At this is the time of year we speak with a lot of applicants who are just starting their school research process. How do many of them start? By cracking open the U.S. New rankings or BusinessWeek rankings and going down the list. Sound familiar? The fact of the matter is that how many of us do it, right or wrong!
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Imagine the business school application of the future: Rather than spending weeks on dozens of revisions of multiple essays, you sit down at a computer and give short verbal responses to questions, which are recorded via a webcam and uploaded to your target business school’s online application system. Sound crazy? It’s not necessarily as far away as you might think.
Today we introduce a new series on the Veritas Prep Blog: Admissions 101. From time to time we’ll dig into various basis strategies for getting into the world’s top graduate schools, blowing up some dangerous myths along the way.
Today’s piece was inspired by the wave of HBS 2+2 Program interview invitations that were sent out yesterday. (Congrats to all of our clients who were invited! There are only about 200 of you!) Soon after learning he had been invited, one of our clients said, “I’m halfway through the door. As long as I don’t screw up the interview, I should be in.”
Most of our time writing on this blog is spent diving into the nuance and nitty gritty of GMAT prep and the MBA admissions process. Every once in a while, it helps to take a step back and look at things from a very fundamental, building-block level.
I have a mixed heritage. My mother is Indian and my father is white. In my applications, should I list myself as white or Indian? My name doesn’t sound Indian… Will it hurt my chances if they figure out that I’m part Indian?
Last week, Michael Kinsley, the editor-at-large for the Atlantic Wire, wrote an op-ed piece on the admissions process that highlighted some of the reasons why things have become so competitive and cutthroat over the years. The piece focused primarily on college admissions, but there are multiple mentions of graduate school and examples of HBS, so it seems fair to consider Kinsley’s words from the perspective of graduate school admissions.
Last month we posted Part 1 and Part 2 of our MBA Admissions Mind Control series, in which we explored the ways that admissions officers quickly — and often subconsciously — start to form opinions about your candidacy just seconds after first picking up your application. While admissions officers truly do want to be fair and objective when reviewing every application, they can’t help but be influenced by the thousand of applications they have read before yours.
Attention all business school and law school applicants! Veritas Prep is conducting its first annual survey of applicants to the world’s most competitive MBA programs and law schools. We want to hear from YOU why you’re applying to grad school, where you are in the process, and what matters most to you as an applicant.
If you’re a rising college senior who hopes to get into Harvard Business School’s HBS 2+2 Program, you’re probably already knee-deep in writing and editing your admissions essays. (The deadline is just two weeks from today! Before you know it your summer will be over!) While most of your candidacy is set in stone at this point — your GPA, the work experience you’ve accumulated to date, and probably your GMAT score — there’s still plenty of time to improve your chances with terrific essays and meaningful letters of recommendation.
There is perhaps nothing more satisfying in life than having someone else do the work for you. This applies to tough manual labor, exhausting deep thinking, and everything in between. For some, it represents the pleasure of being able to relax while someone else takes care of things. But, for others, it means making their own tough jobs much easier.
Last week, we talked about using the month of May to jump start your fall applications to MBA programs, and one of the best ways to do that is to take advantage of the opportunity to visit campuses while school is still in session. Waiting to tour a business school (or any grad school) during the summer months is almost a complete waste of time, because there are no classes in session and all you are seeing is a bunch of empty buildings.
Several week ago we posted Part 1 of our “MBA Admissions Mind Control” feature, in which we described how MBA admissions officers tend to form impressions of an applicant within seconds of picking up an application. While this may seem unfair, remember that admissions officers are only human, and they can’t help but be influenced by the hundreds or thousands of applications that they’ve previously read.
Amazingly, a third of 2010 is in the books and we barrel towards May … a month that often represents a clear distinction between the MBA candidates who will prevail in the fall and those who will come up short when they apply to their programs of choice. The candidates who set their dreams in motion now stand a much better chance than someone who “waits for the applications to come out.”
They say hysteria sells. And it sure does, or at least it did, back in the 1980s, when Def Leppards’ Hysteria went on to sell more than 20 million copies worldwide after its release in 1987. The name “Hysteria” was inspired by the surge in media coverage caused by drummer Rick Allen’s Dec. 31 1984 car accident. While Allen’s accident was devastating (he would rebound to drum on Hysteria, and is still with the band today, despite only having one arm) the worldwide “hysteria” caused by his accident dwarfed the event itself, to the band’s bemusement.
