The GMAC Executive Assessment: A New Way to Evaluate EMBA Applicants

GMAT Select Section Order PilotImagine a world where you could take the GMAT, but it was over in 90 minutes, and no advanced preparation was required. It sounds too good to be true, but the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC®) launched a new product, the GMAC® Executive Assessment, on March 1 that is designed to give Executive MBA programs a new way to evaluate candidates.

EMBA programs have struggled with making standardized testing compulsory in recent years. Candidates typically have much more work experience than full-time or part-time applicants, and thus are further removed from an academic classroom experience (and often have even less time to prepare for and take a standardized test). The GMAC® Executive Assessment gives applicants another testing option that looks a lot like the GMAT, but may have an easier path to success.

Let’s take a closer look at how this is similar to and different from the GMAT:

Shorter Sections
The GMAC® Executive Assessment contains three (3) sections: Integrated Reasoning, Verbal and Quantitative. Each section is just 30 minutes long, and the exam is delivered on-demand at existing test centers around the globe. Scores are valid for 5 years, unofficial scores are provided at the test center upon completion, and the same basic registration guidelines hold true (compared to the GMAT exam). Candidates are required to register at least 24 hours in advance, ID requirements at the test center are the same as the GMAT, and while there is an on-screen calculator for IR, there isn’t one for the Quantitative section.

In terms of test structure, there are 40 questions: 12 Integrated Reasoning, 14 Verbal, and 14 Quantitative. Regarding pacing, there are no differences across Integrated Reasoning, but you do gain a little bit of time on the verbal and quantitative sections (compared to the GMAT). Also, the order of sections is slightly different than the GMAT, with Integrated Reasoning leading off, followed by Verbal and then Quantitative.

From a content perspective, the test seems to be consistent with current GMAT questions, but with a slightly more skewed focus towards business. If some of the practice questions posted by GMAC® look familiar, they are – they appeared in previous versions of the Official Guide which seems to suggest content that that is consistent with current GMAT questions.

Finally, once you start the test, it will be a race to the finish with no breaks between sections.

Bigger Price, Different Retake Policy
While the test is similar to the GMAT from a content perspective, there are definitely some significant differences. First, prepare yourself for a little sticker shock: you might think since you’re getting fewer questions and you’re in and out of the test center faster, there might be a discount, however, this shorter assessment will actually cost you more ($350, compared to $250 for the GMAT). However, there is no fee for rescheduling – unless you’re less than 24 hours from your appointment – or for additional score reports.

If you’re not happy with your score, you can re-test, but you can only do so once, so make sure you’re ready! Rather than waiting 16 days to re-test like the GMAT, the waiting period is only 24 hours.

Computer Adaptive? Yes, But…
This test is not computer adaptive in the way that the GMAT is, so your answer to a question does not dictate which question you’ll see next. Rather, questions are released in groups (based on your performance on the previous group). This type of testing is called multi-stage adaptive design. The score scale is different as well – total scores will be reported on a scale of 100-200, and individual sections on scales of 0-20.

How Do You Prepare for the Executive Assessment?
One of the benefits of the Executive Assessment being touted by GMAC® is the reduction in significant preparation for this test. GMAC® advocates minimal preparation and has not rolled out any preparation materials specifically designed for this assessment. While a shorter test might suggest less preparation required, it also give candidates an opportunity to truly shine and demonstrate mastery of certain subjects and critical reasoning skills.

Which EMBA Programs Accept It Today?
Just like currency, a test is only as good as the institutions that accept it. Currently, the exam is being touted as an EMBA admissions tool. Six schools have signed on to use it as part of their admissions processes:  INSEAD (France), CEIBS (China), London Business School (United Kingdom), the University of Hong Kong, Columbia University (New York, USA), and the University of Chicago (Illinois, USA). How the schools are using it varies by program.

In terms of preference, LBS’ website suggests that they’ll accept either the Executive Assessment or the GMAT while CEIBS indicates a preference for the Executive Assessment. Columbia, the University of Chicago, and the University of Hong Kong will accept the GMAT, GRE or Executive Assessment, and INSEAD only lists the GMAT currently (as of 3/11/2016), but we can assume they’ll accept either  the GMAT or Executive Assessment for future applicants.

We’ll take a deeper look at the Executive Assessment and schools in our next article, but initial feedback seems positive. LBS’ blog touts it as a quality tool because it is “relevant to executives in terms of its content (much more focus on critical thinking, analysis and problem solving, and much less on pure mathematics and grammatical structures).” At Veritas Prep, we’re committed to staying abreast of the latest developments and trends in the graduate business space, and helping candidate identify the best assessment and mode of preparation.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

By Joanna Graham

See All That Tuck Has to Offer During Their Upcoming Military Visit Day

Tuck School LogoDartmouth’s Tuck School of Business will be hosting a special day for future military applicants on Monday, April 18, 2016. If you are a currently in the military (or are a veteran) and are interested in pursuing your MBA, Tuck has planned a full day of events to help set you up for success in your business school application process.

There will be a chance to sit in on an MBA class and attend panels hosted by members of the Tuck Admissions Committee, current Military students, the Career Development Office and the Financial Aid Office. If you are planning to apply to the Tuck Class of 2019, you may also have the opportunity to schedule an admissions interview, if you are ready.

In addition, for those who arrive early before the event, members of the Tuck’s Armed Forces Alumni Association will be hosting an informal social for event attendees on Sunday, April 17, the night before the event.

Military Visit Day officially kicks off at 7:30am, Monday morning. Tuck looks forward to having you in Hanover!

Click here to register now! 

If you’re interested in applying to Tuck, or any other MBA program, call us at 1-800-925-7737 to speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Utilize Kobe Bryant’s Strategies to Write the Perfect Accomplishment Essay

kobeKobe Bryant, superstar guard of the L.A. Lakers, chose to announce his retirement from the NBA this year by writing a poem addressed to the game of basketball. Inspired by Kobe’s interest in writing, and his last NBA All-Star game appearance, this entry uses Kobe’s well-documented life and career as a case study for MBA candidates who are trying to decide what points to highlight in their application essays.

If Kobe were to apply to business school and write an Accomplishments Essay on his career, these would be my suggestions (which are, of course, applicable to your own application essays):

Highlight a Team Accomplishment
With a myriad of individual accomplishments to choose from – such as being 3rd on the NBA all-time scoring list, being an MVP, or multiple All-NBA and All-Star selection including an incredible 81-point game – it would be best for Kobe to choose a team accomplishment to highlight. This would help mitigate the Admissions Committee’s concerns about him being too individualistic (and and views that he is an egotistical maniac).

Lesson: For candidates involved with very technical or individual work, highlighting interpersonal skills or group accomplishments will help address stereotypical biases and display a multi-dimensional personality. It will assure the program you are applying to that you will be able to contribute positively to group experiences both in and out of the classroom.

Provide Essential Details
To dive into his essay further, Kobe could choose to write about his first championship where he had to take on a major role in a critical game (for the NBA fans, this is Game 4 of the 2000 finals) as a highlight. Playing on a sprained ankle, Kobe had to step up to the challenge when the Lakers’ main star, Shaquille O’Neal, had to leave the game due to six fouls.

He could then weave into his story how hours of practice finally paid off and how he happy he was to deliver for his team, after remembering how he disappointed he felt after he had let the team down in 1997, as an 18 year-old, when he missed four airballs in a similar scenario.

Lesson: This example would encompass several key aspects of an MBA candidate’s profile, including ability to perform under pressure, handle large-scale responsibility at a young age, and work through personal difficulties, and including the story about the 1997 disappointment would show humility, perseverance, and resilience. These are admirable and relatable characteristics, which are important to remember when writing these essays. It will be helpful to come across as somebody that can be identified with, somebody that people would want to root for, rather than only being an otherworldly talent or incredibly fortunate heir.

Recognize Help and Mentorship
Acknowledging superstar teammate Shaq as the lead player and mentioning the guidance provided by legendary coach Phil Jackson during his essay would help Kobe come across as genuine, humble, and a good team player.

Lesson: When writing these essays, some applicants are tempted to grab all the credit. In team-based accomplishments, one wants to communicate not only his or her contributions, but also the ability to work with and learn from others.

Finally, for that slam-dunk essay, while accolades and statistics are important, Kobe’s (and your) profile has to resonate with very human qualities and a personal story explaining the journey to truly impress MBA Admissions Committees.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.

What is the TOEFL Exam?

GoalsThere are many acronyms involved with applying for the most important graduate business education acronym of them all: the MBA. From GPAs to GMATs, all of these acronyms can get pretty confusing. One such important acronym that often flies under the radar is the TOEFL.

Now why is the TOEFL so important? Well, it is a required component of any international application. From a foundational perspective, the TOEFL is a standardized exam used to assess the English language proficiency of non-native speakers.

The overall TOEFL score is used to ensure that international students will be able to handle a predominantly English-speaking educational environment. As such, the TOEFL scores international applicants on their communicative English skills, such as their listening, reading, writing, and speaking ability. The test also evaluates international applicants on the basis of their enabling skills, like grammar, pronunciation, oral fluency, spelling, vocabulary and written discourse abilities.

Like the GMAT, there is no “passing” or “failing” score for the TOEFL – an acceptable score is one that is above the minimum threshold for your target program. Some programs do not have a minimum score required, so be sure to research what the requirements are for your schools of interest before preparing for this test. For those programs that do require a minimum TOEFL score, the magic number is a score of 100 at most schools, with higher requirements at outlier programs like Booth, Harvard Business School, and INSEAD.

