Often clients are confused when trying to determine if they have gathered enough work experience to return to business school. Certainly it takes a few laps around the proverbial block to gather enough real world knowledge to be valuable in a classroom discussion—this is why B-schools require you to come with work experience.
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Yes you can.
But it becomes statistically less and less likely every year. One thing is certain: there are a lot of folks out there who have cracked the code on the formidable GMAT exam and scores continue to rise to stratospheric levels, pushing the average up of course. Most schools publish the percentages of each level of the GMAT who gain admission every year, but these three schools, often considered the “holy grail” of b-schools, are exceptions.
Having graduated from a top MBA program as a non-native English speaker, I still remember being quite worried about the MBA application, fearing that my English was not sophisticated enough. So I focused on improving my writing skills by doing just that – writing.
Now as a Veritas Prep School Specialist, I have found working with my clients that there are a few common essay-writing pitfalls.
Earlier this week, we talked about what it means to be on the waitlist. Today, we’ll go into more detail on what you can do if you’re on the waitlist. Despite the name “waitlist,” there are several things you can do besides simply wait for your dream school to call. From a strategic standpoint, sitting in a state of limbo gives you the opportunity to improve your profile or status as a candidate, and such improvements can and should be communicated to the admissions committees.
This time of year, many applicants find themselves stuck in the waitlist process at one or more schools, which can be a very slow and painful waiting period. Not only are you competing for fewer and fewer seats, you are doing so against everyone on the waitlist all the way back from round one as well as any fresh, new applicants from the final rounds.
Round three is commonly thought of as the most competitive round, where applicants vie for the few remaining seats in coveted programs along with some of the most highly qualified candidates of the season. Because these well qualified candidates know they will be desirable to the adcoms, they often wait until the last possible minute, since there appears to be a correlation between highly successful business achievers and the lack of free time on their schedules to complete applications.
Most of the top U.S. business schools accept students in two or three rounds. Applicants are not always sure in which round to apply, and when they make a decision, they usually underestimate the time it takes to put together a solid application.
Applying for an MBA is not like applying for a job. A well-rounded application not only needs quantitative data such as undergraduate grades and test scores, but also needs an accurate depiction of your qualitative traits, which are usually shown through your essays, letters of recommendation, CV and extracurricular activities.
If you have decided you will take the plunge and apply to school in Round three, there are a few things you need to know. First and foremost, you must realize the odds of admission go dramatically down in round three because of the relatively few number of slots that remain. This is simple mathematics—the lower the seat count, the more competitive it is to get one of them—think of it as musical chairs with way more people than chairs.
It’s that time of year again! The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) has launched the 2014 edition of its business school applicant survey. If you are applying to business school now, or have recently been admitted and plan on starting an MBA program in 2014, you could win $500 just for spending 5 minutes completing this survey!
We find that many applicants consider applying for top MBA programs in the 3rd or final round, but hesitate because they feel there is absolutely no chance for them to be admitted. It’s true that 90% or more of the spots in an MBA class are already taken, but Veritas Prep has a proven track record of success for successful Round 3 applications.
Just as the quality of a stage production or musical performance depends on all of the work that went into months and months of rehearsal before the performance, how successful you are in your business school applications depends a great deal on all of the work you do before you ever start drafting an essay. Remember that your application is a mere snapshot of who you are (and how well you can present yourself) at one point in time. How well that message will be received will partly depend on whether you’re targeting the right schools, and how well MBA admissions officers at those schools see a good fit between you and their institution. And this comes down to knowing how to select the right MBA program for you.
The final round of the business school application process is often referred to as “no-man’s land,” with scarce slots still left for b-school hopefuls and time literally running out. Still, there are many who end up applying in round three, some who simply put off the process because they were busy in the fall, or perhaps others who were rejected in round one and are trying one last time. But is it a good idea?
Inevitably there are applicants each season who decide rather late in the game to apply to business school. While it’s hard to believe for those who spend months or even years preparing themselves specifically for a run at top schools, due to career focus or simple procrastination, some applicants find themselves with a short window before due dates pass.
Having just completed an extensive overview of MBA interviewing, it occurred to me I forgot to address an area which affects a large portion of applicants: the off-campus interview. While it’s always preferable to do the interview on campus, due to travel and scheduling complications, most schools will make alternatives available, the most common of which being the off-campus alumni interview or the dreaded phone or Skype interview (you can probably tell which is my least recommended option!).
As we wrap up our dissection of the business school interview, we cannot over-emphasize the importance of self reflection. Make sure you are spending time not only recalling your work history and personal experiences, but how they have shaped you and why you have made decisions in the past. Getting to the why is the most revealing part of the questions which may include:
We continue today with another post in our MBA interview series. When interviewing, applicants are generally prepared for the obvious questions, but what about the tougher questions? It would behoove you to ponder some of the following questions, which have been known to trip up even the most prepared applicants:
We always get asked what kinds of questions to expect from interviewers, so I have compiled an introductory list of eleven which you might hear as you sit in various b-school interview sessions as well as what they are “really” asking:
1. Walk me through your resume
Business School admissions interviewing can be nerve-wracking to say the least. Everything you have worked your entire career for is on the line as you sit and sweat, waiting in your target school’s office for the one shot you will have to make a case in person for a seat in business school.
