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Timeout with Trav: Retaking the GMAT

Timeout with Trav: Retaking the GMAT

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,

My GMAT score was 700 (with a 99th percentile in quant, and a 60th percentile in verbal). Should I retake the exam?
– 

Congratulations on your 700 GMAT score!  I think people tend to think that getting a 700 is a piece of cake, but remember that only 1 in 10 test takers gets a 700+, and the population of GMAT takers is primarily college-educated, ambitious, smart people.  Top 10% is a tough crowd!

Filed in: GMAT, MBA Admissions
Timeout with Trav: Letters of Rec for MBA Applications

Timeout with Trav: Letters of Rec for MBA Applications

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com!

Dear Trav,
I run my own business and don’t have any managers. Who should I go to for letters of rec?
– 

We often hear that b-schools want a letter of recommendation from your current supervisor, period.  There are a number of circumstances where this is not possible, and running your own business is certainly one of them.  Fear not!  Admissions officers completely understand that you don’t have a direct supervisor, and they will not hold this against you.  Instead, you should be congratulated on starting and running your own business!  This shows a great deal of leadership ability, calculated risk taking and professional maturity, all of which are highly valued by MBA programs!

Timeout with Trav: An Older Candidate

Timeout with Trav: An Older Candidate

Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com.

Dear Trav,

I want to apply for a full time MBA program, but I am 32 years old. Am I too old for this type of program?

Deciding whether your age will be a damaging factor to your b-school application is an important question!

Timeout with Trav: GMAT or GRE for Business School?

Timeout with Trav: GMAT or GRE for Business School?

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

Dear Trav,

Timeout with Trav: Exploring a low GPA

Timeout with Trav: Exploring a low GPA

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

Dear Trav,

I had a 2.9 GPA in undergrad, although I had some extenuating circumstances. Do you think I have any chance of getting into a top-10 school?

Harvard, Wharton, Yale: What an Interview Can Show

Harvard, Wharton, Yale: What an Interview Can Show

My Harvard Business School interview was one of the most challenging obstacles I’ve ever faced in my life.  Perhaps more challenging than attending HBS itself.  It was by phone (very unusual) because I was based in Mexico and was frequently traveling to rural parts of the country.  It was timed – exactly the 30 minutes that was allotted to me.  My interviewer must have cut me off 4 or 5 times – she’d ask me a question and if she felt that she had either gotten the sufficient information or I was going in the wrong direction, she’d just stop me.  But by the end of it, I felt I’d made a good impression.  Not too good, but hopefully good enough.  There’s no way to know for sure, but it must not have gone too badly, as I was accepted first round to HBS.

An Entrepreneur at HBS

An Entrepreneur at HBS

“What do you mean you didn’t even apply to Stanford?” folks would ask me when I told them I was going to business school to learn about technology, start-ups  and entrepreneurship.  It’s a fair question – in 2012, Stanford graduated 13% entrepreneurs versus HBS’s 7%. And this doesn’t even take into account the Stanford MBA’s who drop out to start business.  So why didn’t I apply to Stanford?  Wasn’t that the clear choice for tech entrepreneurship?  What was I thinking, going to HBS to start a company?

Timeout with Trav: Applying Round 1

Timeout with Trav: Applying Round 1

Click here to read last week’s intro to this new MBA admissions series! Send your admissions questions to timeout@veritasprep.com.

Dear Trav,

I’m thinking about applying to B-schools in the fall of 2013, but most deadlines are 9 or 10 months away. What should I be doing between now and then?

Timeout with Trav: Exploring MBA Admissions

Timeout with Trav: Exploring MBA Admissions

Hello aspiring MBA friends! Trav here. I’m the Director of Admissions Consulting for Veritas Prep and I’m excited to launch this new series on the Veritas Prep blog called “Timeout with Trav.”  Each week, I’ll take time out to answer your questions about MBA admissions, B-school life, and any other fun topics you may decide to throw my way! (Feel free to be creative!)  To ask me a question, simply email it to timeout@veritasprep.com.

MBA Admissions Reality Check: There's Only One Dilfer

MBA Admissions Reality Check: There's Only One Dilfer

Every January, two seemingly-different sets of lofty goals converge around the tale of one man; whether you’re applying to a top ten business school or trying to win the NFL’s Super Bowl, you need to remember that there’s only one Trent Dilfer.

