Should You Take Additional Courses Before Applying to Business School?

In ClassThere are many touchpoints in the MBA application process. From the GMAT to the essays to the resume, each aspect plays an important role in gaining admission into your target program, as well as prepares you to flourish in Year 1 as a student. No application package is perfect and many candidates recognize holes within their profile that cannot be addressed entirely through the aforementioned typical application points.

Additional coursework is a great way to address problem areas in your profile and show the admissions committee how committed you are to improving yourself and gaining admission to their program. Now taking additional coursework is not something every candidate should pursue or, for that matter, will even make an impact given their profile, so let’s take a look at a few scenarios that do make sense.

Low GPA

This is one of the most obvious areas where additional coursework clearly makes sense for a candidate. A low GPA can be safely assumed to be one that is significantly lower than the average GPA listed in a program’s class profile. Your GPA is used as a measure of your aptitude by admissions committees and is viewed in combination with your GMAT, so if your GMAT score is also below the average of your target program, then additional coursework should be strongly considered.

Transcript Outliers

Do you have those one or two classes where your score was less than satisfactory on your transcript? Non-passing or really low grades on your transcript can be a red flag for admissions, especially when they are analytical courses. Re-taking these courses via a community college or online program can address many concerns AdComms may have about your academic record.

No Analytical Background

Are you an incoming MBA “poet?” MBA programs tend to be diverse with applicants coming from all personal, professional, and geographic backgrounds. Many applicants apply with no track record in business anywhere on their record, which sometimes can be a cause for concern for AdComms.

Prep for Year 1

MBA programs are known for being very analytically focused during the first year as students navigate core courses. Classes like accounting, finance, and statistics can represent a challenging academic start to business school for students with little or dated experience in these areas. If this scenario aligns with your background, then you may want to consider some additional coursework prior to matriculation to prepare for the rigors of Year 1 of business school.

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ 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 of his articles here

All About Business School Interviews

Admissions The process of applying to business school involves several steps: filling out an admissions application, writing an essay, and submitting GMAT or GRE scores are just a few of them. Another important step is the admissions interview. An interview allows business school admissions officials to get a look at the student behind the application. It also gives students the chance to ask the admissions officials a few questions about the school and it’s MBA program.

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

Typical Questions Asked During Business School Interviews

For students pursuing an MBA, interview questions can range from the academic to the personal. Generally, the official conducting the interview will start by asking a student why they want to attend that school. The interviewer is looking for specific answers to this question. For instance, a student may bring up certain internship opportunities available due to the school’s longtime relationship with a variety of companies. Or a student may mention the school’s average class size of just 30 students. These answers show that the candidate is familiar with what the school has to offer, and that they are dedicated to pursuing that particular school.

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

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

How to Prep for the Interview

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

Students should practice answering potential questions with a friend or family member. The person playing the interviewer can offer helpful suggestions on how the student can improve upon certain answers, plus students can use this opportunity to come up with questions for the interviewer about the school and its courses.

What to Bring to the Interview

Most of the time, business schools will have a copy of a student’s résumé at the interview, but it’s a good idea for students to bring a few extra copies of their résumé as well, as there might be additional officials in the interview room. Students may also want to bring a copy of their GMAT or GRE test scores as well as a copy of their latest transcript – you may not need to take any of these documents out of their folder, but it’s a good idea to have them on hand.

What to Wear to the Interview

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

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

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us onFacebookYouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter.

Our Thoughts on Duke Fuqua’s MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016

FuquaApplication season at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. With all of your essays for Fuqua, treat your responses holistically and try to paint a complete picture of your candidacy. This post will focus on the actual required essay prompts but keep in mind, Fuqua does also have three required short answers focused on career goals, so it makes sense to limit those discussions to that that section.

Essay 1: 25 Random Things About Yourself

The Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you-beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. Share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are.

This essay from Fuqua is one of the more unique questions asked among top MBA programs. It really takes most applicants outside of their comfort zone and implores them to put some thought into some of the more insightful elements of who they are as a person. This can be a tough task that many applicants will struggle to address properly.

A good start is drafting a broad list of items and curating this list based on the elements that best connect with the values the Fuqua MBA is best known for. Make sure to select your list in alignment with the prompt by avoiding information already available elsewhere – take this as an opportunity to let your personality shine through while getting creative. If this list does not truly reflect who you are as a person then it is time to start over, so make that connection and try to have fun with this one.

Essay 2A: Why Duke?

When asked by your family, friends, and colleagues why you want to go to Duke, what do you tell them? Share the reasons that are most meaningful. (2 pages)

This is one of two optional questions for Essay 2, which may actually be the simpler of the two options, but decide for yourself which option will allow you to most impressively tell your story. Keep in mind the areas you have already covered in the other short answer/essay responses, and use your choice here to complement the previous narrative.

I love this first question option from Fuqua, as it really strikes at the core of the desire for an authentic response. You are not addressing the AdComm here, but those close to you instead, so the expectation with your response is that it should touch on some more honest elements that might differ from the more formal, canned responses typically provided. Be honest and personable here, and try and connect with the AdComm on a more human level. Also, don’t forget to include some program specifics – it is still important to communicate how Fuqua is the ideal fit for your personal and professional development goals.

Essay 2B: Team Fuqua Principles

If you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” – Authentic Engagement, Supportive Ambition, Collective Diversity, Impactful Stewardship, Loyal Community, Uncompromising Integrity. Which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student. (2 pages)

Another very unique essay prompt coming from Fuqua. A common theme should be becoming obvious to applicants with this school: Fuqua really wants to get to the core of who you are, what you will bring to the student community, and whether Fuqua is the right MBA program for you. This question seeks to address exactly that.

A strong foundation of school research is the key to crafting a successful response to this essay question. Leverage research about the program to identify which “Team Fuqua Principle” is most consistent with who you are and what you plan to bring to the table. The requested timeframe for your selection is worth noting, so keep your planned contributions focused on your time at Fuqua and less on the past.

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Fuqua, hopefully this will help you get started.

If you are considering applying to Fuqua, download our Essential Guide to Fuqua, one of our 13 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Fuqua and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

The First 3 Areas You Should Tackle in Your MBA Application Process

Applicant SurveyApplying to business school can be a very daunting experience for the uninitiated. With so many different programs, specialties, and teaching styles, knowing how to get started in the process is an area that many applicants struggle with. Should you start with school research or extra coursework? Ordering your transcripts from your undergrad institution or reaching out to current students for a chat?

The process of applying to business school can be overwhelming to even the most polished and organized professional. Now the initial first few steps will vary from candidate to candidate given your timeline before the application submission due date, application strengths/weakness, and time available to commit to the admissions process.

The key to being most efficient when applying to business school is to avoid redundant steps like working on applications for schools that are not a fit. So the steps we will discuss should limit major opportunities for redundancies

Let’s take a structured approach into thinking about the 3 best areas to tackle to jump-start your business school application process:

1) Career Goals

Why are you applying to business school? A very simple question that often gets overlooked amidst the myriad of other tasks candidates tend to prioritize. But this fundamental question is critical as it feeds into many aspects of the application process. Applicants will identify schools based off of which programs may provide the best fit for their career development goals, along with a host of other elements that reflect the ideal compatibility.

2) GMAT

The choice of tiers of schools to target will also be influenced by your performance on the GMAT. Depending on the score a candidate receives, this will help determine the most realistic range of school options when choosing which MBA programs to apply to. The GMAT is higher on the list than other numerical benchmarks like GPA because GPA is for, most applicants, a historical figure, while the GMAT is a future oriented step that can still be influenced.

3) School Selection

After clearly articulating career goals and the type of schools that reflect your ideal fit, and filtering this list through performance on the GMAT, candidates should be able to start closing in on a realistic list of target programs. School selection is a critical element because it will directly influence chances of admission, and eventually overall satisfaction once accepted. There are few things worse than spending two years at an MBA program that does not address your necessary career and personal development goals.

Kick-off your application process with the above steps to make the most out of your application experience!

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

Our Thoughts on Wharton’s MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016

Wharton AdmissionsApplication season at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 MBA admission essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. There is only one required essay question this year, but an additional “optional” essay that candidates should strongly consider addressing is also presented.

 

Essay 1:

What do you hope to gain both personally and professionally from the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

A very similar essay to last year’s returns from the Wharton School. This is a classic “Why School X”/“Career Goals” question but with a little Wharton twist. The biggest trap in this prompt is to treat this question like the typical school fit variety. I caution against simply repurposing responses to similar questions from other schools. This question implores candidates to address not only the professional fit with Wharton but also the personal fit.

Breakthrough candidates will utilize a very personal narrative that uniquely captures the essence of why Wharton is the ideal fit for the applicant’s development goals. Wharton is looking for specifics here so avoid general statements that could be harbored by any candidate. This is your chance to connect 1 to 1 with the Admissions Committee, so do not waste this opportunity. The personal element is what makes this question a bit more unique, particularly since many applicants tend to struggle with the personal, more holistic side of the application process.

Really take a future-oriented approach to this essay and think of how the Wharton MBA is uniquely positioned to help you achieve these personal and professional goals. Don’t limit your response to just what things you can gain from Wharton – make sure to also share what elements you bring to the student community as well.

Essay 2 (Optional): 

Please use the space below to highlight any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about your candidacy? (400 words)

Another dreaded “open ended” prompt from an elite program, and to complicate your application, this essay is technically an “optional” one. My first recommendation is to avoid treating this like an optional essay in two key ways:

The first, answer the question! With limited opportunities to tell your story in the Wharton application process, the chance to share additional details should not be missed.  The second, do not approach the response to this question as you would a typical optional essay – avoid discussions about low GPAs or gaps in employment in lieu of a well-developed, concrete essay response.

When contemplating topic selections here in Essay 2, consider focusing on topics that will round out the perception of your candidacy. This essay should offer additional information to showcase the candidate as a “360 degrees” applicant, so avoid any previously mentioned information that may live elsewhere in the application and put this additional real estate to use!

Just a few thoughts on the new essays from Wharton, hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Wharton essays and deadlines, check out another post here.

If you are considering applying to Wharton, download our Essential Guide to Wharton, one of our 13 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Wharton and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

Our Thoughts on Tuck’s MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016

Tuck MBA Application season at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. With all of your essays for Tuck, treat your responses holistically and try to paint a complete picture of your candidacy within the school-specific suite of essay questions.

