What to Expect with the Video MBA Essay Questions

Written essay questions have been the foundation of MBA applications for as long as we can remember but some leading graduate business schools have introduced a new wrinkle over the last few years. Recent technological advances have made video essays a reality within the admissions process at top b-schools around the world. However, there’s no need to worry, this new addition at schools like Kellogg, Yale and Rotman are not meant to stump you.

These video essays are genuinely so the admissions committee can “get to know” the candidate on a more personal level.  Therefore, the applicant should try to be friendly and open about the questions (while still being appropriate, of course) rather than overly stiff & formal. The video provides a little glimpse into the personality traits of all applicants. So don’t expect to see anything really tricky or challenging, such as a mini-case, these are designed to be much more personal.

Specifically, admissions is looking to see how you come across in an unscripted, conversational moment.  The important thing is to convey confidence and answer the question directly, within the time allotted, in an articulate manner.  As always highlighting the core elements of Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity that business schools covet within your responses will go a long way in executing a successful response. If you’re an international candidate, take the video essay seriously. Because for admissions, this is also another way to assess the English ability of international applicants so additional prep may be required.

Speaking of preparation, do it! Prep some responses to common interview questions, again these questions are not meant to be brain teasers just personal questions you should have already sorted through, about yourself and your interest in the school, prior to completing your application.

This is the kind of thing where I do think over-preparation could potentially backfire since you don’t know what the question will be, and the objective of the exercise is to be yourself and have fun.  The important thing is to be flexible. Your personality during the video essay should be consistent with who you have portrayed yourself to be in the application (which should be consistent with who you are) while factoring how admission perceives you (young candidate, international, brain, etc). With this being said remain professional in your tone, language and dress to ensure admissions continues to view you as a serious candidate.

Finally, each video essay school has a slightly different process when it comes to this exercise. Help yourself out by reviewing each aspect of the process diligently so there are no surprises when it is time to complete.

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!

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.

Prospective Student Days for MBA-Bound Military Veterans

Each year military veterans typically make up around 5% of the incoming classes as top MBA programs in the U.S., making veterans an important demographic for business schools. Prospective military applicants have a secret weapon for business school applications not available to applicants from other industries:  armed forces clubs. These clubs are a great way to learn more about individual programs in addition to providing a wealth of insider information. Whether you are just beginning your b-school research or planning on submitting applications this season, one of the first things I recommend to all military applicants is to reach out to these clubs.

Some schools have a central contact point while others, like Fuqua, go as far as listing the names of all their current students who are veterans, along with their contact information. Regardless of how you connect with these clubs and their members, you’ll find they are more than willing to help you answer questions and chat about their experience as veterans. You will also get a sense of what programs may be the best fit for you as a result of interacting with members of the current class.

If your schedule allows, go one step further and take advantage of the military prospective student events being held around the country at business schools this fall.  Military visit days are typically daylong sessions complete with admissions FAQ sessions, campus tours, class visits and the opportunity to network with current students.

Of the top ten MBA programs in the U.S., seven hold a yearly military day event.  While the majority of these days happen between September and November, Tuck and MIT host their military day events in the spring.  Here’s a rundown of the military events at top programs this fall to put on your radar screen:

HBS Military Prospective Student Day, September 26

http://hbs.campusgroups.com/afaa/home/

Wharton Veteran Prospective Applicant Day, September 25

http://whartonveterans.org

NYU Stern Military Event, Saturday October 4

By invitation only, deadline has passed to apply.

http://www.stern.nyu.edu/programs-admissions/full-time-mba/students/military-veterans/military-event

Duke Veteran’s Symposium for Military Applicants, October 10-11

https://events.fuqua.duke.edu/veterans/

Kellogg Military Visit Day, October 17-18 http://kellogg.campusgroups.com/veterans/web_page?url_name=about&club_url2=veterans

Columbia, Veterans Matter@ Columbia Event, November 10

http://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/programs-admissions/why-a-columbia-mba/community/diversity-columbia/veterans

Cornell Military Preview Day, November 13, 2014

https://www.johnson.cornell.edu/About/Veterans-at-Johnson/Military-Preview-Day

Michigan Ross Military Preview Day, November 15

https://michiganross.umich.edu/events/military-preview-day

All of these events, with the exception of Stern, which is by invitation only, are open to anyone with a military background. Whether you are active duty and just beginning to research business school or a veteran already planning on R2 applications, attending these tailored events and reaching out to Armed Forces Clubs will give you a strategic advantage in the application process. For the events that have passed, keep these in mind if you plan to apply next year!

Emily Sawyer Kegerreis is a Head Consultant at Veritas Prep and specializes in the career development needs of transitioning military veterans through her company, CareerWise Consulting.

Get to Know Your MBA Professors

Over the summer, one of my Veritas Prep clients from last year asked me if I had any advice for him before school started. Offering advice is what I do for a living, so it’s a safe bet that I did, but he probably knew that before he asked. This 3-part blog series grew out of that initial off-the-cuff email response and is designed for anyone in any stage of business school, whether you’re still researching schools, walking onto campus for the first time, or have graduation in the near future. Your two years will fly by, and you want to make sure you graduate without saying “If only I had ….”

Part Three – Tear Down that Glass Wall!

If you went to a large undergraduate school, the concept of getting to know a professor might sound pretty unrealistic. She might have been just a speck in the front of an enormous lecture hall, or graduate TAs might have been your primary instructors. If you attended a smaller school, the faculty might have seemed more approachable, but the age and experience gaps could still be a little intimidating. Either way, you might have felt as if an invisible glass wall stood between the class and The Mysterious Professor.

In business school you’ll find the interaction can be different. It’s not uncommon to have a professor whose age makes them closer to a peer, and because professors encourage students to bring real-world experiences into the classroom, sometimes the teacher/student roles are reversed. Although the faculty still garners well-deserved respect from their students, the barrier between “us” and “them” is much less rigid than it was in undergrad.

Don’t misunderstand – professors are still authority figures and based on that alone, they can seem inaccessible. They’ll issue your grade at the end of the course, and the mere prospect of a cold call from them can induce fear into even the most over-confident investment banker. Some are downright famous. And oh yeah, they can be scary smart. (Imagine my cohort’s surprise when, on the first day of our first semester operations class, our professor called on us by name! It turns out he had memorized all of our faces and names, using the pre-Facebook version of Facebook.)

But don’t be intimidated – breaking through the wall has many benefits. At the risk of stating the obvious, you could learn something. That course you’re taking represents a mere sliver of what she knows about the subject. You can also bridge the gap between academics and career development. Many professors maintain outside consulting relationships with companies and can actually be quite good sources of career advice and even job leads. (And speaking of job leads, sometimes they need second-year students as TA’s.) Some professors even act as angel investors, so if you’re entrepreneurially minded, you might land some good advice at minimum or an investor at most.

Some schools make it easy to do this. Wharton offers a popular Take A Professor To Lunch program. My team did this several times, and it was well worth it. We loved that our buttoned-up accounting professor, known for wearing suits, panty hose and heels on class days, showed up for lunch in jeans and flip flops. Professors! They’re just like us! Darden is famous for “First Coffees” – a dedicated time after the first class of the day when students, faculty, and visitors all gather.

If there’s no organized program at your school, you’ll have to put forth some effort, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard. Even the most famous professors still have office hours; professors at Darden even have an open door policy. If you’re in their class, go visit. Bring questions about something discussed in a lecture. If you aren’t in the professor’s class but have a shared career or research interest, reach out to request a brief meeting. Now, not every single professor will welcome this level of contact, and that’s fine. If you encounter indifference, don’t sweat it and don’t take it personally. Just move on.

Professors are busy folks – among teaching MBAs (and maybe undergrads and PhDs, too), outside consulting, and of course their research and writing, time is at a premium – so be respectful. Don’t hog the ENTIRE office hour. Do your research – at minimum, read their bio on the school’s website, look over a few of their publications, or leaf through their latest book. Bring some specific questions that prove you’re exactly the sort of curious, well-prepared student who’s worth their time. Be cautious, though, about connecting with your professors on social media – to maintain boundaries, some discourage Facebook or LinkedIn invites while you’re still a student.

If you’re still in the application process, listen up. These very professors will have a profound influence on you, so do your due diligence. When you visit campus, observe the interactions between faculty and students. Ask students how accessible their professors are outside of class. If your school visit offers an opportunity to meet the faculty, take advantage of it. Ask about the protocol for reaching out to professors during the admissions process. Schools sometimes discourage this, but if you have a specific area of interest, the admissions office might be willing to facilitate an introduction.

Making a relatively small effort to tear down the wall between the front of the room and the back of the room can pay big dividends. You’ll at least end up just that much smarter; you might end up with a mentor, an investor or even a lifelong friend!

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!

Rachel is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, and Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Her specialties include consulting, older and part-time applicants, and international candidates.

How to Succeed as a Young MBA Applicant

GMAT ScoreAge is nothing but a number, is how the old saying goes, but when it comes to the world of business school admissions, this particular number can negatively signal much, much more. “Immature”, “not ready”, “lack of work experience”, “no leadership” are some of the thoughts admissions officers toss around when discussing the applications of young candidates.

The first step to success here is to really understand how a young candidate is viewed by admissions. This is important because the only way to properly set your application strategy is to understand how decision makers will view your profile. Understanding this and creating a strategy that properly counteracts the general perception of young candidates and the specific perception of your profile will set you on your way to MBA application success.

Next, it is time to really do your homework. What is the subject you ask? You! Focus on your motivations for pursuing a graduate education in business and really determine if right now is the ideal time to pursue your MBA. If you don’t ask yourself these very simple questions, I promise you, the admissions officers will! Another important question to address is “What are your career goals?” This again has to be very thought out, clear, and make sense given your pre-MBA work experience and targeted coursework. Admissions will scrutinize these areas even more for younger candidates, since they pose red flags because of limited work experience in comparison to peers.

These areas are of particular importance because admissions officers use these questions to gauge maturity, self-awareness, and clarity of goals for candidates. They want to make sure you have done your research and truly are ready for business school. Being ready and prepared for business school is a great start but being qualified on paper is even more important for younger candidates when compared to “traditional” candidates. As a more recent college graduate, admissions will scrutinize GPA and GMAT scores more closely in comparison to a more seasoned applicant with many years of work experience and potentially more leadership and teamwork experiences.

You are ready and prepared for business school, qualified on paper, but what value would your presence in the classroom bring to others? Classroom discussion and group work are the hallmarks of graduate business education, if from your work experience it is not clear the contributions you would bring to the MBA community it will be difficult to breakthrough at top programs. Clearly articulating your value add to your target program via essay topics, in-person interviews, and resume construction will round out your profile and dismiss the majority of concerns as a younger candidate, and finally ensure that when it comes to your application, age is nothing but a number.

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!

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.

3 Reasons That Extracurricular Activities Are Essential For Your Business School Applications

Do I need to re-take my GMAT? Is my GPA high enough? Do I have enough years of work experience? These are just a slew of the questions we receive from MBA applicants every year.

One question that is rarely asked and often overlooked is “Have I done enough outside of the office and classroom?” Business schools are looking in-depth at all aspects of the application process from the essays to the GMAT score to the resume. One area that candidates either forget or neglect to highlight in their application or cultivate throughout their academic and professional careers is extra-curricular activities. Admissions officers at MBA programs around the world take this aspect very seriously, and here are three reasons why you should do the same.

1) They Make You Well-Rounded

Extra-curricular activities can show you as a well-rounded candidate. The application process can be very much focused on your academic background and professional work experience, leaving many candidates forgetting that business schools are actually looking to admit real people and not just GMAT scores or GPAs.

Candidates that not only have substantial extra-curriculars but also choose to highlight them in their application via essays, interviews, etc can really stand out in the process. These activities that can range from fraternity membership to volunteer programs and even intense hobbies like marathon running and triathlons. The importance of these activities is the underlying soft-skills that are involved with participation. From leadership to teamwork, extra-curricular activities are often the best way for professionals to develop these skills. Also, extra-curriculars help highlight personal passions and interests of candidates, which again can humanize an otherwise austere profile or substantiate a candidate that is already compelling on paper.

2) They Show Commitment

Extra-curricular activities can show you as a candidate who can commit to people, groups, activities, and causes. Admissions see long-term commitment via extra-curriculars as a positive. A track record of past engagement by a candidate signals to admissions that the same candidate will be similarly involved on campus in their MBA program.

3) They Show Personal Contributions to the Community

Extra-curricular activities can show you as a candidate who will contribute something to your business school community. The focus of most business school applicants is on what they can get out of their target business school community; something of almost equal importance is to showcase what you will bring to that same community. What will your classmates learn from you? What clubs do you plan to lead on-campus? All of this can be traced back to your past performance and your track record of giving back to organizations and activities you have been a part of.

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!

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.

4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Business School Experience

Wharton AdmissionsOver the summer, one of my Veritas Prep clients from last year asked me if I had any advice for him before school started. Offering advice is what I do for a living, so it’s a safe bet that I did, but he probably knew that before he asked. This 3-part blog series grew out of that initial off-the-cuff email response and is designed for anyone in any stage of business school, whether you’re still researching schools, walking onto campus for the first time, or have graduation in the near future. Your two years will fly by, and you want to make sure you graduate without saying “If only I had ….”

Part One – Rapunzel is not a role model

For better or worse, b-schools can be Rapunzel-like in their isolation – self-contained in their own buildings or even on completely separate campuses. Even the way we refer to many of them emphasizes their separation from the rest of the University – it’s “Wharton,” “Ross,” or “Darden” – not “Penn,” “Michigan,” or “Virginia.” It’s easy to spend the entire two years of your MBA experience locked up in the seclusion of Wharton, Ross, or Darden, completely forgetting that you’re also a student at Penn, Michigan, or Virginia. Embracing the isolation, however, really limits your overall graduate school experience.

Confession: I’m guilty as charged. Although I received two separate pieces of paper at graduation – one in Latin from “Universitas Pennsylvaniensis” and, just in case my Latin was rusty, another in English from The Wharton School, many of my friends and I ventured into non-Wharton buildings pretty much only when we had to. With the exception of our favorite library, which was so beautiful we’d gladly trek across campus for it, we only ventured out for a random final held at the nursing school, a guest speaker at the education school, or some other mandatory event. When I graduated, I didn’t really feel as if I’d earned that Latin-inscribed piece of parchment.