Trent Dilfer, of course, is widely accepted as the (and we say this with admiration) worst (or maybe “least best”?) quarterback to win a modern Super Bowl, the most glaring exception to the commonly-held notion that a team needs an elite quarterback to win the NFL’s championship. Sure, teams with marginal quarterbacks say, most Super Bowls have been won by Montana, Brady, Elway, Aikman, Manning, Bradshaw, etc., but Trent Dilfer did win a Super Bowl, so we have a chance with our guy. But here’s the flaw in that reasoning — it’s easy to remember Dilfer’s name because he’s really the only one who fits that category. He’s surrounded in history by the all-time greats at the position, quarterbacks who won multiple Super Bowls and in other years nearly always had their teams in the hunt. Dilfer is the glaring exception, so we remember his name because he was so rare. There’s only one Trent Dilfer, so if he’s your guiding hope that your team can win with a lackluster quarterback, you’re grasping at incredibly thin odds.

Are You Thinking About Retaking the GMAT?

Are You Thinking About Retaking the GMAT?

Maybe some of you have been there: You didn’t quite break the score you were hoping to break; your quant or verbal is lower than you expected, or maybe your composite score falls below your target school’s range. Should you retake the GMAT?

For some, it may not be a tough decision. If your score is dramatically lower than you expected, and you’re very confident that you can do better, do not hesitate to take the test again. Schools commend applicants who boost their scores, and admissions officers do not penalize candidates who have taken the test more than once. They do, however, always prefer to see improvement. Think of your GMAT score as a data point. If there are two data points, and your second test score is higher than your first, admissions will conclude that you’re capable of that higher score. If they see two data points in descending order, then they may conclude that the first test score is a good indication of your best effort.

My Parent, the Boss

My Parent, the Boss

Today’s post comes from Nita Losoponkul, a Veritas Prep head consultant for UCLA. She 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. 

How to Prep Your Recommenders

How to Prep Your Recommenders

Every component of your business school application is important, however, the recommender portion is a unique opportunity for the admissions committee to see how others perceive and evaluate you.

First, let’s cover the basics. While there is no right or wrong way to choose recommenders, most schools request at least one current or recent direct manager. Additionally, we strongly recommend that you waive your rights to read your recommenders’ submissions. This act demonstrates that you are confident in your recommenders’ abilities to advocate for your candidacy.

Distinguishing Yourself in Your MBA Applications

Distinguishing Yourself in Your MBA Applications

This Veritas Prep Head Consultant received a BA in Economics and Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia and went on to The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts. Eventually, she received her MBA from The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, and is now a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for Tuck. She has experience in environmental consulting, urban education, and finance.

Dear Professor...

Dear Professor...

Today’s post comes from Nita Losoponkul, a Veritas Prep head consultant for UCLA. She 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 Mistake Question

The Mistake Question

Many business schools ask variations on the theme of making mistakes. Describe a time that you failed; what did you learn from a mistake; tell us about a time when you should have done things differently, etc. These are all possible, if not likely, essay questions that you’ll confront during the application process, either during the interview or while writing your essays. Every applicant’s background is different and arguably you are really the only one who knows about your past mistakes. However, we’re here to share some guidelines about “the mistake question” that will help you select the right kind of mistake. For the purposes of this post, we’ll discuss the mistake essay question and how you can write about it in a way that actually sheds light on your strengths.

More Thoughts on Wharton's Team-Based Discussions

More Thoughts on Wharton's Team-Based Discussions

Last week Wharton Admissions Director Ankur Kumar posted an update on how Wharton’s team-based discussions went during Round 1. It sounds as though the experience has been very positive so far, both for the school and for applicants. While we were quite skeptical when Wharton officially rolled out the team-based discussions, and still wonder how authentic the setting truly can be, it’s worth revisiting now that we have some real data coming in.

The feedback we have been hearing from students is that the discussions haven’t turned out to be the shark tanks — with applicants elbowing each other for air time — that some had feared. (We will put ourselves in this group.) If anything, the opposite has occurred, with applicants going out of their way to show how courteous they can be. Multiple outlets and our own clients have reported seeing this effect in action as the discussions have taken place.

6 Reasons You Need at Least 6 Weeks to Finish Your MBA Applications (i.e., Start Now!)

6 Reasons You Need at Least 6 Weeks to Finish Your MBA Applications (i.e., Start Now!)

Each December, we hear from dozens of applicants just a week or two ahead of Round 2 deadlines who are seeking last-minute admissions consulting services. Often, they’re too late to make significant improvements, so we’re offering up to $1000 off admissions consulting services this week to get you started earlier! Here’s why it is so important to start now:

1. You can recycle surprisingly little among different schools’ essay questions.
Every year, we see clients who expect that they can simply do a “Find & Replace” function on their MBA applications, strip out the name of one school and insert the name of another. MBA applicants do this at their peril! Don’t wait until just a couple of weeks ahead of the Round 2 deadlines to start writing your essays for additional schools! Even questions that essentially ask for the exact same information (for example, “Why MBA, why now and why XYZ school,” will ask them in slightly different ways that require significant reworking. Admissions officers see thousands of essays every year, and they can spot a repurposed essay from a mile away. Applying to multiple schools takes time!