Essay 1:

What are your short- and long-term goals? Why do you need an MBA to achieve those goals? Why are you interested in Tuck specifically? (500 words)

This essay is Tuck’s take on the common “Why MBA?”/“Why School X?”/“Career Goals” essays. One of the biggest challenges with this incarnation of this common question is the word limit. These are all common application prompts, but having to address them all in the same essay is a bit uncommon and really forces applicants to be concise with each point.

It is important to directly address each point while highlighting your strong fit with the Tuck MBA. Tuck is known for their strong culture and highly connected alumni base, so your evaluation by the Admissions Committee will be based on how well you will fit into the student community.

Tuck is a very specific MBA experience. From the small class size to the tight-knit community to the remote location, it is your job to convince the AdComm that Tuck is the best place for you and your development goals.

Essay 2:

Tell us about your most meaningful leadership experience and what role you played. How will that experience contribute to the learning environment at Tuck? (500 words)

This is a classic “Leadership” essay that really puts a responsibility on the applicant to clearly articulate the role they played in a leadership anecdote. Like many business schools, Tuck places a premium on leadership skills, so it is important to use this essay as a conduit to highlight your strengths.

Don’t limit yourself to just professional examples – this prompt is purposefully vague with which direction your response can go, so select the topic that best highlights your leadership skills. Make sure you connect the dots for the AdComm by also detailing out the impact the lessons learned from this experience had on you and your career, and how it will factor into your contributions as a Tuck MBA student. This area should be directly aligned with Tuck’s reputation for having a tight-knit community. Make sure your contributions to this community are clear, and reference specific programs at the school.

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Tuck, hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Tuck’s essays and deadlines, check out another post here.

If you are considering applying to Dartmouth Tuck, download our Essential Guide to Tuck, one of our 13 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Tuck and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

6 Great Ways to Research MBA Programs and Boost Your Chance of Admission

GMATOne of the biggest complaints admissions committees have with submitted packages is the lack of school-specific references within an application. MBA programs are looking for applicants to showcase why their school is uniquely tailored to help the applicant reach their development goals – what schools receive instead are ill-tailored, non-customized packages that don’t distinguish one candidate from the next.

The key to delivering a customized, school-specific application package is research. Applying to, and eventually attending, business school is not only a very important endeavor, but a very expensive one as well. Because of this, it is important to invest in the process to optimize your chance at admission and improve the overall quality of your eventual school selection. Let’s take a look at 6 ways you can best research MBA programs and use what you learn to your advantage in the application process:

1) Online Research

This is probably the easiest research type to conduct and one of the most effective to get started on in the application process. This form of research involves utilizing school websites like http://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/, news sites like http://www.businessweek.com/business-schools and admissions consulting company websites like http://www.veritasprep.com/ to learn more about your target schools.

2) Current Students

Students are one of the best ways to get the most current info on MBA programs of interest. These individuals have recently been through the application process, so they can provide relevant tips for candidates. Current students can also provide great anecdotes about day-to-day academic, extracurricular and professional opportunities that you can reference in your application.

3) Alumni

Alums also offer another perspective for interested candidates. Alums can discuss aspects of their alma mater schools, like the impact of the school’s MBA program, career trajectory and strength of the alumni network. Many alums also serve as interviewers, so they can provide some nuanced information on the school’s interview process that would otherwise be publically unavailable.

4) MBA Tours

There are some great MBA Tour companies that travel across the country to various cities, allowing candidates a chance to meet with representatives from business schools across the country and the world. This is a great opportunity to save some time and “one-stop shop” for programs of interest.

5) Information Sessions

One of the most specific types of school research is the information session. These events are completely run and hosted by specific business schools, which use this setting to provide information to attendees about the upcoming application season as well as an opportunity to meet alums and representatives from admissions.

6) Campus Visits

Along with information sessions, campus visits are school specific and attendance is often even noted in a candidate’s file during the application review process. Information aside, making a campus visit or sitting in on a class can help show interest in a particular program, as well as help fuel fodder for essays and interviews, which can provide nice context for your application.

Utilize these 6 research methods to narrow down which schools’ MBA programs will be the best fit for you, and personalize your application to fit those unique programs and help you stand out from the crowd of other applicants.

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

 

 

 

Our Thoughts on Berkeley Haas’ MBA Application Essay for 2015-2016

UC BerkeleyEarly Thoughts on Berkeley Haas 2015-2016 Essay Questions

Application season at the Haas School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts. Haas has three required essays, so keep in mind how you plan to balance out your narratives across them all.

 

Essay 1:

If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why? (250 words)

This is a very creative essay prompt from Haas. Candidates should rejoice at the opportunity to provide some insight into their personality and background. Typically, there are very few chances where candidates can bring the Admissions Committee into their world that does not conflict with remaining professional. Be authentic here and do not focus on what you think the AdComm wants to hear, but instead on what you feel is meaningful for you to share. The “why” is the most important aspect of this prompt so make sure the relevance of the chosen song is clear.

Essay 2:  Respond to one of the following prompts

1) Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world and how it transformed you. (250 words)

Think broadly with this one – the prompt emphasizes “the world,” so identify something that is beyond you that strikes at the core of your belief system. Again, I caution against overthinking in your essay. The more honest the response the more authentically it will be received by the AdComm.

2) Describe a significant accomplishment and why it makes you proud. (250 words)

These situational type essay prompts will be structured very similarly for whichever one you choose. One key element that should be in each response is self-reflection. The AdComm is really trying to get at your thought process and whether these skills shared are repeatable or one-off examples. Make sure your response here comes full-circle with a focus on the relevance of the chosen accomplishment.

3) Describe a difficult decision you have made and why it was challenging. (250 words)

With each question option in Essay 2, your choice of topic can be quite telling for the AdComm. How you define significant, difficult or life changing provides a unique glimpse into your value system. Make sure the topics selected align with the value system you wish to present to the AdComm in your application.

Essay 3: 

Tell us about your path to business school and your future plans. How will the Berkeley-Haas experience help you along this journey? (500 words)

This is a very typical “Career Goals”/“Why School X” essay, so most applicants should have a pretty easy time handling the format and structure of this essay. Breakthrough candidates will avoid using a generic and repurposed career essay, and instead fashion a highly tailored response to the prompt. Haas has many unique aspects to their program, so make sure you are directly connecting your personal and professional development goals to the specific offerings of the Haas MBA.

One thing to keep in mind, the prompt does signal that Haas is looking for a bit of a recap of your career as well. This should be concise and really align tightly with where you see the rest of your career headed and how Haas fits into this vision.

Just a few thoughts on the new essays from Haas, hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Berkeley’s deadlines and essays, check out another post here.

If you are considering applying to Berkeley Haas, download our Essential Guide to Berkeley, one of our 13 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Haas and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

Our Thoughts on Yale SOM’s Application Essay for 2015-2016

Yale

Application season at the Yale School of Management is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay question. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach this year’s single essay prompt from Yale:

The Yale School of Management educates individuals who will have deep and lasting impacts on the organizations they lead. Describe how you have positively influenced an organization as an employee, a member, or an outside constituent (500 words maximum).

Again, Yale only has one essay this year so candidates must make sure to really double down on this aspect of the application. The first step should be to sift through anecdotes within your personal, professional and academic careers to discuss in this essay. It’s not enough to simply select an example where you made a big impact, but instead, one where the full breadth of your interpersonal skills are on display. The ideal social skills to highlight are ones that jive with the Yale SOM mission. This year, Yale brings back their same essay prompt as last year, so if you are a candidate who applied in the 2014-2015 application season or got a head start on your essays by bench-marking against that essay, you are in luck.

This is a hybrid “influence”/“impact” essay where applicants are asked to describe a unique personal, professional, or academic situation where they have made a difference. Also, it would be wise to leverage some of the clues within the prompt itself. Words like “deep”, “lasting”, “lead” and “influence” should serve as elements of the story you should lean on to make your case. Make sure the example(s) selected have a bit more staying power –Yale is looking for sustainable impact you have had on an organization.

The typical candidate will tell the Admissions Committee how they influenced an organization. Breakthrough candidates won’t just tell the AdComm how they influenced an organization, but instead will show the underlying process in how it happened. Introspection will be a key element to any successful Yale SOM essay, relating why this specific anecdote is significant to YOU. Finally, consider if and then how this experience will allow you to make a similar impact on the greater Yale SOM community as a whole.

Just a few thoughts on this year’s essay from Yale, hopefully this will help you get started.

If you are considering applying to Yale SOM, download our Essential Guide to Yale, one of our 13 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Stern and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

Our Thoughts on Stanford GSB’s Application Essays for 2015-2016

stanford-gsb-buildingApplication season at Stanford GSB is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts.

Essay 1:

What matters most to you, and why? (750 words)

The dreaded Stanford open-ended essay prompt has been one of the most feared parts of the school’s application process for years. For many students the more open the prompt the higher the anxiety – couple this with the inherent pressure that results from applying to Stanford, and many students derail their chances of success before they even put pen to paper. Many students struggle with how to tackle this type of essay question and with Stanford, it’s best to follow the direction provided by the Admissions Committee.

The “what” of your essay is less important than the “why.” Stanford GSB, as much as any other program, truly wants to know who you are. So give them the chance by offering up some direct insight into who you are as a person. Introspection is key in this essay, and walking the AdComm through the “what” of the question, as well as why you are uniquely motivates by this “what”, will serve to humanize your candidacy and make your response more personal. Stanford strives to admit people, not just GMAT scores or GPAs, so make sure you let them into your world. Breakthrough candidates will utilize structured storytelling effects to craft a compelling narrative that brings the Stanford AdComm deep into the candidate’s world.

This essay honestly at its core is about getting to know you, so don’t miss the opportunity by trying to craft the perfect answer for what you feel the AdComm wants to read.

Essay 2:

Why Stanford? (400 words)

This is a typical “Why School X Question,” however, you will want to avoid the typical boilerplate response with Stanford and dive a bit deeper here. Think of this prompt in two parts: “Why MBA?” and “Why Specifically a Stanford MBA?” Be specific and connect your personal and professional development goals to the unique programs at Stanford that are relevant to your success. Breakthrough candidates will not only select clear, well-aligned goals, but will connect these goals with a personal passion that makes their candidacy feel bigger than just business. Now do not reach here, the more authentic this personal passion is the better it will connect with the AdComm, but for years Stanford has maintained a track record of looking for something a bit different in their candidates.

Just a few thoughts on the new essays from Stanford, hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Stanfords’s deadlines and essays, check out another post here.