Some programs will also waive the TOEFL requirements for some applicants, but this is usually due to having ample past work experience where English is the official working language or having been educated at the primary, secondary or undergraduate level from an English speaking institution. Waivers for the TOEFL will be evaluated on a case by case and school by school basis, so make sure to do your due diligence here if you are considering a waiver.

The TOEFL is a necessary part of the business school application process, so if you are an international applicant, make sure you know the requirements at your target programs and proceed accordingly.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can find more of his articles here.

Breaking Down Your MBA Deferred Enrollment Options

GMATMany candidates start considering business school very early in their professional careers, while others start investigating even earlier as undergraduate students. Some of the top MBA programs in the world provide options for these eager college students to begin the application process for business school early.

For college students, this is an opportunity to earn an early business school admit – before even graduating college – from some of the top MBA programs in the world. This option is usually accompanied by some requirement to complete a few years of work experience, but some programs will allow students to matriculate immediately following undergrad.

Let’s explore a few of the top deferred enrollment programs and how they differ from each other:

Yale SOM
Yale’s deferred enrollment program is called the Yale Silver Scholars Program. This program is unique because it allows graduating students to begin their MBA immediately after graduation. For young applicants looking to complete their MBA at a top business school as soon as possible, this is a great option.

Silver Scholars is structured as a three-year program: the first year of the program builds business fundamentals through a core set of classes, with the second year taking students off campus through an extended internship that serves to supplement that lack of work experience Silver Scholars possess, while adding a more practical component to the program. In the final year of the program, students utilize the Yale electives curriculum to personalize their education and pursue unique areas of interest.

Harvard Business School
Harvard’s deferred enrollment program is called the HBS 2+2 Program. It is one of the most well-known and longest running of the MBA deferred enrollment programs. In the 2+2 program, participants must complete two years of HBS-approved post-undergrad work prior to matriculation. If you’re already a grad student don’t fret – with the 2+2 program, as long as you have not held a full-time work position you are still eligible to apply.

Stanford
The Stanford MBA Deferred Enrollment Program offers applicants the opportunity to directly enroll in their program or pursue full-time work experience for between one and three years prior to matriculation. The school then ultimately decides which program is optimal for the student and reserves the right to place the applicant appropriately.

As always, research is the key, so go beyond secondary research and connect with current program participants and admissions officers to get a feel for which program best addresses your development needs and whether deferred enrollment makes sense for you and your career goals.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can find more of his articles here.

How to Get Your Boss to Write You a Great Letter of Recommendation

RecommenderOne of the only external sources of information within an MBA application package is the voice of one’s recommendations. For such an important component, it is critical to arm your recommender with enough information to allow them to successfully draft their evaluation of the time you have worked together.

Now, let us consider the recommendation process from the side of the recommender – they are typically more senior working professionals who manage multiple people, and they are often very busy and a bit ignorant of the MBA application process, which is obviously no fault of their own. So the more you can inform and shepherd them through the process the better your ultimate evaluation will be.

Let’s discuss a few ways you can better support the evaluation process for your recommenders:

Timelines
This might be one of the most important reasons to help your recommenders. Remember, YOU are applying to school, not them. It is in your best interest to make sure they are clear on all dates and deadlines – a missed deadline can equate to you missing a target admissions round. I even like to give recommenders a hard deadline in advance of the real one, so even if they miss your self-imposed deadline, which many unfortunately will, you will still be in good shape. All recommendations are due the same time as the applications, so schedule accordingly.

Personal Information
Although we like to assume our supervisors know everything about us, sometimes they need a bit of a reminder. As such, it is wise to create a package for them highlighting your accomplishments during your time in the organization, and working with them in particular. Included in this package, you should also state your motivation for pursuing an MBA and any other relevant information about your career trajectory. The more connected your recommenders are to your future success, the better your recommendation will be.

School Information
In your recommender package, you should also provide some information on each of the schools you are applying to. Every school has a unique culture and approach to graduate business education, so try to communicate this to your recommender. Such information could potentially help them shape the content of your evaluation to fit that particular school. Also, make sure your recommenders are clear on the specific questions and recommendation protocols at each school – remember, many are uninformed when it comes to the process, so make their work as easy and straightforward as possible.

Take ownership of your MBA application process by supporting your recommender in the areas above. By following these tips, you will ensure your recommendation remains an area of strength for your candidacy.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can find more of his articles here

3 Points International Candidates Need to Highlight in Their MBA Applications

PassportInternational MBA applicants to top programs frequently ask how much they should focus on their home countries in their applications, versus demonstrating their similarities to the typically-admitted domestic student. This is a good question, as balancing between fitting in with one’s target MBA program and standing out by bringing something unique to one’s application is a line that all candidates tread carefully.

An international applicant will usually have more materials to consider adding to their application, given the experience of growing up, studying, and working in another country. Even for second-generation immigrants, the wealth of influences and heritage from another culture could be a rich source of essay topics and passing references to consider. Used correctly, they add character and breadth, enhancing the readability of an application, which can help a candidate stand out from a competitive pool of other accomplished applicants from the same industry and country.

If you are applying to business school as an international applicant, take a look at these three factors you should focus on in your application:

1) Uniqueness
MBA essays are best used to tell a unique personal story that allows readers to understand the candidate’s motivation and goals. As an international candidate, you can use your country’s economic, cultural, or even political situations as an interesting and complementary backdrop to further stand out.

Let’s look at some examples of how this can be done:

  • An applicant managing a business from a growing consumer market could be played up to show the candidate’s potential to be a bridge for companies seeking to enter the lucrative market. This would flow nicely into the applicant’s post-MBA goal of leading a global company’s international unit.
  • An applicant who navigated and hurdled a developing country’s political and regulatory challenges to successfully lead a large-scale project of a foreign entity could use this experience to demonstrate his or her maturity and leadership qualities.
  • Candidates from a country encountering great difficulties could position themselves as people who are in a unique position to give back to their country of origin post-MBA, while also helping open the eyes of the student community to global issues.

These experiences show the potential of candidates to serve as a resource for interesting classroom discussions, enriching the experiences of classmates, while also serving as a future bridge to alumni with interest in their respective countries.

Likewise, a sentence or two identifying strong core values and influences that defined a family’s history and how it inspires the applicant serve she dual purpose of showing a personal side to leave a vivid impression with the Admissions Committee, and demonstrating the candidate’s underlying motivation and personal traits. Executing this precisely will result in a profile that comes across genuinely and stands out from the pack.

Applying the right dose of details and balance between personal sentiments and professional rationality on these topics is key in ensuring your essays stay unique and on track.

2) International Exposure
For international candidates who spent most of their lives in their home countries, it is particularly helpful to mention experiences with exchange programs, international assignments, travels abroad, or at the minimum, working with cross-cultural teams. These do not necessarily have to take up major space – sprinkling in tidbits at appropriate instances will still make for an interesting and engaging read. It also helps demonstrate an international mindset, adaptability, and intellectual curiosity.

Instances of initiating projects and leading teams with international components are also valuable, as these will help show the ability to actively contribute to classroom discussions and group project dynamics. Showcasing your teamwork skills via an international setting in this way will assure the Admissions Committee that you will be able to adjust to life on campus, benefit from their program, and contribute to the experiences of your MBA peers.

3) Confidence!
The content and tone of your overall application should be confident that you are an excellent fit for the program, able to keep pace with the academics and classroom rigors the school requires, and maximize your overall experience. Coming from an environment, school, or firm that is different from the usual sources of MBA candidates, you must ensure that confidence in your intellectual horsepower and personal traits comes through, especially in your essays. Standardized measures, such as a great GMAT score, will also help address this.

Crafting such an application requires honest reflection and self-awareness – most applicants find themselves more focused and motivated after investing the time and effort to do so, thus making the whole exercise a valuable experience, so be sure you take ample time to reflect before beginning your writing process.

Creating a personal story while highlighting your successes handling complex projects or academic accomplishments, and combining this with a post-MBA goal that is both compelling and realistic are the usual ingredients for a strong application, and adding the right international flavor to this recipe will help your candidacy shine even more. Finding the right flow between answering the specific questions directly and adding international elements may be challenging, but successfully pulling it off  will result in a very personal and powerful application package.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.

Financial Times Ranks INSEAD as the #1 MBA Program in the World

INSEADThe Financial Times recently released their Global MBA Rankings for 2016, and this year, INSEAD topped the list. This is the first time a “one-year MBA program” has ranked #1 in the Financial Times‘ rankings.

With this honor, INSEAD also becomes only the fifth school to ever assume the top spot in the Financial Times‘ 18-year history of publishing their rankings – the only schools to reach #1 thus far have been Harvard Business School, the Stanford Graduate School of Business, London Business School, and the Wharton School of Business, all of which occupy the rest of the top five slots for this year’s rankings.

INSEAD prides itself on being the “business school of the world,” and boasts of an international faculty and student body of over 80 different nationalities that enriches classroom discussions and creates life changing experiences for its students through its cultural diversity and views. INSEAD’s campuses in France and Singapore further add to the student experience with opportunities to travel across Europe and Asia with fellow MBA participants during the program.

In his letter to INSEAD alumni, Dean Ilian Mihov attributes the school’s #1 ranking to what INSEAD values: “diversity, academic excellence, entrepreneurial culture and extensive global alumni network.” The school’s international faculty also works together to continuously improve its curriculum and deliver exceptional educational experiences to all its students in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. Mihov also shared that this marked a “triple first” for INSEAD, becoming the first and only school to have all three of its MBA programs ranked #1 by the FT in their respective categories: INSEAD MBA ranked #1 for MBA programs, the Tsinghua INSEAD EMBA ranked #1 for EMBA programs, and the INSEAD Global EMBA was honored as the highest ranked single school program.