Full-Time or Part-Time MBA, That Is the Question

Full-Time or Part-Time MBA, That Is the Question

Today we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Nita Losoponkul. Nita is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant and UCLA Anderson MBA graduate. She 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.

Full-time or part-time… That is often a question that many business school applicants gloss over and don’t even consider asking. Many MBA candidates automatically exclude part-time MBA programs assuming that the programs are either less rigorous (a check box for executive resumes), impossible to balance with work, too expensive, only for older candidates, or less beneficial for networking. While the part-time MBA program is not for everyone (and I am slightly biased as an alumna of the Fully-Employed MBA program at UCLA Anderson), here are some reasons you, a non-traditional part-time MBA candidate, might want to at least explore this possibility as you begin your business school search:

Regarding Tuck

Regarding Tuck

Today’s post comes from a Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant and Tuck alumna. She shares a recent conversation with a client about Tuck and what students can expect if they spend two years in Hanover.

Earlier this spring, I received the following inquiry:

“I think I would like to seriously consider Tuck as an option. Obviously the academics are wonderful, it is well known in general management, it is extremely well established, and it is not so far from my home. I visited Dartmouth when I was applying to undergrad, and Hanover seemed small, without much to offer. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience there?”

This was my reply:

How to Make the Most Out of a Business School Visit

How to Make the Most Out of a Business School Visit

If you can swing it, we highly recommend visiting the schools you are applying to before you submit your applications. Websites and school brochures are great for basic research purposes, but there’s no comparison to experiencing an MBA program in person. Your day on campus will inform your essays and help you craft authentic responses to interview questions. Therefore, when you’re on campus, make the most of your visit!

When you arrive, or at some point before you leave the school, visit the admissions office. Typically, the admissions department will ask you to sign in when you arrive. However, if you’re on a more informal visit, one that you didn’t schedule through the admissions office, make sure you remember to do this. Admissions officers like to see who has visited. While they don’t penalize students for not coming to the school, it never hurts to show your interest and dedication by visiting, so make sure you get credit for your visit! Additionally, the school may offer special activities or events for prospective students. You may only be able to learn about these opportunities through the admissions office. Make sure your visit includes a stop here for this reason.

3 Ways to Prepare for Your MBA Admissions Interview

3 Ways to Prepare for Your MBA Admissions Interview

Now that top-ranked business schools have started to send interview invitations to Round 1 applicants, the conversation has turned to exactly how applicants can prepare themselves for this rite of passage. While business schools rarely try to make the interview a stressful process, applicants can’t help but worry about the pressure they will face in the 30 to 60 minutes they spend face-to-face with tan interviewer.

If you’re one of these folks, or if you simply want to prepare now for an interview invite that will hopefully be coming soon, we bring you the top three ways you can best prep for the business school interview:

The Accidental Bruin Lands at UCLA Anderson

The Accidental Bruin Lands at UCLA Anderson

Today we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Nita Losoponkul. Nita is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant who attended UCLA Anderson. She 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, and today Nita shares what went into her decision to earn an MBA from UCLA Anderson.

Do as I say (well, write), not as I do. That’s the truth. I’m proud to be an alumna of UCLA Anderson’s Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) program, but I took the unlikeliest path to get there, one I don’t recommend anyone else pursuing. I still joke to this day that the Admissions Committee must have had a few too many drinks when they reviewed my application, but knowing the team now, I know they saw something in me that even I didn’t see in myself at the time, and I am truly grateful they did.

How to Decide What Type of MBA Program Is Right for You

How to Decide What Type of MBA Program Is Right for You

When we work with MBA admissions consulting clients, they often start off the first conversation with “What are my chances?” and we often start with “Well, what do you want to do in your career?” This seemingly simple first step makes all the difference in ensuring that you’re on the right path when planning out your MBA application strategy.

What you will get out of a program depends completely on your situation. If you’re a career-changer, then you need to acquire new skills and demonstrate to potential employers that you have what it takes to thrive in their industry. If you want to move up in your current career, then you may only need to acquire a few very specific skills to complement your existing experience. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, then business school may be less about academics and more about networking and meeting future potential business partners. Knowing which of these categories you fall into will help you find the right program and go in with a solid plan for making the most of your time in school.