If you are considering applying to Stanford GSB, download our Essential Guide to Stanford, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Stern and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

 

3 Bad Reasons to Pursue an MBA Degree

moneyObtaining an MBA degree is one of the most transformative experiences that a businessperson can undertake. Many articles are written that tout the value of this degree, with current MBA students and alums reflecting on the beneficial impact business school has had on both their professional and personal lives and all of the good reasons one should pursue an MBA. But is this degree for everyone?

I’d like to take a look at the other side of this equation and discuss some bad reasons for getting an MBA. Pursuing an MBA can be one of the toughest decisions a young professional has to make, so it is even more important to make it for the right reasons in order to avoid other potentially negative implications.

Consider the three aspects listed below as you decide whether you are at risk of pursuing an MBA for all of the wrong reasons:

1) Money

Is the only reason you are applying to business school to make more money? Now, there is nothing wrong with wanting to make more money – this is a legitimate goal for all working professionals – but if that is your primary goal, you may be setting yourself up for disappointment. This goal can be problematic because with business recruiting, there are no guarantees that you will actually make more money in the end. Often times, MBAs who solely focus on making more money target high paying industries such as management consulting and investment banking that may not necessarily fit with their true career development goals or personalities. Not reaching salary goals after business school is a common complaint from alums that pursue MBA degrees for non-holistic reasons.

2) Prestige

MBA programs are looking for the best and the brightest young professionals, and many applicants are pursuing the MBA programs with the best reputations. Of course, there is nothing wrong with pursuing top-tier programs, but when interest is more about prestige and arrogance and less about fit, potential issues can arise. My advice here is to focus on the highest ranked programs that align best to your development needs and represent a numerical and cultural fit.

3) Boredom

Are you just bored with your current job? This is a very common scenario for many applicants who see business school as a way out. MBA programs are looking for candidates who are running towards something, not away from something. If your interest in truly pursuing an MBA is not honest, no matter the program you attend you will continue to search for “what’s next.”

Utilize the tips above to help you decide if right now is the best time for you to apply to business school.

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

Our Thoughts on Ross’ MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideApplication season at the University of Michigan’s Ross MBA program is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts.

Essay 1:

What are you most proud of and why? How does it shape who you are today? (400 words)

This is a typical “accomplishment” essay, and with the limited word count it would be wise to focus on one accomplishment in the most direct fashion possible.

Dig deep as you identify what topic to discuss as these types of open-ended questions give applicants an opportunity to really differentiate themselves from the competition. Breakthrough applicants will align their personal, professional, or academic stories around some of the relevant values expressed by the Ross MBA.

Don’t be afraid to select a topic that extends outside of your professional career. Many candidates will opt to go the professional route, so consider “zigging” when the rest “zag.” Remember admissions committees will be reading a lot of essays so stand out by allowing them to explore a topic a bit more unique then the mundane. Also, keep in mind that you will have time to talk about your professional career and highlight some of your past accomplishments via the second essay.

Finally, don’t think if your accomplishment does not involve $100 million in savings or climbing Mount Kilimanjaro that your response will not be well received. What makes your response to this question relevant is the impact this accomplishment had to YOU.

Essay 2:

What is your desired career path and why? (400 words)

This is a traditional “career goals” essay. This type of question should come as no surprise to any candidate applying to business school. In fact, your response to this question should involve what initially drove your interest in business school to begin with, so Ross will be expecting a pretty polished essay here.

Many candidates will write generic essays outlining their career goals that could be relevant to any MBA program. What will separate breakthrough candidates from the masses is how personalized the essay reads.  Ross will be looking for you to combine your well thought out career goals with specifics on how you plan to utilize their program to reach these goals. Also, if relevant, connect your goals to an underlying passion you have for the role or industry. This will make your interest more tangible and highlight underlying elements of your personal story.

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Ross that should help you get started.

If you are considering applying to NYU Stern, download our Essential Guide to NYU Stern, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Stern and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

Create Breakthrough MBA Application Essays with Mini-Stories

writing essayIn many of the great business school application essays, candidates who are able to leverage creative writing tactics as the baseline for their essay responses create breakthrough essays. Now business school essays should remain polished and professional, but breakthrough essays tend to create a compelling and visual portrait of the situation and circumstances addressed with a response to an essay prompt.

Mini-stories are a great way to ensure you are capturing all of the most interesting and engaging aspects of your profile. The thought behind these mini-stories is that they should be designed to be independent of the essay questions asked by schools. Select stories that reflect the four dimensions of Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity emphasized by many MBA programs that you can later apply to the specific essay questions asked from each school. The focus should be on highlighting your strongest and most in-depth personal, professional, and extra-curricular life experiences.

One of the most valuable aspects of creating mini-stories is that you don’t necessarily need any external information. The process is entirely about you and your background, so whether it is in the heart of application season or during a quieter period like the springtime, a candidate can create these valuable anecdotes.

When identifying these stories, don’t limit them to only one aspect of your profile. Include anecdotes from undergrad, extra-curricular activities, work experience, and personal life to develop a diverse array of talking points for potential essay responses. Aim for 5-8 mini-stories covering a diverse set of experiences.

With each story, include a short description and some supporting bullets describing some of the players involved and why the situation was transformative to you, focusing especially on its impact and what you learned from the experience. Remember, what is most important in these mini-stories is the “how” and not just the “what”. Think critically about your thought process in each scenario and the impact of your decisions.

The best essays combine multiple personal elements and touch on different characteristics and skills developed. For the sake of this exercise you want to briefly summarize how the main takeaways and characteristics are represented in the story. Once these mini-stories are completed and the essay topics are available, the next step is to match relevant stories to essay topics.

Utilize this structured and creative approach to most effectively tackle those daunting business school essays and create breakthrough essays that will stand out in the application process.

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

 

 

Our Thoughts on NYU Stern’s MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016

NYU Stern Admissions EssaysApplication season at the NYU Stern School of Business is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions.

Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts.

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations

Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life? What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience? What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation? (750 words)

This is a very multi-layered essay coming from Stern that provides the candidate a great opportunity to share their professional game plan and why Stern is a key element to this game plan. The two essays are naturally structured to give candidates a chance to touch on both the professional and the personal side of their application. The way this prompt is worded signals that applicants should touch on the past a bit to provide context to what has brought the applicant to this point in their professional journey.

Stern is looking for a few things in this essay. First, it must be apparent that you have a clear understanding of where you come from and where you are going professionally. Stern is looking for self-reflective applicants who are clear on their professional aspirations. Addressing the concept of “Why Now” is a critical element in drafting a successful essay. Second, it must not only be clear of the candidate’s interest in the Stern MBA, but also what steps the candidate has taken to identify and realize this fit. Stern is looking for specifics here, so don’t shy away from the details about your primary and secondary research.

The rationale and the likelihood of success in reaching these identified career goals, given matriculation to Stern, is also a key aspect of how the school will evaluate candidates. Connecting these uniquely personal development goals to the unique offerings of the Stern MBA is critical to showcasing fit with the program.

Essay 2: Personal Expression

Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

Similar to open-ended essay prompts at other elite programs, Stern wants to know who you are. Stern provides a bit of an alternative approach to this new trend by allowing applicants the chance to respond to the question across various multi-media options. If some of the alternative options work better for the narrative you are trying to communicate, then this could be a unique and creative approach to answering the question.

This essay feels like an obvious area to focus on more personal elements that would be relevant to someone whom you are about spend a lot of time with over the next two years. This essay is a natural area to show off your interpersonal skills and how you plan to utilize them while working closely with your classmates.

Think creatively about how you plan to share your response even if you are only using words. Creativity is not only limited to the medium – how you structure and organize your response could be another interesting way to stand out.

Just a few thoughts on the new essays from Stern, hopefully this will help you get started.

If you are considering applying to NYU Stern, download our Essential Guide to NYU Stern, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. Ready to start building your applications for Stern and other top MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Crafting Your MBA Applications

Business SchoolApplying to business school is one of the most involved application processes in graduate education. Other programs focus on standardized tests, or your academic record and others your professional accomplishments but business schools evaluate all aspects of a candidate’s profile. With so much on the table for evaluation it can be easy for an applicant to come up short in one or more different areas.

However, often times what many candidates think their shortcomings are differs from the actual reality of how admissions teams view their applications. Applicants tend to obsess over GMAT scores and how senior their recommenders are but overlook a few simple application necessities.

Let’s focus on a few of these common MBA application mistakes that candidates make:

1) School Knowledge

You would think this would be an obvious area a candidate would focus on when committing so much time to an application, but this tends to be an area that is often neglected. The source of this typically comes from a few different places. The most common is time, when a candidate is applying to multiple schools, school research is one of the first areas that is neglected. When applying to business school a one size fits all approach is not the strategy a competitive applicant should take. MBA programs are looking for applicants who make a strong case for why their school is the ideal place to further their business education, so each application should be tailored appropriately from scratch.

2) Fit

A similar application mistake many candidates make is not showing enough fit with their target programs. Breakthrough candidates will not only select programs that make sense given their development goals but also curate an application that makes this fit obvious. If the school selection process is executed properly then the application creation should be much easier. Make sure to identify academic programs, coursework, clubs, and career opportunities that are unique to the target program.

3) Attention to Detail

This key area truly pervades every aspect of the application process and I would argue is one of the easiest ways to make a negative impression with the admissions committee. When creating an application, candidates should strive to make the best impression possible and anything that detracts from this diminishes the chance of admission. Issues like spelling mistakes, not following application directions, typos, and general carelessness create the wrong impression for a candidate in a very competitive process. Even candidates with great profiles can marginalize their chances by showing a lack of attention to detail which can turn an “admit” into a “waitlist” or “ding.”

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

Our Thoughts on Kellogg’s MBA Application Essays for 2015-2016

Kellogg School of ManagementApplication season at the Kellogg School of Management is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts.

With all of your essays for Kellogg, treat your responses holistically and try to paint a complete picture of your candidacy within the school specific suite of essay questions.

 

Essay 1:

Leadership and teamwork are integral parts of the Kellogg experience. Describe a recent and meaningful time you were a leader. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)

This is a hybrid “leadership” / “teamwork” essay that should come as no surprise coming from Kellogg. In fact this essay is similar to past incarnations at the notoriously teamwork driven program. One nuance to this reputation is that internally Kellogg views itself as a developer of leaders of teams not just team players, so this essay prompt strikes at the core of the mission of the program.