In hindsight, it wouldn’t have been difficult to do things differently, and it won’t be hard for you, either. Here are a few fairly easy ways to connect with your entire university and graduate as a proud “UCLA” alum as well as a proud “Anderson” alum:

  • Show your university pride. Buy a sweatshirt or a cap or t-shirt that says “Michigan.”
  • Wear the above when you show your school spirit by taking your study group to cheer on a university team at a sporting event. If you’re at Michigan, you might choose football, but if that’s not your thing, you can see the lacrosse team, the gymnastics team, or the water polo team. They’ll be glad you came.
  • Explore the many cultural opportunities at your university, and try something out of your comfort zone. You might find a contemporary dance performance, a music recital, an art exhibit, experimental theater, or even a museum right on campus. As a current student, you’ll get a discount on the likes of which you’ll never see again, so now’s the time to explore.
  • Take a class outside the business school. Even if you’re not a dual degree student, most schools permit, and even encourage, you to take a certain number of credits elsewhere. Wharton, for example, allows up to four electives from other schools, and Stanford allows 15 credits outside the business school. Of course, the trade-off is that you’ll “lose” a class in the b-school, so you’ll have to weigh the cost vs. benefit. But the advantage could be tremendous – if you want to work in real estate development, that public policy class on urban planning could be just the ticket. Besides, you’ll expand your network and meet some cool people who think outside NPV, IRR and ROI.

I can hear what you’re thinking – “How will I have time for all that? I have classes! And job interviews! And social events!” Okay – visiting the museum might take a couple of hours, attending a sporting event a few more, depending on your tailgating plans. But after graduation, you can’t go back and have a do-over. So just do it, and just do it now. Bring a friend or two and turn your excursion into a social event.

If you’re still in the researching / applying phase of business school – this advice is for you, too. Don’t limit your research to the business school – make sure you look at the university as a whole and find out what opportunities it offers. When you visit, explore beyond the business school campus and take a tour of the university (yes, that same tour with the high school students and their parents). Because you really shouldn’t spend two years of your life locked up like Rapunzel. There’s an entire university out there just waiting for you to climb out of the tower and explore!

Check back next week for Part 2!

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!

Rachel is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, and Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Her specialties include consulting, older and part-time applicants, and international candidates.

Veritas Prep Consultant Spotlight: Get to know Kenyata, Chicago Booth MBA

Applying to the world’s most elite business schools requires much more than a high GMAT score and strong resume.  Self refection, creating your personal brand, understanding school fit, addressing profile weaknesses and capitalizing on your unique strengths are essential in crafting a successful application.  Don’t go at this alone – we can help!  Veritas Prep has the most stellar MBA admissions consulting team in the industry and we can help you achieve your MBA goals!

At Veritas Prep, you have the opportunity to work with the ideal consultant for your needs.  We have the most diverse and experienced MBA admissions consulting team ever assembled.

Get to know one right now:


Kenyata: Head Consultant, Chicago (Booth) MBA

Specialties:

  • Engineer/Scientist
  • Entrepreneur
  • Low GPA/GMAT score
  • Marketing
  • Underrepresented minorities
  • Media/Entertainment/Sports
  • Part-time/EMBA applicants

What do you find most rewarding about helping others apply to business school?

“I love helping others start the journey of pursuing their dreams and reaching their full potential through the experience of business school.  The application process becomes a bit of a self-discovery journey. The people I help find they grow a little after they have done the introspective exercise of exposing their vulnerability and celebrating their achievements.”

What is the most common application pitfall you help clients work through?

“Not having a clear story or a clear plan of action post MBA.  Many are afraid to commit to a direction because they view the experience as a life exploration.  I always remind them that it’s important to at least START with a plan (even if it evolves through their matriculation) and link that plan to their life’s journey to this point, creating a clear story of who they are as people.”

What did you find most challenging when you applied to business school and how did you overcome?

“My biggest challenge applying to business school was positioning my shortcomings in my application (i.e. low GMAT score, a couple bad semesters in undergrad, etc).  I think I was able to overcome these challenges by balancing these gaps with my achievements both academically and professionally.  I basically constructed the narrative that I only attend top tier academic institutions and work for top tier organizations, and although I’ve lost some battles, I’ve won the war.”

Where can I get the most delicious deep-dish pizza in Chicago?

Arenello’s in Glenwood… Chicken Sausage Deep Dish to DIE for.


Want to work with Kenyata?  Learn more about him here, or find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

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!

Veritas Prep Consultant Spotlight: Get to Know Heidy, Stanford MBA

Applying to the world’s most elite business schools requires much more than a high GMAT score and strong resume.  Self reflection, creating your personal brand, understanding school fit, addressing profile weaknesses and capitalizing on your unique strengths are all essential in crafting a successful application.  Don’t go at this alone – we can help!  Veritas Prep has the most stellar MBA admissions consulting team in the industry and we can help you achieve your MBA goals!

At Veritas Prep, you have the opportunity to work with the ideal consultant for your needs.  We have the most diverse and experienced MBA admissions consulting team ever assembled.

Get to know one right now:


Heidy: Head Consultant, Stanford MBA

Specialties Include:

  • Consulting, Entrepreneur
  • Low GPA/GMAT score
  • Marketing
  • Underrepresented minorities
  • International candidates

What is the most common application pitfall you help clients work through?

“GMAT (standardized test scores) and GPA (school grades) can be such limiting mental barriers for most clients and sometimes prevent them from putting together a great application.  I often hear clients beating themselves down over their lower than average scores or being overly confident (and thus, not putting much effort on the rest of the application) over their high scores. Both of those groups oversee the fact that a successful application goes beyond quantitative measurements. The application should be a well-rounded package that makes sense, is consistent and well put-together.”

What cuisine is best in the bay area?

“Being a Mexico-born Chinese living in California for over a decade, I enjoyed all types of cuisines from Asian to Latin to Mediterranean. What is common among all these cuisines is freshness and accessibility, thanks to the happy produce that grows in the local, sunny lands. From world-class wineries to organic artisan bakers and cheese makers to multi-cultural influences, California is a paradise for the most exquisite of palates.”

What fictional character (movie, book, TV, etc…) do you think best embodies the attitude of students at Stanford GSB?

“Probably Eliza Doolittle from the old classic movie My Fair Lady (Pygmalion), hehe! The GSB was such a major life-changing experience in my life, I now can think in much more well-rounded ways, aware of my unique abilities and able to use my new set of skills.”

What do you find most rewarding about helping others apply to business school?

“Doing an account of school, career and personal accomplishments, some people actually find the application some sort of a self-discovery process, which is essential to those interested in leadership positions in their careers. I enjoy working hard to get over that bump into those “a-ha” moments when my clients finally understand themselves and the process they are in. That’s when the creative juices kick in, and their stories and in turn, their application, become much more compelling and attractive.”

Want to work with Heidy?  Learn more about her here, or find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

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!

Veritas Prep Consultant Spotlight: Get to Know Marcus, Wharton MBA

Are you applying to the world’s top business schools?  Do you need help crafting the best application possible and standing out to admissions committees?  Veritas Prep has the most stellar MBA admissions consulting team in the industry – we’re talking the Jedi Knights of admissions consulting – and we can help you achieve your MBA goals!

At Veritas Prep, you have the opportunity to work with the ideal consultant for your needs.  We have the most diverse and experienced MBA admissions consulting team ever assembled.

Get to know one of our consultants right now:


Marcus: Head Consultant, Wharton MBA

Specialties Include:

  • Entrepreneur
  • Non-traditional career paths
  • Older applicants
  • International candidates
  • Technology

What do you find most rewarding about helping others apply to business school?

“What is most rewarding is helping applicants leverage the non-traditional aspects of their backgrounds. This could be an applicant who doesn’t have any business background to speak of at all, or someone who works in finance but has some unique non-business extracurricular activities.  Typically, the applicants are unaware of how powerful these non-traditional aspects of their backgrounds are.  For me, it’s very rewarding to help them with this realization and then subsequently tell their story effectively to the admissions committee.”

What is the most common application pitfall you help clients work through?

“Every applicant struggles with different aspects of their application.  But the most common challenge is undertaking the required introspection for admission to a top tier school.  Ultimately, this is what sets apart a good application from a great one.  In order to guide my clients through this process, my job becomes that of coach rather than purely providing feedback, i.e. I ask the appropriate questions that triggers their own thought process.”

If I attend Wharton, where can I get the best Philly Cheese Steak in Philadelphia?

“There is a long standing rivalry between Pat’s and Geno’s in South Philly.  Those are both excellent places, but my own personal favorite is Abner’s on 38th and Chestnut, which is a short walk from Huntsman Hall.”

Want to work with Marcus?  Learn more about him here, or find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

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!

First Mover Advantage: Start Your MBA Applications Early & Improve Your Chances of Admission into Top Business Schools

MBA AdmissionsAt Veritas Prep headquarters, spring is definitely one of our favorite times of the year!  Not just because of the warmer weather, but also because our admissions consulting clients are letting us know what top-tier MBA programs they’re hearing from and sharing their success stories with us.

Along with help from their consultants, we know our clients put a lot of effort into their applications.  And for many clients who are heading to the most elite business schools this fall, they also started the application process months ahead of deadlines.

Being admitted to a top-ranked MBA program requires much more than a high GMAT score and a set of grammar-perfect essays.  Allotting yourself plenty of time ahead of deadlines gives you an opportunity to show business schools that you mean, well, business.

Veritas Prep First Movers start the application process months in advance of their competition and capitalize on their head start in a number of ways.

Here are just a couple of great reasons to get started early:

  • School fit that’s genuine: Veritas Prep First Movers don’t have to simply rely on rankings and school websites. They actually have time to visit campuses, network with alum, attend information sessions, and really understand each target school’s unique culture.  This allows a First Mover to not only find a program that feels right, but also effectively showcase to the admissions committee why they’re a perfect fit and will thrive in the program.
  • Improve application weaknesses:  First Movers don’t have to simply explain profile weaknesses in their application, but they have time to actually improve weaknesses.  This can mean leading a new project at work or in a volunteer organization, taking classes at your local community college or strategically preparing and retaking the GMAT.  Veritas Prep First Movers are taking action now so that no explanations are necessary!

To learn even more about the advantages of being a Veritas Prep First Mover, visit our Veritas Prep First Mover Advantage page today!  Call us at 1-800-925-7737 to speak with an MBA admissions expert. 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 Jennifer Nakao

3 Ways to Get Into the Stanford GSB MSx Program

The Stanford MSx program, previously known as the Stanford Sloan Master’s Program, is the one-year, full time Masters of Science program for experienced professionals.  Ok, so the program is not really new, but is experiencing a huge uptick in interest from business school applicants.

Stanford’s traditional MBA program is the only one in the world with an acceptance rate and average work experience both in the single digits; so experienced applicants have started flocking to this alternative option in droves.  Make no mistake, though, “alternative” does not mean “easy!”

The program consists of only 83 fellows, with an average GMAT of 700 and a minimum work experience requirement of 8 years.

How do you get in?  You must focus on 3 core things.

1.  Career Goals

First, your career goals must be clear and well-articulated.  This is not the place to “find yourself.”  What is your specific focus, and how will the MSx program help you get there?

2.  Leadership

Second, your entire application must send a message that you are an accomplished manager and leader, as opposed to merely a person who has put time in to his career.  It isn’t enough to merely say that you are experienced and successful manager, you have to show or prove it to them.  How?  Your resume! Your recommendation letters! Your extracurricular activities!  See the pattern?  Show them; don’t just tell them.

3.  Value

Finally, prove to them that you will add something wonderful to their program. They want to ensure that the Master Black Belt from GE enriches the experience of the M&A Tax Manager from Cisco. Remember, they only have 83 spots.  The more you can add to your classmates’ experience, the more they will have to admit you.  Make sense?

At the end of the day, you want something from the program, and they want something from you.  Tell them what you want, and what you will offer in return!  Good luck!

If you want to talk to us about how you can stand out, 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 Richard Vincent

How to Write the Best Essay for Your MBA Applications

Having graduated from a top MBA program as a non-native English speaker, I still remember being quite worried about the MBA application, fearing that my English was not sophisticated enough. So I focused on improving my writing skills by doing just that – writing.

Now as a Veritas Prep School Specialist, I have found working with my clients that there are a few common essay-writing pitfalls.

Here are some examples:

a)  Essays written in a generic way, which focus too much on current work experience. This is not a job application, so try to avoid producing what looks like a resume or CV in essay form.

b)  Essays that sound like a request for proposal (RFP), with an obvious Power Point sentence writing style with percentages, jargon and keywords such as “innovative” to impress Admission Committees. These committees have seen it all, so be innovative, don’t just say it.

c)  Essays that don’t talk about you. If an essay question asks what matters to you most and why, the essay will be an opportunity to demonstrate that you are inspired and motivated thanks to XYZ. This shows determination and focus.

Personal essays provide precious opportunities to reflect who you have been, where you want to go and your current plan to achieve this. It’s about showing a balance between early leadership aptitude and self-awareness. Use simple sentences but entice your reader by showcasing your talents, creativity and maturity, and this will help them to envision you enrolled in their MBA program.

These are 3 simple but powerful tips by advertising guru David Ogilvy from the book “How To Write”:

1)      Write the way you talk. Naturally.

2)      Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

3)      Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

Given that the business world does not usually demand essay writing or personal reflection, I would personally suggest keeping a personal journal or diary to practice writing about yourself, as well as to read both business and non-business oriented articles, such as those published in magazines like Harvard Business Review and The Atlantic.

Even if English is not your native language, the goal is to find your own unique voice and use writing as your instrument. Simply. Elegantly. You.

These are just some suggestions about how you can begin to approach the task of essay writing. Talk to an experienced Veritas Prep Consultant to see how we can help you write effectively to increase your chances for admission to the MBA program of your choice!

If you want to talk to us about how you can stand out, 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!

This Veritas Prep Head Consultant received a BA in International Economics from UCLA, and went on to the Stanford Graduate School of Business to receive her MBA. Her specialties for helping students include low GMAT score, low GPA, multicultural marketing, and entrepreneurship. 

3 Reasons to Wait Until Round 1 to Apply for Your MBA

Most of the top U.S. business schools accept students in two or three rounds. Applicants are not always sure in which round to apply, and when they make a decision, they usually underestimate the time it takes to put together a solid application.