Three Ways to Sabotage Your Recommendation Writers

Three Ways to Sabotage Your Recommendation Writers

Putting forward excellent letters of recommendation in your MBA application is a challenge: You’re asking someone who probably knows very little about the business school admission game to argue persuasively that an MBA admissions officer should take a chance on you instead of another ultra-impressive candidate. We’ve written before about how you can boost your chances significantly by choosing someone who knows you well and by arming that person with specific examples of your past deeds to illustrate just how terrific you are. Doing these things can dramatically improve your ability to stand out vs. other applicants.

We preach these ideas all the time, but the questions we frequently get from business school applicants tell us that many are still hurting their chances by inadvertently sabotaging their recommenders. How can you manage to sabotage your own recommendation writers? Here are three ways:

Three Critical Steps to Revising an Admissions Essay

Three Critical Steps to Revising an Admissions Essay

It is shocking how often applicants present essays (either to professors, consultants, or even to the admissions committee) that are nothing more than glorified drafts. Crafting an essay is a time intensive process that requires a great deal of revision in order to write with economy, power, and persuasion. You will almost certainly go through multiple revisions with your consultant, but the client who takes the time to execute multiple drafts on their own will be leaps and bounds ahead when it comes time to take the next step.

Whether you are drafting admissions essays for college or for graduate school, proper revision requires at least these three crucial steps:

UCLA Anderson Application Essays for 2012-2013

UCLA Anderson Application Essays for 2012-2013

UCLA’s Anderson School of Management has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2012-2013 admissions season. While Anderson has made fewer dramatic changes than some other prominent business schools have this year, the school did change one of its two required essays, and trimmed the word count for each by 50 words. The essay word count diet continues…

Let’s dig into Anderson’s deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

UCLA Anderson Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 24, 2012
Round 2: January 9, 2013
Round 3: April 17, 2013

Admissions 101: Choosing Your Recommendation Writers

Admissions 101: Choosing Your Recommendation Writers

If you plan on applying to top-ranked MBA programs in Round 1, then you should already be working on your applications. That doesn’t mean that you should already have drafts of all of your essays, but it does mean that you should already have your MBA Game Plan laid out. That includes knowing where you will apply, having your post-MBA career goals sketched out, and knowing who you will want to have write your letters of recommendation.

This last one is often the toughest for applicants since it’s something that’s largely out of their control. Even with all the planning in the world, business school applicants still need to put their fate in someone else’s hands, and hope that their recommenders come through for them. So how do you know who is the best candidate for writing your letters of recommendation?

HBS Clarifies What It Wants from Your Recommendations

HBS Clarifies What It Wants from Your Recommendations

Earlier this week Dee Leopold wrote a piece on the Harvard MBA admissions blog clarifying what the school expects when it comes to the three letters of recommendation in the HBS application. In its application directions, Harvard asks for three recommendations, and states that two should come from a professional source. Somewhat unintentionally, it seems, this has implied that the third should NOT come from a professional source, but Leopold wants applicants to know that this is not the case.

It turns out that the Harvard admissions team was surprised that this was the signal that applicants were getting from these instructions, and now it wants to make clear that the “two should come from professional sources” rule means that at least two should come from the workplace, not that only two should come from this part of your life.

Wharton Officially Rolls out Team-Based Discussion as Part of MBA Admissions Process

Wharton Officially Rolls out Team-Based Discussion as Part of MBA Admissions Process

After piloting the program this past year, Wharton has announced that it will officially roll out its team-based discussion as part of the Wharton MBA admissions process. The news came in an announcement on the Wharton MBA admissions blog.

We were pretty skeptical when Wharton announced last year that it would run a small test of the program with a “randomly selected” group of applicants. Just knowing how stressed that applicants get about anything that involved performing in front of admissions officers in real time, we expected the pilot not to go well. This was our take when the news broke last fall:

UC Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

UC Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. As has been the case with nearly every other top-ranked MBA program this year, Haas has trimmed down its essays, going from six to five required essays in this year’s application, and shortening one from 1,000 to 750 words. Outside of that, there haven’t been too many dramatic changes this year, although the school’s new Essay #1 is an eye opener!

Here are Haas’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

There's Still Time to Register for the MBA Tour in North America!

There's Still Time to Register for the MBA Tour in North America!

We love it when our admissions consulting clients and GMAT students are able to connect directly with admissions officers at their target MBA programs. There are very few ways that are better in terms of getting to know a school, not to mention possibly making a positive impression on the people who may one day decide your fate.