Historically, Kellogg has been as good as any other program at allowing students to tell their story with very specific and detailed essay prompts. Take the opportunity to share your perspective on a leadership story that has a little “bite” to it. Many candidates will share a leadership story and answer the individual questions as posed in the prompt. Breakthrough candidates will put the admissions committee right in the middle of the story via an introspective narrative that details the conflict inherent in any leadership challenge.

Also, a great essay will most definitely include references to people dynamics and how the candidate as a leader was able to evangelize the team. Just because there is not a direct individual question about teamwork in the prompt does not mean this should not be discussed – the first sentence of the prompt should be clue enough of your direction for this essay.

Essay 2:

Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)

This essay is Kellogg’s take on the common “Why MBA” / “Why School X” essay. But with Kellogg you should always expect to go a bit deeper. Kellogg is looking for you to share a bit about your past, present and future and what makes Kellogg such an integral part of your planned journey. Program specifics will be key here so make sure you do your research and identify professional, academic, and social aspects of the program that will be integral to you reaching your development goals.

Breakthrough candidates will be introspective throughout their response to this essay reflecting on how they have reached the point of applying to Kellogg and what the path forward looks like as a Kellogg MBA.

These are just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Kellogg, and hopefully they will help you get started. For more thoughts on the essays and deadlines for this year, click here for another post.

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

Thoughts on MIT Sloan’s Application Essay for 2015-2016

MITApplication season at MIT Sloan is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay question. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts.

There is only one essay question for MIT Sloan so it is critical that applicants make the most of the limited real estate available here.

Essay 1:

Tell us about a recent success you had: How did you accomplish this? Who else was involved? What hurdles did you encounter? What type of impact did this have? (500 words or fewer)

MIT Sloan’s only essay this year falls into the category of an “accomplishment” essay. However, this essay is a bit more multifaceted than the typical “accomplishment” essay so this is a prompt applicants should read through a few times before diving in.

First thing’s first, make sure you follow the rules of the prompt. Nothing turns the admissions committee off faster than a candidate who does not answer the question as prescribed. Sloan is looking for a RECENT success so avoid examples that are too far in the past no matter how impressive. The subsequent clarifying questions in the prompt should signal the method by which Sloan is looking to hear your response.

Don’t fall into the trap of just telling the admissions committee how the success happened. Breakthrough candidates will show not tell the process behind the identified success. Your goal should be to have the reader feel like a “fly on the wall” in the story of your success. Bring the reader into the moment and your thought process as you introspectively recount the relevant business challenges and situations encountered during this experience.

Also, as you move to wrap this essay up try to quantify your impact as much as possible. For some accomplishments it will be easier than others, but a school like Sloan is looking for real impact so don’t shy away from the numbers here if possible. Why a specific accomplishment is relevant to you may not be immediately clear to the reader so make sure to highlight the significance of your recent success.

Finally, your essay topic along with all other elements of your application package should be aligned with the core values of the Sloan MBA. Review these tenets before you finalize your topic and make sure you are crafting your response to this essay with these values in mind.

These are just a few thoughts on the essay from MIT. Hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Sloan’s deadlines and essays, check out another post here.

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

A Breakdown of Columbia Business School Essay Questions for 2015-2016

columbia-mba-admissions-guideApplication season at Columbia Business School is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2015-2016 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these new essay prompts.

There are three essay questions for Columbia, which is a high number in these days of essay consolidation at most other business schools. With so many essays it is critical that applicants present their candidacy in a clearly aligned fashion.

Essay 1:
Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them? (Maximum 500 words)

Columbia’s first essay falls into the category of your typical “career goals” essay and is double the word count of the other essays so the school is expecting a fully fleshed out path forward. Avoid spending much time detailing your past as the prompt clearly has taken account of your past professional career. This is purely a future-oriented career essay.

With that said, clear articulation and alignment of your short-term and long-term career goals will be key to executing a successful essay here. Probably even more important, given the ubiquity of the career goals portion of the prompt, is the fit portion of the essay. Breakthrough candidates will cite specific references to Columbia’s professional, academic, and extra-curricular programs that will support the applicant’s development goals. With so much competition amongst similar institutions it is critical to make a bold case for a strong fit with the program.

Essay 2:
Columbia Business School’s location enables us to bridge theory and practice in multiple ways: through Master Classes, internships, the New York Immersion Seminars, and, most importantly, through a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (Maximum 250 words)

Again keeping in mind the totality of the three essays, it may make sense to reserve the NY specific advantages until essay two. Essay one presents a clear opportunity to do this but doubling down here would make more sense. With so few words to work with you want to get right to the point in this essay.

Columbia outlines a few of the potential advantages the school offers in the prompt, so you want to get specific on what the relationship between the school and the “Big Apple” can offer you. Breakthrough candidates will personalize this essay right from the start and structure the essay around specific aspects of the Columbia Business School experience relevant to the candidate’s personal and professional development.

Essay 3:
CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

This is a great opportunity to let your personality shine through. The first two essays cover career goals and fit and interest in Columbia, but this essay is a bit more open. These types of essays tend to be the greatest opportunities for candidates to differentiate themselves, so don’t miss out on this chance!  As you choose which topic to discuss keep in mind what would engage your classmates and it goes without saying but whatever you share should actually be something not immediately obvious to the Admissions Committee. Breakthrough candidates will leverage their research into the Columbia culture to frame a response that is not only unique but also compelling to the admissions team.

These are just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Columbia Business School. Hopefully these thoughts will help you get started.

Considering applying to MBA programs? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

GMAT or GRE: How Will MBA Admissions Officers View My GRE Score?

GRE vs. GMATOver the past five years or so, more business schools have been jumping on the GRE bandwagon by accepting either a GMAT or a GRE score. The percentage of candidates to top MBA programs who apply with only a GRE score is growing, but it’s still very small — less than 5% at most schools.

This leads many candidates to wonder how applying with a GRE score may be viewed by MBA admissions committees.

After speaking with dozens of admissions officers, I have a few insights that may be helpful:

  1. Feelings have changed over the past five years, so be careful that you don’t use outdated information. Countless blogs have been written over the years about whether to take the GRE. If they were not written in the past year, I would not put any stock in them. Attitudes have changed dramatically at many business schools over just the past year or two as they have greater experience in handling applicants with a GRE score in lieu of a GMAT score.
  1. Unless stated otherwise, almost all business schools genuinely do not have a preference between the GMAT and the GRE. While Veritas Prep believes that the GMAT exam offers a more accurate and nuanced assessment of the skills that business schools are looking for, according to feedback from admissions officers across the board and our independent analysis, the two exams are treated equally. Using data published by the business schools, trends clearly show that average GMAT scores and average GRE scores are nearly identical across the board. There is no inherent advantage or disadvantage to applying with a GRE score.
  1. Across the board, admissions officers use the official ETS score conversion tool to translate GRE scores into equivalent GMAT scores. Because so few candidates apply with a GRE score, the admissions committees don’t have a really strong grasp of the scoring scale. Every school we’ve spoken to uses ETS’ score conversion tool to convert GRE scores to GMAT scores so they may compare applicants fairly. You can use the same tool to see how your scores stack up.
  1. The GRE is not a differentiator. I get a lot of “traditional” MBA applicants with a management consulting or investment banking background who ask if they should take the GRE. They’re often nervous that their GMAT score won’t stack up against the stiff competition in their fields and hope that the GRE will differentiate them. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. If anything, admissions officers may wonder why they chose to take the GRE even though all factors in their career path point toward applying to MBA programs and not any other graduate programs. There’s no need to raise any questions in the mind of the admissions reader when the GMAT is a clear option.
  1. The GRE isn’t easier, but it’s different. I also see a lot of applicants who struggle with standardized tests who seek to “hide” behind a GRE score because they believe that it’s easier than the GMAT. Even if the content may seem more basic to you, what matters is how you stack up against the competition. Remember that every Masters in Engineering and Mathematics PhD candidate will be taking the GRE, focused solely on the Quant sections. They’re going to knock these sections out of the park without even breaking a sweat. On the other side, English Lit majors and other candidates for humanities-related degrees will be focused exclusively on the Verbal sections, and their grammar abilities are likely to be much better than yours. This means that getting a strong balanced score (which is what MBA admissions officers are looking for) becomes extremely difficult on the GRE. Even if the content feels easier to you, remember that the competition will tough. That said, if you’re struggling with the way the GMAT asks questions, you might find the GRE to be a more straightforward way of assessing your abilities. This can be an advantage to some applicants based on their unique thought process and learning style, but it shouldn’t be seen as a panacea for all test-takers.
  1. Some schools are GMAT-preferred. For example, Columbia Business School now accepts the GRE, but its website and admissions officers clearly state that they prefer the GMAT. If you’re applying to any business schools that fall into this category, we highly recommend that you take the GMAT unless there’s a very compelling argument for the GRE. One compelling argument might be that you have already scored well on the GRE to attend a master’s program directly out of undergrad and you would prefer not to take another standardized test to now get your MBA. Or perhaps you’re applying to a dual-degree program where the other program requires the GRE. Without a compelling reason otherwise, you should definitely plan to take the GMAT.

Bottom line: We recommend that the GMAT remain your default test if you’re planning to apply to exclusively to business schools. If you really struggle with the style of questions on the GMAT, you might want to explore the GRE as a backup option. In the end, you should simply take the test on which you can get the best score and not worry about trying to game the system.

If you have questions about whether the GMAT or the GRE would be a better option for your individual circumstances, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 1-800-925-7737 or submit your profile information on our website for a free admissions evaluation. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

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

7 Tips for your Application to the Chicago Booth MBA Program

So you’ve decided to try the presentation for the Booth MBA application.  Now what?

A simple question accompanied by a blank canvas to start with can be daunting.  It helps to have a structured process in place to put your ideas together, while still leaving plenty of room for creativity.  When I work with my clients, I take them through a very simple process to help them think about the content for the pages that will ultimately answer the question “Who are you?”

There are two parts to the process.  First, you need to determine what you want to say to the Admissions Committee?  And second, figure out how you want to say it?

There are no real right or wrong answers to these two questions.  Each individual will have his or her own story and style.  And that is what makes this application so fun.  It gives candidates the opportunity to truly be unique.

What to write:

Answering the question “Who are you?” is not easy for most people.  To make it simple, I have my clients write down a list of bullet points that will act like the Table of Contents in a book about your life.  If someone were to write a biography about your life, what would the main chapters be about?  What would those defining characteristics and moments be that make it into your story?  What are the things that are important to you and what are things that you like and enjoy?  Don’t be afraid to get personal.