Applying for an MBA is not like applying for a job. A well-rounded application not only needs quantitative data such as undergraduate grades and test scores, but also needs an accurate depiction of your qualitative traits, which are usually shown through your essays, letters of recommendation, CV and extracurricular activities.

A thorough application can be seen as a presentation package to Admissions that should tell a consistent story. When I work with applicants, I tell them to spend time researching but also reflecting, as opposed to solely applying. Ideally, I would start in the January of the year of submitting an application, so to allow roughly 18 months prior to enrollment. Will you be too old to be considered? Not at all! Although some schools do accept younger applicants, Admissions still want to compose a class of individuals who are mature and capable of self-reflection. Having slightly more years of experience is always a plus, as many schools use the case study method of instruction, so having worked in the real world is a pre-requisite for success in the MBA program.

Wait until Round 1 and use these 6-9 months before the application deadline to:

  1. Allocate enough time to study for and take the GMAT. Many applicants may want to take the test more than once, and you can only take the test once every 30 days.
  2. Start improving your reading and writing skills by reading publications such as The Atlantic or Harvard Business Review. You can read The Economist later once you enroll to stay up to date with world business news. Read this article for more tips to score high on the GMAT.
  3. Try to take on a leadership role by volunteering or participating in extracurricular activities, as sometimes this is easier than earning a promotion at work.

Overall, try to reflect upon yourself as a leader, no matter your job title. Remember, it is not only what you have accomplished or your job title that will make you prime MBA material, but also how well you have handled and made the most out of the situation that you were in. Make sure this comes through coherently before you click that ‘Submit’ button.

If you are still thinking about applying in round 3, take a look at our round 3 guarantee, or 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!

This Veritas Prep Head Consultant received a BA in International Economics from UCLA, and went on to the Stanford Graduate School of Business to receive her MBA. Her specialties for helping students include low GMAT score, low GPA, multicultural marketing, and entrepreneurship. 

Take the 2014 MBA Applicant Survey and Win $500!

AIGACIt’s that time of year again! The Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) has launched the 2014 edition of its business school applicant survey. If you are applying to business school now, or have recently been admitted and plan on starting an MBA program in 2014, you could win $500 just for spending 5 minutes completing this survey!

Why does AIGAC run this survey every year? AIGAC is an industry group representing admissions consultants all over the world, and the organization gathers this data every year to help its member consultants better serve their clients. Also, the data that AIGAC gathers is — 100% anonymously — shared with business school admissions officers, who are always eager to gain more insights into how business school applicants research and choose MBA programs. (You can see last year’s survey results here.)

One lucky survey participant will be randomly selected to win $500. But you only can win if you complete the survey, so do it now! You can access the survey here.

Thanks in advance for helping us serve our clients better, and good luck!

By Scott Shrum.

Applying for Your MBA in the 3rd Round? Check out Our Round 3 Application Guarantee!

We find that many applicants consider applying for top MBA programs in the 3rd or final round, but hesitate because they feel there is absolutely no chance for them to be admitted. It’s true that 90% or more of the spots in an MBA class are already taken, but Veritas Prep has a proven track record of success for successful Round 3 applications.

You might think, “If my chances are so slim in Round 3, shouldn’t I just wait and use an admissions consultant for Round 1 of next year?”  We have developed the Veritas Prep Round 3 Guarantee  to help take the risk out of this decision.

Round 3 Guarantee

Here’s how it works: if you purchase any Comprehensive School Package, you’re eligible for our Round 3 Guarantee.  You will begin working immediately with your Head Consultant™ who has formal admissions experience at a top-tier MBA program. They’ll bring their insider’s perspective to offer insights around your profile strengths and weaknesses, school selection, recommenders, resume, application strategy, essays—the works! After considering their advice, if you aren’t 100% confident in your Round 3 application, we’ll continue working with you for Round 1 applications of next year for no additional charge!

If I’m not admitted, then what?

If you decide to submit your Round 3 applications and aren’t admitted, our guarantee still has you covered. First, we’ll conduct a rejection analysis to provide suggestions on ways that you could improve your profile in the few months ahead of Round 1 applications for the following year. Re-applicants to top programs such as Harvard Business School, Stanford GSB, Wharton and others are typically admitted at higher rates than first-time applicants, but you’ll need to show some kind of improvement. Are there some extracurricular activities that you could get more involved with? Coursework that you could complete? Professional responsibilities that you could volunteer to take on? Ways to tell your story in a slightly different way? New areas of your profile to emphasize?

If you choose to re-apply in Round 1, the admissions officer will almost always review your previous application and new application together, so it’s important to offer additional insights the second time around. This doesn’t mean your first application was bad—you simply need to offer something new for the admissions committee to evaluate!  Not to worry, Veritas Prep will provide a free application review for your re-applications and offer additional suggestions for improvement.

Finally, if you seek to improve your GMAT score between your Round 3 app and your Round 1 re-application, we’ll offer our Veritas Prep On Demand course for free (a $550 value)!  Not only will you have access to all 12 GMAT prep lessons, but all of our online resources, industry-leading practice exams and thousands of GMAT practice problems at your fingertips. Admissions officers say that a low GMAT score is the #1 reason candidates are rejected, and improving your score can be a key part in a successful re-application (if necessary).

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 has you covered every step of the way!  Call us at 1-800-925-7737 or email info@veritasprep.com if you have additional questions about your Round 3 applications. Best of luck no matter what you decide!

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.

How to Select the Right MBA Program for You

How to Select the RIght MBA ProgramJust as the quality of a stage production or musical performance depends on all of the work that went into months and months of rehearsal before the performance, how successful you are in your business school applications depends a great deal on all of the work you do before you ever start drafting an essay. Remember that your application is a mere snapshot of who you are (and how well you can present yourself) at one point in time. How well that message will be received will partly depend on whether you’re targeting the right schools, and how well MBA admissions officers at those schools see a good fit between you and their institution. And this comes down to knowing how to select the right MBA program for you.

There are at least a dozen factors to consider when researching MBA programs and narrowing down your list of target schools. Some of very mundane, such as the size of a school, and others may be less obvious but no less important, such as whether a business school offers a particular program or specialty that interests you. All of these are valid criteria to consider, and two very reasonable applicants may give different weights to each of them.

Today we’ll break down three criteria that, while not surprising, are absolutely, 100% necessary for you to consider at some point in your business school selection process:

Culture
At full-time programs, you will spend most of two years with your classmates in an intensive learning environment. It therefore matters a great deal how well you fit into a business school’s culture, and how well it fits you. Imagine yourself working with teammates on a group project at 2 AM (it will happen at some point)… You want to make sure you’ll be in a group full of people you like personally and work well with, and you will want to be that same great learning ally for your classmates. And the importance of an MBA program’s culture doesn’t stop there! You will also be part of that school’s alumni network for the rest of your life. You may see your fellow alumni at local and national events, may network with one another for job opportunities, and so on. How well the school’s culture fits you will matter forever.

Without a doubt, the best way to judge a business school’s culture is to visit! Do the tour, sit in on classes, and take advantage of all of the official opportunities the MBA admissions office will provide. Don’t stop there, though. As much as possible, we recommend just wandering around a school, taking a seat in one of the common areas (it’s not hard to blend in as a student at most schools) and just generally “taking in the vibe” at the school. Do students seem glad to see one another? Do people keep to themselves? Do people seem stressed? (This will partly depend on what time of year you visit, naturally.) Take all of this in. And don’t ignore your gut… It’s one of the best measures of a school’s culture that you have at your disposal, and it’s free!

Location
While a great education is a universal language that can benefit you no matter where you are in the world, the fact of the matter is that most business schools will naturally attract far more recruiters from within a 100-mile radius than they will from other regions. At Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, for example, about 60% of 2013 grads ended up in the eastern or southern United States (see Fuqua’s employment statistics). Although the school does attract recruiters from all over the country, it attracts more than its fair share of recruiters from its home region.

This makes sense given that, as strong as Duke’s reputation is, it’s strongest on the East Coast and in the South. If you want to work in Silicon Valley, for example, this definitely does not rule out Fuqua, but pay attention to how many California-based companies recruit at the school. You may end up having to do more hustling on your own to land an interview at one of those companies.

Job Prospects
For most applicants, the number one reason for wanting to attend business school is to improve their job prospects. The job’s the thing, and the first job that grads land after earning their MBA of course has a huge impact on how successful their MBA experience was. I am always amazed by how often an applicant will say that he wants to get into a certain career and wants to go to a certain business school, and when I ask him, “Do you know how many grads the school places in that company/industry?” the applicant will have no idea. When I ask, “Do you know which companies recruited at the school last year?” I usually get a similar response.

Of course, that’s where we come in as MBA admissions experts, but you absolutely have a duty as an applicant to know what type of job search you’re in for, depending on the school you attend and the career you want to pursue. If your target company or industry is not well represented in on-campus interviews at a certain MBA program, that doesn’t mean that the school is a bad fit for you. But, if you arrive on campus and only then learn that your dream company doesn’t come to your campus for recruiting, then you have made a huge mistake in the business school selection process. Fortunately, most schools publish this information online (and LinkedIn is a tremendously valuable research tool if you want to quickly find Chicago Booth grads at Morgan Stanley, for example). You have many resources at your disposal… Be sure to use them!

Need some help in the business school selection process? Not sure how to select the right MBA program for you? We offer a free 30-minute profile evaluation, with absolutely no obligation to continue. And, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum.

3 Ways to Improve Your Work Experience: Part III

Previously, we covered two strategies to improve the perceived quality of your work experience, wherever you are. The first and fastest was asking for budget. The second and slower was finding subordinates.

Now we will discuss the third and probably most long-term strategy of all:

Get Close to Those Not In Your Immediate Chain of Command

Ideally, you should have the autonomy to do whatever you want with your time at work, but as a junior, you usually sit around under the watchful eye of some middle-manager who requires you to do his or her bidding. That is a bad situation for you. Because this is not business-school-worthy work. Every day you spend running the Excel or PowerPoint for some immediate boss is a day you truly waste in your life, as far as your own business school prospects are concerned.

So how do you go about making better use of your work?

The ultimate secret to a winning career is to do impactful projects. Projects make the headlines and create the resume entries that get you to places both higher and greener…as well as into your dream business school. Very few people go places for dutifully churning out the grind.

To do impactful projects, you need to either generate them yourself or be staffed on them. Generating projects yourself is one way to go (remember to ask for budget and bring on informal subordinates). Getting staffed on impactful projects can be a better way, but getting staffed on projects requires you to have a high and wide network within your firm, beyond your firm, and within the business community of your firm’s clients, consultants, and suppliers (depending on the complexity of your firm).

In short, you need to get close to people not in your immediate chain of command so as to market yourself as a potential staffer on big important projects. In places like the military and some very specific situations, this is dangerous maneuvering. But for most people early in their careers, this is quite safe practice.

How you go about doing this is subject of some other debate, but in many firms, one target no matter how junior you are should be to have your ultimate boss – the CEO – know you in the first year. Then work your way down to your boss’s boss, fanning wide along the way. After that, keep your eyes and ears open for any big projects you can weasel yourself onto. And once you are on that big elephant of a project, immediately put it on your resume.

So there you have it. Three ways to improve your work experience before business school. Good luck!

If you have MBA admissions questions, 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!

This Veritas Prep GMAT instructor received a degree in Economics from Princeton, and is currently pursuing a PhD. He has worked as a business consultant, research analyst, and adjunct faculty member at various institutions.

3 Ways to Improve Your Work Experience: Part II

Previously, we discussed probably the easiest and fastest single factor that you can proactively do to gain impressiveness with your work experience. That was to ask for budget.

The next strategy you may try is a little more subtle:

Find Subordinates

There is an organizational theory that basically says that every team has a person who gets the worst tasks and the least respect. Such characteristics also occur in the animal kingdom. For example, a pack of wolves will have an alpha wolf, beta wolf, and so forth. But there is always what is called an omega wolf, the most picked-on member of the pack and the member who eats the scraps of the others. It is critically important that you are not the omega wolf. Ever. Not only is the life of the omega wolf very unhappy, the omega wolf will also not get admitted to his or her dream business school. Why? Because business school is not for omega wolves. Omega wolves do not get it. They are not going to be successful in business.

The ability to avoid being the omega wolf is a crucial business skill, and most junior people are not savvy or experienced enough to know how to get around it. Many mistakenly assume that they are themselves the omega wolves due to their low levels on the hierarchy, but this is not a priori true. Only you can make yourself an omega wolf. Those who know how to avoid being the omega wolf will make outstanding candidates for business school.

The easiest way to avoid being the forced labor omegas of an organization is to have a subordinate. Many who are considering business school are motivated because they hate being the subordinate. But that is precisely the point – you should demonstrate your ability to manage subordinates as early as possible in your career so that you yourself do not need to be one. The sooner you can demonstrate an ability to manage subordinates, the sooner you can no longer be one.

It is not always easy to get a formal subordinate early on in one’s career. But it is quite easy to arrange a subordinate relationship with somebody else if you are subtle. The first step is to identify a target subordinate. So who can you try to make a subordinate out of? Think carefully and appropriate candidates will surface.

For example, are there interns around? If not, can you bring one in? How about that new hire who is nominally your equal but otherwise clueless about the firm? Does your team have any support or administration staff? Do you have a much younger colleague who lacks experience?

If you think carefully, you should be able to pinpoint some people who can plausibly be your subordinate. After you have identified that person or persons, you must make your key move, which is to create a project.

So dream up of a project (with budget) that involves you, your boss, and your target subordinate(s). Because you raised this project, your boss will probably let you run it with your subordinate. Thereafter, you would be designated as having “lead a team” on a specific project that did such and such magical thing for your organization. Wow. What leadership! What ability to manage others! That’s the kind of outcome that business schools look for in you, but for the love of Michael Porter do not openly talk about the maneuvering that went into it.

If you have MBA admissions questions, 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!

This Veritas Prep GMAT instructor received a degree in Economics from Princeton, and is currently pursuing a PhD. He has worked as a business consultant, research analyst, and adjunct faculty member at various institutions.

3 Ways to Improve Your Work Experience

Business schools have a very difficult problem. For most intents and purposes, their applicant pools are junior business acolytes whose days usually consist of menial desk labor at the beck and call of a perhaps marginal superior. The issue is that it is very difficult to separate a good candidate from a bad one among a pool of people doing this type of work.

