers to sound too rehearsed, you may want to prepare some brief examples of previous experiences that highlight your cultural sensitivity, motivation, entrepreneurial spirit, and empathy before your answer each question.

The video essay questions need to be completed between the time you receive your registration confirmation and one week after the application deadline of the round you are applying to.

What You Need:
To complete the video essay questions, you will need to have a good Internet connection, a webcam, and a microphone. Ideally, you should also make available a clean (at least for the space within the camera range) and quiet room for 20-30 minutes of time to film your essay responses in — the last thing you need is for the Admissions Committee to be distracted by a cluttered room or a noisy roommate as they watch your video. Dressing up professionally would also be the safe way to go.

Overall, enjoy the process (as cliché as that sounds) as it will help you present your best self as someone INSEAD would want to be part of its community.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

Understanding the Management Leadership for Tomorrow MBA Prep Program

duke-universityEven with recent strides, top MBA programs have a long way to go when it comes to ethnic diversity. The chasm is even wider when it comes to underrepresented minorities, which include African American, Latino, and Native American students.

Thirty percent of the U.S. falls into one of the three categories above, but only three percent of U.S. senior leadership is African American, Latino, or Native American. As the business world continues to diversify, most top MBA programs struggle to reflect the realities of the changing face of business and consumer audiences.

Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT) has been working to improve these numbers since 2012. This non-profit organization and their flagship MBA Prep Program offers a rigorous and comprehensive guided roadmap to securing admission into top business schools.

MLT does this by leveraging a staff of experienced admissions professionals who have spent time at some of the best MBA programs in the world. MBA Prep fellows receive on-on-one and group support from these experienced professional as they navigate their MBA journey. Included in this journey is pre-application access to representatives from the top 25 MBA programs. This opportunity to interact directly with MBA programs provides fellows the opportunity to foster positive relationships with schools and create more tailored applications.

MLT’s MBA Prep also provides fellows with the opportunity to attend symposiums, which facilitates networking, skill development, and overall application prep. During these symposiums, fellows also have the chance to meet with potential blue chip employers like General Mills and Deloitte, as well as top MBA programs like Kellogg and HBS. These stakeholders see the value MLT offers to their organizations and consistently offer both financial and non-financial support for the non-profit.

The support does not stop once a fellow receives admission into an MBA program – MLT offers lifelong access to the program’s offerings and inclusion into their 5,000+ strong community of diverse professionals. For many candidates, without this program, the dream of matriculating to a top business school would be just that, a dream. MLT has stood out from the pack as a leading pipeline for diverse candidates into top MBA programs and blue chip companies all over the world. If you fit MLT’s admissions criteria, make sure you identify if MLT’S MBA Prep is a fit for you.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

4 Reasons Why Business School is Awesome

MBA_GradsAre you on the fence about whether to apply to business school? If you are, you aren’t alone. Although the decision to pursue your MBA should not be taken lightly, if you can afford to take 2-3 years off from the working world, it’s my opinion that you should do it. Here are 4 reasons not to miss out on what will probably be one of the best experiences of your life:

1) Diversity
MBA programs are diverse both in geography and industry. At no other point in your life will you be in a classroom with 60-80 people who come from 20 different countries. The perspectives of your classmates are such an incredible resource for learning about how business works in other countries, and for gaining new perspectives on different industries.

Business school also gives you access to people who have worked in almost every industry. There may be people who are architects, engineers, teachers, and tech gurus all in the same class. In my class at Ross this year, 24% of the students are minorities, 40% are women, 4% hold military backgrounds, and 33 countries are represented.

2) Networking
This occurs both with companies and classmates. If you’re one of the many people who hears the word “networking” and immediately thinks, “That’s definitely not something I want to be doing right now,” just think of it as a conversation instead. You get to talk to people from industries you’re really interested in and learn what it is they love most about their careers, and why they do what they do.