Once you’ve created your list, ask yourself: do those chapters accurately capture the person that you are?  Few of the chapters by themselves will differentiate you, but when you add them all together, you get…you.

There are no rules about what can or cannot be included as part of your story.  This simply means that you should not be limited by time or age or by things that haven’t happened yet.  In other words, can your dreams be part of your story?  Absolutely.  Your dreams are part of who you are, right?

Who you are encompasses everything: your past, your present, and your future.

How to share your story:

While you’re coming up with your outline and your Table of Contents for your own personal story, you will need to think about ways you can present your story to the Admissions Committee.

I recommend that you try to use a ‘theme’ that is personal to you.  What could a theme be?  It can be anything, really.  I’ve seen candidates who have used a children’s book as the backdrop to their story, their favorite magazine or newspaper, baseball cards and sports, or technology.  The possibilities are endless and only limited by your imagination (and Booth’s minimal requirements: it can’t have animation, and it has to be under 16 MB in size).

I always recommend that my clients open this challenge up to their friends and family members.  What would be an interesting, creative, and personal way to share your story?  The more ideas you have from the people who know you, the greater the chances are that you’ll have a good idea that is unique to you.

Putting it together:

Once you’ve got your outline and have identified your theme, it’s time to start putting your presentation together.  A few guiding principles that I like to offer to my clients:

Be efficient with your words.
You don’t want to write a lot if you’re developing a presentation.  While there is no word limit, a good rule of thumb is that your presentation shouldn’t have more than 750 words in it on the high end. It’s definitely possible to have an effective presentation with more words, but it all depends on the format you end up going with (e.g., using a newspaper theme might require more text compared to a shopping catalog, for example).

Use images and visuals to enhance your story.
It’s always good to include images from your life in your presentation, but they are by no means necessary.  I’ve seen plenty of great presentations that don’t have personal images but instead use hand-drawn pictures or visuals created in tools like Photoshop.  Whatever you choose, try to use images that demonstrate the full spectrum of your personality, your interests, and the story you’re trying to tell.

Pay attention to the details.
The details can be a lot of fun.  If you’re using a theme that would be recognizable to others, put the effort into making it as authentic as possible, and use your creativity to incorporate your own personal style into the presentation.  For example, you may want to rename a newspaper to make it personal to you and Booth (for the record, I don’t recommend using a newspaper theme because you won’t be the only one doing it, but it’s an easy example to demonstrate with).

Review, review, review.
Ask your friends and family for feedback and input.  You’ll be surprised by how many good ideas they will have and how willing they will be to invest in your success.  The presentation is a way for you to stand out from the crowd, so make sure it is capturing the story that you want to tell to Booth.

Have fun with it.
The process of developing the presentation is often one of the most rewarding experiences for business school candidates.  I have had many tell me that the Booth application was their favorite because it challenged them to think outside the box and forced them to think about questions they don’t normally think about.  Many have surprised themselves by how creative their presentations ended up being, and everyone has had fun doing it.  And that’s the point.  This process of self-discovery and creativity is intellectually stimulating – and that’s one of the reasons you’re applying to Booth in the first place, right?

If you get stuck, we’re here to help.

Good luck!

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Rich Williams is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His specialties include consulting, finance, and nonprofit applicants. 

Mapping Out Your Summer Before Applying to Business School

Business School CalendarAs with most things in life, preparation is key. The more time you have to prepare for something the better the result tends to be. Applying to business school is no different. The majority of candidates will wait to the last month before the deadlines to begin preparing to complete their applications.

Don’t make this mistake! Take advantage of the summer months preceding application season and set yourself up for success.

Leveraging the summer months to start planning your application is not only one of the best things to increase your chances of success but also one of the most difficult to do. For starters, who wants to spend the summer cooped inside thinking about school? Getting started on your application during one of the most social times of the year can be very challenging for the typical outgoing, enterprising, future MBA.

Now there is no one size fits all approach to making the most of these summer months but see below for some things to consider as you start mapping out your game plan:

June

June is the ideal month to kick off your application season. This month should be used to set the baseline for the underlying strategy behind your applications. Consider using June to conduct research on target MBA programs and eventually identify which schools will be on your application list. Conducting research now will save you time later in the process during those critical fall months during application season.

Another key area to begin if not already addressed is the GMAT. Many applicants prep for the GMAT while writing their essays, which can equate to a very stressful and intense period during the fall. Utilize this time to provide a buffer if subsequent tests are needed. The GMAT tends to be the number one hang-up for most students so take advantage of some additional time to secure the score you need!

July

July is a great month to start thinking about your essays. As an integral part of the application process, this is one of the areas that additional prep can make a major difference. Utilize personal mini-stories which are select stories that you choose to reflect the 4 dimensions of Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity emphasized by many MBA programs that you can later apply to the specific essay questions asked from each school.

August

August is a critical month to make progress on your application and at this point most MBA programs will have released their essay topics and applications. Leverage your work in July with the mini-stories to create some truly compelling essays. Also, now that school is back in session, this is a good time to consider completing your school research. Class visits are integral to understanding the MBA experience at your target programs and can add some nuanced context to your application package.

Use this high-level timeline to make the most of your summer and set yourself up for a successful application season.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

7 Areas of Assessment for MBA Applicants

Assessment ChecklistSo you want to go to business school? Unlike many other graduate level degrees business schools scrutinize applicants across a wide array of criteria. Scoring high on an exam or even applying with a high GPA will not guarantee an applicant admission. The assessment process can be very complicated and involved and often leaves applicants confused when trying to determine how best to position their candidacy for target programs. Admissions teams will assess candidates across seven areas using data from within these categories to create a holistic perspective of an applicant. The seven key assessment areas are listed below:

1) Education

This area is multi-layered factoring in your GPA, quality of undergrad institution, and major area of study. This is an area where it may be wise for an applicant to gauge where they compare against historical data.

2) Work Experience

This is an application for business school so it should come as no surprise that work experience is an important assessment area. This area includes your resume with a focus on the rigor of the role, company, and track record of achievement and growth.

3) Recommendations

A corollary of work experience, this area is often overlooked but is a crucial part of the process as it largely serves as the only “independent” assessment of the applicant. A poor assessment here can raise doubts on an otherwise strong application.

4) Extra-Curricular

One of the more under-utilized components of the MBA application, admissions teams often use this area to best get to know what candidates do in their free time and really care about. For many applicants this is a great way to show off interpersonal skills like leadership and teamwork that may not be obvious in other areas like the resume. Keep in mind this area spans from undergrad through the resume and should be considered proper essay fodder.

5) GMAT

The GMAT, everyone’s favorite part of the process, is an area that can be a major hurdle for many applicants. This area is one of the more analytical aspects of the application, thus making it easier for admissions to compare candidates to historical scores as well as those of other current applicants.

6) Essays

Each of the assessment areas is important, but essays are a really great way to stand out from the pack. Utilizing this area to write personal, unique and truly breakthrough essays can take an average application to the next level, so don’t miss this opportunity.

7) Interview

For most schools, getting to this point is a positive and a sign of a strong application. This is the closest assessment area to an actual decision and invokes many of the aforementioned other areas into it’s evaluation.

Business schools are honestly looking for well-rounded candidates that rank highly in all of the above categories. However, if a candidate is weak in one or two areas it is even more important that the candidate excels in the other areas.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

What to Wear During Your MBA Admissions Interview

Admissions InterviewSo you finally got those pesky business school applications out of the way and after a few weeks of waiting, you receive the great news that you’ve been invited to interview with your dream school. Now, on the prep side you have it all together, you are ready to ace your interview but with one not so minor question. What to wear!

This seemingly innocuous question tends to create as much anxiety as in any other aspect of the admissions process. This commonly stems from overthinking by the applicant but also a lack of overall comfort with this type of interview. For most candidates they have also not interviewed in some time, which can make the whole process daunting.

Now when it comes to dressing for success, treat the MBA interview as you would a traditional job interview, which for men involves a traditional suit. Keep it simple guys and wear basic colored suits and simple collared white or blue dress shirts. You can get a little more creative with your ties, but your choice of dress should not be something that even registers for your interviewer.

Now for women the same rules apply. Treat your MBA interview as if you were interviewing for a job. Interview day is not the time to take any risks; keep it simple and let the quality of your background and how you communicate it speak for itself.

Increasingly, MBA programs are evolving their interview practices. Programs like Kellogg and the Yale School of Management have incorporated virtual interviews and essays into their application process. You should treat dressing for these virtual sessions a bit different. For the remote virtual interviews, same rules apply; well at least for the upper half of your body. You want to dress business professional.

However for the video essays, that have become increasingly popular, business casual is more appropriate. Defer to the specific directions if provided but if not keep it neat and clean with your choice of clothing. For men, collared shirts or polo shirts with no jacket are acceptable. For women, aim for neat and clean with appropriate dresses, shirts and blouses. Same rules as the men, your wardrobe should not be a distraction, thus keeping the focus on the content of what you are communicating.

A common rule of thumb is over dressing is better than under dressing, but if you can follow some of the guidance above, you will be dressed for success and in the perfect position to make the most of your interview opportunity.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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 of his articles here

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying to Business School

Magnifying GlassHiring an admissions consultant is a great way to make sure you produce the best possible business school application possible, leveraging the inside knowledge and experience from someone who has been through the process successfully many, many times.  Yet, working with an expert does not mean that you can take a back seat and put things on cruise control.

You should still expect to do a lot of work writing, editing and rewriting essays, in addition to making sure you complete each step of the application process on time.  (We will certainly provide expert guidance to help you make the right decision at every step of the way).

Below is a list of some of the mistakes I have seen clients make over the years:

  • Missing deadlines by getting the time zone wrong.  Even if this mistake can be remedied with a very apologetic phone call the next day, it is not a situation you want to put yourself in.  Our advice is to always submit a day early to avoid missing any technical glitches from overloaded servers, or a computer that crashes.
  • Missing communications from schools: make sure those emails do not end up in your junk folder.  Reading and responding to requests from the admissions committees should be a priority. If you don’t respond in a timely fashion, they will wonder about your commitment and professionalism.
  • Recommendations being late: not too uncommon, but there is no excuse for this to happen.  Most online application systems allow for a reminder to be sent.  In addition, you should check in with recommenders to make sure they are on track. Also, be aware of their schedules, whether vacations or major high priority projects that could delay or postpone completing your letters of recommendation.
  • Insufficient school research: not everyone has the ability to visit each school they are applying to, but this is not an excuse to not have a firm grasp of what resources are relevant to your career goals.  We will certainly point you how and where to look, including relevant professors, courses, clubs and experiential learning programs, but you have to take the time to follow through.
  • Underestimating the amount of work needed to complete the applications on time.  It requires a significant amount of work to prepare successful applications.  This is especially true given the amount of introspection required to answer essay questions about who you are, what motivates you, etc.