People respond to incentives. Such is the main takeaway from the bestselling book Freakonomics (and its soon-to-premiere documentary and follow-up book SuperFreakonomics), and a major competitive advantage worth embracing as you plan your MBA applications. Admissions committees are people, too, and they respond to incentives. To become a better MBA applicant, you should better understand the incentive structure for MBA admissions committees, and give them what they want.
The admissions interview is one of the most important parts of the business school application process, because it’s the only time that the admissions office get a chance to meet the real, live you. Business schools rarely employ the “stress interview” technique, trying to make you squirm and seeing how you perform under pressure. The process is stressful enough, and they’re more interested in getting answers to their questions and getting to know the real you, than in seeing how well you can stand up to stress.
Anyone who grew up watching Star Wars over and over and over has surely wondered what it would be like to be able to employ Jedi mind tricks. While we don’t know anyone who’s able to dodge Storm Troopers using such tricks, we do admire those applicants who can influence MBA admissions officers’ minds from hundreds of miles away.
Recently Harvard Business School announced the 2010 deadline for its HBS 2+2 Program. While the deadline has changed quite a bit since last year (it’s several weeks earlier than before), but the program’s admissions essays actually remain the same.
Waiting is not everyone’s strong suit. Especially for “Type A” applicants dreaming of getting into the world’s most competitive business schools, the idea of “Don’t call us, we’ll call you” just doesn’t sit well. At this time of year, we get lots of questions from waitlisted applicants about whether or not they should solicit additional letters of support from their past supervisors and co-workers. Assuming that your target school welcomes additional input, such letters can help, but only if they meet certain criteria.
Every business school application requires you to submit at least one letter of recommendation. These letters corroborate your admissions story, providing additional evidence of the leadership skills, analytical abilities, teamwork skills, and maturity that you have highlighted in the rest of your application. The best person to do this is normally your direct supervisor, but what if you can’t (or don’t want to) tell your boss yet that you’re applying to business school?
Building on the success of our GMAT Practice Quiz iPhone App, which has been downloaded more than 50,000 times, today we announce the release of the MBA Admissions Predictor, a 100% free, fun tool that will help you answer that time-honored question among business school applicants: “What are my chances of getting in?”
If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you no doubt have picked up on the fact that Harvard Business School has been the most vocal among top business schools about trying to attract younger applicants. By “younger” we mean that, while the mean number of years of work experience for students entering top business schools is still around 5 (note that’s the number of years of full-time work experience at matriculation, not when they submit their applications), Harvard has made a point of encouraging applicants to apply with fewer than three years of experience. In fact, nearly half of the Class of 2011‘s 937 students has no more than three years of full-time work experience.
Part One of our series about applying to business school in Round Three, today we look at a couple of other factors to consider when planning your Round Three admissions strategy.
Another key consideration is the business school to which you’re applying. Schools vary greatly in how they approach Round Three. While some are upfront about the fact that seats go fast and there aren’t many left in Round Three, others (such as UCLA Anderson) make a point of holding seats for the last round, knowing that there will still be many great applicants applying then.
According to Anderson’s MBA Insider’s Blog:
In short, while it’s easy to get too worried about what your salary says about you as an applicant, it’s a good indicator of how well you’ve performed on the job, and of how valuable you are to your employer. It’s one thing to get a promotion or two, but, at the end of the day, did your employer “show you the money?”
To get a reliable read on how well you’ve performed on the job, MBA admissions officers only have several things to go by: What you say in your essays/resume/interview, what your recommendation writers say, and your salary information. Obviously, you will say you were great, and you will probably only request a letter of recommendation from someone who will say the same thing. This is where your salary information comes in. It provides a sort of indisputable “fact check” to see how much the company really valued you.
Continuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top MBA programs, this week we look at three important characteristics that NYU Stern looks for in its applicants. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Stern research.)
Today’s issue of The Daily Pennsylvanian, U. Penn’s student-run newspaper, featured an article about applying top business schools with a blemish or “black mark” in one’s background. The article was mostly written with Wharton in mind, but the article’s main takeaways are applicable for anyone applying to any top business school.
This is the time of year when, every time the phone rings here at Veritas Prep HQ, there’s a good chance it’s an applicant calling to ask us if he should apply to business school in the third admissions round, or if he should wait until next year. The answer, as is the answer for most things in life, is “It depends.”
Earlier this week Beth Flye, assistant dean and director of admissions at the Kellogg School of Management, and Carla Edelston, senior associate director of the school’s Career Management Center, fielded questions from applicants during a live online chat on BusinessWeek. In the chat Flye and Edelston offered up some good nuggets for applicants who are in the thick of the MBA admissions process.