Once you start asking people about interesting projects they’ve worked on, you really get a sense for their company culture, and how their company is structured. There might not be a better way to find out if you want to work for a company or not. Websites are great, but they can only tell you so much. At Ross, for instance, we have company-sponsored tailgates on football Saturdays – you can have some food with company representatives, and chat over a beer. These events can really help you get a feel for the company in a way that pure research can’t.

When you’re learning about the backgrounds of your classmates, it’s likely you’ll find one (or more!) who has experience doing exactly what you want to do. For example, I’m interested in going into international development consulting in Africa post-MBA, and one of my classmates did exactly that for 7 years prior to business school. This is also a great way to find out why some of your classmates are exiting the industry you want to go into – you can learn about potential drawbacks and decide if you want to go a different direction with your career. And, you get to have friends all over the world who you can stay with when you travel!

3) Success
Depending on the size of the program you attend, you’ll be building a community of 400-2,000 really close friends. During business school and beyond, these peers are going to make sure you succeed. You’ll be in small groups where everyone brings different expertise – where you lack in knowledge, they’ll help teach you and make sure you understand the concepts. It will be such an inspiring group of people to be around every day, and they will push you to be your best self. They’ll also make sure you’re successful after you graduate – if you’re looking for a job, they’re going to connect you with people in your target industry and make sure you aren’t looking for long. It truly is a lifelong support system.

4) Fun
Business school is REALLY fun. Even if you don’t go to a program that has big sporting events, there will still be a lot of events going on around campus and in the surrounding neighborhood: theatrical productions, local music shows, and more. Ann Arbor is unique because it is such a strong college town, but no matter where you end up, there will be campus events, and probably a fair amount of sponsored and unsponsored happy hours as well.

I’ll be honest, I’ve always liked school. It’s almost like a break from reality – you don’t really have to have a job, you can take naps in the afternoon, and you basically just get to hang out while learning awesome material. I know school isn’t for everyone, but business school is more than just school. You’re learning real-life skills with hands-on application, and creating a network of people who will forever be there to support you. At the very least, apply. You can always decide later if it’s not for you.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Colleen Hill is a Veritas Prep consultant for the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. You can read more articles by her here

How to Manage a Challenging MBA Recommender

RecommenderObtaining a great letter of recommendation is one of the most important aspects of the business school application process. This is one of the only external reference points the Admissions Committee can use to evaluate your performance and future potential for success, so it goes without saying that your recommendations are really, really important!

For most applicants, the request and submission process for their recommenders is pretty straightforward – at top firms and large companies, many recommenders already have some experience writing recommendations and fully support the applicant’s pursuit of an MBA. For others, however, this process can be far more difficult. Let’s discuss a few ways a recommender can prove challenging during the MBA application process, and what you can do to counter such issues:

Missing Deadlines:
This is probably the worst of the recommender offenses, because if a recommendation is not submitted on time, then your application is not considered complete by the Admissions Committee. Therefore, you must be confident that your recommender will adhere to all formal and informal deadlines you impose on them to write your letter of recommendation. There are many things an applicant will stress about during the application process – whether a recommender submits their evaluation or not should not be one of them. I recommend setting up faux deadlines a week in advance of the actual ones to ensure you have a few buffer days just in case your recommender slips up.

Not Supportive:
Not all recommenders are supportive of applicants leaving their company. Whether it is because they do not think the applicant is ready, do not want to replace them, or are just plain jealous of the opportunity, the decision to apply to business school is not always met with a positive response. Ideally, you will have some feel for this potential problem in advance of selecting your recommender, but if you can’t get around it, make your rationale for applying to business school clear and be openly thankful of the training and inspiration provided by the firm and by the recommender. Charm and holding a polite, thankful disposition can go a long way here.

A Poor Writer:
Is your recommender a bad writer? This can be a problem if the clarity of their evaluation is impacted by their lack of writing skills. Keep in mind, you will not be penalized for the writing of your recommender, but the better the writing, the more effective and better-received the recommendation will be by the Admissions Committee, so don’t be afraid to lean on your recommender to give it their best!