In a separate letter, the INSEAD MBA Admissions team shared the profile of its latest intake of 514 students, with 75 nationalities represented – 30% of them women – including students from Indian, American, Chinese, French, British, and Canadian nationalities. The average age of INSEAD’s incoming class is 29 and its average GMAT score is 702.

INSEAD has also continued its “Conditional Acceptance Offer” of offering a place to candidates who have the potential and quality to be admitted, but need one more year of professional experience. Introduced in 2014, the school has found this offer to be a good way to retain young, bright candidates for future MBA classes. 15 students received such an offer for their latest intake.

Surely this remarkable achievement will be something to consider when determining whether INSEAD is the right business school for you.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.

3 Things to Consider If You Are Applying to Business School as an Investment Banker

MBA AdmissionsInvestment banks are one of the biggest feeders of talent into business schools around the world. Investment bankers have consistently earned a reputation as quant jocks with powerful academic pedigrees and great senior leadership exposure. With backgrounds like this, it should come as no surprise that bankers flood campuses at elite MBA programs across the globe.

With such great numbers comes challenges as well. Many schools could easily fill a classroom with qualified bankers if they so chose, but with diversity of experience being such an important component of a quality MBA student community, schools seek instead to balance out the student body with people from various career backgrounds. As an overrepresented applicant pool, bankers must think strategically about how to position their candidacy.

Let’s explore some of the things to keep in mind as you construct your application as an investment banker:

Stand Out:
I know this is easier said than done, but with so much competition coming out of investment banks, it is important to find areas within your application that will distinguish you from the hordes of other applicants from your bank and others. This does not need to be limited to just the professional arena either, so explore the personal side of your credentials as well. Focus on highlighting areas where you have made an impact in your personal or professional careers to separate you from the masses.

Personalize Your Profile:
One of the biggest mistakes many bankers make when applying to business school is focusing exclusively on their professional career. This is a negative knock on professionals from this industry, so grab the admissions committee’s attention and go the opposite way by personalizing your application process. Business schools truly evaluate candidates in a holistic manner, so take advantage of the more personal touch points of your application, such as the essay, interview, and short answer questions to tell your story. Utilizing these aspects to humanize your profile is a great way to stand out from the competition.

Highlight Extracurriculars:
Another useful way to distinguish yourself from other MBA candidates is to highlight your history of engagement outside the work place. Schools see candidates who have this track record as likely to continue this trend as future students and alumni of their programs. Also, with the long hours bankers tend to work, many are unable to take on meaningful extracurricular opportunities – go against the norm here, and develop some experience in this capacity outside of the office to further differentiate your profile from other bankers.

Follow the tips above to stand out from your competition in the investment banking industry.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can find more of his articles here

What is a “Good” Weakness to Put in Your MBA Application?

SAT/ACT“What are your weaknesses?”

Most MBA applicants find this to be the most difficult question to answer.

As professionals and entrepreneurs, we are trained to put our best foot forward in order to sell our businesses and ourselves. We think and rehearse how to best present our strengths, while hardly spending any time considering our weaknesses. Understandably, addressing this question during one’s MBA application essay or interview usually proves to be quite a challenge.

Asked to identify his weaknesses, a typical MBA applicant will ask him or herself two questions:

1) What should I avoid mentioning?
Everyone worries about giving an answer that will reveal a fatal flaw to the admissions committee and hurt one’s chances at being admitted to an MBA program. Thus, a frequent mistake is to answer this question using a fake weakness – saying something like, “I am too smart,” or, “I work too effectively,” does not really answer the question and will just irritate your audience. Presenting yourself as unrealistically perfect will also diminish the genuine strengths you have, and create doubt in the accomplishments you have discussed throughout the essays or the interview, as it makes you appear incapable of an honest self-assessment.

Another similar no-no is to blame somebody else for your weakness. Do not attribute a weakness solely to your work environment, personal circumstances, or ethnicity – this comes across as a reckless generalization and will not add any value to your case. It will also only shift the conversation into a negative tone and counter the strong, optimistic vibe that you want to be associated with.

2) What exactly are they looking for?
Admissions committees are looking for applicants who will greatly benefit from attending their school’s MBA program, and who can contribute to the experience of other MBA participants. Using this as a guide, the weakness question should be used to demonstrate character traits of self-awareness, ability to learn from failures, and open-mindedness to effectively use feedback and criticism.

An applicant should identify specific skills and knowledge gaps that he or she will need to work on in order to reach her post MBA goals – ideally, specifics of the target MBA program in terms of courses, culture, or community should be matched to these potential growth areas.

Executing this answer properly will put forth an honest reflection that shows genuine interest in a school’s MBA program and convinces the admissions committee that the applicant has really researched the school’s offering. Effectively demonstrating your potential to gain from, and contribute to, an MBA program through your personal story will help convince the admission committee of your fit with their school. Filling in details of how you have addressed your identified weakness or how you are in the process of doing so will also help show how proactive you are, and how you will greatly benefit from this particular MBA program.

A final tip: whenever you are asked about strengths and weaknesses in one question, whether in an essay or an interview, you must allocate time and space as evenly as possible between talking about the two. Most applicants spend 2/3 or more of the space they are given for strengths leaving little room to develop the weakness portion of the answer. This type of answer will look like it was just glossed over, and that the question was not answered adequately – it will also not allow you to make a proper case as to why you will benefit from the program.

A good answer to the “weakness” question strengthens your case to be admitted to your target MBA program even as you identify a real weakness. Skillfully weaving stories of your personal experiences, self-reflection, and vision through discussion of this weakness will make your profile unique and compelling to the admissions committee.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.

Are You Too Young to Apply to Business School?

Make Studying FunBusiness school is one of the few power graduate degree programs where age and work experience play a key role in the admissions process as well as quality of the overall student community. Graduate programs in law and medicine often admit students right out of undergraduate university with no expectation of work experience, but with business school, age, maturity, and work experience often play a critical role in the assessment process.

As a younger candidate applying to business school, it is important that you think critically about how age factors into your chances and whether you are old enough – from both an age and maturity perspective – to compete for a spot at the top schools in the world. Let’s explore some of the aspects that should factor into this determination:

Career Clarity:
Is your rationale for applying to business school at this moment sound? Why is this year the ideal year for you? Could next year make more sense? Oftentimes, candidates will have set in their mind that they need to go to business school on a set time-table, as soon as possible – make sure your rationale is focused instead on an authentic reasoning for applying. Younger candidates are put under additional scrutiny to ensure they have really thought through why business school is the ideal next step in their career, so make sure you have a good answer for the Admissions Committee when thinking through this key question.

Work Experience:
Have you cultivated the requisite amount of quality professional work experience to contribute to an MBA classroom? It is not enough to just have the right GPA, GMAT score, and pedigree to apply – your ability to add value to the student community for your classmates is another critical element that the Admissions Committee will evaluate you on. With the increase in team-based assignments in business schools around the world, your ability to contribute to group and classroom educational dynamics is critical to the experience of others. If you have no work experiences to share during classroom discussions, it will be difficult for admissions to see you as a viable candidate.

Class Profile:
Historically, certain schools such as Harvard and Stanford have been unafraid to lean a bit younger in targeting potential MBA students. Understanding the reputation of your target program and investigating how its class profile may factor into admissions decisions can help you better curate your list of potential programs. The question of whether you are qualified or not still remains the most important, but by evaluating trends in class composition at your target program, you can save yourself a lot of precious time in the application process.

Use the criteria above to evaluate whether right now is truly the best time for you to apply to business school, and use this evaluation to stress in your applications why your young age will not hinder you in pursuing an MBA at this time.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

How to Seek Scholarships as an International MBA Candidate

moneyEvery year, the world’s top business schools become more and more expensive. There are various ways to pay for one’s MBA education, and for domestic students, the process is pretty straightforward. Many students will utilize loans as one of their primary forms of payments, others will pay out of pocket or enjoy the benefits of an employee sponsorship.

One of the most coveted forms of paying for an MBA is the scholarship, because it usually comes with no attached financial commitment to repay the money one is given. Now, these lucrative scholarships do not come easy, especially for international students. Free money is difficult to come by as is, but for international students, there are a few complicating factors.

The biggest challenge international students face with this process is the origin of the scholarship money – most scholarships that are applicable to MBAs at business schools in the United States usually come from domestic donors, and for this reason, the money is largely earmarked for domestic students. This leaves very little available money for international students. If you are an international student, make sure you use this information to research scholarships that are open to, or specifically target, international students.

Keep in mind, if you are applying from an over-represented group, this process may be even more competitive for you. With so many students applying for so little available money, attempting to secure a scholarship can be daunting, which makes it even more important to put your best foot forward in the application process (of course for admission purposes, but also for the limited available money). Candidates with top-notch profiles will obviously stand out in this phase of the process, as many scholarships are administered based on career potential and available scores and grades.

Do not limit your scholarship search simply to those provided by your school. Publicly available scholarships are certainly out there, and if your profile or career trajectory align with the requirements of the organization offering the scholarship, you may be “in the money.” Conducting a basic online search is a good way to find out what scholarships are available, and applicable, to you.

