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. 

Extracurricular Activity Suggestions for MBA Students

ExtracurricularsMost people who decide to pursue an MBA understand that business schools are looking for well-qualified candidates. Admissions officials want to know about a candidate’s academic accomplishments, professional life, and career goals. Extracurricular activities also play an important part of a business school application. Some activities for MBA students can highlight skills and talents a person can use in business school.

Consider some extracurricular activities that can help an individual stand out in a crowd of business school applicants:

Organizing a Fundraising Activity at Work
Fundraising is one of the most rewarding extracurricular activities for MBA candidates. For example, a person can enlist the help of colleagues to organize an auction to raise money for a local homeless shelter, or a person may want to organize an employee challenge that brings some fun into the workplace and raises money for a local organization at the same time. Organizing any kind of fundraising activity at work highlights a person’s management and leadership skills. Plus, this sort of activity can raise a lot of money for a worthy cause in the community.

Mentoring a Teenager
Mentoring a young person is one of the most popular extracurricular activities for MBA applicants. A candidate dedicates a certain amount of hours each week to taking a preteen or teenager on outings in the community. Not surprisingly, a mentor can help build the confidence level of a young person. Also, a mentor is a constant source of encouragement and support in a child’s life – a mentor can help with school work or even influence some big decisions made by the teen. Furthermore, a mentor can guide a teenager as they decide on a career path. Business school admissions officials recognize the time, dedication, and leadership it takes to mentor a young person.

Studying a Musical Instrument
An impressive list of MBA activities can also include playing a musical instrument. For example, a person may note that they have studied the clarinet for five years. This shows dedication to perfecting their skills on the clarinet. They may also note that they give free clarinet lessons to three high school students once a week. This reveals their ability to teach others and willingness to share their talents. This is an especially impressive extracurricular when a person has studied a musical instrument for several years.

Coaching a Sports Team
Many effective activities for MBA students are related to sports. For example, a person may coach a local baseball team made up of eight- and nine-year-olds, or a person may coach a track team made up of children with special needs. Participating in these types of extracurricular activities requires strong leadership and management skills. Once again, business school admissions officials will be all the more impressed if the candidate has coached a team for several years.

Teaching a Class
Many management activities for MBA students involve teaching a class. Teaching a GED class to adults is one way for an MBA candidate to show off their leadership skills. Other ideas include teaching a citizenship class, giving swimming lessons, or providing instruction to students who want to learn about business etiquette. Sharing a skill by teaching a class makes for a desirable quality in a business school applicant.

Volunteer Work
A candidate for business school may want to volunteer at a hospital, church, or community center. It’s best for a person to choose a volunteering opportunity that they are really passionate about. Someone who dedicates a few hours or more to volunteer work every week is showing a sense of maturity, responsibility, and concern about the community they live in.

At Veritas Prep, our MBA admissions consultants are experts at providing tips and advice regarding management activities for MBA students. Our professional consultants have a wealth of practical experience with the business school admissions process. We know what the top business schools are looking for in potential students!

Go online to fill out a free profile evaluation and get feedback on your pre-MBA activities as well as all of the other elements of your business school application. We use our knowledge and resources to help individuals craft an application that is sure to get the attention of business school admissions officials. Contact Veritas Prep today.

Should You Retake the GMAT?

SAT/ACTPerhaps the most often-asked question during the entire MBA application process is,“Should I retake the GMAT?” The answer to this question will differ from case to case depending on an applicant’s score, their target schools, and their overall profile. If you are considering retaking the GMAT, doing a short cost-benefit analysis, similar to a business endeavor, can aid your decision-making:

1) Recognize the Investments Needed
Apart from the test-taking fee that you will incur for a retake, think about the hours you will need to put in to re-prepare for the GMAT, and whether this will affect the timeliness of your MBA applications. Make sure you consider whether or not you have the availability and the energy to put into this endeavor.

Often ignored, but just as important, factor in the opportunity cost of the hours you will need to spend preparing for your retake. Could you spend those efforts somewhere else to strengthen your profile? Maybe you could get involved in productive activities at work, volunteer in the community, or polish your essays.

If your application is already strong in these areas, then a GMAT retake could be a better use of your time. As such, engaging a test prep service may be the right way to go – taking a GMAT prep course or spending time with a private tutor will optimize the hours that you put into studying, and will be an investment that pays for itself in the long run.

2) Evaluate the Probability of Success
The next step would be to evaluate how likely you are to achieve your desired results. The most straightforward consideration (that requires a truly honest self-assessment) is how you have already performed on the GMAT relative to your potential:

  • Did you prepare well enough?
  • Did you get enough sleep the nights leading up to your exam?
  • Were the test day conditions conducive?

If you believe there’s a reasonable chance that you could have done better than you did, you should seriously think about a retake.

3) Weigh the Potential Benefits
Researching the class profile of your target program, and how you compare to the school’s average GMAT score, should give you an indication as to where you stand. The standardized nature of the GMAT allows for the most straightforward and objective comparison between applicants, so ideally, you will want to score higher on the GMAT than the school’s average.