Lazy:
The lazy recommender is, unfortunately, more common than we’d like to see. Whether it is a case of being too busy or just putting the minimal effort into writing the recommendation, laziness can have a very negative impact on your application.  If a recommender can’t commit to writing as thorough of an evaluation as possible, then that person is probably not your best option. The more you can support this type of recommender with information about your candidacy, the program you are applying to, and the application process, the better their evaluation will be. Be active in providing the necessary coaching and support to your recommender when it comes to this aspect of the application.

Be aware of these challenging profiles when reaching out to a potential recommender, and use the above tips to make the most of your MBA letters of recommendation.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Learning from Yao Ming: How to Be Unique While Still Fitting In

Yao MingYao Ming, arguably China’s most popular athlete, was recently inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame. Ming was able to turn his massive size and refined skills into an outstanding career. Even more importantly, however, was that his cultural awareness and personality enabled him to be a global ambassador connecting the East and the West.

An icon transcending his sport, Ming became a bridge of understanding across cultures – treading the balance between sharing his culture with others, while also fitting into a different culture almost seamlessly. As you start brainstorming essay topics for your target business schools, you will surely come across two important tips:

  1. Show what makes you unique
  2. Demonstrate fit

At first glance, these points may seem contradictory to each other, but Yao Ming’s example demonstrates a perfect balance between the two:

Represent Yourself
You want to represent yourself proudly in your admissions essays, demonstrating pride in your culture and in your work. As such, do not use “weak words” or play down where you came from or what you do – you want to show the Admissions Committee that you will bring something fascinating to their school that you can share with your classmates. This doesn’t imply feeling superior to your peers, but rather, having a comfortable sense of self and knowing that you are at par even if you are different.

Adjusting to a new culture and to a new team as a young man in his early 20’s, Yao showed admirable composure and diplomacy to be respectful of both the more communal Chinese culture and the more individual-oriented American culture. This allowed him to represent himself well, while still being able to adjust to his new environment.

Collaborate With Others
Demonstrating an open-mindedness and ability to engage across cultures will show your ability to collaborate with others towards group goals, as well as the ability to share your experiences and knowledge. Thus, highlighting how you have worked with diverse teams towards meaningful goals – or at the very least, how you have held an open-minded attitude – can assure the Admissions Committee that you will be able to contribute to your classes in business school. Showing that you are aware that diversity is an opportunity for you to learn from others and further develop yourself will also be helpful in being convincing the Admissions Committee that you will be able to benefit from your MBA experience.

Learning these lessons from the talented giant, Yao Ming, may not necessarily lead to a huge endorsement deal with Apple, but it could help you get into your dream MBA program, and make the most of of your time there once you are admitted.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

New Considerations When Applying to Kellogg

Kellogg MBA Admissions GuideThe Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University has recently released its “Facts and Figures” statistics for the new Class of 2018, and boy is it impressive! With record numbers across the board, it is important for prospective MBA candidates to understand what some of these key facts and figures are, as well as what strategic insights about the school can be uncovered from the new numbers.

Record GMAT Score
The first and most prominent metric that jumps out in Kellogg’s “Facts and Figures” is the school’s impressive GMAT average, which has climbed to 728! To put this in context, Kellogg’s 2012 “Facts and Figures” listed their average GMAT score as 708 – 20 points lower than it is today, less than five years later.

Kellogg’s average GMAT score has been rapidly rising every year. In fact, its current number is 2 points higher than Harvard’s last reported average GMAT score, representing a significant change in the school’s approach to admissions as more “numbers driven”. Historically, Kellogg has used a much more holistic approach to admissions, often admitting candidates who may have been “soft” in their GPA or GMAT numbers. While Kellogg remains holistic, it is clear that key quantitative data points, like GMAT scores, have increased in importance.

Record Gender Diversity
Kellogg has always placed an emphasis on gender diversity, both in admissions and within the student community, consistently boasting one of the most active Women’s Business Association and strongest female alumni networks. So Kellogg’s record percentage of women in their program represents a strong actualization of the school’s mission. I suspect Kellogg will continue to take a leadership role in this category and aim to grow their 43% women closer to a 50/50 ratio.