By the time you get to the interview in the MBA admissions process, you’re probably already miles ahead of where you were just a month or two earlier, when you first started preparing your business school applications. Still, while you’ve perhaps become an expert on yourself, your interview skills may be a little rusty (or, maybe you never fully developed them in the first place).
“What if I’m not passionate about doing community service, like seemingly every other business school applicant? Does this make me a bad person? I feel like if I were to do this, it would only be to position myself for b-school and I wouldn’t enjoy it very much. What do these elite b-schools look for in terms of community service?”
Continuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools, this week we take a closer look at Wharton’s first-year core MBA curriculum. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Wharton research.)
The use of social media has exploded in the worlds of graduate school marketing and admissions, so much so that an applicant’s information-gathering process has become a lot easier than it was ten years ago… Or has it? We’ve surveyed the social media landscape in MBA admissions, and have put our findings into a new white paper titled Social Media in MBA Admissions.
An article on BusinessWeek.com yesterday described business schools’ increasing reluctance to hand out admissions deferrals these days. In a climate where some students have a harder time securing loans and others are unable to sell their houses in order to relocate for school, this could put some newly admitted applicants in a tough spot.
Recently Forbes ran an article titled “Trying to Create a Well-Rounded MBA,” which discusses some of the steps business schools have recently taken to ensure that their graduates enter the world with more than just finance and operations skills. “Connecting it all together” is increasingly important, and while some U.S. schools have made important strides in this area, author Matt Symonds argues that some of the most effective programs are actually overseas.
The Round 2 admissions deadline for many top MBA programs is just five or six weeks away. Hopefully you’re already deep into the application-writing process, and have given yourself plenty of time to perfect your essays, manage your recommendation writers, and get your transcripts in order. But, you’re human, just like the rest of us, and odds are that you have more to-do’s than you have remaining time. Or, maybe you’re just getting started with your applications. Or, maybe you still need to take the GMAT (gasp!), or take it again. If that sounds like you, don’t worry — there’s still plenty of time to maximize your chances of admissions success.
For applicants who still have lots of work remaining before their applications are done, following this template will ensure that they spend their time where it can help them the most:
- Finish the GMAT. There’s a good chance that you’re already done with the GMAT, but if you still haven’t taken it, or you want to take it again to try to boost your score, we recommend getting the test out of the way as soon as possible. This allows you to put the test out of your mind and focus on all of the other important parts of your application. You don’t want to end up cramming for the GMAT, hounding your recommendation writers, and trying to finish your essays all at the same time. Since the GMAT is a single, concrete step in your application process, we recommend getting it out of the way and then focusing on the more fluid parts of of the process.
- Start working with your recommendation writers ASAP. There’s probably no part of the MBA admissions process that applicants underestimate (in terms of time and involvement) than letters of recommendation. As we’ve written here recently, letters of recommendation are inherently risky since you’re putting your fate in someone else’s hands. Even the best-intentioned recommendation writer will need lots of time and preparation to write a great recommendation for you. Start early, give your recommenders specific examples of your past achievements, and stay in close touch with them! (Incidentally, your undergraduate transcripts fall into the same category. While they’re not as involved as your recommendations, your fate is in someone else’s hands, so give that person plenty of time!)
- Give yourself time away from your essays. One of the best things you can do with your admissions essays is to step away from them for at least a couple of days, before you get back to editing them. Why? Because when you edit a passage in the same moment that you wrote it, you will tend to read what you thought you wrote, not what you actually wrote. Step away from your essays and look at them with a fresh pair of eyes, and you will not only catch typos, but you will also spot inconsistencies, awkward transitions, or even the fact that you failed to answer the question asked! An MBA admissions expert can also provide you with a valuable second pair of eyes, but this first round of feedback on your own works best when your eyes (and your brain) get a break.
- Focus your efforts.If you’re just getting started now, odds are that you wno’t be able to create half a dozen strong applications in time for most Round 2 deadlines. There is no hard limit to how many schools you should apply to, but the reality is that creating half a dozen applications from scratch in less than six weeks is normally not a recipe for success. Be smart about how thinly you spread your efforts — applying to four or five schools is possible, but beyond that you risk creating sub-par applications. Only apply to an ultra-competitive MBA program if you’re putting your best foot forward — doing anything less is just asking for a rejection letter.
In short, there’s a lot that you can do in the next five weeks, but you need to be smart about what you do, and when you do it. For more advice on your own candidacy, call the MBA admissions experts at Veritas Prep at (800) 925-7737, and we’ll gladly give you an initial assessment of your candidacy!