One of the most important portions of a business school interview (or any interview really) is the time they give you, usually at the end, to ask any questions you may have. Of course you should be prepared by then with thoughtful queries about the program, including specifics on specialty academic areas of interest (think: healthcare or energy tracks, etc.), activities and clubs, ratings, rankings, professors, etc., but in order to differentiate yourself and avoid asking the same exact questions everyone else does, it makes sense to tilt these questions towards your personal needs.
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As we are putting final touches on R3 applications, it is already time to start thinking about the next application cycle for many of you. This is especially true if you want to apply in R1. Deadlines that seem distant always have a way to sneak up on those who are unprepared. To help you in the planning process, we thought it would be useful to outline what a well thought-out timeline for a successful business school application might look like. This is written for the average applicant; some might be able to pull it off in a much shorter period (not recommended), others, such as non-traditional applicants, might need a lot more time.
Finding out you got rejected from your dream school often raises interesting questions. Should you settle for your second or third choice, or should you hold fast to your MBA dream and re-apply to the same school(s) again next season? High achievers often try to go for their target school again. Recognizing you are likely more knowledgeable about the process by now, there are still a few things you should know before diving in with a reapplication.
Teamwork skills are a crucial element of conducting modern business today, and business schools are increasingly placing a major emphasis on identifying applicants with these skills. Although this skill can be an area of development for an applicant prior to starting business school, it is important to highlight past examples of teamwork in order to stand out from the masses.
MBA programs are often seen as a place where the world’s top young business professionals go to finish their academic training in subjects like finance, marketing, and operations. However, business school is not only for the young; many more seasoned students can extract a tremendous amount of value from the experience. The approach for every applicant should be unique, but this is even more so the case for older applicants.
Of all the power grad degrees (law school, medical school, etc.) business school tends to put the biggest focus on analytical skills. These skills tend to be focused on numbers, and in particular the ability to manipulate and make numbers tell a story. The MBA has historically been known to place a high percentage of graduates in analytical careers like finance and consulting, operating as a feeder system for these industries.
Most MBA programs offer multiple options for business students to pursue a graduate education in business. For many people, the full-time, all-encompassing two-year commitment does not fit into current personal and professional realities. If you are interested in pursuing an MBA, one of the most efficient ways to balance out your professional career goals with the realities of life can be to pursue admission at a part-time program.
The most common apprehension many candidates have during the application process concerns the GMAT. For many applicants the GMAT can be a serious roadblock to reaching their dreams of admission to their target programs. It can be downright confusing to determine if you can stop taking the GMAT and move on to other equally important aspects of the application process. Of course the highest score possible is what most candidates strive for but with considerations like time and resources, decisions have to be made. Now there is no real science behind determining if your GMAT is high enough but there are a few considerations when making the final decision.
Congratulations! You have received an interview invitation at the school of your dreams. You’ve conducted tons of research to prepare yourself for the big day. You know the ins and outs of the school’s academic programs, have a good handle of the recruiting advantages, and even have a comprehensive list of the top extra-curricular activities you’d like to lead. Interview day comes and you’ve breezed through all of the questions…except one, “What questions do you have?” The complexity of this very simple question is a common source of anxiety for many applicants.
There are plenty of applicants who either had to put off applying to b-school because they were too busy, or perhaps didn’t decide to apply until later in the season, but with only one more round left in this year’s application season, you simply can’t decide whether you should apply now or wait until the fall.
So you’ve narrowed down your list of target schools and now it’s time to get real. You’ve made the decision to apply to the school of your dreams but you’re worried that your low GPA may prevent you from real consideration. Many candidates feel as though there is nothing they can do about their GPA since they have already graduated from college. They believe that their dream school will remain just that, a dream.
Most MBA programs have three rounds for candidates to apply for a reason. Admissions teams take round 3 very seriously and admit candidates from this pool every year. Let’s start by understanding how admissions committees utilize round 3. Admissions teams primarily use this round to balance out their class to create the right mix for the entering crop of students. Candidates from underrepresented groups in particular can help fill holes within admitted class pools for schools. Keep in mind by this point admissions has a very solid wait list with a lot of top admits already locked in so the onus is on the candidate to make a compelling case for admission.
You’ve invested months of prep and countless hours of hard work into your business school applications. You’re optimistic, but when the decision comes in you are left wondering why you have you been denied from your dream school. So why were you dinged after all of your hard work? Here are five reasons that may shed some light on why you did not make the cut.