By far the most important part of an MBA admissions application is the work experience, yet very few people talk about improving it. Indeed, on first sight, it appears like you can do little about your work experience, especially if you are one of the aforementioned acolytes. But that should not be the attitude of a future captain of industry like yourself.

There are strategies and tactics that you can use to dramatically bolster the quality, impressiveness, and maybe even lucrativeness of your current work experience – maybe even in a very short period of time. As an added bonus, these strategies will also dramatically improve the quality of your work experience in the eyes of the admissions committee of your dream business schools.

The first, easiest, and fastest big strategy is:

Ask for a Budget

Business, at the end of the day, is about money. And business schools recognize that. In executive MBA programs, for example, a prime consideration for admission is the size of the candidate’s budget. More budget means more responsibility, more success, and more influence. Business schools like admitting people who have demonstrated ability to influence.

Thus, ask for a budget.

Whatever your current job or station in your company, you are rarely too junior to ask for budget. Start small. Ask for a budget to buy books. Ask for a budget to attend conferences. Eventually, ask for a budget to run a project. Over the course of a year or two, if you demonstrated good work with the money you have been given, ask for a large project with a large budget…and then emphasize this on your business school application.

One of the key business skills in business and in life is asking others for money. If you can demonstrate it early, you have demonstrated the ability to succeed in business school and beyond. Also, size of budget will matter tremendously on your career trajectory up the food chain in any corporation. Without fail, he or she with the most budget has the most influence.

So don’t be an amateur at work. Ask for money from wherever and whomever you can. Ask for money for whatever and whichever purpose you can think of. It is often difficult to ask for a salary increase, but it is easy to ask for money as a budget for a specific project. If you are asked to do anything significant, ask for budget to help you do it. This is actually best practice (standard practice in fact), and most executives assume projects all come with budget. But most junior people do not know about this and never ask for money. If you are not asking for money, you are not in this activity we call business. Before you get schooled formally in business, educate yourself in asking for money.

Next time, we’ll take a look at a second way you can improve your work experience.

If you have MBA admissions questions, 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!

This Veritas Prep GMAT instructor received a degree in Economics from Princeton, and is currently pursuing a PhD. He has worked as a business consultant, research analyst, and adjunct faculty member at various institutions.

Show Leadership in Your MBA Applications

MBA AdmissionsLike beauty, leadership is often desired but hard to figure out for those who do not have it.

Even among experts, the exact definition of leadership is quite murky, like the exact expert definition of beauty. Entire careers have been dedicated to the study of leadership and it is probably a concept that changes depending on the context. Military leadership, for example, is probably quite a different matter from business leadership or intellectual leadership, despite areas of possible overlap.

Nonetheless, every business school will list leadership as the quality that is most important in their recruits. But what is the best way to get some if its definition is so elusive?

Unless you have some other distinctive area of leadership experience (such as military leadership), it is probably easiest to operationalize this leadership concept for business schools in the following way.

Leadership = the ability to convince others to give you large amounts of money.

Now let us see how you might demonstrate it. By this definition, starting a company is not a sign of leadership, but having a paying customer is. Similarly, starting a charity is not a sign of leadership, but having significant donations is. Thus, if you started a non-money-making company just developing products without sales or a charity that has no sizable donations in money, then you may be impressive in other ways, but your acts do not really show leadership according to our definition.

How about leadership at your job? By this definition, the bigger the budget you manage to claim, the more you have demonstrated leadership. What? You have no discretionary budget in your job to spend on things like subordinates or external consultants? Then, unfortunately, you have had little leadership. Similarly, if you increased sales a lot, you showed leadership. If you just processed sales orders, you did not really show leadership. And ultimately, at the end of the day, if you are paid a lot, you showed leadership. If you are paid little, you did not show as much leadership.

Obviously, leadership is not money — people we call leaders have convinced entire nations of their ideas and thinking in non-monetary domains. But for many practical purposes in commercial contexts, including demonstrating leadership qualities to business schools, leadership equates fairly well to convincing people to give you money. Money is, after all, one of the prime reasons for commerce.

So go out and show some leadership.

If you have MBA admissions questions, 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!

This Veritas Prep GMAT instructor received a degree in Economics from Princeton, and is currently pursuing a PhD. He has worked as a business consultant, research analyst, and adjunct faculty member at various institutions.

Should Women Skip Business School?

In a recent opinion piece in the New Yorker titled “Why Women Should Skip Business School”, author Laura Hemphill argues that, since women are far more likely to experience a career interruption (usually because of having kids) than men, they should work as much as possible while they’re young and aren’t get juggling family obligations. Make money and get far ahead now, she argues, and you’ll have more options later on than you will with an MBA.

This is the part where we — as a leader in GMAT prep and MBA admissions consulting — are supposed to volley back an impassioned defense of the MBA. How dare this person suggest that women, or anyone for that matter, forgo the magic that is a graduate management education? Blasphemy! Get off my Internet!

Well, that’s not what I’m here to deliver today. In fact, I actually agree with much of Hemphill’s argument. I will boil down my take to this: If you’re anything less than certain that an MBA is what you need to get to where you want to be, whether it’s in your current career or in something else entirely, then business school may not be right for you. That’s not to say that you definitely shouldn’t apply; an MBA really does open a lot of career options, if for no other reason than the fact that attending a top-ranked business school means dozens of blue-chip firms will come to you to and sell you on their companies. But if you’re doing just fine in your career and don’t have any plans to jump into something entirely different, then one can make a very plausible case that you don’t need an MBA.

Note that this doesn’t only apply to women… I give the same advice to male applicants all the time. If you’re not sure that you want an MBA, or you can’t cleanly articulate why such a degree will help you with your career goals, then you need to go back to square one and do some more research. And, if you can’t make this argument, remember that MBA admissions officers probably won’t have the time or patience to tease it out of you… They’re more likely to simply move on to the next application in the pile.

Again, business school can really open doors for you and give you career options that you never would have had otherwise. But it’s not a mandatory degree for any line of work, and it’s a huge commitment, both in terms of tuition and time away from the workforce. If you’re applying just because it seems like it’s what you should do in your mid 20’s, then you’re probably not ready to apply.

If you’re ready to start building your own application for business school, of even if you’re still in the “Is this right for me?” stage, request a free profile evaluation from an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

3 Factors to Consider in Choosing a Business School: Part III

Last week, we began a 3-part series exploring a few factors to consider when choosing a business school. The first two factors include location and career services.

Today we’ll explore the final factor, which is intake size of the institution.

Factor 3: Size of intake

Full-time MBA programs actually differ remarkably in the sizes of their cohorts. Wharton and Harvard have incoming classes of between 800-900 students each year. So at any given point in time, 1600-1800 MBA students are actively on campus. INSEAD has class cohorts of around 1000 annually, and they have a one year MBA program.

Stanford and the London Business School both have incoming classes around 400 each year. The Johnson School at Cornell has an incoming class each year of fewer than 300 students. The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology takes about 100 into their full-time MBA program each year.

The size of your cohort will have a dramatic impact on your business school experience and subsequent alumni resources. There is no right or wrong answer on this matter, but you should consider it deeply in your choice of business school.

Bigger cohorts imply more resources, more elective classes, and generally more institutional attention given to the MBA program. This is very important. If your cohort is small, you may find yourself sharing resources such as classes and career services with other programs in the university – a distinctively unattractive situation for some. MBA students have very different backgrounds and needs than other graduate students in a university, and resources should be specific for MBAs to be most effective. Thus, there is a big benefit to joining a large cohort – you, collectively, have good resources that are specially tailored to MBAs. (Some schools, such as Harvard, even have specific fitness facilities just for the business school, which is probably going a bit too far in tailoring resources specifically for MBAs.)

On the other hand, large cohorts also often mean that you, as an individual, will get less customized attention and flexibility in your own pursuits. Career services staff and professors are less likely to pull personal favors for you if you are among 1000 than if you are among 100. In comparison to handlers of small cohorts, the herders of large business school cohorts are more interested in the overall cohort than in you specifically.

Every year, there will be some people who get placed into unsatisfying jobs and are otherwise dissatisfied with their business school experiences. For a large cohort, those people are merely unfortunate statistics. For a small cohort, efforts will be exerted to make those sad customers happy. The point to consider is – there is some possibility that you will be among those unhappy ones. If you are, a smaller cohort will treat you better.

After graduation, bigger cohorts will mean you have a larger pool of alumni to connect with. You tend to stay in touch more with your business school classmates than with your college classmates, so the bigger the cohort, the more the alumni connections. With such large class sizes, Wharton and Harvard have graduates in almost every major corporation. You will have former classmates spread across all corners of the globe and across all fields in the economic system. Somebody from Harvard Business School will be connected to the sewer treatment industry, should you ever need to reach out to such an expert. Somebody from Wharton will become involved in sea bass, again, should you ever need to reach out to such a person. This is a point for considering the bigger cohort.

The counterbalance to this, by analogy, is that although that sea bass expert is a fellow alumnus, he may not take your call when you need him. From a networking and even social perspective, you are more likely to personally know all your classmates if the total size stays below 300. Actually, you will probably have chance to mingle at least a bit with each of them over your program. With a larger cohort, you will have to sacrifice the acquaintance of most of your class and carve out your own circle of professional and social friends. The downside to this is that you are likely to only self-select those who share your interests, so you will never personally get to know that sea bass expert (unless, of course, you are the sea bass expert).

So although there is no doubt that cohort size will significantly impact your business school experience, the call on big versus small for yourself is tricky. To a large extent, your happiness will depend on the mix and dynamics of your cohort, which is somewhat out of your control. At any business school, some years will see an especially active, beautiful, or successful student body, while other years will see the opposite.

Everybody wants to be part of an incoming class of attractive, smart, and wholesome MBA students in a cohort that is sized to balance diversity with intimacy, but alas, business school is pretty far from heaven, even at Harvard, Stanford, or Wharton. So dig deep, pray for classmates that bring out the best in you, and consider what kind of cohort dynamics you prefer in your business school life.

If you have MBA admissions questions, 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!

This Veritas Prep GMAT instructor received a degree in Economics from Princeton, and is currently pursuing a PhD. He has worked as a business consultant, research analyst, and adjunct faculty member at various institutions.

3 Factors to Consider in Choosing a Business School: Part II

Last week, we began a 3-part series exploring a few factors to consider when choosing a business school. The first factor to consider is location, and today we’ll take a look at the second factor, which is the career services provided by different institutions.

Factor 2: Career services

It is important to get priorities clear right from the start. Business school is about getting a good job afterwards. The MBA is not an academic degree, and business schools are not liberal arts institutions. The career services of your target school should be carefully examined before you choose to attend. Not only could they help place you into your dream job during the program, but many business schools continue to offer career services to alumni, so you could be using your school’s career services for a long time. Here are some points to note when casing the career center of your prospective school.

First, pay careful attention to the staff. Most business school career centers are staffed by professional career advisers who have not worked in the jobs you are seeking. Most of them give very standard advice that differ little from generic books on CV writing, networking, and other “how to get a job”-type resources. Be wary if you see a career service department in your school that looks like this.

A well-funded and dedicated career center will have staff members who have actually worked, however briefly, in the jobs you want. You do not need a senior industry veteran – if anything their perspectives tend to be far too high for your purposes – but the staff should have some experience in your shoes. Failing that, their backgrounds should at least match the level of jobs you are seeking. Usually, that means at least some of their staff members should have MBAs themselves. It is a very good sign if the career services team counts the school’s own alumni among its permanent staff.

Second, closely examine recent placement records. Oftentimes, career center can have non-stellar staff but produce stellar placements. Dig deep into the recent placement records. Look for recurring placements into the elite firms as well as unique placements into small but prestigious entities. Notice especially any recurring placements into good firms that do not openly recruit from business schools – these are signs of truly valuable career center professionals. You can discount any one-off attractive placements because the candidate might have been special in some other way. Look for consistency across cohorts.

Lastly, talk to the careers staff. It is surprising how many MBA candidates choose a school with barely a conversation involving potentially the most important department of a business school. Ask specific and detailed questions and listen for specific answers. Are the careers center people tuned in to recent trends in the job market? Do they know the salaries of the different firms? Do they know next year’s hiring possibilities? Do they know in detail what different firms do? In theory, they should know more about the firms you are interested in than you do, especially if your target firms are large. Do they?

The careers center can be the most influential aspect of your business school career. Indeed, if all goes well, it should be. Career centers should provide proprietary job leads, not reposts from public job boards. Career centers should know more about companies than a Google search can turn up. Career centers should know your goals and aspirations as an individual instead of having you complete a personality questionnaire. Most career services fall rather short of this ideal. But some fall shorter than others.

You want the perfect job after business school? You need to start with a good careers center. Spend the time. Do your research. Conduct your diligence. Finding the right careers center will pay off in years of happiness at your ideal job.

If you have MBA admissions questions, 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!

This Veritas Prep GMAT instructor received a degree in Economics from Princeton, and is currently pursuing a PhD. He has worked as a business consultant, research analyst, and adjunct faculty member at various institutions.

3 Factors to Consider in Choosing a Business School

There is little doubt that the most prestigious business schools command serious consideration. But alas, outside the top 3 programs (and even then), it makes little sense to select a business school based on rankings alone. Most MBA aspirants do not give enough consideration to some key factors that will have serious impact on their business school happiness and success. Here are some factors that deserve your serious consideration and could swing your decision one way or the other.

Factor 1: Location

The location of your business school should be among the top factors in your choice. Usually, unless you have well-defined post-MBA career plans, it makes sense to select a major city where you do not mind working afterwards. Let us examine the reasons why.

First, there is simply more professional business done in cities. In many ways, cities formed to be centers of commerce. Your experience in business school will be vastly enriched by the business community of a major metropolis. From guest speakers to outside seminars to recruitment opportunities, cities offer vastly more for the MBA student. The partner of an investment fund is much more willing to stop by the downtown campus of the local business school over lunch to give a talk. She is much less willing and able to fly in to your municipal airport to give that same talk. Similarly, you might find interesting short-term consulting jobs and term-time internships in cities — opportunities that will not be feasible if you are 3 hours away down the inter-state. You are in the study of business – it makes sense to get closer, not farther, from the centers of business.