All things equal, a higher score should improve your chance of admission, and even your opportunities for scholarships. Thus, the expected value of increasing your GMAT score could be high and really worth investing in.

Knowing that you didn’t leave too many potential GMAT points on the table can also simply help you be at peace. This is an important benefit, as it will allow you to focus on the next steps in the application process, and know that you have given the GMAT your best shot.

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. 

Selecting the Right Time to Apply to Columbia Before the Regular Decision Deadline

Columbia UniversityColumbia Business School is one of the few top MBA programs that offers a unique rolling admissions format for submitting your application. The standard concept behind rolling admissions is that the school offers a window for applicants to apply to the program (as opposed to the traditional 3-round admissions schedule). What makes this format unique is that instead of waiting for all applications to be received after the deadline to review, the school reviews the applications as they arrive.

This format provides lots of flexibility to candidates but can also present some unique challenges when deciding the best time to apply. Typically for more traditional application deadlines, as long as a candidate submits their application prior to the deadline, there is no advantage to the timing. However, with rolling admissions schools like Columbia, the timing of your submission can be advantageous (or problematic) for your candidacy.

Columbia’s Regular Decision deadline is historically in April, with the following year’s applications being released shortly afterwards – typically in May or June. With such a long application cycle and no clear round-by-round distinction, some candidates may cheer at all the time they have to apply to Columbia. But not so fast – there are some clear advantages to applying early. Let’s discuss the advantages of applying to Columbia Regular Decision early:

Scholarships
Business school can be very pricey, and with its Ivy League stature, Columbia is no different. Columbia sets a January submission deadline every year for those interested in being considered for merit fellowships. By applying months in advance of the deadline, early applicants can ensure they have a chance at additional funding for their Columbia education.

Space
Although Columbia’s application goes live every year early in the summer, even as a rolling admissions school, the Admissions Committee does not start reviewing applications until early December. The earlier candidates can submit their application, the more space there will be in the potential class, the smaller the current pool of other applicants there will be, and the higher visibility their application will have.

Interest
Applying early is a strong sign of interest to Columbia. A school like Columbia that regularly competes with other top programs (such Wharton, HBS, and Kellogg) for top talent, wants to know that their application is a priority to you. The fact that the school has an Early Decision option signals the value it places on interest in attending Columbia. So, submitting an application right after January for the April deadline is not the best indicator of your interest, or of your preparation for pursuing an MBA at Columbia.

These are just a few tips to help make sure you are submitting your Regular Decision application to Columbia at the right time. For more thoughts on Columbia, check out our Essential Guide to Top Business Schools for free, here.

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.

Which Type of Business Degree is Right for You?

scottbloomdecisionsSome students who apply to business school know exactly what type of degree they want to earn. Others know they want to pursue a career in business but may not be sure about a specific degree. Fortunately, there are many types of business degrees that may appeal to students who are still undecided. Consider the following descriptions of different types of business degrees that can help students learn a little about the options available to them:

Accounting
A degree in Accounting involves courses that teach students fundamental accounting principles, and how to interpret financial documents and keep them organized. Students also learn how to find discrepancies in financial documents and determine the reasons for them. Successful professionals in this field are logical thinkers, detail-oriented, consistent, and organized. Some examples of jobs for individuals with Accounting degrees include public accountant, financial reporting manager, compliance professional, and tax accountant.

At Veritas Prep, we provide a variety of services to students who are considering a degree in Accounting, or any of the other different graduate business degrees. For instance, our online instructors prep students for the GMAT, the GRE, or both. We use practice tests and other top-quality study resources to boost a student’s confidence for test day. In short, we have years of experience helping students who are on the path to earning different business degrees.

Business Administration
There are many types of business degrees that teach students how to take on a leadership role within a company – a degree in Business Administration is an ideal example. While earning this degree, students gain knowledge of how to assign tasks to the members of a team to ensure that a project is completed on time. Also, students learn how to communicate effectively with team members, clients, and other project leaders.

A professional working in the field of Business Administration has to know how to effectively manage a project and improve a company’s bottom line. Office administrator, general manager, and administrative services manager are just a few of the job options for students with a degree in business administration.

Business Technology
Students researching different types of business degrees that relate to technology should take a closer look at this area of study. A student earning a Business Technology degree learns about the latest business software used by companies and corporations. Also, students garner knowledge about web marketing, managing an office with today’s technology, and using electronic communication tools in a business setting. Some examples of jobs held by individuals with a Business Technology degree include business software specialist, web marketing specialist, and database user specialist.

Finance
Finance is one of the more well-known types of business degree programs. Students earning this degree learn about portfolio management, financial analysis, and interpreting statistics. Individuals with a degree in finance have many career paths available to them. For example, a person who wants to integrate sales into a career plan may want to look into becoming a financial services sales agent. The position of personal financial adviser is an example of a career where a person uses their financial education to help people plan for retirement or balance their investments. Some other potential job titles include financial analyst, financial manager, and investment banker.