The most challenging part of the Booth application for many is simply getting started. Should you write an essay? Or should you build a PowerPoint presentation? If you write an essay, what do you write about? How long should it be? If you build a presentation, where do you even begin?
Round 2 deadlines are closing in and you do not feel ready. Your GMAT score may not be where you had hoped. Your essays feel rushed and not like an accurate representation of your story. But what do you do? Of course you want to apply by round 2 like the majority of MBA applicants, but you know doing so will put you at a disadvantage. The consensus is that the prime application periods are round 1 and round 2. You have had it in your head that you were applying this year though. So what do you do? Should you really consider applying in round 3?
I’m biased, but the Booth application is my favorite out of all of them. I love the question – it’s simple, but not easy, and it forces applicants to do something that all of us should at some point in our lives: introspect. The possibilities are endless. The question not only challenges each applicant, but provides them with a great opportunity to stand out if answered well.
An MBA can open tons of doors for students who are looking to break into careers they never thought possible. The opportunities, the networking, and the access can offer unparalleled career choices to budding MBAs in some of the most exclusive industries in the world. Many applicants struggle to find the balance in deciding which careers they think they should list in their application as opposed to those they truly wish to pursue.
You’ve taken the GMAT, polished up your essays, and secured that final recommendation and finally submitted what you thought was the perfect application. Unfortunately when decision day came around you did not receive that highly coveted “ADMITTED” message or even the dreaded “DENIED” message. So did the admissions team forget to give you a decision? No, you are in the b-school applicant’s version of purgatory, you’ve been WAITLISTED.
The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is one of the top graduate business programs in the world. The school’s reputation for team-based learning and development of graduates with strong interpersonal skills has kept Kellogg at the top of various business school rankings over the last few decades. With a track-record of delivering a high volume of candidates to dream MBA careers in management consulting and marketing, Kellogg year in and year out is one of the most popular business schools for applicants.
An often overlooked area of the application package is the recommendation letter. Many applicants take this very important component for granted when allocating time spent on their application. The recommendation process in its most optimal scenario should start months if not years in advance of an eventual submission. This is true because the quality of your recommendation like your resume is not earned during the time it takes to type it up but instead in the months and years you spend cultivating the experiences within the document.
The Kellogg School of Management has always been known to be as innovative in the design of their unique academic community as they have been in the construction of their application. This year is no different as the school returns for the 2014-2015 application season with a stark departure from last year’s set of essays. Kellogg’s change has resulted in the school having some of the most introspective essay topics amongst top business schools. A school like Kellogg that has such a clear sense of the type of candidates they are looking for is looking for candidates to really open up in these essays.
For many applicants the notification of an interview invite from your dream school is an exciting next step after an arduous application process. All of your hard work has finally boiled down to some initial success. However, typically the excitement soon turns to anxiety as candidates begin to realize they have no idea how to prepare for an admissions interview for business school. “Is it just like a regular job interview?” “What type of questions do they ask?” are just some of the common initial questions that can arise once an interview invitation is received.
A lot of time and effort for candidates is spent on areas like the GMAT, essays, and the resume. However, an equally important component of the MBA application is consistently overlooked. Business school recommendations are an integral part of any successful candidate’s application because they give the only external evaluation of an applicant’s work experience and career progression. This component of the application tends not to get as much focus from prospective MBAs, which can be a grave mistake come decision day. As applications become more detailed and specific, so do recommendation forms so the days of blanket recommendations are long gone.
Leadership is the most valued of MBA interpersonal skills. Sure teamwork, maturity and the million other skills admissions committees are looking for you to showcase are all important, but nothing signals MBA like those vaunted leadership skills. Everybody wants to highlight those pesky leadership skills, but does everybody have the ammunition to pull this off? The quick answer is, YES! Whether you know it or not every candidate from the most qualified to the least qualified usually has some leadership examples that can be crafted into a compelling essay.
For a good number of years, Calculus was a prerequisite to joining any decent MBA program. There were several good reasons for this, including the fact that rate of change (computed using Calculus from the first derivative of an equation), is a very useful concept and commonly seen not only in finance coursework, but also in other classes where time is a factor (arguably almost any business concept has some component of time). But over the years, we have seen an increasing number of schools drop Calculus from the required list (cue the cheering crowd of poets!).
It’s almost December, and in just a few weeks we will begin hearing from applicants with only a week or two ahead of their deadlines looking for last-minute consulting services.