But if you do find yourself in this situation, consider yourself one of the lucky ones, since only about 20% of applicants are invited to interview at top schools. The better news is, about 50% of the interviewees are admitted on average! While that still puts you in a precarious tie with a coin-flip, it’s still far better than the low double or even single digit percentage of general applicants who are admitted.
Business schools have a very difficult problem. For most intents and purposes, their applicant pools are junior business acolytes whose days usually consist of menial desk labor at the beck and call of a perhaps marginal superior. The issue is that it is very difficult to separate a good candidate from a bad one among a pool of people doing this type of work.
With application deadlines upon us, the question sometimes surfaces about whether or not there is any strategy around when to submit your application. To answer this, you must first determine if your school is accepting applications on a rolling admissions basis or a rounds/deadline basis. A rolling admissions calendar accepts and considers applications as they are submitted, and then they return a decision to the applicant as soon as that decision is made, most often within a few weeks of submission.
In 1966, a professor at Washington University, Sterling Schoen created The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management in order to give African American men the business skills they needed to secure positions in American corporations. Just two years after the Civil Rights Movement, this was a bold endeavor, and one whose impact is stronger than ever today.
It’s getting more and more difficult to stand out these days. It sometimes seems as if everyone meanders through life with the same or similar routine, all doing the same or similar thing, so when it comes time to differentiate yourself in your b-school application, how do you pull it off?
Many schools have become super restrictive on how many essays they allow you to submit. The crushing numbers of applicants has forced schools to streamline the evaluation process and they simply do not have the staff or time to read 1000 word essays from everyone.
Harvard, as an extreme example, actually has no required essays as part of this year’s application! They allow you to submit one essay if you like, but it’s not technically a requirement for consideration as an MBA applicant. While we don’t recommend you submit to HBS without leveraging the essay, this shift in the process highlights the fact that every word does indeed count.
I outlined in my previous post how to frame your stories around some key attributes that all business schools are looking for. But the natural question to ask is, “how can I stand out when everyone is demonstrating the same attributes?” This is where the personal story comes in.
Like beauty, leadership is often desired but hard to figure out for those who do not have it.
Even among experts, the exact definition of leadership is quite murky, like the exact expert definition of beauty. Entire careers have been dedicated to the study of leadership and it is probably a concept that changes depending on the context. Military leadership, for example, is probably quite a different matter from business leadership or intellectual leadership, despite areas of possible overlap.
In a recent opinion piece in the New Yorker titled “Why Women Should Skip Business School”, author Laura Hemphill argues that, since women are far more likely to experience a career interruption (usually because of having kids) than men, they should work as much as possible while they’re young and aren’t get juggling family obligations. Make money and get far ahead now, she argues, and you’ll have more options later on than you will with an MBA.
Reverse engineering is an amazing process. Why reinvent the wheel when you can pick apart someone else’s expertise to inspire you or lead you in the right direction? While this concept is largely applied in the technology and manufacturing world, it can be readily utilized in your business school application process as well.
With precious little time between the release of the applications from business schools and the application deadlines in the first round (or even earlier for early decision rounds) we often see clients vexing over whether or not to push off an application to subsequent rounds. This leads to natural questions about whether this is a good strategy, a bad strategy, or a neutral decision.
Now that applications have been released, many clients are beginning to reach out to their recommenders. We often get questions about the best approach to ensuring this portion of your application is the best it can be, so I thought it would be helpful to give you some tips for working with your recommenders so your end result is just that. I have written other articles on how to wisely choose your recommenders, so I will assume you have done that part already.
There is little doubt that the most prestigious business schools command serious consideration. But alas, outside the top 3 programs (and even then), it makes little sense to select a business school based on rankings alone. Most MBA aspirants do not give enough consideration to some key factors that will have serious impact on their business school happiness and success. Here are some factors that deserve your serious consideration and could swing your decision one way or the other.
If you have decided to re-apply to a school where you were rejected, one of the most valuable things you can seek is feedback on why you didn’t make the cut last time. Some schools will actually provide this information if you ask for it, so don’t be shy about reaching back to them.
You have spent considerable time collecting valuable work experience since college and even more time reflecting back on this experience as you prepare to apply to business school, possibly even making notes or an outline on how you plan to ideally relate your story to the admissions committees.
Now that the essay questions have been released, your stomach sinks as you see your target school has put a 250 character limit on describing your post MBA goals, or a 400 word limit on explaining why you want to go to their school. Worse yet, your aspirations for Harvard Business School begin to wane as you see their one essay this year has no posted word limit —is this a trick?
It goes without saying that the GMAT is a challenging test. Weeks of preparation boils down to just a few hours sitting in front of a glowing screen, attempting to demonstrate your aptitude for business school, which is supposedly what the test is designed to measure. Despite your best efforts to get a seven-handle on your score, however, you end up in the mid sixes. Will this be good enough to get into your dream school?