Marketing
Many students who are pursuing a business degree want to get into the field of Marketing. This is a degree for someone interested in learning about consumer research, marketing strategies, and product research. Today’s companies need professionals who know how to introduce a new product based on solid market research. Plus, companies want to know how to attract new customers while retaining loyal ones. Advertising managers, sales managers, commercial directors, and market research specialists are all examples of jobs available for individuals with a Marketing degree.

Students looking at the different types of business degree programs can count on Veritas Prep for tips and guidance. Our knowledgeable team members teach students strategies to use on business school exams and assist in preparing admissions paperwork. We can add an element of organization to the complicated process of applying to schools. Contact our team today and ask about our valuable services.

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.

Why It’s Hard to Be a Poet in Business School

Make Studying FunOnce MBA classes start, they move very quickly, and although you’ll want to spend a lot of time outside of class trying to understand the new concepts you are learning, you won’t have much time. For someone who doesn’t have a strong quantitative background, taking statistics, accounting, and economics at the same time can be quite challenging. If you’ve never seen a financial statement or learned how to do derivatives, you might want to consider doing some work before you get to campus.

Take a look at what classes you’ll need to take over the course of your MBA program. These will likely be similar across programs, so you can figure out which classes will be most helpful for you to take at your local community college, extension program, or online before school begins. If you’ve never taken economics, pick up a book about demand curves and learn how businesses determine how much of a product to sell. If you haven’t taken a math class since your freshman year of college, take at least one before you get to campus.

With a basic understanding of statistics, accounting, and economics, you’ll be much more successful during your first year of school, and you’ll also be a great resource to your classmates who might be struggling a bit more than you. Recommended classes to take are business statistics, financial accounting, and microeconomics, but if you only find “accounting” or “statistics” courses, those will still be quite helpful.

Taking on extra quant-based coursework might seem like a daunting task while you’re working full time, studying for the GMAT, and writing essays for your business school applications, but it is definitely worthwhile – just think, you’ll be this busy if not busier in business school, so you might as well start now and learn how to manage your time. Those quant classes will also help you prep for the GMAT, so it’s really a win-win.

When you’re feeling overwhelmed during your first few weeks of school, just remember that you’re not alone. There will be a lot of people in your class who come from a humanities background, and you will still have a lot to offer your classmates, even if it is not through your accounting or statistics expertise.

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 studied Middle Eastern and North African Studies at UCLA before heading to Michigan’s Ross School of Business to pursue international development consulting in Africa. She’s very happy she took accounting and statistics in the year before she moved to Ann Arbor.

Applying to Business School as an Entrepreneur

MBA AdmissionsFor the vast majority of business school applicants, pursuing an MBA is primarily about the opportunity to secure employment at their dream corporations. If you are one of the the ambitious few who are interested in entrepreneurship, your MBA dreams may align with incubating your own venture and forgoing the sanctity and security of the more traditional post-MBA career paths.

Applying to business school as an entrepreneur sets up a very specific set of considerations applicants should be aware of, however. Let’s discuss a few things that should be considered before applying to MBA programs as an entrepreneur:

Chances of Success:
How confident are you in the viability of your concept/business? Applying to business school as an entrepreneur is very risky from an application perspective. The Admissions Committee will surely scrutinize your plan and its potential for success, so it is important you have run a similar “stress test” on your concept or business.

Generally, business schools want to make sure their students are employed after graduation – an MBA who is not placed at a job at graduation (or 3 months after) can not only bring down the statistics of the school’s post-graduation employment report, but it can also cause that graduate to be an unhappy alumnus, which can lead to a negative perception of their MBA experience. As such, it will be best to make sure your entrepreneurial ambitions are clearly achievable, to both yourself and to the Admissions Committee.

Back-up Plan:
A high percentage of startup businesses fail. Do you have a contingency plan if your concept fails or if you just decide entrepreneurship is not for you? Schools will be looking to know that you have thought through all of the permutations and combinations of your decision. This can commonly manifest itself as an application question, essay prompt or an interview question, so have an answer ready that is well-thought-out and aligns with your past experiences.

Program Support:
Are you targeting MBA programs that have a track record of supporting entrepreneurship? The more your school is receptive to the challenges of the entrepreneurial lifestyle, the more well-received your application will be. Don’t think this makes your chances of admission much higher, as these schools are also looking to weed out those less committed to their goals. Also, some programs support entrepreneurs as alumni through funding and loan forgiveness, which could be advantageous during those lean early years of launching your business, and will be handy to keep in mind as you compile your list of target schools.

Timeline:
Does your timeline for diving into entrepreneurship make sense? Often, applicants will identify entrepreneurship as their short-term post-MBA goal. However, if the road map to starting your business appears a bit murky, shifting this short-term goal to the long-term may help make a better case for your profile. The Admissions Committee tends to be a bit more forgiving with long-term goals, given that so many things can happen before reaching them, but with short-term goals, the expectation is these should be highly achievable.