Granted, much of the above can be avoided by following a logical and detailed process, so there is no reason the above should happen to you.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Marcus D.  Read more articles by him here, and find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

2 Steps to Take When Asking for Letters of Recommendation for Business School

RecommenderBusiness school recommendations are a black box for many applicants.  They go ahead and ask two people for whom they have worked and who they think have an overall positive perception of them to write their recommendation.  They might vaguely discuss their career goals and why they want an MBA.

For recommenders without a significant business background, that conversation will likely go in one ear and out the other.  Regardless of how highly the recommenders think of the applicant, the actual recommendation will be of little help. Many applicants will know this and are simply hoping for the best, or that the recommendation will at the least not cause any irreparable damage.

Given the highly competitive nature of admissions to top tier business schools, this is not the way you should approach your recommendations.  In order to turn your recommenders into true advocates you must take a much more proactive role.

The first step is selecting the right recommenders.  Create a list of possible recommenders for any job you have held since college – err on the side of being inclusive at this point.  This list can include customers, clients, partners, etc, but should generally exclude college professors.  Evaluate your recommenders based on your key accomplishments working with/for them, their ability to discuss your managerial potential, length and quality of interaction and also on how well you believe they can put forth their arguments on paper.  Title and seniority at the company matters less.  Typically one of the recommenders should be your current manager, but schools realize this is not always feasible (especially if you don’t want your employer to know that you are considering leaving); there is room to explain a different choice in the optional essay.  This should hopefully leave you with 2 strong options.

Next, you need to provide the recommender with what we refer to as a recommender packet.  This would include your resume (or list of key accomplishments at the company), short-term and long-term career goals, your reasoning for why you want an MBA, and what overall themes you are trying to develop for your candidacy.  Putting this on paper will force you to crystallize your own thoughts and be more effective.  More importantly, you need to have an open discussion on how best to answer the recommendation questions using specific examples of past accomplishments that support your key themes as an applicant. The point here is to provide the recommender with sufficient background to write convincingly about why you are amazing.  And just to be clear, we do not encourage you to write your own recommendations – it is unethical and much more likely to hurt you than help.

As schools offer fewer essay questions, having amazing recommendations is becoming increasingly important. Do not leave your recommendations to chance – give them the attention they deserve.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Marcus D.  Read more articles by him here, and find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

4 Factors to Consider when Determining if Your GMAT Score is High Enough for Business School

GMAT ScoreThis is a common question we get as head consultants.  At what point is your GMAT good enough that you can move to the next stage?  If you read my previous post on timelines and milestones, I recommend getting the GMAT out of the way first as it serves to guide your school selection, and, frankly, is pretty stressful – having to take the GMAT close to a school deadline will only add to that stress.

The short answer to the question is to always retake the GMAT if you think you have a decent shot at improving the score by ~20 points.  The top tier business school admissions process is so competitive that you really cannot afford to not improve every single part of the application when possible.

That said we cannot expect every single applicant to score 750 on the GMAT.  Not everyone is capable of that score, and there are additional constraints to consider, such as time to a deadline.  Given that, I think there are some basic rules of thumb that could help guide your decision to whether to retake the GMAT.

To help guide us, let’s assume a fictitious top tier b school with a mean or average GMAT of 730, overall range of 620-780 and middle 80% range of 710-750 (meaning 10% of students score above 750, and 10% below). Let’s consider a few factors:

GMAT Range

Generally speaking, you should always strive to beat the average of the school to which they are applying.  If you haven’t done that, it means the rest of your application needs to be that much stronger and differentiated.  If it’s less strong, or if there are likely to be many similarly looking applicants, then retake.

On the other hand, if you are scoring above 750, or above the middle 80%, it means you are among the top 10% of GMAT scores for this school – probably ok to move on to other parts of the application.

If you are scoring below the middle 80% percentile, you should probably retake assuming you have the time.

Low GPA

If your GPA is low, say more than 5-10% below a school’s average, your GMAT needs to be that much higher to remove any doubt that you can handle the academic coursework (GMAT is acts as a predictor of academic aptitude).  Best to try to beat that average score, or at least get into the middle 80% range.  This is especially true if you are coming from a less reputable school.

Applicant Pools

Applicants from b school feeder industries, such as finance and management consulting, or those with engineering backgrounds are expected to help raise the average.  Just getting within that middle 80% is not good enough, you should be scoring above the average. An i-banker with a 710 is not getting that interview invite.

Industry Pools

Applicants from the government, active duty military, NGOs, or those from other non-traditional backgrounds, will typically get a break.  This doesn’t mean that you should be happy with a 650.  If you have the time, sit down and assess what sections of the GMAT are more challenging for you and attack those (a competent GMAT tutor will help you with this).

Of course, there might be plenty of personal situations and specifics to your specific situation that need to be considered, but hopefully this serves to provide some initial guidance.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Marcus D.  Read more articles by him here, and find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

MBA Admissions Timeline: When You Should Take the GMAT, Ask for Recommendations, and More

ChecklistAs 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.

For the purposes of this exercise it is useful to divide the complete application into the following streams of work:

  • Tests: GMAT or GRE, and TOEFL (for most international applicants);
  • School selection: school visits, desktop research, primary research or informational interviews with alums;
  • Online applications: essays, resume and general information;
  • Recommendations: selecting recommenders and preparing them to write amazing recommendations.

Roughly speaking, the above work streams are listed in the order they should be approached.  There is certainly some overlap between the different streams, and you should build in some flexibility in your timeline.  The best way to develop a timeline is to work backwards from admissions deadlines.  Starting with the online application, it generally takes about 3 months to complete the essays, resume (which might have to tweaked for each school) and gather all information you need to complete the online application.  For a September deadline, it means you should start brainstorming and drafting essays in early June.  It is generally a good idea to complete the resume first as it serves to create a summary of who you are and what you have achieved.

Regarding your recommenders, you should prepare them to write those amazing letters of recommendations.  Don’t just tell them which schools you applying to and send them the email with instructions.  Instead, provide them with an updated resume, relevant examples of leadership and an overview of what themes you are trying to convey in your application.  (Having started the essays and resume already you will be well prepared for this.)  This should happen about 6-8 weeks before the first deadline, or by early July for a September deadline.

School selection starts with desktop research, includes class visits (international applicants should try to attend local information sessions), as well informational interview with alumni and current students.  Be sure to check the visiting schedule well in advance, as most schools do not offer class visits around final examinations.  Try to complete these by April (after that things you run out of options).

Standardized test results serve as an important indicator of academic abilities in the Admissions Committee’s eyes.  If you are striving for admissions to a top tier b school, you should be aiming to get it around average for that school.  This means you might have to retake it more than once.  (Non-traditional applicants, including military, get a break typically.)   Your GMAT and GRE also serve to inject some realistic expectations into your short list of schools.  Hence, getting tests out of the way early is really ideal.  For a typical applicant the tests should be completed about 4 months prior to the first deadline.  For September deadlines, it means the official GMAT should be taken in April, allowing sufficient time to retake the test if necessary.

In summary, for a September deadline, here are some milestones you should try to hit in order put yourself in the best possible situation when applying to b school :

  • GMAT: complete by April for a September deadline (4 months prior);
  • School selection: finalize by June, after taking the GMAT, and extensive primary and secondary research (3-4 months before deadline);
  • Recommendations: provide recommenders with all necessary information to write amazing letters of recommendations in early July (2 months before deadline);
  • Online applications: begin essay drafts in early June (3 months before deadline), and iterate many, many times!

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Marcus D.  Learn more about him here, or find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

How to Showcase Teamwork Skills in Your MBA Applications

teamTeamwork 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.

Much of your work in business school and beyond will involve completing deliverables with others. The more clearly you can showcase a track record of skill development here the better your chances of admission into your target school. The focus here should be on what you uniquely contributed to the team as well as how your interaction within the team helped drive success for the group as a whole.

There are a few areas within your application where you can share your teamwork skills:

Academics

Think back on your undergraduate experience and identify examples from your academic career that show you as a team player. When thinking purely academically, group projects and case competitions are some of the more obvious places to pull anecdotes from. Academic examples can sometimes be a bit less interesting so make sure you are painting a complete picture of why this experience was impactful for you.

Extra-Curricular / Civic Obligations

Your extra-curricular activities outside of the classroom and the workplace are a great place to pull examples from. These experiences tend to be very interesting and also help to highlight a multitude of other interpersonal skills like leadership, creativity, and determination. Categories to parse anecdotes from include greek life, athletics, volunteer activities, and student clubs. Keep in mind all readers may not be familiar with the extra-curricular activities in your life, so provide enough background to inform the narrative. Information like size, participants, and money involved help to add context to these examples.

When identifying examples as a professional, the same approach should work. Sharing your reasoning for why you are involved in each activity may also open opportunities to show your passion for a particular topic like health, nature, or the environment.

Work Experience

You should not only pull examples from your undergraduate experience but also pull them from your professional career. Remember you are applying to business school to further your career so schools love to know how you have developed teamwork skills in your pre-MBA professional career. These examples should probably be the easiest to uncover for your application. Work to identify examples where you have excelled as a member of a team. Think of the context of the situation and the overall business impact and select the situations where you have delivered meaningful contributions that paint you in the best light as a candidate.

Showcasing a strong track record of engagement is one of the best ways to signal to admissions that you will be equally engaged once you return to campus as a grad student.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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. Find more of his articles here

Applying for Your MBA as an Older Applicant

Business SchoolMBA 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.

Before we delve into specific tips, let’s determine what an older applicant actually is. Now there is not a universal cutoff that determines what an older or younger applicant is, but rather there is more of a guideline. Generally you want to base this determination off of the average age of the student body. For most schools the average age ranges from 26 – 28 of course with any average there are people who fall above and below to create this average. Generally candidates above the age of 30 are considered older candidates, as mentioned earlier this is really a school-by-school determination. To complicate it further work experience is also considered a qualifier when reviewing this aspect of an applicant’s profile.