The best advice I can give to international students here is to try and get into the best and most reputed school possible – this will afford you the best career options and highest potential future income level, scholarship or not. Know the realities of the scholarship search and the unique challenges for international students, and set yourself up for success in securing financial support for your education.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

What to Do if You Are Waitlisted

Letter of RecommendationYou’ve made it through the admissions process, completed your interview, and think you have a good shot at being admitted. Instead, you get that discouraging letter that you aren’t in – at least, not yet. There is good news and bad news when it comes to being put on the waitlist for the business school of your dreams. The bad news is that you’ll have to wait a bit longer to get in. The good news is that the waitlist is not the death of your MBA admissions campaign.

Think of it as a new beginning, another chance to prove to the admissions committee why you are deserving of admittance to their school. Remember, business schools only put people on the waitlist who they think are good candidates and have the chance to be admitted. Very often it simply becomes a numbers game, and schools have to wait and see how students from your demographic are accepting or not accepting their admission offers. If you do end up on the waitlist, here are some tips for how you can help improve your situation:

Read the Waitlist Letter and Follow Its Instructions
Some schools will want you to follow up your waitlist letter with additional information, such as a new recommender, update on your job, or a progress report on classes you might be taking. However, some schools make it clear that they will reach out to you when the time comes, and do not want any further materials sent to them. Whatever they say, do it. Don’t think you’ll be able to get on the good side of the committee by reaching out to the admissions director with a “question” about your status. Follow the instructions that are given to you.

Asked for Additional Information?
If the waitlist letter does give you the chance to provide additional information, consider the following:

  • Providing an update on recent projects at work or sharing a recent promotion or achievement award.
  • Making clear how passionate you are about the school.
  • Showing how you have, or are addressing, shortfalls in your application. For example, do you know you have a low Quant score on the GMAT? Make sure you are taking some stats classes at your local community college to supplement this aspect of your application.

Have a Backup Plan
Now is the time to build a backup plan and put it into action. Whether that is applying to more schools, retaking the GMAT, or staying at your job for another year, you never want to leave yourself with no options.

Be Patient
No one likes being told “no,” and our first instinct is to make that person change his or her mind. However, Admissions Committees have been reviewing thousands of candidates for a long time – they know what they are looking for. Now is not the time to panic and risk embarrassing yourself with constant calls to the admissions office. Instead, focus on other applications you might be working on, maintain a high work output, and try to remain positive. Worst case scenario, you will be able to reapply next year.

Good luck, and if it’s meant to be, don’t hold the fact that you were put on the waitlist against the school. Just remember, your future MBA diploma won’t say anything about your previous waitlist status.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

How to Show Fit During the Interview Process at Kellogg

Kellogg School of ManagementIf you have received an interview invite to the prestigious Kellogg School of Management, then congratulations! Kellogg has historically been known as a program that really focuses on admitting “real people,” and thus, is one of the few top MBA programs that strives to interview every candidate. The program has long been known for its strong student community and this thorough interview process goes a long way in determining if potential candidates can make the cut in this area.

Hopefully, you have already conducted tons of research to prepare yourself for the big day. You know the ins and outs of the school’s academic programs, have a good handle of the recruiting advantages, and even have a comprehensive list of the top extra-curricular activities you’d like to lead. In addition to these factors, understanding the importance of fit at Kellogg is critical in identifying what the program looks for in potential candidates and how you can best position yourself for interview success. Let’s examine some key ways you can showcase fit to your Kellogg interviewer:

Intellectual Ability
This is business school, after all. Kellogg is looking for the best and the brightest, so it is important to project that you can hang academically, as well as bring a diverse point of view to the classroom. Utilizing professional anecdotes here can certainly do the trick, but the structure and style of your communication can also go a long way here.

Problem Solving Skills
Kellogg is looking for problem solvers! Whether in your personal or professional past, the school is looking for the type of people who can not only take on a challenge but also solve one. As a Kellogg MBA, you will be expected to solve some of the most challenging global problems in business, so showcase your track record here. For extra points, highlight instances where you solved problems in a group setting.

Leadership Experience
Although Kellogg has long been known as a top business school that emphasizes teamwork, leadership at the school is equally important. Focus specifically on your individual contributions as you regale the interviewer with your leadership experiences. Keep in mind, particularly for younger candidates, these experiences do not need to be limited to the professional side. Share your most impactful leadership experiences whether they are social, academic, or professional.

Values and Motivations
Kellogg is looking to admit people, so don’t be afraid to share personal aspects of who you are and what you value. A large part of your evaluation will be whether your personality and vibe can fit in at Kellogg, so don’t try to be anything other than yourself.

Extra-Curricular Activities
The Kellogg MBA is built on engagement, and as such, the school is seeking candidates who have shown a track record of engagement in the past as this signals a likelihood of being similarly engaged at Kellogg, and later on as an alum. Clearly articulate how you have engaged yourself in the past, as well as how you plan to engage yourself in the future as a Kellogg MBA. Be specific here, and make sure you have more than one example of your engagement goals at the school itself.

Interpersonal Skills
The ability to work with and lead others is core to all aspects of thriving in the student community at Kellogg. Although this may be the last criteria shared, it may actually be the most important. Don’t be afraid to include examples of how you have engaged with others in all aspects of your life, but remember, Kellogg will have a discerning eye for those inauthentic in this aspect of the evaluation. Also, how you carry yourself in person will be another key indicator if you have what it takes to join the Kellogg community, so keep this in mind.

Follow these tips so come interview day, you will be able to breeze through Kellogg’s interview process and put yourself one step closer to that MBA.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

How to Stay Under Your Essay Word Limit

SAT WorryOne of the hardest things for many MBA applicants to deal with when it comes to writing their business school essays is to stay under the word limit. You would think crafting a clear, well-written, and compelling essay that fully addressed the prompt is hard enough, but MBA programs make things a bit more difficult with often dauntingly tight word limits.

There are a few things that make staying under essay word limits so tough. First, most candidates are not used to explaining themselves in a limited amount of words. The MBA application is an exercise in saying a lot in a few words, meaning every word has to matter – extra pronouns, articles, and prepositions must be reduced to stay under the given word count. Focusing on being as concise and as direct as possible in your language is a major key to making the most of your word count. A good rule of thumb here is if the word doesn’t drive the essay forward and is not integral to the ultimate message you are trying to convey, then you should strongly consider removing it.

Second, many candidates will ignore one of the golden rules of MBA essay writing: answer the question! With so few words to write your essay, there is little room to answer extraneous questions or include content not directly referenced in the essay prompt. Providing extra, unnecessary information can also be seen by the admissions committee as the sign of a candidate who is repurposing essays from other schools, which is definitely a bad idea. Answering unasked questions will waste your words and reduce the focus of your narrative, so stick with what the prompt gives you.

Third, candidates often make the mistake of spending too much time trying to fit their essays into traditional writing templates with an introduction and conclusion. With so few words, it is often best to skip formalities and dive right into the content. In many instances, if the writing is strong enough, this approach eliminates the need for clunky introductions and conclusions that will most likely end up sounding forced and unnatural anyways.

Finally, don’t forget the outline! Creating an outline before writing really brings a focused edge to the essay writing process. Ensure that your outline fully addresses the essay prompt while still allowing enough real estate to communicate your narrative in a compelling way.

Don’t let tight essay word limits sap all of the life out of your essays; follow the tips above to ensure you are making the most out of this part of the application process.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

4 Steps to Finish Your MBA Application Essay the Right Way

writing essayCongratulations! If you are reading this, then you are probably almost ready to submit your business school application essays for evaluation. You have spent a ton of time in the recent months conceptualizing, outlining, and writing responses to these notoriously challenging essay prompts. With so much time spent on these by most candidates, you would assume that these essays are typically free of error by the time they reach the admissions officers. However, with so many different touch points in the typical MBA application and with multiple applications in the mix, this process is ripe for typos and mistakes.

Admission to business school remains a very competitive process and although minor typos here and there will not greatly affect your candidacy, when multiple are aggregated they may give off the impression of a lack of attention to detail, which can ultimately tank your chances during tough evaluation periods.

Let’s walk through a few tips you should leverage as you put the finishing touches on your business school application essays:

Read Aloud

This is my favorite tip, so let’s start here. Often many candidates will tell me that they are shocked to notice typos after going through multiple in-depth reviews. Sometimes when you are so close to a document, you will overlook glaring typos. The simple act of verbalizing your essay can really help reduce the likelihood that a typo or clunky sentence will survive the final review process. This approach will ensure better flow and clarity to your writing style, and will improve the overall submission.

Taking A Break

Taking a break between reviews is also another great trick. For the most part, typos and mistakes are more a function of an oversight than incompetence – no one knowingly overlooks a mistake. Separating yourself from the essay for a few hours or days can really sharpen your eye and make you more discerning in the review process.

Leverage Personal Reviewers

Having a team of reviewers who are familiar with the application process is highly recommended, but it is also helpful to utilize a few who do not. These personal reviewers should be experts on “you” and able to ensure your essays actually sound like, and read like, the person actually writing them. Friends and family are the natural targets here – leverage these people to make sure your essays are coming across as authentic and true to your life as possible.

Proofread

This one sounds very obvious but you would be surprised how many business school applicants do not run the simplest of proofing software or conduct their own thorough review of their essays before submitting them. Remember, your MBA application will be one of the most important packages you submit in your life, so give it the attention it deserves by allocating ample time to review it in detail.