Applying to business school as an entrepreneur can be challenging, but can also represent a tremendous opportunity to pursue your dreams. Consider the above factors before you start your own 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 FacebookYouTube, Google+ 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 730 the New 700 for Top MBA Programs?

Harvard Business SchoolFor many years, a score of 700 on the GMAT represented the threshold that aspiring MBAs targeted to be competitive applicants to business school. This score served as the proverbial goal post for many applicants seeking admission to top programs, as well as a way to better position themselves for post-MBA employment opportunities in feeder industries like consulting and investment banking.

As applications to top MBA programs around the world have become increasingly more competitive, standards for admission have also risen, with the brunt of this competition being felt through rising GMAT scores.

Over the last five years, top programs like Stanford, Kellogg, and Wharton have reported record GMAT scores, with some programs even experiencing double-digit growth in a single year. This GMAT arms race from top business schools has accentuated the race for top talent that is currently underway in the competitive world of business school admissions – GMAT scores play a huge role in MBA rankings, which probably is the driving force behind this trend.

As this paradigm shifts, applicants must shift their expectations, as well. For many of the top programs, the former target score of a 700 is now almost 30 points lower than the average GMAT score of these same schools today – a change that has occurred in less than ten years.

The GMAT remains just one piece of the admissions puzzle, albeit an important one, with other aspects of an applicant’s profile holding considerable weight, as well. As such, it would be wise for aspiring MBAs to align their expectations with the new GMAT world order. Keep in mind that when it comes to GMAT averages, some people will score below the average and some will score above the average for each school, so there is certainly wiggle room here (in fact, most top programs still have 80% ranges that include the old 700 benchmark).

As you create your target school list, make sure you are identifying programs that not only align with your development needs, but also match up with your candidate data points.

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 Does Diversity Play Into MBA Admissions?

AdmissionDiversity has become a buzzword throughout the business world, however one place where its potential has not been fully realized is in the classrooms of some of the top MBA programs in the world. In this way, many business schools struggle to emulate the markets to which they send graduates to.

We can all agree diversity in the workplace and in the classroom make for a more rewarding experience for all. Let’s discuss how diversity can manifest itself during the MBA application process:

Ethnic Diversity:
In the United States, this is one of the most important and severely-lacking forms of diversity in top MBA programs. Underrepresented minorities – such as African-Americans, Native Americans, and Hispanic Americans – in the U.S. still represent tiny portions of most schools’ incoming classes.

Many blue chip companies rely on MBA programs to serve as feeders for their talent, and if MBA programs remain barren of diverse candidates, then top companies will also struggle in this department. Given this need, qualified, underrepresented minorities really can stand out in the application process if they package together the “right” application.

Gender Diversity:
Business schools have made remarkable strides when it comes to gender diversity. MBA programs have historically been a “boys club,” but most programs have narrowed the gap here and come closer to the desired 50/50 gender ratio. This year, Northwestern’s Kellogg School even reported a record 43% of female MBA students in their Class of 2018. Even with these improvements, women still remain a minority of sorts, which can prove advantageous in the application process.

International Diversity:
The business world has become truly global – a shift that most programs have tried to mirror. The business school campus of today can take on the look of the United Nations, itself. The array of experience and thought this diversity brings to the classroom can help shape a class set out to become the global leaders of tomorrow. Remember, there are certain regions of the world that are underrepresented and others that are over-represented, so international diversity can go both ways when it comes to admissions.

With the holistic nature of the MBA admissions process, diversity can play a huge role in shaping the student community for the incoming class. This diversity of thought, perspective, and experience is certainly a hallmark of the MBA experience.

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 Essays: Optimizing Content to Make You Stand Out

writing essayBusiness school candidates are often asked to reflect on the most special moments of their lives as they write their application essays. However, prompts that ask for this are so open – they allow applicants to discuss any aspect of their lives, from the very personal to more typical career highlights – it is often difficult to know where to start. Follow these tips to make sure your MBA essays truly stand out:

Use the Space for More Unique Highlights
Reflecting honestly, some candidates may identify the birth of their children (if they have them) as the most special events in their lives. For example, an applicant may feel that overcoming a challenging pregnancy or mentoring his or her child is their most important moment – like most parents, I agree that these can be the most significant, fulfilling, and life-changing events a person can experience.

However, even if it is not explicitly stated, there is also a need in your business school applications to show what sets you apart from other candidates – what unique dimensions you can bring to the program. Thus, while parenthood is a great blessing and a primary aspect of life for many, it is not a great differentiator for one’s MBA applications. With such limited space available to write your essays, your parenthood can be mentioned briefly as a source of motivation and purpose for pursuing your MBA, but should probably not be the main focal point of your essay.

Remember to also keep your answers to essay questions concise. For example, you may share how you saved your family’s business during one part of your application, and play up your sense of responsibility as a major strength during another section of the application, however sharing the former should have already done the job of covering both points. You can then use the second space to display your other impressive strengths.