As an older applicant a major key is clearly articulating why “right now” is the ideal time for you to apply. This is your chance to communicate directly to admissions why now and not 3 or 5 years ago is the perfect time for you to apply. It is important to be clear and thoughtful and truly express what you can get out of the business school experience. A negative perception of older applicants is that there may not be much that they can gain from the business school experience. Attack this perception head on and be transparent with the impact an MBA can have on your professional career.

Other factors include your GPA and GMAT score. As an older applicant and being further removed from academia, schools are less reliant on these scores to make decisions than they would be for a younger candidate. Now of course in the very competitive world of MBA admissions every data point matters but the value older candidates will bring to the student community stems from their work experience.

Finally, program choice can be a factor. This is largely dependent on the amount of experience the older candidate has. The decision whether to apply to a part-time, full-time, or EMBA program tends to be correlated tightly with age. Think through which program makes the most sense for where you are at in your life and career and what you desire out of your MBA experience. Generally the part-time and EMBA programs attract an older applicant pool given the structure and set-up of the programs. With whatever program makes the most sense for you make a strong case for how the offerings best align with your development needs.

Business school is a wonderful experience for people of many ages. Understanding how age and relative experience factor into the process will ensure success come decision day.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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. Find more of his articles here

4 Ways Your Career Goals Factor into Your MBA Admission

MBA AdmissionsWith all of the various components of an MBA application, the primary reason most candidates apply tends to get overlooked when it comes time to discuss the application process. Career goals are at their core the root of why most applicants apply to business school.

In some form or fashion the desire to improve the state of ones career is why business schools exist. Career goals factor into MBA admissions in a few key ways:

 

Hire-ability

As stated above a major part of pursuing an MBA is improving your career. As schools review your application they are putting your hopes and dreams through a vetting process. Schools need to determine that given your background and aptitude the academic training provided by the program will allow you to reach your short term and long term goals. If they feel they cannot address this very basic business school mandate then your chances of receiving admission at that specific program are low.

Career Trajectory

With your career trajectory, schools are tasked with determining how realistic your career goals are given your background. Does your desired career story make sense? How well connected are your short term and long term goals? These are just a sample of questions that admissions teams will use to scrutinize your career goals.

Maturity

The maturity of a candidate also plays a role in the process. The type of goals that are referenced in an application, particularly for younger applicants, can help determine the maturity level of a candidate. This measure is a major part of the decision process. In particular, candidates should make sure their goals are clear and consistent with current industry norms.

Program Alignment

Each MBA program has their own specialty, both academically and professionally, when it comes to campus recruiting. Top candidates will target MBA programs that offer the best opportunities to reach their own career goals. Situations where this alignment between the candidate and the program does not exist can represent a red flag for your chances at admissions. If the alignment is not clear, candidates should offer up specific courses, academic programs, and recruiting opportunities that highlight the tight fit between their goals and the target program.

Your career goals are a major factor in how admissions teams make admissions decisions. Make articulating clear and consistent goals a key aspect of your application package.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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. Find more of his articles here

3 Ways to Highlight Your Analytical Skills in Your Business School Applications

books_stackedOf 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.

As competition has increased for spots in elite business schools, candidates are expected to come to business school with analytical skills or some proof of competency. So how do you make sure your analytical skills shine bright in your application?  Focus on these three areas to stand out from the competition.

Transcript

If you scored a high GPA in undergrad well you’re in luck, as MBA programs look at GPAs as an indicator of future performance in business school. Not so fast though, what schools are really focusing in on is your grades in analytically based courses. These tend to be similar to what you can expect in your core classes during your first year in business school. Examples of analytical classes in undergrad include classes like Calculus, Finance, Accounting, Statistics, Economics, etc. If you have performed well in this area this will really help your candidacy. If you have not, take some additional coursework at your local university or Community College to show admissions you have what it takes.

GMAT

The GMAT is another great way to show off those fancy analytical skills. Schools will look at your overall score but tend to focus in on the Quant side of the GMAT report. Strong performance here can help you skyrocket to the top of the acceptance pile. Admission teams see the GMAT as a strong indicator of future academic performance in business school; so spend some additional time on the quant side during your GMAT prep.

Work Experience

Your work experience is another way to prove you have the requisite skills to compete at a top business schools. Some applicants have it easy where their career function or industry signals analytical competency to admissions. Pre-MBA experience in investment banking, consulting, accounting, or engineering give off the impression to admissions that the candidate is facile with numbers. Even if your pre-MBA experience does not fall into the obvious analytical bucket, highlight projects, work products or responsibilities that are analytical in nature. Do you manage the P&L for a major consumer brand? Did you raise capital to launch your start-up? Find the pockets of analytical experience you have had and make sure you highlight them on your resume and in your essays.

Don’t miss the chance to highlight your analytical skills in your application, follow these tips to avoid any red flags come decision day.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here for a Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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. Find more of his articles here

4 Factors to Consider When Determining if a Part Time MBA Program is the Right Choice for You

Alternative MBA OptionsMost 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.

A part-time MBA program allows students to take classes towards an MBA while still working. For some, this set-up is an ideal way to reach career goals. Let’s discuss a few reasons why a part-time MBA may be right for you.

Timing

On average, part-time programs tend to attract an older student body. For some older students, taking two years off from life and a career is not a realistic option. Factor in the greater likelihood of an older applicant having a family or children and a part-time MBA can become a much more attractive option.

Financial

For many applicants the burden of a full time MBA tuition with no incoming salary can be extremely challenging. As a part-time student you will have the option to generate income while simultaneously taking classes and moving closer to your career goals. In some instances, employers will pay tuition for these programs with the promise of the employee returning to the firm for a pre-determined timeframe. Both of these scenarios can lessen the financial burden of an MBA.

Career Impact

If leaving the workforce for two years in your career path would set you back, a part-time MBA may be a preferred option. Industries like technology where the rate of change moves extremely fast can make it difficult for budding business students to leave the workforce for two years. The ability to learn while doing and to implement classroom studies directly at a full time job is attractive for many candidates.

Career Change

If you are not trying to make an immediate career switch post-MBA then a part-time program may be the best fit. For applicants looking to make a major career switch a full-time MBA tends to be more appropriate given the summer internship. Many part-time students are also able to make career changes as well but this change is much easier to execute in a full-time program.

Pursuing a part-time program is a great way to get an MBA, just make sure the program is a good fit for your current personal and professional situation as well as what your are looking to get out of your MBA experience.

Which program is right for you? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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. Find more of his articles here

4 Factors to Consider When Determining if Your GMAT Score is High Enough

Stand OutThe 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.

Age

Age plays a factor in determining an appropriate score. Generally with younger candidates there is an expectation that given the close proximity to their college graduation date and a time when studying for a test was less foreign a higher GMAT score is more likely. Primarily this stems from how an application can be weighted. Younger candidates tend to have less experience and leadership skills to impress upon admissions while an older candidate could lean on these types of experiences but would be farther removed from regular studying and test prep.

Demographic

What demographic pool you fall into also factors in. Business schools strive to admit diverse classes of students. To avoid overrepresentation by certain applicant pools the GMAT can be used as a competitive filter. Applicant pools like the Southeast Asian engineer can be seen as overrepresented and in contrast the African-American woman can be seen as underrepresented. Understand how admissions views your profile and target a score that is competitive within that set.

Score Split

With your GMAT score it’s not all about your overall score. How your performance is split across verbal and quant is another measure of review. Of course a balanced split with a strong overall score is the target but the quant side of your score generally carries additional weight. The weight again is relative based on certain aspects of your applicant profile but regardless the score split should factor into your target score.

Target Career

An area where many applicants overlook is how your target career post-MBA affects the perception of your score. Competitive industries like investment banking and management consulting put major weight on the GMAT scores of prospective employees. Schools want to make sure that, if admitted, students will be able to reliably compete for jobs in their chosen function so during the admissions process consideration is given to this area. If you are targeting the above analytically focused industries, target scores should exceed 700.

These are just a few things that should factor into to determining if your GMAT score is high enough. Overall, each of these elements should be filtered through the specific range and average score provided by each school as a baseline. Once this is done then the aspects above can shift the applicant’s target up or done.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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. Find more of his articles here

What to Do Before, During, and After Your MBA Interview

Business SchoolCongratulations! 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.

Here are a few tips for prior to the interview, during the interview and after the interview that can help you reduce your anxiety when this question is posed.

Before the Interview

One of the best ways to approach this question is with authenticity. What questions do you really want answers to? Many candidates spend a lot of time questioning certain things about the application process, school community, or even their own profile. Here’s your chance to ask these questions. Now use your judgment and consider preparing a few thoughtful questions that will make sense coming from someone with your background and that are not too invasive. The last thing you want to do here is offend. At the minimum have 2 questions prepared in advance. Easy questions to target are ones that are current or based on recent news as well as questions related to your career path or school specific interest.

During the Interview

The first few minutes of the interview tend to be some of the best fodder for question mining. Focus on listening to determine the interviewer’s association with the school (student, alum, admissions) and mine accordingly. Many interviewers, particularly non-admissions officers, will introduce themselves and their background right at the beginning so use this information to set-up your questions for later. This is an easy way to ensure your questions are authentic since many interviewees tend to ask canned and generic questions at the end of the interview. Also, remember interviews are not a one-way street, it is just as important for you to leave with a good impression of the school as it is for them, so ask questions that will help you make your eventual decision, if admitted. Make sure the questions are relevant to the party you are asking. For example, the questions you may ask an alum may be and probably should be different than what you would ask a current student or an admissions officer.

After the Interview

Was there a question you forgot to ask during the interview? It’s not too late; if you were smart enough ask for contact info after the interview, feel free to reach out in your thank you note with a question. Email tends to be a good medium to do this. I would caution you however if you are going to follow-up make sure the question is real and genuine. Most people associated with the admissions process are busy and you will not get any extra credit by taking up even more of their time with a generic question.

Make your post-interview questions an area of strength for you by following these easy steps above.

Looking for more interview tips? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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. Find more of his articles here

3 Ways to Overcome a Low College GPA and Get Into Your Dream Business School

GMATSo 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.

Before we dive into how to overcome a low GPA, let’s define what a low GPA really is. GPA averages and ranges are a good place to start when making your case here. The farther you skew left or right of the mean will indicate your relative competitiveness for a program on paper. Qualifiers like age, work experience type (analytical vs. not), undergraduate rigor will all factor into the relative importance of these stats, so keep this in mind as you decide whether you truly have a low GPA. With this being said a low GPA really is a school-by-school situation, so make sure you are assessing fit on a case-by-case basis.