Follow these tips so come decision day, you can let the content of your essays stand for themselves!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

How to Apply to Business School with a Bad GPA

08fba0fYour GPA is one of the most important evaluation criteria used by MBA admissions committees. Unlike the GMAT or your essays, improving this aspect of your application profile is not as simple as a test retake or an additional essay revision. The “in the past” nature of GPA scores means it is more important to confront a poor performance in this area than just simply ignoring the data point.

There are a few common threads that plague applicants who suffer from a low undergrad GPA. Let’s explore a few of these common reasons for a low GPA and some ways to explain away these red flags:

Maturity:

Did your GPA suffer due to a lack of maturity? Many applicants suffered through a low GPA during undergrad because they did not take the academic rigors of school seriously enough. Sometimes it is an issue with partying, other times it can be a lack of focus or prioritization on academia, but maturity is the root cause of many low GPAs coming into the application process. Addressing any maturity issues head on while providing clear examples that chronicle your growth into a mature candidate can help diffuse obvious concerns about your academic profile.

Outside Obligations:

Was academics not your biggest priority during undergrad? Many students have serious outside obligations that can negatively affect academic performance. From family commitments to work study, students in undergrad are confronted with many distractions than can result in low GPAs. Many of these reasons will immediately resonate with admissions given how relatable these obligations tend to be. The key here is to personalize these challenges and provide context for admissions so it is clear how these obligations affected your performance and whether they will affect your performance in the future.

Extracurriculars:

Did you have a major extracurricular commitment that affected your academic performance? Utilize these experiences to outline the time commitments of these obligations while highlighting the interpersonal skills developed and results achieved. This is a nice opportunity touch on the value of these extracurricular activities in spite of the negative affect they had on your GPA.

Academic Major:

Were you in an intense major? Did you change majors? Did you take on a particularly heavy course load? Not all majors and course loads are created equally – no excuses here! It is important to own up to your mistakes or issues, but if there are outside factors out of your control that are related to academics, don’t shy away from discussing them in your optional essays. Focus here on your major aspects that are atypical and would clearly have an affect on your academic performance.

Health

Did you experience any health concerns during undergrad? Health issues often do not easily show up via your academic record. Even with a withdrawal on your transcript, you will need to explain this via the optional essay. Honestly and vividly express the impact this had on your academic performance to really illuminate the challenges you experienced.

A low GPA is not a death sentence to your MBA dreams – follow the tips above to explain away your past GPA missteps.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

4 Ways Admissions Committees Will Examine Your Work Experience

MBA JobsMany students enter business school with plans to develop their business skills and improve their overall career options. However, when it comes time to prepare to submit an application, much of the effort tends to fall on other areas of the package, such as GMAT scores or essays. Considering that “career improvement” is commonly seen as the lead reason for pursuing an MBA, more focus should instead fall on the work experience that you have compiled prior to submitting your application.

Your work experience is a key evaluation point in the admissions process and should be treated as such. Let’s discuss a few of the reasons why work experience matters so much:

1) Hireability

One of the key reasons many are even pursuing an MBA in the first place is to land the job of their dreams. so it should come as no surprise that a major evaluation aspect for admissions is whether the program can actually help you achieve your career goals. Your work experience, both from an industry and role perspective, can factor into how admissions views your profile. Even if you are one of the many applicants looking to make a career switch, some transferable skills from your current career to your future career will better showcase the viability of your plan.

2) Impact

The concept of impact is one of the most important aspects of evaluating your work experience. What results have you driven in the various roles you have held throughout your career? Programs are looking to learn about how you have made a qualitative or quantitative impact in your career. Make sure these accomplishments are clear in your resume, essays, and short answers to ensure your contributions are not being overlooked.

3) Career Progression

Your work experience gives a clear indication of the decisions you have made in your career. The various stops can tell a story about where you have been and where you plan to go. The better aligned this story is, and will be, with your future career goals, the more positive message you send to the admissions committee about your maturity and potential.

4) Classroom Value

Business school is school after all, so your ability to add value inside the classroom is a critical element of the evaluation criteria by the admissions committee. The better you can project confidence and business savvy while highlighting where in your background you generated these learnings, the better chances you have at securing an admit.

Don’t make the mistake of downplaying your work experience! Utilize these tips to create a breakthrough application.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

4 Predictions for 2016: Trends to Look for in the Coming Year

Can you believe another year has already gone by? It seems like just yesterday that we were taking down 2014’s holiday decorations and trying to remember to write “2015” when writing down the date. Well, 2015 is now in the books, which means it’s time for us to stick our necks out and make a few predictions for what 2016 will bring in the world of college and graduate school testing and admissions. We don’t always nail all of our predictions, and sometimes we’re way off, but that’s what makes this predictions business kind of fun, right?

Let’s see how we do this year… Here are four things that we expect to see unfold at some point in 2016:

The College Board will announce at least one significant change to the New SAT after it is introduced in March.
Yes, we know that an all-new SAT is coming. And we also know that College Board CEO David Coleman is determined to make his mark and launch a new test that is much more closely aligned with the Common Core standards that Coleman himself helped develop before stepping into the CEO role at the College Board. (The changes also happen to make the New SAT much more similar to the ACT, but we digress.) The College Board’s excitement to introduce a radically redesigned test, though, may very well lead to some changes that need some tweaking after the first several times the new test is administered. We don’t know exactly what the changes will be, but the new test’s use of “Founding Documents” as a source of reading passages is one spot where we won’t be shocked to see tweaks later in 2016.

At least one major business school rankings publication will start to collect GRE scores from MBA programs.
While the GRE is still a long way from catching up to the GMAT as the most commonly submitted test score by MBA applicants, it is gaining ground. In fact, 29 of Bloomberg Businessweek‘s top 30 U.S. business schools now let applicants submit a score from either exam. Right now, no publication includes GRE score data in its ranking criteria, which creates a small but meaningful implication: if you’re not a strong standardized test taker, then submitting a GRE score may mean that an admissions committee will be more willing to take a chance and admit you (assuming the rest of your application is strong), since it won’t have to report your test score and risk lowering its average GMAT score.

Of course, when a school admits hundreds of applicants, the impact of your one single score is very small, but no admissions director wants to have to explain to his or her boss why the school admitted someone with a 640 GMAT score while all other schools’ average scores keep going up. Knowing this incentive is in place, it’s only a matter of time before Businessweek, U.S. News, or someone else starts collecting GRE scores from business schools for their rankings data.

An expansion of student loan forgiveness is coming.
It’s an election year, and not many issues have a bigger financial impact on young voters than student loan debt. The average Class of 2015 college grad was left school owing more than $35,000 in student loans, meaning that these young grads may have to work until the age of 75 until they can reasonably expect to retire. Already this year the government announced the Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) Plan, which lets borrowers cap their monthly loan payments at 10% of their monthly discretionary income. One possible way the program could expand is by loosening the standards of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. Right now a borrower needs to make on-time monthly payments for 10 straight years to be eligible; don’t be surprised if someone proposes shortening it to five or eight years.

The number of business schools using video responses in their applications will triple.
Several prominent business schools such as Kellogg, Yale SOM, and U. of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management (which pioneered the practice) have started using video “essays” in their application process. While the rollout hasn’t been perfectly smooth, and many applicants have told us that video responses make the process even more stressful, we think video is’t going away anytime soon. In fact, we think that closer to 10 schools will use video as part of the application process by this time next year.

If a super-elite MBA program such as Stanford GSB or Harvard Business School starts video responses, then you will probably see a full-blown stampede towards video. But, even without one of those names adopting it, we think the medium’s popularity will climb significantly in the coming year. It’s just such a time saver for admissions officers – one can glean a lot about someone with just a few minutes of video – that this trend will only accelerate in 2016.

Let’s check back in 12 months and see how we did. In the meantime, we wish you a happy, healthy, and successful 2016!

By Scott Shrum

Fit vs. Ranking: Choosing the Right Business School for You

Round 1 vs. Round 2One of the hardest aspects of selecting which MBA programs to apply to is reconciling how well you fit with a program with how highly ranked that same program is. Many students will initially gravitate towards rankings as their default target school list. Many applicant school lists will be left littered with the historic elite of graduate business education, with programs like Harvard, Stanford, and Kellogg consistently making appearances for unqualified applicants.

These schools top the rankings year in and year out and they do so for a reason: they are very difficult to gain admission to, with some acceptance rates in the single digits, making admission to these programs a rarity for the greater majority.

For those applicants who create their list based off of “fit”, they tend to have a bit more success in the application process. Now “fit” is not always as straightforward a concept as one might imagine when framed in the context of business school admissions. “Fit” should account for geographic, academic, professional, social, and school specific admissions criteria.

By utilizing fit, applicants can make sure that if admitted, the program properly addresses their development goals. However, adhering to the “fit” criteria above can be more difficult than it seems. Often candidates are not always completely honest when it comes to assessing where their profile may stand in comparison to the competition, so make sure to be as honest as possible with your own personal assessment.

The best approach is really to take both “fit” and the rankings into consideration to create your target school list. Identify the programs that fit your criteria both quantitatively and qualitatively as an initial step, and then leverage various external rankings to tier your potential programs. Overall, creating your target school list is an inexact science that requires a bit more of a personal touch than simply following an arbitrary list created by media publications.

Utilize the guidance above to more effectively shape your target school list to ensure you optimize your chances of admissions success.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

Should You Retake the GMAT or Focus on Your MBA Application?

scottbloomdecisionsEvery application season, there is a point at which many applicants reach a very anxiety-driven and critical dilemma: whether it is worth re-taking the GMAT or not. Now this question is not the same as the also very common, “Is my GMAT score high enough?” question. The former question, unlike the latter, truly exists in a vacuum due to outside constraints primarily based on the time constraints and confidence of the applicant.