Being concise in your essays will allow you to cover more ground, share more of your personality, and add more dimensions to your application. You would be better off highlighting another, different strength than writing about a strength that could have been covered in an earlier narrative.

Add Just the Right Level of Detail
Although you should definitely use your MBA essays to touch on your motivations and inspiration for attending business school, and share other exciting activities that you participate in, remember that allocating 200 words to specifics such as a detailed medical procedure or your philosophies about parenting is not ideal. Briefly mentioning these details in passing can tie the theme of your essay together and give it a nice flow, but dwelling too long on them can jumble your message and confuse the reader.

Similarly, playing up only one general strength (such as your physical prowess) through a whole paragraph could come off negatively and make it seem like you do not have much else to offer. Allocating too much space for one strength comes with the opportunity cost of not being able to present your other strengths and aspects of personal development to the Admissions Committee. In contrast, sharing an unexpected range of talents and interests will be more exciting and win over a broader type of audience.

Remember to Be Real
Finally, as you choose your essay content, be sure that you choose meaningful events and real challenges that you have faced. Stay away from token failures and weaknesses – for instance, identifying losing a game at a party would seem silly to mention during your essays, and writing about it could actually make you come off as insincere. Use the space you are allotted to show your ability to honestly evaluate yourself, identify the next steps in your development, and recognize how an MBA will fit into your career plans.

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. 

Setting Your Strategy as a Business School Reapplicant

GoalsThe only thing more challenging than applying to business school is applying twice. After setting a comprehensive strategy in a previous year and not being successful, it can be really challenging to devise a new approach for the same school. For most, their initial MBA application was about sharing their most compelling anecdotes, experiences and challenges, so it can be difficult take on this application again with a whole new approach.

Here are a few tips to help you successfully navigate the reapplication process:

Understand the Process:
Each business school has a different reapplication process so it is important to understand what is necessary to be considered again for admission. The only difference a reapplicant will face from the typical application process is that most schools will require the candidate to submit an additional reapplicant essay (and for some schools, the only new submission necessary may be the reapplicant essay).

To further complicate matters, depending on how far-removed your last application was, your application status may not be technically considered a reapplication. The bottom line here is to make sure you understand the specific process at the programs you are targeting, because there is a lot of variation from school to school.

Review Your Prior Application
Was your previous application the best assessment of your candidacy? Were there any typos? Did you answer all of the questions as posed? Were you truly competitive? These are the type of questions that are important for reapplicants to ask themselves.

Reviewing your old application in-depth and honestly reflecting on your situation will go a long way in ensuring you create a successful application package this time around. It may be difficult to understand exactly why your first application was unsuccessful, but identifying some of the quantitative (easy to flag) and qualitative (harder to flag) issues in your prior application will make it easier to confront the reapplication process.

Take Action and Make Changes
After taking a full inventory of how your candidacy needs to change or improve as a reapplicant, it is important to take action and produce a new and improved submission. For example, if your GMAT score was below the average of your target school, then retake the GMAT again to improve this aspect of your candidacy. If there may have been confusion around your career goals, consider refining or simplifying them to avoid questions surrounding the viability of your post-MBA plans. If your GPA is below the average score listed, create an “alternative transcript” by taking additional classes.

These are just a few of the action-oriented changes a reapplicant can make to their profile. It is important to not simply submit the same application package again and expect different results – that goes for the essays as well, even if the prompt remains unchanged!

Take this also as an opportunity to build upon the relationships you forged during the preparation of your initial application by exploring additional aspects of your candidacy that can reinforce, or clarify, why you would make a great fit for your target program. Follow these tips to better inform your reapplication and increase your chances of admission to your dream 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.

Applying to Business School: How and When to Apply for Business School

Stanford UniversityIndividuals who decide to pursue an MBA often have many questions about the application process. For example, an applicant who recently earned their undergraduate degree might wonder whether they should take the GMAT or the GRE. Another applicant who has worked in the business world for ten years might want to know when they should submit their application to business school.

Let us provide answers to these questions and others for those interested in applying to business school.

When to Apply for Business School
A person’s first step in deciding when to apply for business school is to go online to look at the websites of schools they are interested in. This is an easy way to find out the specific admissions requirements of each school. In addition, they can learn how much time they have to take the proper tests and gather all of the necessary materials for their application.

Many business schools have an admissions process that involves several rounds of applications. As an example, a school that accepts three rounds of applications may set an October 15 deadline for the first round. Students who want to have their application considered for the second round may need to submit it by January 15. Applications submitted during the third round might need to be in by April 10. This school’s acceptance letters are likely to be sent out to students in early summer.

Applicants should keep in mind that schools usually receive the largest number of applications during the first round. There are people who decide to send out first-round applications to some schools and second-round applications to others. By the time the deadline for the third round arrives, many schools have most of their spaces filled.

Requirements for an Application to Business School
Business school applicants must supply basic information such as their name, address, phone number, and email address. Next, they must state where and when they earned their undergraduate degree and include transcripts. Professionals must provide a résumé of their work history. Applicants should also include their extracurricular or volunteer activities.