Shrinking the Two-Year Class
Since taking over the helm at Kellogg, Dean Sally Blount has sought to re-balance the school’s two-year and one-year programs – the goal with this approach is to shrink the two-year class and increase the one-year class. This plan is not only a strategic one to attract specific audiences (those for whom the two-year program may not be the best fit) but also, potentially, a functional one that will allow the school to improve the statistics of its two-year program, which is reflected most notably in the advertised class profile.

Interested candidates should use these trends to identify the best program type for their unique profile. Candidates with “softer” data points and a strong business background may want to consider the one-year program as a potential option, given the increasing competitiveness of Kellogg’s two-year program.

Kellogg’s “Facts and Figures” are always a great representation of trends at the school. Use the factors above to develop the optimal strategy for your own application to Kellogg. And for more information on Kellogg, check out Veritas Prep’s Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Articulate Why You Need an MBA

SAT/ACTPast accomplishments, roles, and career goals tend to dominate the essays of the typical MBA applicant. These factors, alone, tend to take most essays over the word count, and as such, many applicants never actually share the reasons behind the paths they have taken or why they want to pursue an MBA in the first place (unless the essay prompt specifically asks).

Sharing your personal motivations, and the factors that have led to the decision to attend business school, is just as important as identifying your goals. It will help you convincingly show that aside from having the tools to succeed in business school, you also have the motivation to accomplish your post-MBA goals.

Articulating one’s personal motivations is not as easy as it sounds, however. In many cases, applicants feel like attending business school is just where life “took them”. What then are some specific steps to help you articulate why you need an MBA?

Memorable Events
Try recalling the highs and lows of your life, starting from childhood – these can include exciting personal triumphs, heartbreaking failures, and embarrassing mistakes. Such memorable events can  provide the Admissions Committee with great context as to why you want to pursue an MBA.

Turning points for your family – such as experiencing the sudden growth or collapse of the family business – can also be underlying incentives for wanting to attend business school. Highlighting the lessons that were learned from any of these experiences, and sharing how these particular events have helped guide your decisions and career, will help you take the Admissions Committee through your thinking and motivations.

Not only does this exercise help you express what drives you, but it also allows you to paint vivid pictures and present relatable details in your essays. All of these will help bring your application to life and make your overall profile more interesting to your readers.

Significant Feedback 
Another easy way to articulate your reasons for wanting an MBA is to remember the feedback you have received from past mentors, supervisors, or peers at work. Recalling this could help you explain why you got promoted or what allowed you to accomplish certain tasks at work, and can even help you identify areas for personal development than an MBA would help you achieve.

Articulating the feedback you have received from others will show the Admissions Committee that you are self-aware, receptive to constructive feedback, and able to plan your next steps clearly (including the step to achieve an MBA).

Epiphanies Experienced
Finally, recollect the experiences that opened your eyes to opportunities that you eventually took on during your career. These could include world travels, extracurricular activities, or work you did in a new or challenging environment that have led you down the MBA path.

For instance, I once worked with a Canadian applicant who shared how travelling to Latin America made him realize the continent’s promising potential for his business venture. Sharing this epiphany allowed the Admissions Committee to understand why he wanted to pursue a global MBA, and also displayed his open-mindedness, reinforcing the credibility of his claim that he would greatly benefit from the multi-cultural environment of business school.

The above steps are all good starting points, but to probe deeper, it would be beneficial to have someone who can help you ask yourself the right questions (perhaps a Veritas Prep Consultant?).

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

How to Create a Breakthrough Business School Application Resume

InterviewProspective MBA students spend a lot of time on a variety of things to prepare their application packages. Some application prep – like studying for the GMAT or drafting responses for essay questions – takes up a disproportionate amount of time for the typical candidate. However, the application component most admissions committee reps look at first is, in fact, the professional resume.

Wait, so the GMAT score you have spent hours studying to achieve and your meticulously crafted essays that are now on draft #89 from revisions aren’t looked at right away, but that resume that has gone unedited since you last interviewed for your most recent job is?