Second, there is also more recreation in cities. Business school can offer a lot of free time (or very little, depending on your own style). Whatever the case, the MBA years are a great opportunity to enjoy yourself or develop some hobby. Whatever your peculiar passion or curiosity, chances are that you are more likely to find like-minded individuals in a big city to indulge that activity with. So if you ever wanted to speak Esperanto, dance tango, or cook risotto, now’s the time to give it a shot. For those who are single and looking, there is much more dating in cities than in suburbs (and more things to do on dates). For those who enjoy a night out, there are more places to go in cities. For those who like to shop, there are more stores in cities. In New York, London, or Hong Kong, you will find clubs, courses, and events that suit all your extra-curricular interests. In contrast, your recreational options on everything from restaurants to gyms will be much more limited in a rural school.

Third, cities are more convenient. For some odd reason, business school tends to turn otherwise quiet local boys and girls into well-dressed jet-setting, schmoozing corporate types well before they get the jobs to match. To live that lifestyle, convenience is key. You need to be able to get from a downtown interview back to campus and then back out to a dinner date every other day without being hampered by issues such as train schedules, barbershop opening hours, lack of convenient ATMS, or 10 mile commutes to the dry-cleaners. You will find yourself getting frustrated if food or coffee is ever more than a block away. You will curse when you wait more than a minute for a cab. You will find yourself dashing to the airport at the last-minute. You will, in short, start behaving like other businessmen who value convenience in their lives. To make life simple, it makes good sense to choose a large city.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, big cities can be better for your career. There are more jobs, more industries, and more opportunities to network in a major city. There is also a big chance that you will land a job close to your business school due to local connections, alumni relations, and recruiting convenience. Unless you get sucked into a handful of truly globally integrated conglomerates, recruitment always tends to be local, and it is easier for you to weasel your way into that perfect firm if you are just a cab-ride away. In the future, you will also be able to upgrade to other jobs more easily if you stay in a city – from sneaking out to interview for another job to meeting headhunters on the sly, your career stands to gain if you aim for a city right after your MBA.

Obviously, there are good reasons for being in a small city or even a town — the air is better, and there is more sense of community. Rural or deeply suburban business schools try very hard to convince applicants of the advantages of their locations, but in most cases, the benefits of a city vastly outweigh the drawbacks, at least as far as business school is concerned.

If you aren’t a city person though, there are other top MBA programs outside of big cities. Tuck, Duke, and Darden – to name a few – are all outside of the city, and offer their own unique advantages. For example, MBA students at these schools tend to live on or very close to campus, so you will be closer to, and maybe even living with, your classmates. Schools in big cities generally have a more spread out student population. A majority of students at Kellogg live within 5 blocks of the campus, which creates more of an immersion experience if that is something you’re interested in. Also, if you have a family, these suburban campuses can be more family-friendly and have a stronger sense of community.

Take time to visit the schools you are considering. By spending some time on campus, you can determine if the environment is a good fit for you! Stay tuned for part II next week.

If you have MBA admissions questions, 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!

This Veritas Prep GMAT instructor received a degree in Economics from Princeton, and is currently pursuing a PhD. He has worked as a business consultant, research analyst, and adjunct faculty member at various institutions.

INSEAD Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Rounding out our look at applications at the top business schools this year, today we break down INSEAD’s application deadlines and essays for the 2013-2014 admissions season. INSEAD has made only very subtle tweaks to its essays this year, and the school has decided buck the trend and not to go the route of significantly cutting down its number of required essays. When a business school only makes subtle changes to its essays, that usually means that the admissions office likes what it’s been getting from applicants.

Here are INSEAD’s admissions deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

INSEAD Application Deadlines for September 2014 Intake
Round 1: October 2, 2013
Round 2: November 27, 2013
Round 3: March 5, 2013

We only cover INSEAD’s September 2014 intake deadlines here since the school’s January intake deadlines have already passed for 2013. Note that applying to INSEAD in Round 1 means that you will receive your final decision by December 20, giving you a couple of weeks to get your Round 2 application in order for other schools if you need to do so.

INSEAD Application Essays
Job Description Essays

  1. Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)

    This essay carries over unchanged from last year. In a nutshell, the INSEAD admissions team wants to understand exactly what you do on a day-to-day basis. As easy as it is to become consumed with your GMAT score and your extracurricular activities, at the end of the day, the most accurate predictor of your professional potential is what you have done in your career to date. Don’t worry about the fact that INSEAD asks for the number of employees under your supervision and the size of the budget you manage — if you haven’t managed a team or owned a budget yet, that’s okay. The admissions committee just wants to understand exactly what it is you do in your present job. Also, remember that this question is about your present job; your “career progression” story will come in the next essay.
  2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)

    This essay is also a repeat from last year. Here is where your career progression comes into the picture. Of course, doing this in 250 words is a tough job, do you will really need to stick to the highlights in terms of what you have achieved and the reasons for the moves you have made. You should plan on skipping most of the flowery prose in favor of clear, easy-to-follow facts. The second part of this question is interesting in that it pretty directly hits on something that INSEAD and any other top business school wants to know — that you’re interested in pursuing an MBA to turbocharge an already successful career, not to bail out of a stagnant one. Painting the picture of a successful young professional (in only 250 words, of course!) will be key here.
  3. (Optional) If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme? (250 words)

    It’s a sign of the times that this essay remains on INSEAD’s application after several years. Really, here the INSEAD admissions committee is saying, “It’s okay if you’re unemployed. We know a lot of terrific young professionals are out of work for reasons beyond their control. But, you had better be doing something productive with all of that free time.” Presumably you’re looking for work, but that is hopefully not all that you’re doing. Are you bettering yourself professionally with some additional training or accreditation? Are you brushing up by taking a college course or two? Have you decided to use some of your spare time to help those around you, perhaps by doing some pro bono work? There’s no right answer here, but a wrong answer would be to say that you haven’t done much of anything besides browsing job listings while you have been unemployed.

Motivation Essays

  1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words)

    This essay also carries over unchanged. While the Job Essays above required you to really stick to the facts and simply summarize your resume, here is where you can start to provide more narrative. Many applicants see the word “weaknesses” and tense up, thinking, “I can’t tell them anything bad about myself!” But the admissions committee knows that no one is perfect. INSEAD truly wants to understand what you’re good at and where you need some work. The school wants to see evidence of strong self-awareness and a desire to build on your strengths and improve on your weaknesses. The most obvious place to go from here is to explain how INSEAD can help you with these areas, although note that this is not a pure “Why INSEAD?” essay prompt. Keep the focus mostly on you and what your current strengths and weaknesses are.
  2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date (if possible specify one personal and one professional), explaining why you view them as such. (400 words)

    This question has also not changed since last year, although a couple of years ago INSEAD added the “one personal and one professional” part a couple of years ago. This prompt gives you a great opportunity for you to spell out at least two main themes that you want to emphasize in your application. Remember, the “why” in your story is even more important than the accomplishments themselves, so be sure to spell out why these accomplishments are so critical to describing you as an emerging leader. We like that INSEAD asks for one personal and one professional accomplishment, since many applicants tend to be reluctant to write about personal achievements because they seem to be off topic. Nothing could be further from the truth… If a personal accomplishment helps to illustrate the dimensions that admissions officers want to see in your application, it’s very relevant!
  3. Describe a situation taken from your personal or professional life where you failed. Discuss what you learned. (400 words)

    Oh no! First INSEAD asked about your weaknesses, and now you have to answer a failure question! Don’t worry — as we wrote above, INSEAD knows that you’re not perfect. The question is how you are able to overcome your failures and grow as a result of them. We like how short and direct this essay prompt is; what the admissions office really wants to hear is what you learned and how you improved (both as a professional and as a person) as a result. And, ideally, you can even work in an example of how you put what you learned to use when faced with another challenge. Of course, the word count is tight, but being able to work in this example makes your story that much more palpable and believable.
  4. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:
    a. Have you ever experienced culture shock? What insights did you gain? (250 words maximum)
    b. Describe the ways in which a foreigner in your country might experience culture shock. (250 words)

    Clearly INSEAD has culture shock on the brain! This question is a repeat from last year, and its existence helps illustrate how much emphasis INSEAD puts on an applicant’s ability to blend well with people from other walks of life. Both of these essay prompts try to help the admissions committee understand you a little bit better. Really, what the school is trying to gauge is your emotional intelligence and cultural sensitivity. More than perhaps any other MBA program, INSEAD truly is a melting pot of management education. You may be in study teams with people from four other continents — how well will you work with them at 3:00 AM when you have a tough final project due in six hours? A little bit of humor a humility can go a long way in answering these questions. Help the admissions committee be able to envision you sitting in a study group on INSEAD’s campuses in Fountainebleu and Singapore.
  5. a. Discuss your short and long term career goals… (300 words)
    b. … and how studying at INSEAD help you achieve your vision? (250 words)

    Finally! Here are the “Why an MBA?” and “Why this school?” questions that most MBA programs ask. Don’t overlook the fact that INSEAD asks these as two separate questions, with a specific word count for each. As important is it is to make a convincing case about your career goals and your reasons for wanting an MBA, you also really need to spell out why specifically INSEAD can help you achieve your goals. This is where you need to show that you’ve done your homework, and convince the INSEAD admissions team that you’re applying for reasons that run deeper than the fact that ISNEAD is a top-ranked business school.
  6. Is there anything that you have not mentioned in your application that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (350 words)

    INSEAD gives you so many chances to tell your study in the above essays that we wonder what you might have left to tell at this point! Our advice here is what it is for every other school’s optional prompt: Answer this question if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it is entirely okay to skip this essay.

If you’re ready to start building your own application for INSEAD and other top business schools, get a free profile evaluation from an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

13 Dos and Don’ts for your MBA Application Essay

Got Writer’s Block?  We are here to help! It can be hard to tell your story in 500 words or less, but we are here to provide a few tips to help get you started in tackling your admissions essays.

Take a look at the Dos and the Don’ts of essay writing and let us know if you have any questions.

 


Do:

  • Do proofread your essays.  Again and again.  And ask a buddy to as well.  It is amazing the number of essays that are turned in with typographical and grammatical errors.
  • Tell your story – tell it as a story if it helps.   You want to be memorable and unique.  And while you may not think that you stand out from the crowd, we all do in our own way.  Find your voice.
  • Do ensure that you are answering the question. Don’t get so wrapped up telling your story that you miss the point of the essay.
  • Definitely do your research.   There are a lot of blogs with expert advice (including Veritas Prep’s!) that will give you great information and strategies on crafting your essays.
  • Research also includes information about the specific program that you are applying to.   Make sure to tie specifics about the program to your goals.
  • Do dig deep and be vulnerable.  Many Type-A’s are afraid to let people see their softer side.   Several top business schools challenge applicants now to let that side come through.
  • Do write your essay initially without too much thought to the word limit.  Get it all out and then worry about editing it afterwards.

Don’t:

  • The Admissions Essays are much more than the writing assignments you faced in grade school.  Don’t treat it as a Q&A session and regurgitate part of the question as the opening of your response.  “My long-term goal is….”
  • Don’t try to tell a sob story to get pity points unless it really answers the essay question (which is rare, but occasionally does), otherwise, your essay may end up as part of the body count.
  • Don’t disregard word or page limits entirely.   While there can be some flex in the limit, don’t turn in three pages if the limit is one.
  • Don’t blatantly change the font size, margins and spacing to get it to fit the page requirement (unless you do it for all the essays).  It is pretty obvious when one essay is in an entirely different font type and size than the others.
  • Don’t use a lot of acronyms or industry jargon.   If the reader can’t understand what you are saying, they may miss the point of your story (and this doesn’t showcase your communication skills very well).
  • Avoid the “find and replace” essay.  Find name of school and replace with name of another school.  While it is more work, you need to customize your essays to each school you apply to.

Happy Writing!

If you are interested in receiving more information on our Admissions Consulting services, please call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Nita Losoponkul, a Veritas Prep head consultant for UCLA, received her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Caltech and went from engineering to operations to global marketing to education management/non-profit. Her non-traditional background allows her to advise students from many areas of study. She has successfully helped low GPA students get admitted into UCLA. 

Smile! Another Business School Adds Video to the Application Process

In the cinematic achievement Legally Blonde, loved by all millennials with a pulse, ditsy main character Elle Woods submits a provocative yet clever video as part of her application to Harvard.  Elle creatively demonstrates her achievements, her lifestyle and provides the admissions officers with a sense of her personality and potential.  The video certainly sets her apart from the other more muted and “stuffy” applicants and earns her a spot in the world’s most coveted university.  Ten years ago the idea of submitting a video to admissions officers certainly seemed daring, unconventional and bold.  But now, top MBA programs are actually requiring their applicants to do just that as part of the application process, including Yale School of Management and Kellogg School of Management.

Applying to top MBA programs is stressful enough, now schools are adding video.  Why?  According to a recent interview with Kellogg’s dean of admissions in Bloomberg Businessweek last week, the two-minute video response to a short-answer personal question gives everyone on the admissions team the opportunity to meet applicants no matter where they reside in the world.  Talk about the importance of first impressions!  Veritas Prep Director of Admissions Consulting and Kellogg alum, Travis Morgan, says that the idea, and one that has been attempted unsuccessfully in the past by other MBA programs, is to give admissions committees “a quick glimpse into who you are as a person, what your personality is like…It’s like a mini-interview before the full-in-person version.”  And though there is an increasing reliance on video technology in global business communications, Travis wonders if the new video applicant response will become a “staple of the admissions process or another passing fad.”  Regardless, the ability to present your best self on this type of platform is absolutely essential in business.

Yes, this is yet another piece of the application process that will require preparation and likely additional grooming time, but the end result can actually serve as a unique opportunity to distinguish yourself from other applicants and really showcase how you will succeed in a particular b-school’s program.  And if all else fails, send in a scented pink resume.

If you have MBA admissions questions, 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!

5 Tips for Veterans Applying to Business School

So, you are looking to go back to school to earn your MBA and either plan for or facilitate your transition into a civilian role.   Here are a few tips on how to leverage your military experience into a successful business school application.

1)      Leadership, leadership, leadership

Whether you have been in an active combat situation or manage a satellite program, you have led many teams in your military career, and possibly at a military academy or at boot camp as well.  Make sure to highlight leadership examples in your application.  Especially for younger candidates, leadership and people management are key, as what you have likely exceeds a comparable civilian candidate.