The typical business school application also asks for an individual’s career goals and how an MBA would help with those goals. Individuals who want some tips on how to get their application noticed by admissions officials can take advantage of our free profile evaluation. Our consultants have worked in admissions at some of the best business schools in the country. Clients benefit from the experience of our admissions consultants at Veritas Prep.

Taking the Appropriate Tests
The GMAT is the test that is most often connected with admission into business school. But some business schools now accept an applicant’s GRE scores. The best way for students to determine which test to take is to check the testing requirements of specific business schools. Our instructors at Veritas Prep help individuals study for the GMAT as well as the GRE. Students who work with us learn useful strategies and prep for the test with instructors who mastered it.

Writing an Essay
Individuals applying to business school must write an essay. Each school provides prospective students with a prompt or a question to answer in the essay. Applicants should take the time to think about it before writing the essay. Jotting down notes is a good way to remember important details to include in the piece. The purpose of the essay is to give admissions officials the opportunity to learn more about the personal side of an applicant.

Recommendations for Business School
People who are wondering how to apply for business school want to know if personal recommendations play a part in the process. The answer is yes. The number of recommendation letters an applicant must get depends on the business school. Recommendation letters for applicants who are professionals in the workforce are usually written by employers, supervisors, or longtime colleagues. Students who are moving directly to business school from undergraduate school may ask their professors, a supervisor on a part-time job, or a mentor for a recommendation.

It’s helpful to the people who are writing recommendations to know the types of things they should include in the letter. An applicant may want to summarize some of their accomplishments and qualities to serve as a guide for the person writing the letter.

For more advice on how to apply for business school, contact our professional admissions consultants at Veritas Prep. Let us use our resources to help you achieve your goal of getting into 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! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

What You Can Learn from Zootopia About Setting Realistic MBA Goals

imgresZootopia, one of 2016’s top box office hits (grossing over $1 billion dollars), is an animated Disney movie showcasing impressive visuals, funny moments and a powerful theme of acceptance and inclusion. Seemingly a children’s movie, nods to iconic films and television shows such as The Godfather, Breaking Bad, and older Disney works prove to entertain the whole family.

In this entry, we will use this popular movie to illustrate how to strengthen one of the most important aspects of your MBA application: identifying your ambitious, but achievable, post-MBA goals.

Showcasing Your Achievements
Like many MBA applicants, Zootopia‘s main character, Judy Hopps, has excellent academic credentials (valedictorian of her class) and big goals. Judy also has an idealistic view of Zootopia (the city in which she lives), believing that anybody can be anything. Although she has initial success in becoming the first rabbit cop amongst heavyweight mammals (such as buffalo, rhinos, and elephants), she still faces many struggles in her career.

Lessons Learned:
As you write your MBA application essays, highlighting your various distinctions and achievements – including any barriers you have broken or obstacles you have encountered and surpassed (or hopped over) – will help showcase that you possess the ability, drive and perseverance necessary to achieve your future goals.

Ability to Overcome Challenges
The movie also deftly shows how Judy had to grow through prejudices and biases, both of others and of herself, while still keeping her idealism and her belief that she can make an impact on her anthropomorphic world. Seeing Judy win over the trust of her boss, who doubted her abilities to get the job done, makes us believe even more that she can achieve great things in the future.

Lessons Learned:
Sharing personal, vivid anecdotes of the struggles you have faced and how these challenges have helped you evolve and mature will make your business school application more compelling. Sharing your failures, weaknesses, and realizations will allow the Admissions Committee to understand and relate to you better. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect – nobody is!

Using your essays to showcase your self-awareness, how you have handled adversity, and how you have grown will make it more convincing that your post-MBA goals are not driven by blind idealism, but are grounded in reality and are actually achievable. For example, if your future goal requires working with regulators and big businesses across various industries to create social impact, it would be a good idea to share experiences of the similar challenges you have faced in the past, and how you have effectively collaborated with counterparts representing different agendas.

As you identify your bold post-MBA goals, show that you have the experiences, skills and expertise that are necessary to accomplish these goals.  Be sure to refer to specific episodes in your past that display your awareness of what happens on the ground, and that your path to your goal is based on a well-thought-out plan, with the next step being an MBA at your target program. You could also identify the unique benefits you would gain from an MBA at this particular program, enumerating the necessary steps to achieving your objectives.

Outlining these various details will help convince the Admissions Committee that you know what you are getting into, why you need an MBA, and how you will succeed 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! 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. 

Why Go to Business School: The Benefits of an MBA

Columbia UniversityWhy business school? This is a question encountered by many ambitious people who decide to pursue a master’s degree. Individuals in an MBA program take courses that deepen their knowledge of accounting, marketing, management, and finance. They also take classes that improve their leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Acquiring this advanced level of knowledge and earning an MBA benefits a professional in the business world in a variety of ways. Check out some of the specific benefits of an MBA degree:

Gain More In-Depth Knowledge of Business
Why go to business school? In addition to expanding their knowledge of accounting, management, and other basic business practices, students who earn an MBA can specialize their degree. For instance, a professional who wants to achieve greater success in a public relations career can earn an MBA with a focus on that particular discipline. Other examples of MBA specialties include Internet marketing, hospitality management, and sports management. A student who earns an MBA walks away with a deeper understanding of their particular field of work.