Your professional resume represents one of the most important aspects of your candidacy, and is your first opportunity to make a positive impression on the Admissions Committee. Let’s explore a few ways you can create a breakthrough resume for your business school application:

Stick to a Clear Structure:
Having a clean and consistent structure is probably the first thing a reviewer will notice after opening your resume, so make sure whatever format you use is consistent and readable. Avoid over-packing your resume and leaving no white space. Also, do not treat your resume like a book report – this document should not exceed one page, so exercise the skill of brevity and keep it concise, including only the most relevant bullets.

Share Accomplishments, Not Tasks:
Your resume is not your job description! The Admissions Committee is looking to learn what you have accomplished in your career, so avoid simply highlighting your day-to-day tasks. MBA programs want to create classes of accomplished students who can leverage their programs to take the next step in their career trajectory. If you only communicate the tasks that were outlined when you first took on your role, then this makes your case for admission to these classes much less compelling.

Again, do not feel like you need to include everything you have ever done over the course of your career in your resume. Focus on the accomplishments that resonate the most and that you have most directly been a part of, keeping in mind to highlight important interpersonal skills like leadership and teamwork in your descriptions.

Show Your Impact:
The MBA application is all about impact, and your resume is one of the best opportunities you have to show this. You should aim to make sure each bullet in your resume holds some form of significance.

Of course, the more quantifiable the results of your impact, the better, but do not feel you have to limit your resume to only numbers. Qualitative influence is also important to mention, and will be well received by the Admissions Committee if framed properly. For some, quantifying the specifics of their resume can be challenging – if you fall into this bucket, then using reasonable estimates of your impact can also work, and will provide the Admissions Committee with greater context of your experiences than simply avoiding this all together.

Don’t treat your business school application resume as an afterthought; make sure you include the elements above to maximize your chances for admissions success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

How to Omit Unnecessary Words in Your MBA Application Essays

writing essayThe book Elements of Style, by Strunk and White, has long been known as an excellent source of information about elements of the English language and an overall guide to writing style.

Some of the most practical tips that are discussed in this book will also be useful in writing your MBA application essays:

Respect Space and Attention
Not only are the spaces you are given to write your business school essays constrained by the given word count, but the attention span of the Admissions Committee (who will be reviewing your applications) is also rather short. Using unnecessary words dilutes the impact of the most powerful parts of your essays, the same way adding water to a perfectly blended coffee would dilute the drink.

Being respectful of word limits and the valuable time of the reader should help provide you with some discipline, allowing you to cut down on unrelated tangents and lengthy deliveries as you edit your writing.

Write for a Broad Audience
Taking into account that your reader may be someone who does not hold an MBA himself – and even more likely, holds a background outside your specific field – avoid using industry jargon and company-specific references while writing. These details are needless words that will only bore, and potentially even alienate, your readers. Instead, write with a broader audience in mind, focusing your essays on your impact on people, your company as a whole and events, rather than on finite, technical details of your work and accomplishments.

Focusing on only the style of your writing, especially by showing off an overly-immense vocabulary, can also distract from your message, just like the 2013 movie, The Counselor. (Chances are you haven’t even seen this movie, and that just makes my point!)

With a top-caliber cast and crew, this film disappointed critics and the box-office alike – with names like Brad Pitt, Cormac McCarthy, Ridley Scott, Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, and Cameron Diaz associated with the film, it was a wonder that a movie could fail so badly. However, word-of-mouth from most moviegoers and critics was often unnecessarily long-winded and boring. Thus, the film’s vast talents and materials at its disposal were wasted.

Just as a successful box-office hit will keep a wider audience engaged while still delivering its message powerfully and subtly, your essays should present your personal story well to all readers, and make the Admissions Committee root for your triumph.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. You can read more articles by him here

4 Factors to Discuss With Your Partner Before Applying to Business School

scottbloomdecisionsFor many, applying to business school is not just about attending the best school or landing the fanciest, highest-paying job. Other considerations should factor into the decision of which schools to apply to. For those with significant others, discussions about these considerations are important to surviving not only the business school application process, but also the two-year journey after you are admitted. Let’s discuss a few of the topics that should be considered with your significant other before applying:

1) Moving
One of the hardest decisions for many applicants to make is whether or not to move away from their partner when they go to business school. People are often very rooted in their current location for a variety of reasons, which may include proximity to family and friends, employment opportunities, or just general preference.