2)      Budget Management

As a team or program leader, you probably have managed significant budgets.  Add these dollar amounts into your resume to highlight your fiscal responsibility.  Chances are, even if they aren’t big for the military, they are probably much bigger than someone your age has had in a civilian role.

3)      Critical Thinking Skills / Adaptability

The work you did, whether in combat or behind the scenes, had significant implications.  You have to quickly assess the situation and think on your feet.  You had to adjust your knowledge and training for the circumstances that you are in.  These are key skills that business schools look for, and many often teach a class for it!

4)      Handling Classified Information

You most likely had secret clearance and handled confidential information that had major implications on security.   You are a greatly trusted employee.  On the flip side, you probably aren’t able to discuss some of the work that you did in your essays or in an interview, nor will your supervisors be able to provide detailed examples in your recommendations.   Provide what information that you can, and focus on the demonstration of key skills versus the context.

5)      Academics

Many graduates of the Military Academies have lower GPAs than the range posted by Admissions committees as the target spread.   Admissions Committees are aware that grading and use of curves is different at the Military Academies, and the cadets must balance academics with extensive physical training and requirements as well.  Focus on your GMAT, and take an extension class or two if you want to provide additional proof that you have the academic background to complete your MBA.

We salute you for your service to our country!  And we are here to help you with your pursuit of higher education.  We have a great team of Admissions Consultants ready to work with you towards your goal.   Contact us for more information!

If you are interested in receiving more information on our Admissions Consulting services, please call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Nita Losoponkul, a Veritas Prep head consultant for UCLA, received her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Caltech and went from engineering to operations to global marketing to education management/non-profit. Her non-traditional background allows her to advise students from many areas of study. She has successfully helped low GPA students get admitted into UCLA. 

The 5 Minute Guide to Branding Yourself in MBA Applications

MBAIn business school we take classes called “marketing & brand management.”  In this class we learn how to create and sell a brand.  One of the most important things to do as we manage a brand is to create a unique selling proposition for the consumer which differentiates the brand from the competition by providing evidence of what makes the brand special and necessary.

Wikipedia defines the Unique Selling Proposition as follows:

“The unique selling proposition (USP), or unique selling point, is a marketing concept first proposed as a theory to explain a pattern in successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940s. The USP states that such campaigns made unique propositions to the customer that convinced them to switch brands. The term was developed by television advertising pioneer Rosser Reeves of Ted Bates & Company. Theodore Levitt, a professor at Harvard Business School, suggested that, “Differentiation is one of the most important strategic and tactical activities in which companies must constantly engage.”[1] The term has been used to describe one’s “personal brand” in the marketplace.[2] Today, the term is used in other fields or just casually to refer to any aspect of an object that differentiates it from similar objects.

I tend to view MBA admissions in terms of marketing and strategy.  Thus, to me, the job of the MBA applicant is to create a “Brand-You,” that incorporates the USP that differentiates you from other candidates.  Therefore, answering for the AdCom why they should admit you over the thousands of other qualified applicants.

I ask candidates to brainstorm the 10-15 most compelling points of your applicancy that you want to communicate in your essays, in your interview, your resume, and via recommendations.  Put them in order, and use this “Brand-Me Top 10” as your guiding document across all of your application components. By completing the below “Brand-Me” template first, you should be able to subsequently create your “Brand-Me Top 10.”

“Brand-Me” Template

 

Educational Background/Scores

Undergrad

Educational Institution:
Ranking of Institution:
Degree:
Date received:
GPA:
If your GPA is low, why?
Major/concentration:
Minor:
Honors:
Scholarships received:
Major papers/publications:
Relevant coursework:
How did you stand out in college?

  • UNDERGRADUATE STRENGHTS/WEAKNESSES
  • ASSESSMENT OF UNDERGRAD RECORD (top tier school, demanding course load, top grades, courses in econ/math/calc/stats/writing)

Graduate Information (if applicable)

Educational Institution:
Degree:
Date received:
GPA:
If your GPA is low, why?
Honors:
Scholarships received:
Major papers/publications:
Relevant coursework: e.g., Calculus, Statistics, Finance, etc.
How did you stand out in grad school?

  • UNDERGRADUATE STRENGHTS/WEAKNESSES
  • ASSESSMENT OF UNDERGRAD RECORD (top ties school, demanding course load, top grades, courses in econ/math/calc/stats/writing)

Other coursework/certificates (if applicable)

Courses taken:
Certificates earned:
Special Training:

GMAT History

Have you taken the GMAT? When?
What was your overall score (list the highest score)?
What was your verbal subscore and %?
What was your math subscore and %?
What best describes your GMAT preparation?
When will you begin preparation?
When did/will you finish your preparation?
Preparation type:

  • ASSESSMENT OF SCORE (STRENGHT/WEAKNESS):

Career/Work Experience

Employers:
Location:
Job Title:
Dates:
Promotions:
Supervisory Role:
Number of People Managed:
Responsibilities:

  • OVERALL DESCRIBE NATURE OF WORK EXPERIENCE(S) STRENGTHS/WEAKNESSES
  • STRENGTHS IN CAREER LEADERSHIP
  • STRENGTHS IN CAREER INNOVATION
  • STRENGTHS IN CAREER ACHIEVEMENT

Extracurricular Activities

Activity(s):

Dates:
Responsibilities:
Offices Held:
Were you elected/Appointed?
Supervisory Role:
Number of People Managed:
Describe how you were a Leader in this role?
Describe how you were innovative in this role?
Describe teamwork involved?
How many hours a week do you spend on this activity?
Why did you get involved in this activity?

  • STRENGTHS IN EXTRACURRICULAR
  • DEPTH OF INVOLVEMENT IN EXTRACURRICULAR
  • LEADERSHIP IN EXTRACURRICULAR
  • WHAT IS UNUSUAL IN YOUR EXTRACURRICULARS
  • TWO MAJOR EXTRACURRICUALRS OF DEPTH
  • DESCRIBE BALANCE OF EXTRACURRICULARS POST-UNDERGRAD vs DURING UNDERGRAD

Philanthropic Activities

Activity(s):

Dates:
Responsibilities:
Offices Held:
Were you elected/Appointed?
Supervisory Role:
Number of People Managed:
Describe how you were a Leader in this role?
Describe how you were innovative in this role?
Describe teamwork involved?
How many hours a week do you spend on this activity?
Why did you get involved in this activity?

  • STRENGTHS IN PHILANTHROP
  • DEPTH OF INVOLVEMENT IN PHILANTHROPY
  • LEADERSHIP IN PHILANTHROPY

Other

International or diversity components of your background
Describe the strength of your recommendations
Describe a challenging leadership experience?
How have you demonstrated that you are innovative?
What is your best teamwork experience?
What is your most challenging teamwork experience?
If you are under 30, describe what makes you mature despite your young age?

Now, tell me, WHY YOU? WHAT DIFFERENTIATES YOU (in order)

1-

2-

3-

4-

5-

6-

7-

8-

9-

10-

If you have MBA admissions questions, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or email us a question for this blog to timeout@veritasprep.com. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Jane is a Veritas Prep Admissions Consultant for the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Before going to Dartmouth, Courtney graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Political Science.  After 20 years in business with positions at Young & Rubicam, Disney, Americorp Funding and Merrill Lynch, Courtney currently works as a business undergraduate Professor at the Los Angeles Film School and Argosy University.  

Kellogg Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the 2013-2104 admissions season. To no one’s surprise, Kellogg is the latest top-ranked MBA program to drop a required essay from its application this year — the school now requires just three essays of first-time applicants. Kellogg has also reduced how many word limits in some cases. What is most interesting is that the essay that Kellogg dropped was a mere 25-word question that appeared on last year’s application. We liked that one, but apparently the Kellogg admissions team didn’t.

Here are Kellogg’s application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2016:
Continue reading “Kellogg Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014”

The Winning Formula: MBA Applications

As an MBA Admissions Consultant, an Adjunct Instructor at UCLA teaching MBA Admissions, and a college Professor, I am surprised that more MBA candidates applying to the top 20 business schools have not figured out the simple formula I followed when applying to business school 20 years ago:

MBA ACCEPTANCE = STRATEGY & PLANNING.

I see it like this:  You are at Point A and you want to get to Point B, what is the strategy to do so?

My first recommendation is that you maximize your success by planning in advance!  Most candidates start strategizing the year they are applying to business school.  To me, the process of applying to a top business school is a 3-5 year plan.

I’ll tell you my story.  As a sophomore in College at a reputable University (top 25, but certainly not top 10), I analyzed “How can I get accepted to a top-5-10 business school?” I am a low-beta person, so my approach may be a bit neurotic, as I made sure to leave no stone unturned; everything I did was strategic.

I read about each school and created a dossier on each and I talked to current students at each and created notes on what it takes to get accepted.  What I learned via my due diligence is that my target schools (top-5-10) accept candidates who offer the following:

  • Great grades
  • Great GMAT
  • Depth of extracurriculars and volunteer activities
  • Interesting work experience
  • Superb recommendations
  • Leadership experiences; an innovator and initiator; a candidate that stands apart as unique.

From sophomore year in college until I applied to business school, every choice I made was focused on my goal, Point B, getting into a top-5-10 business school.  So, I embarked on a path that started at Point A, where I was a college sophomore, taking step, by strategic step, to reach Point B, Ivy League, top-5 MBA admission.

Grades:  My grades were easy, I had always worked hard to be an A student, but I chose to do an Honor’s thesis, which won the top thesis in my department.  I also chose to double-major, and double-minor, adding depth to the strength of my grades.

GMAT: Not so easy! I have never been a great standardized test taker.  My SAT was much lower than my grades.  So, I studied, and I studied, and I studied.  I took a course, I got a tutor, and I made darn sure that my GMAT score was solidly within the range of the average GMAT score at my target schools.

Extracurriculars and volunteering: I had played two years of college basketball and softball.  As a Junior in college I retired from my athletic career, and instead ran for student government and one a leadership position, I was on the Chancellor’s Leadership Committee, worked as a Teaching Assistant, to name only a few.  In each activity I took on leadership roles and worked to bring new ideas to the table.  I brought Desmond Tutu to campus to speak.  When I graduated, I moved to Washington DC, and promptly became the President of the alumni club in DC, and I created and hosted a 500 person Capitol Hill Day for Alumni (twice), and created and led a children’s group at the local soup kitchen.

Work Experience:  Post-undergrad I had offers at investment banks, but I instead took a unique position in the United States Government, one that had very few recent college grads.  My thought was that I could do something I loved while doing something unique from my peers, thereby differentiating me.

Recommendations:  All the while, I knew that I would need recommendations.  I cultivated real, and deep relationships with people who would be good candidates for writing my references.  I let them get to know me well.  Don’t get me wrong, I built genuine relationships, and am proud to say that today 20 years later these people are all still my friends and professional references.

Leadership, innovator, initiative:  In all of the above, I made sure that my roles set me apart, gave me leadership experience and added-value via innovation and initiative. I was conscious at all times that what I was doing showed that I am unique, that I would add-value to the classroom (and that was before I knew the term value-added).

In sum, my point is this, if you are reading this blog and you are a few years out of applying to business school, write out your strategy now.  Write down every single thing you need to do to ensure success and start ticking each item off the list with focus and determination.  Business school is a huge investment of time and money.  You want to maximize your chance of getting into the best school you can, so help yourself by preparing and writing your strategy.  It worked for me, with 3 top-5 acceptances; and 2 more in the top-10; one denial (darn you Stanford); and one deferral.

Are you planning to apply this year? Don’t worry – you still can do so successfully!  For best success, focus on controlling what you can right now, including:

  • Getting your highest possible GMAT score
  • Securing exemplary recommendations
  • Preparing for you potential interview with intention
  • Thinking critically across your application about that which differentiates you as a superb candidate in terms of leadership experiences, innovation and being an initiator- dig deep to find that which makes you unique.  I recently worked with a candidate applying to college who after applying told me she was a SAG actor with many credits, this would have been a great plus to a college application.  I recommend that you go through your life year by year and critically analyze what you have done that makes you stand out, and then apply your best of the best to the application and interview.

Best of luck!

If you have MBA admissions questions, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or email us a question for this blog to timeout@veritasprep.com. As always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

Courtney Jane is a Veritas Prep Admissions Consultant for the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Before going to Dartmouth, Courtney graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics and Political Science.  After 20 years in business with positions at Young & Rubicam, Disney, Americorp Funding and Merrill Lynch, Courtney currently works as a business undergraduate Professor at the Los Angeles Film School and Argosy University.  

New Releases: Yale SOM, Duke Fuqua, & NYU Stern Admissions Preview 2013-2014

AdmissionsAs schools continue to release admissions deadlines and essays for the 2013-2014 application season, Veritas Prep will periodically bring you a preview of what’s to come. Already, Yale SOM, Duke Fuqua, and NYU Stern have released their new application deadlines for the upcoming season, with Stern also releasing its application essay questions. Look below for the new deadlines and check back for more commentary next week!

 

Yale SOM Admissions Deadlines:
Round 1: September 25, 2013
Round 2: January 9, 2014
Round 3:  April 24, 2014

Duke Fuqua Admissions Deadlines:
Early Action: September 18, 2013
Round 1: October 21, 2013
Round 2: January 6, 2014
Round 3: March 20, 2014

NYU Stern Admissions Deadlines:
Round 1: October 15, 2013
Round 2: November 15, 2013
Round 3: January 15, 2014
Round 4: March 15, 2013

NYU Stern Application Essays: 

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations (750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

  • 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?

Essay 2: Choose Option A or Option B (500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)

  • Option A: Your Two Paths — The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.

    – Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
    – How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?
    – What factors will most determine which path you will take?

  • Option B: 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. If you submit a non-written piece for this essay (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit this essay via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.

    Guidelines and Restrictions:
    – Your submission becomes the property of  NYU Stern and cannot be returned for any reason.
    – If you submit a written essay, it should be 500 words maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font. If you submit a video or audio file, it should be five minutes maximum.
    – If you prepare a multimedia submission, you may mail a CD, DVD or USB flash drive to the Admissions Office. These are the only acceptable methods of submission. Please do not submit an internet link to any websites or to a video hosting service such as YouTube.
    – The Admissions Committee reserves the right to request an alternate essay if we are unable to view your submission.
    – Do not submit anything perishable (e.g. food), or any item that has been worn (e.g. clothing).
    – Mailed materials must be postmarked by the application deadline date. Please follow our mail and labeling instructions.