Earn a Higher Salary
One of the most appealing benefits of an MBA is that it can lead to a higher salary. Someone with this advanced degree has a greater understanding of business practices than someone who possesses only an undergraduate degree. A person with an MBA has specialized skills and knowledge that can benefit a company’s bottom line.

Business schools have a number of requirements that applicants must fulfill. For one, they need to see a student’s scores on the GRE, the GMAT, or both. At Veritas Prep, we provide in-person and online instruction to prepare students for the GRE. We also help students study for the GMAT. Students learn tips and strategies from experienced instructors who have taken these tests with great success! Our tutors use excellent study resources and materials to provide students with first-rate instruction.

Establish Relationships and Garner Contacts
One of the most notable benefits of business school is the opportunity to establish relationships with other business professionals. While earning this advanced degree, students work with individuals like themselves who are likely to achieve tremendous success in their field. These relationships can continue to grow after graduation, proving helpful to an individual as they pursue success in business. Plus, students learn from professors who have relationships with executives in the business world. After graduation, a student may be able to get a recommendation from a professor or get a valuable lead on an open position with a growing company.

Often, well-known executives speak to classes of MBA students. They share their experiences and advice on how to accomplish career goals. Talking with a visiting executive gives a student another opportunity to establish a connection with a business professional that could prove useful later on.

Rise Higher in a Particular Field
Why go to business school? This is a question heard by many business professionals who decide to go back to school after working in their field for several years. One of the benefits of business school is that it gives graduates the knowledge and training they need to rise higher in their profession. They may feel that they have gone as far as they can with just an undergraduate degree in business and they need more skills to make further progress toward their career goals. For instance, a professional who has worked in the marketing department of a company for ten years might decide to earn an MBA with a specialty in Internet marketing. This could prepare them for a promotion to a higher position within the department.

Start a Business
Why business school for an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur who earns an MBA is more prepared for the challenges of starting a business. In fact, a student going through an MBA program can specialize the degree to focus on entrepreneurship. An MBA student specializing in entrepreneurship studies topics such as entrepreneurial finance, technology, and recognizing opportunities that will help a new business to grow. An entrepreneur armed with this knowledge is increasing their chances of success as a business owner.

At Veritas Prep, we assist individuals as they progress on the path toward gaining admission into a preferred business school. Contact our offices today to learn more about our test prep options.

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, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Tips for Applying to Business School as a Couple

GatsbyIf you think applying to business school is a stressful ordeal, then magnify that two-fold and you have the situation that is faced each year by many couples who choose to apply to business school together. Now, this experience represents just a small percentage of total applications, but for those in the midst of applying as a couple, the impact can be life changing.  Let’s explore some tips for applying to business school as a couple:

Understand the Process:
The application process for couples can vary from school to school. At some programs you can identify yourself as a couple in your application, but at others your status will be a bit fuzzier, so make sure you are clear on your target school’s unique process to best position your joint applications for success.

Communicate Your Situation:
It is difficult for the Admissions Committee to take your situation into consideration if they are unaware a situation even exists. As such, make sure you and your significant other communicate your joint status early and often. As a couple, it is even more important to attend admissions road shows, information sessions, and of course, campus visits. These present great opportunities to connect with admissions and show them directly why you and your partner would be a great fit for the school.

Be prepared to state your value overtly, as this could aid your candidacy come decision day. Don’t forget the Admissions Committees at each school are just human beings, so they will employ compassion in their consideration and not aim not to break up families/married couples if both applicants represent a fit with the program.

Select Schools Strategically:
One of the hardest parts of applying jointly to business school is identifying programs that make sense for BOTH applicants. Outside of applying to the same schools, there are a few ways to expand your options as a couple.

Thinking about potential schools in terms of cities can be helpful – Chicago (Kellogg/Booth), Boston (Harvard/MIT), New York (Columbia/Stern/Wharton), the Bay Area (Stanford/Berkeley), etc. – so figure out what makes the most sense for both you and your significant other and consider an application strategy the provides maximum flexibility. Thinking in terms of cities will help you develop the backup plan of applying in Round 2 to a school that will at least allow you to still be in the same city as your partner if only one of you is accepted to a certain program.

Be Realistic:
Applying as an individual takes a lot of self-awareness, but when applying as a couple, this needs to be even more heightened. Few couples are complete equals when it comes to the admissions process, which can bring about some uncomfortable conversations and difficult decisions. So, think long and hard about the permutations and combinations of your applicant strategy if one or both of you gets accepted to each school you are applying to. Remember, admissions decisions are individual – you will each stand on your own merits, so the strength of one candidate will not override an unqualified partner.