MBA fairs are a great way to meet with admissions officers, and The MBA Tour runs one of the best MBA fairs in the world, which is why we’re happy to partner with them every year to help connect applicants to admissions officers. At no cost, you can experience everything that The MBA Tour has to offer:

Dartmouth (Tuck) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Dartmouth (Tuck) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Darmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently published its application deadlines and admissions essay topics for the Class of 2015. Once again, as we predicted a couple of months ago, another top school has slimmed down its essay count this year. In this case, Tuck actually merged two questions into one, reducing the total number of essays you will need to write for your Tuck application.

Here are the school’s new deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Deadlines
Early Action round: October 10, 2012
November round: November 7, 2012
January round: January 3, 2013
April round: April 2, 2013

MIT Sloan Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

MIT Sloan Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

MIT Sloan has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Sloan has made some tweaks this year, including dropping an essay, which continues a trend that we have seen among top MBA programs so far this year. However, the school’s famous cover letter returns. This cover letter is still unique among other top MBA programs’ application essays; apparently it still works well enough that the Sloan admissions committee wants to keep it around.

Here are MIT Sloan’s application deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

MIT Sloan Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 24, 2012
Round 2: December 27, 2012

NYU Stern Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

NYU Stern Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

NYU’s Stern School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015. Just as we have seen with other top-ranked business schools so far, Stern has made some notable changes to its essays this year. In Stern’s case, we don’t see any trimming of essays or words, but we do see a new push to make sure you’ve researched the school as well as an entirely new career goals essay that we like for its creativity.

Here are NYU Stern’s deadlines and essays for the coming admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:

NYU Stern Application Deadlines
Round 1: November 15, 2012
Round 2: January 15, 2013
Round 3: March 15, 2013

Yale SOM Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Yale SOM Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

The Yale School of Management has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Continuing the trend we’ve seen emerge among top business schools over the past month, Yale has changed a lot this year. However, in Yale’s case, once you dig down a bit deeper you realize that Yale is still mostly looking for the same attributes in its applicants this year.

Here are the school’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Yale SOM Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 4, 2012
Round 2: January 8, 2013
Round 3: April 18, 2013

Wharton Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Wharton Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Wharton has released its application deadlines and essays for the 2012-2013 admissions season. Last year Wharton didn’t make too many big changes after really mixing it up the year before. Let’s dig into this year’s application and see how much things have changed this year.

Here are Wharton’s deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015, followed by our comments in italics:

Wharton Admissions Deadlines

Round 1: October 1, 2012
Round 2: January 3, 2013
Round 3: March, 2013 (exact date TBD)

Stanford GSB Admissions Deadlines for 2012-2013

Stanford GSB Admissions Deadlines for 2012-2013

Following Stanford GSB’s recent release of its admissions essays for the 2012-2013 admissions season, Stanford has just released its application deadlines for the coming year. Not too many changes, although the school’s Round 1 deadline keeps creeping a bit earlier. This can make your job seem tougher, but there is also a benefit in the grand scheme of things, which we discuss below.

Here are Stanford’s admission deadlines for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford Graduate School of Business Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 3, 2012
Round 2: January 9, 2013
Round 3: April 3, 2013

Ready for Your MBA? Meet Top Business Schools at an Event Near You

Ready for Your MBA? Meet Top Business Schools at an Event Near You

We always tell applicants that the very best way to get to know an MBA program is to visit the school. The next best thing, however, is when the school visits you! The upcoming MBA Tour Conferences involve a variety of formats to help you gain a competitive edge in the admissions process.

If you’re researching business schools, events like this one are an excellent way to get to know schools better as you narrow down your list of target programs. Additionally, individual school presentations will allow you to easily compare programs and get your questions answered in a comfortable setting. The larger MBA Fair will give you a chance to meet one-on-one with admission directors and alumni representatives.

What happens at The MBA Tour Conferences?

Stanford MBA Application Essays for 2012-2013

Stanford MBA Application Essays for 2012-2013

Stanford GSB recently released its MBA admissions essays for the 2012-2013 application season. You may notice some changes to the essays since last year; we’ll dig into those changes below. Perhaps most significantly, just as we predicted last month, Stanford removed one of its required essays this year, although the total recommended word count remains the same.

As it has done for the past several years, Stanford’s admissions committee provides some high-level advice right on its own website. While we think this advice is generally good, we don’t see anything in Stanford’s advice that hasn’t been said many times before. Still, any advice that comes straight from the horse’s mouth deserves your attention!