What makes this question even more challenging is that the answer is truly specific to the individual, which can require a bit more nuanced thought process to eventually make the “right” decision. Keep in mind, there really is no obvious right decision in most of these scenarios – the goal here should be to optimize your chances at gaining admission to your target programs given some of the following factors:

Time

How much time do you have before your application is due? An extended timeline before submission can make re-taking the GMAT a more obvious option. The decision to retake the GMAT or focus on your application is very much intertwined. Committing to re-taking the GMAT generally comes at the expense of time that could be dedicated towards focusing on the various other application components.

Effort

How much effort would be required for additional prep to reach your target GMAT score? Even if time is not a major issue, the effort necessary may still not be worth it in the grand scheme for many applicants. Given the wide differences in how test takers may embrace the GMAT prep process, a candidate’s appetite for taking on additional prep is a major factor.

Confidence

How confident are you that you can materially improve your score? It should not just be about getting incremental points on the GMAT. When most re-take the GMAT, the expectation is a major jump from the previous score. Re-taking the GMAT with limited time available, an expected heavy amount of effort required, and a lack of confidence in securing substantial gains can make this decision a very difficult one for many candidates. Confidence here can be gleaned through performance on practice tests, and how closely one’s scores align with the score received during the initial prep process.

Overall Value

The final decision here really should focus on deciding whether the expected upside of the subsequent GMAT retake is more valuable to your candidacy than additional hours of focus and attention to the other MBA application components, and is something that applicants must decide on their own.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

4 Ways to Make the Most of Your Business School Campus Visit

YaleVisiting campus is one of the best ways you can learn about your target MBA programs and not only determine if a program is right for you, but also acquire some school-specific fodder for your applications.

This information can transform components of your application – such as the essay, interview, and short answers – into real, customized pieces of content for the admissions decision makers. Before you pack your bags to visit some of the world’s best academic communities, however, read the below tips to make sure you are making the most of your campus visit.

Let’s explore a 4 easy ways you can make the most of your business school campus visit:

1) Meet with Admissions

One of the best parts of visiting campus is the ability to connect with the MBA admissions officers who will eventually review your application. Creating a positive impression with admissions can really pay dividends. Forging a human connection is something that the majority of applicants will not do, so take advantage of the opportunity! Formal opportunities like the various information sessions hosted on campus are no-brainers during a campus visit, but make sure you don’t miss potential chances to also connect with representatives from admissions one-on-one, if possible.

2) Visit a Class

Sitting in on an MBA class really helps contextualize the entire business school experience while helping you determine if, academically, a program is right for you. Also, formal class visit programs are often tracked by admissions along with the information sessions, which can signal strong interest to the admissions office.

3) Connect with Students

Many programs will have formal programs that allow you to connect with students that share a similar profile as you, such as geographic, academic, interest or other demographic similarities. Informal chats with students can also be just as important, so spending some time on campus in public spaces can facilitate these type of interactions. Most current students will be more than happy to discuss their own personal experiences both on-campus and in the application process, so don’t be afraid to leverage these great sources of information.

4) Explore the Student Community

Classes and connections aside, choosing the right business school is an important decision. MBA students spend a lot of time both on-campus and in the immediate area around campus, so taking the time to explore the greater community is a critical aspect of any visit. Determining if big cities such as New York and Los Angeles are a fit for you, or if smaller towns like Hanover or Evanston more your style, is an integral part of the decision making process.

Utilize these four touchpoints to make the most of your business school campus visits.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

Does a Business School Visit Affect Your Chances of Admission?

campus tourVisiting a business school before officially applying is always recommended to MBA candidates, but for the most part, schools will not automatically assess an applicant negatively if they are unable to visit. There are so many factors involved when considering how a school visit will affect your candidacy, the best way to view them is as something that can potentially help you, but won’t directly hurt either. Let’s look at some of the overall benefits to visiting schools before applying to them:

Visiting a business school is a great opportunity to both do some primary research on the school itself, and to add some fodder to your application, which should improve the package you eventually submit. Not only will a visit actually improve the context of your application, it will also help you support your eventual decision-making process (if admitted) which is an added benefit.

A school visit is also an unprecedented opportunity to connect directly with decision makers – I know many students who have made strong impressions with admissions committee members leading directly to positive notations being added to their candidate folder. Again, positive interactions like this can certainly push fringe candidates across the line to the “admit pile” and further boost already strong candidates.

Business school campus visits can also add context to more troubled packages that require a bit more clarity and discussion of potential red flags. Without directly connecting with admissions reps via an in-person campus visit, this opportunity cannot exist for candidates with more complex situations. If this sounds like you, if it is possible for you to visit campuses, it is something I strongly suggest.

Now, every circumstance is certainly not the same. Distance is definitely a huge factor in determining an applicant’s ability to travel and visit. International candidates or those travelling from a far distance may be at a perceived disadvantage here, but again, keep in mind the positive impact this visit can have on your chances; look at the business school visit as a good decision if you can feasibly make it, but as having a neutral effect on your application if you cannot.

Make the decision that makes the most sense for you. Regardless of how many business schools you visit, if you have not created a compelling application package and/or are a great fit on paper, then a school visit will not save your candidacy. Focus on creating a breakthrough application and utilize the school visit as an additional opportunity to bring your candidacy alive for the admissions team.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

Don’t Panic! What to Do if You Are Rejected from Business School

MBA Interview QuestionsThe MBA application process is a lengthy and time-intensive experience that, for some candidates, can span multiple years of preparation. From carefully crafted resumes to diligent GMAT prep, a lot of time and resources will be invested in the typical MBA application process. Of all the investments. however, optimism is probably the most taxing for prospective students, especially if things do not turn out in a positive manner.

Part of applying to business school is anticipating rejection; in fact, for those pursuing a top MBA program, more will experience the pain of rejection than the joy of acceptance. The numbers bear this out every year, so it is less about whether you will receive a ding, but instead how you will deal with that ding. There is no tragedy in being denied admission from one of your target programs, but there is one if you are not prepared to handle it.

Let’s explore the best steps to dealing with the ding:

1) Self-Evaluate Submission

This is the first and probably most important step an applicant can take to kick-start the post-ding process. Really take a look back at your application and honestly assess the strengths and weaknesses of your profile. Look at where you stand on paper (GMAT, GPA, etc.) as well as how you fare in some of the softer areas like the essay – scrutinize your whole profile. The data side is easy; you can compare average and median scores to determine your competitiveness in these areas. The “softer” areas are a bit more complicated, but assessing whether or not you answered all questions as they were posed, and to the best of your abilities, is a good place to start. The information gleaned from this self-assessment should fuel your next steps as a potential re-applicant.

2) Re-Evaluate Timeline

At this point, you’ve come to grips with your rejection and have a good understanding of some of your missteps, so now is the time to determine next steps. Applications are all about timing, so consider if you have the time or capacity to implement the changes necessary to reach admissions success. For some, the changes needed will be minimal, for others the changes needed will be far more expansive.

3) Prepare for the Future

After re-evaluating your timeline, you’re ready to prepare for the future. The first question to ask yourself should be whether you plan to continue applying to business school at all. Creating a winning application is not easy, so making the necessary changes to a rejected application may not be seen as worth the effort for some. Now if you do plan to continue applying, it is important to address the issues outlined above and create an action plan. Whether that action plan is enacted in the current application cycle or in subsequent years, having an approach to correct the holes in your package is key.

A ding is not the end of the world! Follow the tips above to bounce back and earn the letter of admission you deserve.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

Is Your GMAT Score More Important Than Ever?

GMAT ReasoningThe dreaded GMAT has long been one of the most feared components of the MBA application process. For many years the importance of the GMAT has been a bit overvalued by applicants, with too much focus being placed on the score and not enough on other areas of the application process. Just as admissions committees’ consistent message of their reliance on holistic reviews of candidate profiles has begun to sink in, a shift has seemingly started back the other way.

Although there has been a consistent upward trends over the last few decades in GMAT scores across the board, over the last year or two in particular the average GMAT scores at top MBA programs like Northwestern’s Kellogg School, Chicago’s Booth School and Pennsylvania’s Wharton School have risen by record percentage points. These record averages should signal to prospective applicant’s the increased importance of the GMAT.

Now, GMAT scores have always been important aspects of the MBA admissions process, but should applicants be more concerned with the rising scores at these top MBA programs?  The quick answer is no!  But you do want to accept this answer with a bit of a caveat: with dramatically rising GMAT scores across the board, it is even more important for applicants to target programs that are a clear fit for their background and showcased aptitude (GPA/GMAT). More specifically, applying to programs where your GMAT score falls below the average score has become a riskier option.

The typical candidate should make sure they hit or are very close to the listed averages. Now for candidates coming from a more competitive applicant pool like the Indian male, White male, and Asian male, it is important to target a score above schools’ listed averages to ensure you stand out from the pack. For non-traditional applicants, a strong GMAT score can be a way to stand out in the face of rising scores and increased competition.

The main takeaway from this trend for all applicants should be to really focus up front on creating the right list of target schools. Mind you, this list should not simply be one of the top 10 programs. Instead, create a list where your academic aptitude, professional goals, and other data points all align with the programs you plan to apply to so that you are able to maximize your chances of gaining admission to your target schools.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here.