The decision to move is an important one, as business school can be an amazing shared experience for a couple to have, but will also a very hectic time for the student. Between attending classes and other school functions, spending time with their classmates and networking with recruiters, MBA students often have little time to spend with their significant others, even if their partners are local.

2) Finances
How are you paying for your MBA? Can your family or relationship last the financial pressures of one person being enrolled as a full-time student? These are just a few of the questions that should be discussed prior to making the leap to business school. Finances have always played a huge role in the vitality of relationships, and the additional stress a misalignment of income may cause during an already stressful period could have even worse implications.

3) Career Trajectory
Are you and your partner both aligned on the applicant’s post-MBA career path. This may seem like an innocuous issue, but all career paths are not created equal. Considering the historic reputations of certain career paths as being time intensive (such as investment banking and management consulting), make sure your partner is truly on board with your MBA journey. It is important for both parties to understand how things will change post-graduation and to make the proper decision based on this information.

4) Location
Spending two years in Cambridge, Massachusetts and spending two years in Palo Alto, California will lead to fairly different geographic experiences. From the weather to the culture to the food to distance from family, where you and your partner spend your two years during business school is an important consideration. Hash out your preferences early on to best set up your application strategy.

Applying to business school is a family decision and should be treated as such. So make sure you consider the above factors as you vet your decision to pursue an MBA.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Applying to Business School: Tips for Older MBA Applicants

MBA EssaysWhile researching potential MBA programs, many applicants find themselves older than the typical student at their target school. Thus, they ask themselves whether they should still bother to apply, and how they should distinguish themselves from younger business school applicants

As with any MBA candidate, statistics such as GPA and GMAT score do matter, however the emphasis on these quantitative aspects of the application is somewhat shifted for older candidates to the factors discussed below. Although these are important factors for candidates of any age to keep in mind, they are more critical for older ones to use to their advantage:

Display Greater Focus
If you are an older MBA applicant, the Admissions Committee will expect you to be more mature. As such, you should show greater self-awareness and display more specific direction than younger applicants do. Clearly identify why you need an MBA, what you want to pursue post-MBA, and how the specific program you are applying to will help you achieve those goals. These goals could include personal development, knowledge gaps that you need to fill, and courses you are looking forward to take.

Discussing your future goals in a focused way is especially important if you are applying to one-year programs, as you will not have as much time during these programs to feel your way around or explore. You will want to present to the Admissions Committee that you know what you need, and that you know how you will use what their program offers.

Leverage Wealth of Interesting Experiences
As an older candidate, you will likely have gone through more experiences at work, in life, and in the community. Interesting experiences could range from exciting strategic shifts to crisis management. Using the knowledge you have gained from these episodes and their aftermath as fodder for your essays not only allows you to highlight your personal qualities and how you have developed, but also to show what you can contribute to classroom discussions.

MBA programs consider the diversity of experiences, perspectives, and networks their students bring to campus to be assets. With more professional and life experiences under your belt, use these to differentiate and strengthen yourself from other, less-experienced candidates.

Play Up Leadership Abilities & Expertise
At this point, it will also help to showcase how you have been able to lead teams, accomplish goals, or mentor others. Even if your official job responsibilities do not directly involved leadership over others, you can still highlight leadership experiences at work, and at your extracurricular activities, in other ways.

You may share the realizations you have gained through your leadership experiences and how they have impacted your leadership style, as well as the motivations behind them. Relate how an MBA will further develop these and help you make an impact on the world around you. You may also identify specific valuable expertise that you can contribute and that your peers can leverage in the classroom, especially if these are in a rare field.

Doing all of the above will present you as someone who will use his or her vast experiences to enrich the experiences of their peers, and of the school community, as a whole.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.