Often, they’re too late to make significant improvements. If you haven’t already started on your Round 2 applications, here are 6 reasons why it’s crucial to stop shaking it off to Taylor Swift’s new album and begin working on your applications today:
Business school is one of the most lucrative of all graduate degrees in its potential and proven history for embellishing salary. It’s not just in dollars and cents, either, but manifests itself in sheer employment statistics as well. During the great recession which started in 2008, for example, the general unemployment rate was almost triple what it was for those holding an MBA degree. It was also impossible to ignore the continuance of hiring freshly minted MBA graduates throughout this devastating period of economic turmoil. While the percentage of graduating MBAs with jobs did fall slightly, overall there was a negligible number of MBAs who could not find the job they wanted after graduation. Of course if you found yourself among these “negligible numbers,” I am sure it felt like you may have made the wrong $100,000 decision.
You’ve made the decision to apply to business school and you begin sorting through a virtual pile of applications essay topics. You’ve written essays throughout high school and college, and for some candidates even other graduate programs like law school, but these business school essays are different. The schools seem to want something a bit different from you this time around.
As application deadlines loom ever nearer, the cutting realization that you’re running out of time to submit can set in. If you find your anxiety level rising, it may be because you have put things off along the way and they are now stacking up on you, causing stress. Classic procrastination is a dangerous enemy to business school applications in particular, since the assignment is pass/fail. It’s not like in college, where you would receive a letter grade or score from your efforts. Maybe you didn’t get that ‘A’ grade you would have liked, but your ‘C’ got you through without much damage.
A year ago you put together what you thought was the perfect application at your dream school and when the smoke cleared things did not quite work out as you expected. So you’re back at it again, a year has past since your last application, and you’re ready for another shot at admissions glory at your dream school. Of course you spent the year wisely improving your profile and now its time to tackle the re-applicant essay, but what should you include?
Military applicants to business school represent a non-traditional applicant pool but nonetheless a demographic that is consistently represented each year in the application process. That said, it is no secret that many of the gatekeepers at top MBA programs most often have very little real world experience with the military.
Written essay questions have been the foundation of MBA applications for as long as we can remember but some leading graduate business schools have introduced a new wrinkle over the last few years. Recent technological advances have made video essays a reality within the admissions process at top b-schools around the world. However, there’s no need to worry, this new addition at schools like Kellogg, Yale and Rotman are not meant to stump you.
See what I did there? With the trend towards shorter essays, I have noticed a phenomenon in the applications which I can only describe as “redundancy.”
Shortening the essays has resulted in more questions and even mini-essays or micro-essays within the application itself, where often applicants end up repeating information about themselves that is found elsewhere in the application.
The stress of any approaching deadline causes some degree of anxiety, but if the task is something of monumental importance such as your application to business school, the anxiety can be downright debilitating. Managing your schedule in a way which leaves you not only enough time to create a fantastic application but also enough time to do your day job can be tough.
Each year military veterans typically make up around 5% of the incoming classes as top MBA programs in the U.S., making veterans an important demographic for business schools. Prospective military applicants have a secret weapon for business school applications not available to applicants from other industries: armed forces clubs. These clubs are a great way to learn more about individual programs in addition to providing a wealth of insider information. Whether you are just beginning your b-school research or planning on submitting applications this season, one of the first things I recommend to all military applicants is to reach out to these clubs.
Over the summer, one of my Veritas Prep clients from last year asked me if I had any advice for him before school started. Offering advice is what I do for a living, so it’s a safe bet that I did, but he probably knew that before he asked. This 3-part blog series grew out of that initial off-the-cuff email response and is designed for anyone in any stage of business school, whether you’re still researching schools, walking onto campus for the first time, or have graduation in the near future. Your two years will fly by, and you want to make sure you graduate without saying “If only I had ….”
Age is nothing but a number, is how the old saying goes, but when it comes to the world of business school admissions, this particular number can negatively signal much, much more. “Immature”, “not ready”, “lack of work experience”, “no leadership” are some of the thoughts admissions officers toss around when discussing the applications of young candidates.
Congratulations! You have submitted your MBA applications! But, just because you have hit the submit button does not necessarily mean you have reached the end of the business school application process. This assumes of course that you have put your best foot forward in the process and followed all of my helpful advice! The first thing to do, after the celebratory beer or soda of course, is to sit down and make an assessment of your plans.