Essay 3: Additional Information (optional)

  •  Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information. If you are unable to submit a recommendation from your current supervisor, you must explain your reason. If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.

Stay tuned for our comments coming out next week. For more advice on getting into Yale, Duke, NYU or another top choice school, be sure to download our Essential Guides, 14 different guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for these and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

 

I’m Waitlisted… Now What?

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com.

Dear Trav,
I was waitlisted to my top choice schools. What should I do, if anything, to follow up with these schools?
— 

First, may I offer my congratulations!  I know you may not feel like being congratulated for landing on a waitlist rather than being accepted to your dream school. But you weren’t denied, so the school is clearly interested.  In fact, every person on the waitlist is qualified to be a member of the class. An MBA Admissions Committee will never waitlist a candidate who they think is unqualified, so this certainly deserves congratulations.

Why do schools have a waitlist?

In knowing what you should do to get off the waitlist and onto the “Admitted” list, it’s important to understand why schools have a waitlist at all.  It’s not complicated, and you probably already understand.  Even the highest-ranked schools tell us that 75-80% of applicants are qualified to be a part of their class.  Their statistics fall within the typical range for admitted students, including GPA, GMAT score, years of work experience, and so forth.  However, they only admit 5-20% of applicants.  This means that they must select a small group of candidates from the large pool of applicants to admit, primarily based on subjective factors such as employ-ability,  clarity of the candidate’s vision, how they fit with the program offerings, and what they can uniquely contribute to the program compared to other admitted candidates.

A certain group of these qualified candidates are offered admission. However, every school knows that less than 100% of candidates offered admission will accept the offer.  This is the school’s admission yield.  The yield at Harvard Business School is about 90%.  At many other top programs, it’s somewhere around 60%.  Because this number changes a bit from year to year, the school also adds candidates to its waitlist.  Please note: these candidates are typically just as qualified to attend the school as those who were admitted. There simply isn’t enough room in the class to admit every qualified candidate.

For Round 1, schools will extend a certain number of offers and put several candidates on the waitlist.  At most MBA programs, the waitlisted candidates are considered along with the applicants from Round 2. Some members of the waitlist will be interviewed and accepted, some will be denied, and others will stay on the waitlist until consideration in Round 3.  This is a very frustrating process for the applicant.

Don’t transform into a crazy person!

There’s a careful balance that you need to achieve as a member of the waitlist between staying top-of-mind and becoming annoying.  With the confidence of knowing that the admissions committee has already designated you as someone who they would admit to the current class, don’t be overbearing! It’s a nerve-wracking experience, so some people start to do crazy things like calling the admissions office every day and sending multiple emails to as many email addresses as they can get their hands on.  Take a step back and try to see this from the admissions officer’s perspective. If you go to such lengths, you might only confirm in their minds that you are a certifiable nutcase.  Not ideal for gaining admission to one of the world’s highest respected educational institutions!

Schools with strict waitlist rules:

There are some schools, including Wharton, that specifically ask you NOT to reach out to the committee except to provide very specific updates.  For example, Wharton only will accept updates to your GMAT score, a new job, or additional coursework.  If a school has specifically told you NOT to provide other updates, you should follow their instructions.  There’s nothing more frustrating than giving someone some instructions and then having them disregard them because they think they know better. On the flip side, you certainly want to signal your continuing interest in the program and update the committee on the things you are doing to prepare to hit the ground running as an MBA.

If you really want to get into a school like this with very strict guidelines for the waitlist, then I would recommend that you do everything in your power to get in.  If that means studying three hours a day for the next four weeks to improve your GMAT score, then do it!  If that means enrolling in a Statistics, Micro/Macroeconomics, Calculus or Finance course to freshen up your quantitative skills and be able to hit the ground running on Day 1, then do it! (Although I would not go out and get a new job just to report it to the committee! If you get a promotion in your current job, be sure to let them know.) These programs are looking for driven individuals who are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals.  Once you have something new to tell them, then be sure to communicate these updates to the admissions committee!

A few more tips for most schools’ waitlists:

Most programs are very willing to receive updates from waitlisted applicants and may even assign you to a Waitlist Advisor who will give you specific things that you can do to improve your chances.  For most programs, you may write an email reiterating your ongoing interest in the program.  If the program is truly your #1 dream school, you could mention that it remains your top choice and that you would be willing to accept an offer the same day it was extended and pay the tuition deposit immediately. If you’ve taken on additional responsibilities or projects at work, you could provide a quick update to your professional experience.  And if there is an area of your application that you know may need some additional support, you may often have an additional recommender write a letter of support to be included in your file.  For example, if you didn’t have an opportunity in your application to discuss extracurricular leadership opportunities outside of work, you could have a supervisor in one of these activities write a letter on your behalf.  Or if your work history jumps all over the place, you could have another professional reference write a letter explaining the strong contributions you’ve made and the clear vision you have for your post-MBA career.

The key is to clearly signal to the admissions committee that you’re still interested in gaining admission to the program, are willing to do what it takes to be admitted, and are willing to abide by the rules and guidelines that have been expressed.  Numerous emails with no substantive updates will not help your cause, and may even hurt it.

If you’re looking for specific guidance on how to craft your communications with the Admissions Committee or specific steps that would be best for your unique situation, please reach out to Veritas Prep!  Waitlist assistance is a key part of our admissions strategy and we would be happy to work with you on this aspect of your application.

Best of luck to you in the coming weeks!
Travis

If you have MBA admissions questions, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or email us a question for this blog to timeout@veritasprep.com. 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.

 

Getting Letters of Recommendation from Your Current Supervisor

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com.

Dear Trav,
I want to change careers so my employer can’t know I’m applying to b-school. How should I navigate letters of recommendation if I can’t ask my direct supervisor for help?

As you probably already know based on your question, pretty much every MBA program asks for a recommendation from your current supervisor.  In fact, if your current supervisor does not provide a recommendation, the school will usually ask you to explain the circumstances in your optional essay. Because of this very strong language on their website, most candidates believe that if they can’t provide a recommendation from their current supervisor, they are put at a huge disadvantage.  They think of it like a homework assignment that doesn’t fulfill all the requirements, so you’re automatically deducted a full letter grade.  Please don’t think like that!  The admissions process is much more holistic and flexible than you might think!

There are many circumstances when an applicant cannot get a recommendation from their current supervisor.  In many cases, they are not comfortable telling their current employer that they may be leaving the company to go to business school.  In others, they may have worked with their current supervisor for a very short time, and the person does not know them well.  In other cases, the applicant may be concerned that if they tell their current supervisor that they will be leaving the company, their projects or bonuses may be affected. Or let’s be honest, sometimes you can’t get a recommendation from your current supervisor because you absolutely HATE them, and the feeling is likely mutual, so you don’t think they will offer you a strong recommendation.

It’s okay!  Admissions officers know that there are many circumstances where obtaining a recommendation from your current supervisor is not possible. In most cases, you may simply explain the situation in a straightforward and candid way in your optional essay.  For example, I worked with an applicant in investment banking who simply said, “I have not informed my direct supervisor of my intentions to apply to business school because I am concerned that it may impact the projects to which I am assigned and my quarterly bonuses.”  He was admitted to his first-choice school.

The key is to select another recommender who can offer a similar perspective on your strengths and weaknesses.  Think about what your current supervisor knows about you: they know your day-to-day job responsibilities and working habits, they have firsthand knowledge of projects where you’ve shown initiative, they understand your interpersonal skills, they can compare your performance to peers, and so on. You need to find someone who can replicate this intimate level of understanding as closely as possible. A peer is usually NOT the best answer, as it’s pretty easy to just find our best friend at work and have them write a glowing review. Do you have a former supervisor from the fairly recent past (past 2-3 years)?  Do you work in a matrix-style organization where you’ve reported to other supervisors on different projects? Do you have a mentor within your organization with whom you feel comfortable discussing your future career goals—including business school? You need someone who has served in a supervisory role to you and who can speak very personally about your performance, strengths and weaknesses.

Once you have selected the proper replacement, be sure to mention why you selected them in your optional essay.  So after explaining why you have not asked your current supervisor for a recommendation, you need to add a sentence stating something like, “Therefore, I have asked Travis Morgan to write a recommendation on my behalf, as he is my most recent former supervisor and can speak directly to my professional experience, performance relative to my peers, and personal strengths and weaknesses.”

The MBA admissions committee places the greatest value on recommendations from your current supervisor, as they can speak to your current circumstances and achievements. Besides, if you show the courage to speak with them about your future plans, this shows the level of trust that you have with them. So obtaining a recommendation from your current supervisor is always the best option.  However, admissions officers will understand your circumstances and recognize that this is not always possible. You will not be automatically “demoted” in consideration for this one omission. Instead, just find your best alternative recommender and prepare them properly so that their recommendation is strong, personal and specific.

I hope that comes as a relief to you as you prepare to apply!

Trav

If you’re thinking about applying to business school, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! If you have any admissions questions for the blog, please send them to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com.

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.

 

3 Tips to Make Your Admissions Essay Stand Out

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com!

Dear Trav,
Do you have any tips for writing admissions essays about myself?

If I may take some liberties in translating this question, I suspect you’re probably asking one of two questions:

  1. “I’m uncomfortable bragging about myself, but I know that I need to stand out from the crowd of amazing applicants to be accepted. How I am supposed to do that?” or…
  2. “Let’s be honest: I’m pretty dang awesome and I love bragging about myself. However, I don’t want to seem like a complete a****le to the admissions committee, so how can I showcase my strengths without seeming like I’m completely full of myself.”

Honestly, it doesn’t really matter to me which question you’re really asking. Either question is completely legitimate. Whether it’s applying for a job, seeking for a promotion or a raise from your boss, or applying to b-school, praising yourself is always an awkward balance of presenting facts favorable to yourself and showcasing some true humility.

While everyone’s essays will be different—and we specifically tell our clients NOT to force their essays into a specific cookie-cutter template—I can offer a few quick tips and principles that are generally applicable:

Show, Don’t Tell

This is a common piece of advice that certainly isn’t exclusive to Veritas Prep, but it’s still very powerful, nonetheless. Do not simply make claims about yourself in your essays, such as, “I have a strong work ethic.” Even the laziest of candidates can “tell” an admissions officer that they have a strong work ethic, so this does nothing to differentiate your candidacy.  Instead, if you think one of the key strengths of your candidacy is your strong work ethic, think of stories or examples to showcase this.  For example, “In 2011, I was awarded our companywide Employee of the Year award, and my supervisor specifically mentioned my unwavering work ethic as the primary reason she nominated me. I am relentless in pursuing my personal and team goals, and look forward to working with equally dedicated classmates on team projects at Wharton.” Tying the award to your personality trait enables you to “show” the admissions committee some evidence of that trait rather than just trying to “tell” them about it.

Use “Mini-stories”

Using “mini-stories” is a perfect way to “show” rather than “tell.”  As a former journalist, I highly encourage my consulting clients to tell stories from their past to make their points. However, when people think of telling a story, they often think about crafting a beginning, middle and end.  In fact, many of your essays will be structured this way (we call it the SAR method for Situation-Action-Result, but we’ll discuss that in another post).  However, crafting a multi-paragraph story that really only makes one point or showcases one of your strengths may not be the best use of your word count.  Instead, I encourage my clients to think of “mini stories” — quick, one or two line examples from their life that will make their point without the need for lots of context.

For example, a common type of admissions essay will ask you to write about your unique background, skills, experiences, etc. that you will bring to the MBA program. I have a very charismatic and enthusiastic personality, and I thought this would be something important to mention in my essay.  In my first draft, I started writing, “I bring enthusiasm to every organization.”  Then I realized that this was not particularly effective, since anyone can say they bring enthusiasm to an organization. I starting thinking about stories I could tell that would show this particular character trait. However, I wanted to include many other things in the essay, so I didn’t want to take up much space. I remembered a conversation that I had with a friend that worked perfectly.  I started my essay with the line: “I have a friend, Cheryl, who has posted a goal on her bathroom mirror that states, ‘Be the most enthusiastic person you know.’ Cheryl came to me and said, ‘Travis, I can’t accomplish my goal because you are the most enthusiastic person I know!’”

In just two and a half lines, I was able to show a completely unquantifiable trait like “enthusiasm” in a way that any admissions officer would understand and appreciate. After making this statement, I followed it up by saying that I bring a sense of optimism and enthusiasm to every project I undertake.  My personal philosophy is that pessimism harms team morale even more than failure. In a tiny “mini-story,” I was able to offer the admissions officer a little glimpse into how I think, my unique perspective and philosophy in life, and how I’m perceived by others in a genuine, honest and fairly humble way. Take a look at the stories you want to tell and determine whether they deserve a “full treatment” with a beginning, middle and end, or whether you can find a “mini-story” to say pretty much the same thing.

Don’t Try to Oversell Yourself

Since Job #1 in your application is to show the admissions officer that you’re a worthy candidate for their program, there’s always a temptation to write as if you’re some kind of unconquerable superhero without a single chink in your armor. To be perfectly honest, the most successful candidates I’ve seen at top-tier B-schools, especially at the highest ranked schools of Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School, have been those who were ridiculously down-to-earth, not afraid to talk about huge failures, and were 100% genuine in their applications. Admissions officers are not looking for over-wrought, over-crafted works of art in your application. They want to find out about the real you and what makes you tick.

The real key to writing about yourself is selecting the right stories. You need to find those stories that say a TON about who you are, how you think, how you react to less-than-ideal situations or solve problems in the fewest words possible. Don’t try to be a hero—just be your best self.

I hope those bits of advice are helpful in crafting your ideal applications. Of course, our Veritas Prep Admissions Consultants are the experts in helping you dive deep within yourself, see what’s there, and determine how to express the depths of your soul in just 300-500 words!

Trav 

If you’re thinking about applying to business school, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter! If you have any admissions questions for the blog, please send them to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com.

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.

Application Tips from Harvard, Stanford, and More!

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep[dot]com!

Dear Trav,
I want to run my family’s business once I finish school. Is this a good story for my future goals?

I have a couple of thoughts here, so the first part of my response will be relevant to ALL B-school applicants and the second is directed specifically to those seeking to return to family-owned businesses.