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 Break Into Consulting from a Non-Feeder MBA Program

MBA AdmissionsIs your post-MBA goal to enter the competitive field of consulting? If your future business school isn’t a consulting feeder school, don’t despair! Just because your MBA program is not a major feeder into the consulting company of your dreams does not mean that all hope is lost – this just means that you will have to be a bit more strategic and make the most of the more limited opportunities you have to network and interview.

Before we dive into our tips on how to break into consulting from non-feeder MBA programs, it is important to understand what constitutes a non-feeder program. The quick answer: a non-feeder program is a business school at which a specific consulting firm or many consulting firms do not utilize heavy recruiting resources to secure new talent. This can be by not participating in on-campus recruiting, not hiring in major numbers, only hiring locally, or not hiring at all. The employment report of your school should help you deduce the majority of this information.

Now, if you are in this situation, there are still a few ways you can approach the consulting recruiting process to maximize your chances at success:

Create a Plan
Being strategic is one of the most important factors that will help you be successfully hired by a consulting firm, especially if you’re coming from a non-feeder school. Your school’s employment report is your best friend here. Look first at the firms that are “low hanging fruit” – as in ones that already have somewhat of a presence at your school or in the nearby community – then research the other companies that will require much more leg work, and move accordingly.

Start Early
Given that your school is not a key source of talent for some of your target firms, you will need to work a little harder to get on their radar. Whether it is connecting with alumni or utilizing networks, such as a diversity network or your undergraduate network, start this process early because proper networking takes time. At feeder programs, these relationships often occur organically; at non-feeder programs, you will need to leverage your personal network and school resources to tap into these potential decision-makers.

Make the Most of Your Chances
You most likely will not have as many chances as a student from a feeder school to impress upon the firm-specific recruiting team of your qualifications, so it is critical you make the most of your opportunities to snag an offer. If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, it is up to you to perform well in the interview process (if you are unable to secure an offer at that point, then it does not matter as much what program you come from). The case interview in consulting tends to be the great equalizer among applicants, so make the most of your chance, here.

Be Realistic
Finally, it is important to be realistic. Some firms simply will not recruit from a specific program for reasons out of your control, no matter how qualified you feel you are or how well you network. Part of going through the business school selection process is identifying (and hopefully gaining admission) to the schools that will allow you to reach your specific post-MBA career goals, especially if you have certain consulting firms in mind.

Consulting remains one of the most competitive industries to break into, regardless of which MBA program you attend. Utilize the tips above to maximize your chances of securing an offer from the consulting firm of your dreams.

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 a Mock MBA Interview Can Help You Get Into Your Dream School

InterviewCongratulations, you made it to the interview stage! Now what should you do? Knowing the answers to the commonly asked MBA questions a) “Why an MBA?” b) “Why this school?” and c) “Why now?” isn’t enough. Even if you know all of the potential questions that you will need to address, a mock interview with someone who can give you honest and objective feedback will still be very helpful.

Your practice interview can offer you critical insights that may prove to be the difference between admission to your dream school and denial. Here are two reasons why you should have a mock MBA interview before the real thing:

Flow
Being well-prepared with your materials and being intelligent is not enough for a business school interview – you also need to know how to deliver your message in a natural and flowing manner.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore lost the one of the most narrow and controversial presidential elections in 2000. Well-known for his intelligence, Gore couldn’t connect effectively with his audience, often sounding like he was dictating a letter instead of having a conversation. In contrast, his rival, George W. Bush, came off as “somebody you would want to have beer with,” and could seemingly get away with missteps through his humor and charm.

Thus, don’t just count on your innate intelligence and knowledge in your interviews – practice your delivery, be aware of your mannerisms, and connect with your interviewer. Having a practice interview partner who can identify the bumps in your delivery can help you smooth these out through awareness and repetitions. This will help you feel more relaxed and confident, instead of having to organize your thoughts and search for precise words during the interview itself.

Facilitating mock interviews over the years, I have seen marked improvement for candidates who have gone through  these simulations before their real interviews. The difference between an interviewee who practiced and one who didn’t is night and day in terms of the flow and manner by which they get their messages across.

“Inside Words”
I remember watching an episode of The Simpsons in which the main character, Homer, blurted out loud words he thought he was only saying in his head. Thus, Homer had to remind himself of “inside words/outside words” to guide him on what he could and could not say in public.

Similarly, applicants get used to saying things that may be acceptable within their company or with their families, but may not be politically correct or appropriate for a business school interview. For example, within your team at work, you may know the “(insert nationality here) account” as the most difficult one, however, in citing this as an example during your interview, be very careful that you do not come off as associating negative traits in a generalized manner with a particular race, nationality, or other group.

Your practice interview partner can help you identify such pitfalls, not only in your words, but also through your body language, such as eye-rolls and shrugs, or even subtle changes in tone that may be sending an unintended message.

Polishing these rough edges in your delivery will allow you to shine during your MBA interview and convince the Admissions Committee that you are a gem of a find!

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.