Breaking Down Kellogg Evaluation Criteria

Kellogg School of ManagementThe Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University has always taken a holistic view of their application process and the criteria with which it assesses candidates. Before diving head-first into the application process, candidates should review the evaluation criteria that the school has publicly communicated.

This approach will allow interested applicants a chance to strategize how they will best craft their profiles for success in applying to the the prestigious midwestern university. Now keep in mind, creating a game plan based on the evaluation criteria below should not be confused with trying to “game” the process – it should be instead used to focus your approach to the Kellogg application.

Let’s explore the five aspects of Kellogg’s evaluation criteria that the Admissions Committee utilizes for interested applicants:

1) Work Experience

This is business school after all, so your pre-MBA work experience will matter. Kellogg, like many other top MBA programs, is pre-disposed to strong brands, not just because these names have more cache, but because often these strong brands afford great development opportunities for those early in their careers. However, not having a strong brand on your resume is not necessarily a negative. The AdComm is really looking for the rigor and nature of your work experience here more so than a flashy brand. The more logical and upward-trending your work experience appears, the better off you will be in this area.

2) Impact

The criterion of impact connects directly with your work experience but is not limited exclusively to this domain. This single category can communicate a lot to the AdComm about your past, present and potential future. Kellogg seeks applicants who have driven impact in their past organizations and will continue to do so in the future, so make sure, if possible, you highlight your impact on the various organizations you have been a part of.

3) Professional Goals

Are your professional goals clear and logical? Do they align with your background? These are some of the questions you need to make sure you have articulated responses to. Kellogg wants to know that you have thought through your career goals as well as how their particular school can help you reach them, and specifically, Kellogg is seeking to determine whether the program can help you reach your goals given your background and the offerings of the school.

4) Leadership

Leadership skills are one of the top skills the AdComm at Kellogg look for in prospective students. Whether you are a seasoned professional or an applicant early in your career, it is important to showcase at the very least pockets of leadership in your background.  Leadership can exist anywhere, so make sure to canvas all aspects of your background to ensure you are highlighting your most relevant leadership experiences. Remember, leadership skills do not have to be limited to your professional experience –extra-curricular leadership experiences can be just as important if framed appropriately.  Kellogg is looking for the future leaders of tomorrow, so try to get the program excited about your leadership potential.

5) Interpersonal Skills

Coming from Kellogg, it should come as no surprise that this is a key evaluation point, given the educational approach that the school has pioneered and championed over the last few decades. Kellogg has built an unparalleled student community and has created a comprehensive application process that filters out the right type of applicants. Utilize the various touchpoints Kellogg offers via their application process to highlight the unique aspects of your personal and professional character and experiences.

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

Standing Out as an International Applicant from India

indiaOne of the most competitive MBA applicant pools year-in and year-out is the vast crop of talented applicants originating from the subcontinent of India. Every year, top business schools are flooded with qualified Indian applicants that present a bevy of challenging decisions for admissions committees around the world. If you’re a member of the Indian applicant pool, it is important to understand how the admission committee will view you – having a good handle on this can help a smart applicant properly strategize on producing a “winning” application.

With so many candidates and so few spots available, it is more important than ever for Indian applicants to create an admissions package that stands out from the masses. But how is this done?

Let’s discuss some different ways the typical Indian candidate can create an application package that stands out from the competition.

Work Experience

The Indian applicant pool is known for being predominantly populated by one of the country’s biggest industries: the IT industry is by far the biggest pipeline of MBA talent coming out of India. This fact feeds into the reputation of the “homogeneous” Indian applicant, and “homogeneous” is rarely ever a good buzzword when it comes to gaining admission into business school.

For many application-ready candidates, this is a tough area to stand out in. But there are still some things to do for those candidates in the early stages of planning for their MBA, or those already in the midst of application season. For those in the early stages, this can involve pursuing industries that align with an area of interest, particularly if that is outside of the IT industry.

For those already within their target industry, taking on leadership opportunities in an existing role or exploring development in other areas or functions of your current job can present a strong growth trajectory. Whatever stage you are in as a candidate, the key here is to showcase yourself as a high-potential future leader with the flexibility to succeed in multiple work functions and industries.

GMAT Scores

This one is pretty simple – with so many applicants flooding the business school pipeline; it is critical for a competitive Indian applicant to achieve a strong score on the GMAT. What is a strong score, you may ask?

Many Indian applicants come in with above-average GMAT scores, which makes this aspect of the admissions process particularly competitive. With so many high-performing applicants coming from this region, admitted candidates often report GMAT scores that exceed school averages.

Generally, you will want to aim for around +20 points above the average score for your target program, with anything above that, of course, being increasingly more beneficial for your application.

Education

Education is another fairly competitive area that is pretty unique in comparison to the typical structure favored by U.S. educators. Coming from a nation with a unique ranking system and some high-profile colleges, this is an area where international Indian candidates can try and stand out. Another common item on the transcript of the Indian MBA applicant can actually be an MBA. It is not uncommon for candidates to pursue a second Western MBA after already completing one in-country, so if this is you, make sure to have a clear rationale on why a second MBA is necessary.

Application

A common knock against the Indian applicant is the non-data portion of the application process. A lot of focus tends to go into the GMAT, and not enough on other more nuanced elements of the application. This reputation feeds into the “homogeneous” reputation of the Indian applicant, as the opportunity to differentiate is often missed.

Extra-Curriculars

Undergraduate engagement is important, but continued engagement is also key. The focus in this area should be on leadership within these activities and not just participation. Don’t be afraid to leverage these experiences for other areas of your application as well – your ability to share highlights and impact from your engagements will go a long way in establishing these as meaningful experiences in your application.

Essays

Be interesting! Too many essays are bland responses focused on writing what the candidate feels the AdComm wants to hear. Breakthrough essays will be introspective and passionate responses that provide a unique insight into a candidate’s personal and professional background and goals. Avoid generic responses and use language that builds a narrative that cannot otherwise be gleaned from a resume or transcript.

Understanding the perception of your applicant pool is a key first step in creating a strategy to differentiate your profile from the masses. Use these tips as a starting point to creating a breakthrough application that showcases you as a unique candidate.

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

The Best Classes to Take To Prep for Your MBA

ProfessorWhether you’re the applicant who has never taken an analytical class in your life, trying to account for a low GPA in college or just trying to refresh your memory on some dated concepts from your academic past, taking pre-MBA coursework is a great way to prep for Day One in business school. There are many different options when it comes to which classes you should take – popular and valuable business school classes like marketing and strategy may not be the best use of your time during application season.

Given that Year 1 of most MBA programs tends to be highly analytical, it makes sense to lean towards classes that showcase your analytical skills to the AdComm, as well as prepare for the academic rigor of the business school classroom.

Let’s discuss some of the best classes to take to prepare for business school:

Accounting

One of the core classes of any business school education is accounting. Although business school itself is no longer one of the major feeders in this industry, the course remains core to many functions in the financial industry. Students who have never seen or heard of income statements or balance sheets would be wise to utilize their local community college for a test run before enrollment.

Finance

Another great class to take pre-MBA is finance. Unless you are a veteran of the finance industry or an undergraduate business major, this class can be useful to prepare for the often fast-paced curriculum that first-year students experience. Many students coming from non-business functions find coursework in finance particularly challenging, but prior exposure can do wonders in reducing the learning curve here.

Statistics

Statistics is one of the foundations of many classes in business school. Now very few business school students will eventually become statisticians, but classes like marketing, strategy, and entrepreneurship rely on this very important skill set. Understanding the core concepts and terminology can make the transition into this class, and others, much easier for the uninitiated.

Economics

Economics is another of the underlying core concepts fundamental to a rewarding academic experience in business school. Economics plays a role in classes like marketing, strategy, and operations. Along with statistics, economics tends to be one of the core classes that first years struggle with the most, so any coursework or training a future student can take in advance is helpful.

Although the focus here has been on academic readiness, many candidates utilize this coursework to address a low undergraduate GPA or a spotty analytical track record, as well as to impress MBA Admissions Committees. Whatever your reason for researching which courses to take, utilize the list above to make the best decision in your course selection process.

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

Breaking Down the UCLA Extension Program

UCLA Anderson Admissions GuideA new resource has recently gained prominence in the business school application process amongst enterprising MBA candidates. With candidates always looking for an edge during application season, the UCLA Extension has provided a nice option for students looking to improve their chances of admission.

So what is the UCLA Extension, you ask? Well, the UCLA Extension is a continuing education program that allows interested students to take an array of courses online or in-person. This program is specifically designed with distance learners, working adults, and other non-traditional learning arrangements in mind. For many business school applicants, the UCLA Extension offering represents the perfect resource to address concerns within their candidate profile.

UCLA Extension courses can be used in a few different cases for applicants, including to address a low GPA, prove the student’s ability to handle analytical coursework, correct any transcript outliers, or just prepare the student for the rigor of the MBA core curriculum.

Now that the offering and reasons for utilizing the UCLA Extension are clear, let’s discuss some of the best courses to consider. With hundreds of online courses offered via the program, interested candidates should not have a hard time finding some to take. The convenience of these online classes will allow many students to simultaneously complete their application while taking targeted coursework in an area of need.

All of your favorite business classes are here, but interested candidates should focus on the more analytical classes offered through the UCLA Extension. I would suggest classes such as Managerial Accounting, Basic Managerial Finance, Introduction to Statistics and Quantitative Methods, and Principles of Micro/Macroeconomics as good places to start. Generally the classes commonly described as “soft skills” are better left for the traditional classroom environment, and not to showcase your pre-MBA academic aptitude.