“Good” Goals and “Bad” Goals

We are constantly asked by applicants, “Is xxx a good story for my future goals?”  What this ultimately is asking is, “What do admissions committees want to hear? That way I can be sure to tell it to them.” This is one of the worst approaches you can take to an MBA application. Admissions officers don’t want you to try to transform yourself into something that you’re not, mysteriously developing passions just months before you apply. They want you to be yourself!

There is not a “good” goal and a “bad” goal for your post-MBA ambitions. Rather, there are realistic, achievable and thoughtful goals, and then there are unrealistic goals that seem entirely disconnected from an applicant’s current experience, with no due diligence or planning on how to bridge the gap to achieve their goal other than the magic of an MBA degree on their resume.

Expressing Your Goals in an MBA Application

Although there are not “good” or “bad” goals, there are certainly better and worse ways to express your goals in your application. I will use direct quotes from MBA admissions officers and websites to outline how you should approach your MBA application, and by extension, your short-term and long-term goals:

  1. B-schools are not looking for just one type of candidate: “Genuine business talent cannot be narrowly defined. Instead of looking for an ‘ideal’ candidate, HBS invites applicants who bring a variety of skills, accomplishments, and aspirations to form a very special community.” (HBS Admissions Website)
  2. Admissions officers hate it when you try to write things you think they want to hear: “This is not an undertaking in which you look at an audience/customer (i.e., the Committee on Admissions) and then write what you believe we want to hear. It is quite the opposite. This is a process in which you look inside yourself and try to express most clearly what is there.” (Derrick Bolton, Assistant Dean for MBA Admissions, Stanford GSB)
  3. If you feel your genuine career path and goals are “too traditional,” DO NOT try to come up with novel or “more interesting” goals to differentiate yourself: “The point of the essays is to tell your story, not someone else’s. Your best bet for differentiating yourself is to do just that — tell your story.” (Soojin Kwon, Director of Admissions, Ross School of Business)
  4. Take some significant time to really reflect on yourself, your passions and your REAL goals: “You’ve heard us say it a million times — self-reflection is the absolute best investment for strong essays.  Take the next couple of weeks to do some deeper thinking before sitting down to your keyboard.” (Kurt Alhm, Assistant Dean of Student Recruitment & Admissions, Chicago Booth)
  5. If your goals seem bland, be sure to show how they connect to your passions and vision and how you plan on shaping the world around you: “One of the things we want to know from you in the application is, ‘Are you ready to make an impact? Do you have an idea of the world outside yourself and what you’d like to make an impact on?’” (Sara Neher, Assistant Dean for MBA Admissions, Darden School of Business)
  6. Draw a personal connection between your goals and the offerings of your target school: “The strongest essays will be those that reflect a deeper level of knowledge about a particular program beyond simple course titles or generalities. So when writing your application, think about those things that excite you about our Berkeley program and be sure to discuss them.” (Stephanie Fujii, Executive Director of Admissions, Berkeley-Haas)

In short, admissions officers are much more interested in getting to know you, your real passions, and how you plan to use your career to make an impact.  Your immediate goals may seem really boring, such as moving up the ranks in Management Consulting or Investment Banking, but that doesn’t mean you can’t differentiate yourself by showing how those paths uniquely fit with your broader passions and interests.

Okay, So What About My Family Business?

Alright, it’s time for me to get off my soap box and talk specifically about family businesses.  The reason I went into this long, seemingly tangential speech about goals is to show that going into your family business is a perfectly fine goal, assuming that’s REALLY what you want to do!  I had many MBA colleagues at Kellogg whose goals were to return to their family businesses.  In fact, several MBA programs such as Kellogg, Columbia, LBS and many others offer specific resources around family businesses.  As I mentioned above, you’ll certainly want to connect your goals to the academic and extracurricular offerings of the school.

How Can I Differentiate Myself From Other Candidates With Family Business Aspirations?

One of the key ways to differentiate yourself regarding your family business is to say what you plan to do with the business upon graduating from your target MBA program.  What is your vision for the business and your role in it?  If it’s not likely that you’ll immediately take over as CEO, how will you make an impact on the business in your first role out of school?  What, specifically, do you need to learn in your MBA program to be able to grow the family business and achieve your goals?  Do you plan to eventually run the business?  What kinds of market factors will impact the business between now and then?  What are your competitors doing?

As Kurt Alhm recommends above, make sure that you spend some significant time reflecting about your goals and do your homework about what will impact the success of your family’s business in the future.  This will show that you’re really serious about making an impact and you’ve spent the time to understand the factors for success.

At Veritas Prep, we’ve worked with a number of candidates who are coming from or going to family businesses and there’s certainly an art to demonstrating that you truly have the skills to succeed and have not been coddled by nepotism. Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in learning more about working with our experienced Admissions Consultants in our unique team-based approach to MBA admissions.

Good luck in your applications!
Trav

If you’re thinking about applying to business school, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. 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.

Business School Applicants: Take the 2013 AIGAC Survey and Win $100!

Every other year, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) conducts a large survey to study trends among business school applicants. The results are shared with AIGAC member consultants and with MBA programs to help them better anticipate the needs of those who will soon apply to business school.

This online survey should take just a few minutes to complete. We would love to receive as many responses as possible before the closing date of Monday, May 20 — and we would like to see you win one of three $100 gift certificates!

Simply click here to begin the survey: http://j.mp/AIGAC.

More about the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants: AIGAC promotes high ethical standards and professional development amongst graduate admissions consultants, increases public understanding of graduate admissions consulting, and enhances channels of communication with complementary organizations and entities.

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

Differentiating Finance Candidates

Click here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout[at]veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,
I am a traditional finance guy. How can I best differentiate myself from everyone else who looks and sounds like me in an application?

As top-tier business schools seek to diversify themselves and avoid becoming simply a two-year vacation for hard charging Management Consultants and Investment Bankers, it means that applying with a “traditional” background can be more challenging than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Every year, candidates from bulge bracket banks with Ivy League educations are denied admission to top schools. I say it over and over in my blog, but the admissions committee’s task is not merely to evaluate applicants and offer admission to the qualified ones, it is to select who they think will best contribute to a diverse class from among the sea of qualified applicants. Ankur Kumar, Director of MBA Admissions at Wharton, estimates that 75 to 80 percent of Wharton applicants are qualified to attend. Based on admission rates, this means that Wharton denies more than two-thirds of qualified applicants.

The HBS Admissions website states, “To create a dynamic environment that mirrors the breadth and depth of our world economy, we seek diversity. Our promise to our faculty and to every student here is to create a class of 900 students who come from as many different backgrounds and perspectives as possible.” This sounds fantastic, unless of course you’re from a background that’s overrepresented! “Diversity” can be seen as a distinct disadvantage to those who don’t believe they offer it.

Don’t worry, there’s good news in admissions numbers for you as well: 27% of HBS’ admitted class of 2014 came from the finance sector, the highest of any industry. Consulting was the second highest at 20%. So nearly half the class is comprised of consultants and bankers. At some schools, the percentage is even higher. But as you rightly assert, you will need to stand out from the crowd of similar candidates.

Please don’t do this by trying to be someone else in your applications. Don’t dream up ridiculous career goals to try to “differentiate” yourself, when you really just want to ascend the ladder in investment banking or make a transition into Private Equity. The schools want to see that you have realistic career goals given your previous experience, so be honest!

Your credentials are going to need to be strong. Good undergraduate performance, strong GMAT score, solid professional performance. Those are givens. But your grades and your job are not the only things that define you. B-schools are looking for candidates who are introspective and interesting. They look for what we call the Four Dimensions of a Perfect Candidate: Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity.

What are some ways that you’ve shown leadership—in or outside of work? Do peers tend to see you as a leader, whether or not you have a fancy title? Other than huge quarterly bonuses, what intrigues you about the finance industry? How can you show an intellectual curiosity and innovative problem-solving mindset? Candidates from the financial sector may be stereotyped as only looking out for themselves—the global economy be damned. What experiences from your life show that you’re a true team player and that you care about things beyond yourself and your paycheck? How have you contributed to the community around you, whether at work, in community organizations or at school?

Many finance candidates spend a couple of years as an Analyst and then apply to B-school to ascend the ladder, and this is perfectly fine. However, there may be few opportunities to showcase your Personal and Professional Maturity, such as making difficult decisions, navigating ethical dilemmas, dealing with complex issues, managing challenging employees, advocating your position while understanding and incorporating opposing viewpoints, etc. Most analysts simply do their jobs and do them well. Think of specific experiences that you’ve had in your professional life, in undergrad, and in other organizations that can show that you are a mature candidate who will bring a unique set of experiences and perspectives to your MBA class.

When MBA programs say they are looking for a “diverse” class, this can certainly include traditional measures of diversity such as gender, race, ethnicity and so forth, but perhaps more importantly it means diversity of thought. (Of course, the traditional dimensions of diversity are valuable to organizations precisely because people of different backgrounds and experiences provide diversity of thought and perspective!) Imagine an HBS classroom where every student had exactly the same perspective and opinion about the case that you had. Would that provide any value to you whatsoever? Of course not. Think about your background and experiences compared to your peers in the financial industry. What experiences do you have that have affected the way you view the world? What has provided you a different perspective than some of your peers?

What are you passionate about (or what were you passionate about before you started working 100-hour weeks)? What really makes you tick? All of these introspective questions will enable you to differentiate yourself far more than so-called “international experience” that consisted of a 2-week trip to Europe and a vacation to Shanghai. It will also be far more genuine than a “newfound passion” for microfinance and a short-term career goal of working for Grameen Bank, if none of your past endeavors would lead the admissions committee to see a pattern of interest in such pursuits.

Successful MBA applicants with traditional backgrounds tend to be very introspective about their experiences and tell them in admissions essays with a very personal touch. At Veritas Prep, every GMAT student and Admissions Consulting client can receive our Personalized MBA Game Plan™ Powered by the Myers-Briggs Assessment. It helps you see your unique strengths based on the Four Dimensions of a Perfect Applicant and write stories in your essays with a more personal perspective. Instead of simply writing about a $500 million deal that you worked on, you’ll be able to analyze how your unique strengths enabled the team to succeed and how your innovative mindset helped solve a seemingly insurmountable problem. This kind of perspective will differentiate you from the hundreds of other applicants who are simply hoping to get in based on the size of the transactions they worked on and the prestige of their bulge bracket bank.

I hope this answers some of your questions, spawns ideas from your own life and will help you differentiate yourself from all those other finance candidates!

Very Best,
Trav

If you’re thinking about applying to business school, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. 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.

The Reputation of Berkeley Haas

UC BerkeleyClick here to read the intro to this blog series! Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,
What is the reputation of Berkeley Haas?
— 

Haas is likely the top-10 MBA program that most often flies beneath many candidates’ radars. Ranked #7 by U.S. News, #12 by Financial Times, and #13 by Bloomberg Businessweek, it is a powerful program with a number of strengths. Its admission rate hovers around 12% per year, usually putting it in the top 2 or 3 most selective MBA programs, along with Stanford GSB and Harvard Business School.  I must admit that I smile when I hear people say, “I’m applying to Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, with Haas as my safety school.”  Haas’ admission rate is a little more than half that of Wharton—it shouldn’t be anyone’s “safety school”!

One of the reasons that Haas has maintained such a selective standard in admissions is its small class size of less than 250 people. In the U.S., only Yale has a smaller class among top-tier MBA programs, and Yale has announced that it will be expanding its program as it moves into a new facility. Small size can have both advantages and disadvantages. Every student in the class will know one another through their two years, which creates a very tight-knit bond. In larger MBA programs, you may certainly feel like a cog in a giant machine and potentially get lost in all the commotion. Haas is also known for its incredibly friendly atmosphere.  In fact, one of its four Defining Principles is “Confidence Without Attitude,” an accurate description of nearly all of its students.  On the downside, a small class also means a smaller network of alums to help you get your dream job upon graduation. A huge percentage of Haas graduates remain in California and the West Coast of the U.S.

With such a small class and low admissions rate, the Berkeley-Haas admissions committee has the luxury of selecting only candidates who it feels confident will be a perfect fit with the school’s unique culture. The program is known for asking interesting and unusual questions in its application.  This past year, the first essay question was not about a candidates goals or why they want an MBA, but asked, “If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why?” This is a great example of what the admissions committee looks for in candidates—a little panache to go along with the standard B-school qualifications.

Utilizing its location in the San Francisco Bay Area, Haas maintains strong connections with Silicon Valley. It places a large number of graduates into the Tech industry every year, although it’s trying hard to avoid being stereotyped as just a “tech school.” Leveraging the strengths of its parent institution, UC Berkeley (often referred to as “Cal”), Haas offers opportunities in Cleantech, Nanotechnology and Biotech that are unmatched at any other MBA program. It also has a strong emphasis in ethical leadership and social responsibility, especially social entrepreneurship. Digital media is also a strong suit.

If you’re looking to break into Venture Capital or Private Equity in Silicon Valley, you won’t have quite as many recruiters busting down your door as you would at Haas’ cross-town rival, Stanford.  However, as one of our Veritas Prep Haas Specialists put it, “if you get off of campus and knock on a few doors, you can definitely pick up some offers in Silicon Valley VC firms.” Haas graduates are proud of the fact that Berkeley is a public school that may require a little more elbow grease to accomplish your goals.

It’s easy to dismiss Haas as the “other Bay Area MBA program” living in Stanford’s shadow, but don’t do it!  It stands as one of the preeminent MBA programs worldwide. I would highly recommend you visit the campus to see for yourself if this small MBA program with a strong reputation is the right fit for you.

Kind Regards,
Trav

If you’re thinking about applying to business school, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. 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.

The Game of MBA Admissions

That’s right.  I just called the MBA admissions process a Game.  And like all games, there are winners and there are losers.   Baseball Hall of Famers with the highest batting averages still strike out sometimes, and MVP Quarterbacks do fumble the ball and throw pick sixes now and again.   But they are experienced, they are trusted, and they are generally really darn good at what they do.

Then there are the coaches with amazing win/loss percentages and tons of experience, but again none of these coaches have 100% success.  They provide valuable coaching to the star players and sometimes critical and honest feedback (yes MVPs still have room for improvement).

The Veritas Prep Admissions Consulting team members are here to be your coaches.   Continue reading “The Game of MBA Admissions”