Own It

Now if you do have a low GPA there are a few ways you can overcome it. The first recommendation is to own it. Do not ignore your low GPA or even worse do not make excuses for your low GPA. Address it head on within the application package when possible. An obvious opportunity is the optional essay. Again be cautious not to make any excuses or shift blame. Own it and explain directly and succinctly what happened. Was it a lack of maturity? Was it your budding piano career? Was it the huge time commitment that is life as a varsity athlete on campus? Whatever it was, explain the reason for the setback in a concise, direct fashion. Also, if there are some positives you can offer about your academic profile like an upward trajectory or a high major or analytical GPA this will serve to somewhat counteract your low overall GPA.

New Coursework

Another way to overcome your low GPA is to create an alternative transcript. By taking additional coursework, particularly at the grad level, you can make a case to admissions that you can handle graduate level classes. Now of course you should make sure you are achieving top scores in these classes to make the case clear. Obvious opportunities exist to showcase your analytical mettle so if you performed poorly in undergrad in these type of classes, target courses in Finance, Accounting, and Statistics as a way to show you are capable.

Strong GMAT

Finally, you should really aim to perform well on the GMAT. A strong performance on the GMAT can go a long way in counteracting a low GPA. Admission teams see the GMAT as a strong indicator of future academic performance in business school, so help them reduce their anxiety over your low GPA by scoring well here.

Applying to business school with a low GPA is not the end of the world; follow the tips above to minimize the impact of this negative on your application.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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.

What Round 3 Means to Business School Admissions Committees

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.

Schools are looking for applicants who can clearly demonstrate that this is the ideal time for them to apply to business school. So the burden lies on the applicant to show that applying round 3 is not some haphazard or last minute choice but instead a thoughtful decision that aligns clearly with the candidate’s career goals.

Outside of the applicant’s timing being aligned, admissions is also looking for candidates with complete profiles and strong qualifications. These strong qualifications include a strong GPA and GMAT score, which should fall at or above school averages given the limited spots available in round 3. A strong or unique set of work experiences is another way to get on the radar of the admissions team for round 3. MBA programs could admit a class full of investment bankers and consultants if they so chose with the vast crop of applicants coming from those fields but they don’t. Schools want a diverse class of students coming from a variety of different industries and job functions.

Round 3 applicants coming from unique backgrounds can pique the interest of admissions committees. Now just coming from a unique career background is not enough, candidates have to be high performers in this field, which should be supported in the essay section or via recommendations. Finally, a compelling personal or professional story can distinguish applicants with unique profiles as well so don’t be afraid to be transparent and dig deep into your personal history and motivations for the most revealing fodder.

Whether its round 3, round 2, or round 1, MBA programs are largely looking for the same thing. Candidates who can showcase and highlight the best aspects of their profiles while making a compelling case for why round 3 is the ideal time to apply will increase the likelihood of experiencing admissions success come decision day.

Let us help you create a strong application! Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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.

5 Reasons You Were Not Accepted to Your Target Business School

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.

Qualifications

You weren’t qualified. When we talk about qualifications, applicant profiles that fall outside of the GMAT and GPA averages and ranges are more likely to get dinged. The farther you skew left or right of the mean has a huge influence on getting accepted or denied. If you are not qualified on paper it is difficult to make a strong case even with strong performance elsewhere in your application. Luckily, you have time to get your GMAT score up if you decide to re-apply in Round 1 or Round 2 next year.

Fit

You were not a good fit with the school. Schools are looking for students that fit in with their culture. Whether it be program focus, class size, or personality even when qualified. Some applicants will be denied strictly on the basis of fit, so make sure to do your research ahead of time and pick programs that will be a strong fit with you.

Career Goals

Your career goals did not align with program strengths. Programs are constantly evaluating whether they can help applicants reach their career goals. It’s not enough for your goals to be clear, but they have to also be realistic given your pre-MBA experience and the strengths of your target program. If there is a disconnect here then the likelihood of getting denied will increase.

Readiness

You were not ready for business school. If you were a young candidate who was unable to make a strong case for matriculating this year, it may have proved problematic for you. Also, not being clear on why this year or this school was the ideal next step in your career will be a certain red flag for admissions.

Presentation

You did not present your profile in the best way possible. You can be qualified and ready for business school but if your application is not written well, proofread or otherwise completed in a professional manner this may derail an otherwise strong profile.

It’s tough to ever know truly why you may be denied from your target school, make sure you avoid these pitfalls above and reduce the chances of disappointment on decision day.

Let us help you create a strong re-application for next year! Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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.

Why You Should Try the Presentation for the Booth MBA Application

Chicago BoothThe 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?

It’s hard.  And it’s fun.  Trust me.

One general piece of advice that I give to all of my clients: try the presentation.  Since Booth has started giving candidates the choice between writing an essay and building a presentation, I’ve advised every single client to try the presentation.  And each one of them is glad they did.  Many clients have told me that they feel the presentation was the single most important factor in getting in, despite the fact that many struggled with ideas in the beginning.  That’s just part of the process.  Very rarely do candidates have the right idea on the first shot.

That’s not to say that there aren’t cases where an essay is more appropriate.  There probably are.  But I have yet to meet someone who didn’t have an equally compelling or creative story to tell with a presentation.

Why do I recommend the presentation over writing another essay?  There are two main reasons.

First, I believe that Booth is laying down a challenge to its applicants here and looking to see who is willing to step outside of his or her comfort zone.  And that’s exactly what the presentation does.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s not something everyone is used to working with, and it requires some creativity.

Which is my second point: the presentation allows candidates to showcase a very wide range of dimensions that are virtually impossible to share in an essay format.  Things like creativity, your personality, your passions, and more.  It can be incredibly fun, something that very few applications give you a chance to share with a business school, and something exponentially harder to pull off in an essay.

You can literally do anything you want with only two restrictions: it can’t move (no animation, videos, etc), and it can’t be over 16 MB.  As long as you abide by those two restrictions, it’s possible.  This year, there are no page limits.  No rules.  You can do whatever you want.  Which is what makes it both challenging and fun.

So now that you are convinced that the presentation is the right choice, where do you start?  Well, let’s start with answering the question, “Who Are You, Anyway?”

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Rich Williams is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His specialties include consulting, finance, and nonprofit applicants. 

3 Reasons to Consider Applying to Business School in Round 3

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?

Every year many applicants are faced with a similar dilemma. Round 3 has long been a cautiously avoided application round for most applicants. It is in fact the round where the least spots are typically available so the apprehension has merit. However, there are reasons why an applicant may still want to apply in round 3.

Age

For some candidates, age is a factor. The average age range for most schools is between 26 and 28. If a prospective applicant is well over the average age at a target school then delaying an entire year can raise even more questions for admissions. The older an applicant is, the more they have to prove to admissions that the program can add value to their career.

Timing

For other candidates, employment issues present round 3 as a realistic option. Turmoil at work, recently getting fired, or plain old discontentment in a current career path can warrant a last minute application from a candidate. The timeliness of the application round can make round 3 more attractive in atypical situations.

Qualifications

Finally, an impressive set of qualifications can make round 3 and frankly any round attractive to candidates with impressive profiles. Candidates with strong GPAs, GMAT scores, and blue chip resumes can often still be competitive even with the limited spots left in round 3. If the candidate’s application measurables align with or exceed target school class profile numbers then round 3 becomes a realistic option. In situations like this round 3 is not as far fetched as it seemed, and it may even make sense to apply in this round for the truly qualified.

Don’t automatically eliminate round 3 as a potential option as the situations above suggest round 3 may just be your best chance at admissions success.

We wanted to find a way to take out the risk in applying in Round 3 to top MBA programs, so whether you decide to apply in Round 3 or defer to Round 1 next fall, Veritas Prep’s Round 3 Guarantee  has you covered every step of the way!

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on 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.

How to Tackle the Booth MBA Application

Chicago BoothI’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.

I have worked with clients on the Booth application since 2007, and while it has evolved over time – wherein applicants have had to write fewer and fewer words for Booth over the past decade – one constant remains: the presentation.

It is daunting.  At first.  Many of the clients I have worked with over the years approach the question initially with the “blank stare” strategy.  I’m sure many former and current Booth applicants who are reading this know the feeling.  Confusion.  Anxiety.  No idea where to start.  It happens all the time.  And that’s where we come in.

As we inch closer to Round 3, I’m going to share my own beliefs about the Booth application and how I recommend approaching it here on this blog.  We’ll incorporate some thoughts from other Booth experts as well.  Hopefully, after a few weeks, you’ll be in a much better position to answer the question, “Who are you?”

For now, let’s look at the advice Booth gives on how to think about the question. Booth gives the following five pieces of advice on the website.  I’ve added my own thoughts for each piece of advice below:

Be reflective.  This should go without saying, but often people don’t think deeply enough about what goes into their application.  Think about it this way – when the reviewer has finished reading your application, what are all of the things you want that person to know about you?  Have you shared those things in your answer in one way or another?  Introspection is a critical part of this process.

Interpret broadly.  Each applicant has a unique way of answering this question.  It should be personalized and customized based on you, not trying to force-fit what you think the admissions committee wants to know about you into some framework that doesn’t feel right or doesn’t fit.  The question allows for a lot of creativity in the response, and that is a tremendous advantage if done well.

Determine your own length.  They mean it when they say this.  I’ve already seen successful submissions that are in the 10-page range as well as half that or less.  There’s no right or wrong answer for length.  Each story will have its own natural length, and that must be determined by the format you use, the way in which you decide to tell your story, and other factors.  So when they ask you to determine your own length, they mean it.

Choose the format that works for you.  I’ll be writing about this in more detail in the next post, but I like to have people think outside the box here.  The initial instinct of many applicants is to write an essay.  But I challenge my clients to think differently in the way they tell their stories and use creativity to their advantage as a differentiator.

Think about you, not us.  The key message here is not to tell them what you think they want to hear.  Be original and sincere in your message.  But there are areas where it is perfectly fine to talk about Booth.  Your quest to get into Booth is part of who you are – sharing parts of that story is often essential (or necessary).

Hopefully, after you’re done with your Booth application – after you’ve looked at yourself objectively and pushed yourself out of your comfort zone creatively – you can look back and agree with me that it was your favorite application, too.

Good luck!

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Rich Williams is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the The University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His specialties include consulting, finance, and nonprofit applicants.