UCLA’s Extension Program is not the only academic program that offers this type of coursework, so make sure to conduct an exhaustive search to identify the program that makes the most sense for you and your application needs.

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

Does the GMAT Even Really Measure Anything?

SAT/ACTAt some point, in pretty much every class I teach, a student will ask me what the GMAT really measures. The tone of the question invariably suggests that the student doesn’t believe that the test accurately assesses anything of real significance, that the frustrations and anxieties we endure when preparing for the exam are little more than a form of admissions sadism.

When it comes to standardized testing, a certain amount of cynicism is understandable – if person A has a better grasp on the fundamentals of geometry and algebra than person B, why on earth would we conclude on that basis that person A will be more likely to have a successful career in a field totally unrelated to geometry and algebra?

Of course, I have my stock answer: the test is designed to reward flexible thinking, to provide feedback on our ability to make good decisions under pressure. And though I do believe this, I’m also well aware that tests have their limitations. There are many incredibly talented and intelligent people who struggle in the artificial conditions of a testing environment, and no 3.5 hour exam will be able to fully capture an individual’s potential. At some level, we all know this. It’s why the admissions process is holistic. Still, your GMAT score is important, so I thought it worthwhile to do a bit of research about what the data says regarding how well the test predicts future success.

In 2005, GMAC issued a report in which it examined data from 1997-2004 about the correlation between GMAT scores and graduate school grades. The report summarizes a regression analysis in which researchers generated what they term a “validity coefficient.” A coefficient of “1” would mean that the correlation between the GMAT and graduate school grades was perfect – the two variables would move in lockstep. According to this report, any coefficient between .3 and .4 is considered useful for admissions.

The GMAT’s validity coefficient came out to .459, suggesting that the test does, in fact, have some predictive value, and this predictive value seems to be superior to other variables that admissions committees consider. The validity coefficient for undergraduate grades, for example, was .283. (And when the variables are combined, the validity coefficient is higher any individual coefficient.) So is that the end of the story? Can I rebuff my students’ complaints about standardized testing by sending them an abstract of this report? It’s not quite that simple.

In the conclusion section of the paper, we’re offered the following: “When examining the validity data in this study, one should recognize that there is a great deal of variability across programs and that the relative importance for each of the investigated variables differs for each program. This is to be expected.”

So one interpretation of the data is that the GMAT does a pretty good job of predicting how well students will do in their MBA programs. But if you’ve been studying for the GMAT for any length of time, hopefully your “correlation is not causation” reflex was triggered. What if students with higher GMAT scores attend more selective schools and then it turns out that those selective schools have more lenient grading policies because they figure that the necessary vetting has already been performed? In this case, the correlation between GMAT score and grades wouldn’t be shedding much light on how well the test-takers would perform academically, but rather, would be providing information about what kinds of programs test-takers would eventually attend.

Moreover, one could argue that looking at the correlation between GMAT scores and grad school grades is of limited usefulness. Schools no doubt hope their students do well in their classes, but it stands to reason that admissions decisions are also informed by predictions about what prospective students can contribute to the school’s community, as well as what kind of future career success these students can expect after they graduate. What, then, is the correlation between graduate grades and career success beyond the classroom? And how would we even begin to measure or define “success”? These are complex questions with no good answer.

Furthermore, while the paper appeared statistically rigorous to me, amateur that I am, we still have to consider that it was commissioned by GMAC, the company that administers the test, so there is a conflict of interest to bear in mind.  A recent article by the Journal of Education for Business questioned the results of the earlier research and insisted that the section of the GMAT that best predicted conventional managerial qualities, such as leadership initiative and communication skill, was the Analytical Writing section, the component of the test that admissions committees care about least and that had the lowest validity coefficient, according to the earlier paper.

Needless to say, though I found these papers interesting, they provided me with no definitive answers to offer my students when they ask about what the GMAT really measures. And, paradoxically enough, this is something we should find encouraging. If the GMAT were measuring any kind of fixed inherent quality, there’d be little point in prepping for the test. But if the test requires a unique skillset, that skillset can be mastered, irrespective of how directly applicable that skillset will be to future endeavors. Pragmatically speaking, the thing that matters most is that admissions committees do care about the GMAT score. So my ultimate message to my students is this: stop worrying about what the GMAT measures, and instead, harness that energy to focus on what you need to do to maximize your score.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles by him here.

How to Network Properly to Help Get You Into Business School

NetworkingEvery touchpoint in the MBA application process can have an impact on a candidate’s results. Leveraging interpersonal relationships or outreach for access, awareness and information is a great way to improve your chances at gaining admission.

Taking advantage of the various touchpoints during business school application season – such as information sessions, open houses, and school visits – is a value-added strategy. The key with all of these interactions is to go beyond the typical levels of engagement and work towards cultivating a real relationship with the relevant party. Let’s explore a few different stakeholders that could help you improve your odds of admission into your dream school:

Admissions:

Developing a relationship with a representative from admissions is a great way to secure some valuable information about the application process – this information can help you optimize your application when it comes time to pull together your package for submission. Alternatively, developing a relationship with members of the admissions team that you may have met can help you secure a valuable advocate among the decision makers during the review period. Creating an honest and open dialogue about your interest in the program is key to making this happen. Patience is paramount – types of relationship do not appear over night so try and bridge the gap with admissions as early in your admissions journey as possible.

Current Students:

Always a good source of info, as they have already achieved exactly what you are striving to do – lean on them for their knowledge. Current students can also provide the most current references to life on-campus, so make sure you leverage these conversations to inform the content and reference points utilized in your essays and interviews. Also, in some instances the admissions team will connect with current students on their feelings on an applicant. This usually stems from on-campus events where admissions is able to track prospective applicants and current students who have attended the event.

Alumni:

Networking with alumni is often the easiest of the stakeholders to gain access to. Depending on your location and the size of the school’s network, many alumni can even be found right in the corporate directory of your current employer. Leveraging friends and other members of your personal network to connect you with graduates of your school of interest is another strategy that can help you source this network. Alumni often remain big program cheerleaders years after leaving campus and can add tons of value by providing insight into the culture of the program. Depending on the nature of your relationship with the alumni they are often very helpful when it comes to essay reviews as well.

Make the most of your personal and professional relationships during MBA application season and add an insider’s perspective to your application.

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

Should You Take Additional Courses Before Applying to Business School?

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

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

Low GPA

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

Transcript Outliers

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

No Analytical Background

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

Prep for Year 1

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

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

All About Business School Interviews

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

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

Typical Questions Asked During Business School Interviews

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

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

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

How to Prep for the Interview

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

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

What to Bring to the Interview

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

What to Wear to the Interview

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

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

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

Do You Need an MBA for a Career in Management Consulting?

MBA AdmissionsManagement consulting is one of the most “glamourous” industries among business professionals – a career path that can transform even the most polished of resumes – and the names of the firms which consultants covertly provide solutions for are known as the “Who’s Who” of American commerce. Prestigious firms like Bain & Co, McKinsey and the Boston Consulting Group commonly rank at the top of many job seekers’ wish lists.

So what are some of the common tracks for entering one of the most competitive industries in the world? The entry points below are your best bets if interested in joining the ranks of the consulting elite:

Undergraduate

Top consulting firms do recruit students out of undergraduate academic programs, but not in major numbers. Recruits from this level are just a fraction of the classes of consultants they bring in at the MBA level. Typically, consulting companies will use students at this level to fill their analyst-level responsibilities on project teams.

Firms target the majority of recruiting at this level at prestigious universities and at regional powerhouses near local offices. If you’re a student at this level, make sure you are a top performer in your class. Top consulting firms are notorious for identifying only elite students, so to get on their radar you will have to bring a strong track record of academic performance to the recruiting process.

MBA 

MBA recruiting is the crown jewel of talent acquisition for top consulting firms. The rigorous training and diverse experience common in MBA-level talent makes business school a natural feeder for consulting firms. MBAs make up the majority of the associate-level talent at consulting firms, with a small selection of other graduate school recruits coming from programs like law, engineering and computer science.

Potential recruits have two chances to enter the industry: during internship recruiting in Year 1 and during full-time recruiting throughout Year 2. The recruiting support for candidates in MBA programs exceeds that at any level, so students tend to have the opportunity to build in-depth relationships throughout the process.

Industry

A less common source for talent from consulting companies is plucking employees from within “industry”. Industry talent tends to be more experienced and individuals in this category are poached for their specific industry knowledge to operate as subject matter experts.

Consulting is a tough industry to crack – your best bet to making the transition into a career in this industry is to consider an MBA as your entry point.

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

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

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

Essay 1: 25 Random Things About Yourself

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

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

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

Essay 2A: Why Duke?

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

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

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

Essay 2B: Team Fuqua Principles

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

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

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

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

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

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

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

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

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

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

1) Career Goals

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

2) GMAT

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

3) School Selection

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

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

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

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

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

 

Essay 1:

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

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

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

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

Essay 2 (Optional): 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

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

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

Essay 1:

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

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

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

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

Essay 2:

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

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

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

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

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

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

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

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

1) Online Research

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

2) Current Students

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

3) Alumni

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

4) MBA Tours

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

5) Information Sessions

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

6) Campus Visits

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

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

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here

 

 

 

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

UC BerkeleyEarly Thoughts on Berkeley Haas 2015-2016 Essay Questions

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

 

Essay 1:

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

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

Essay 2:  Respond to one of the following prompts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essay 3: 

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

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

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

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

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

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more of his articles here