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

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

Yale

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essay 1:

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

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

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

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

Essay 2:

Why Stanford? (400 words)

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

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

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

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

 

3 Bad Reasons to Pursue an MBA Degree

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

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

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

1) Money

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

2) Prestige

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

3) Boredom

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essay 1:

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

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

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

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

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

Essay 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Create Breakthrough MBA Application Essays with Mini-Stories

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations

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

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

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

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

Essay 2: Personal Expression

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Crafting Your MBA Applications

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

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

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

1) School Knowledge

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

2) Fit

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

3) Attention to Detail

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Essay 1:

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

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

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

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

Essay 2:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Essay 1:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Thoughts on the Harvard Business School Application Essay for 2015-2016

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

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

Essay 1:

It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting.

Introduce yourself. (No word limit)

The dreaded open-ended essay prompt has caused many sleepless nights for MBA applicants, couple that with the inherent pressure that results from applying to HBS and this essay may be viewed as one of the more nerve-wracking questions of the application season. Many students struggle with how to tackle this type of essay question and I’m here to tell you to relax and just stay structured.

With seemingly open-ended prompts like this one, the key is to stay structured. Typically, with more detailed essay prompts that have more individualized components within the question the outline of the essay almost writes itself. An open-ended essay like this one requires the applicant to more formally structure the response upfront to ensure the narrative is clear for the AdComm.

However, before diving into the structure, topic selection is critical. This will involve a good deal of introspection both in selecting the anecdotes as well as in the context of your actual writing. Aligning your narrative around a personal or professional passion is a powerful approach to telling your story. The more authentic this passion is the better it will be received by admissions.

Painting a vivid narrative of how the current incarnation of you has manifested will separate the mundane essay from the truly breakthrough essay. It’s about showing and not telling here so highlight the unique experiences that have brought you to this point. With HBS, the pressure to impress tends to be very high but focus less on the outlier stories from your competition (climbed a mountain, sold a start-up, ran a marathon) and focus on letting your own unique personality shine through amidst the anecdotes you share.

This essay honestly at its core is about getting to know you so don’t miss the opportunity by trying to craft the perfect answer for the admissions committee.

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

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

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

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016

Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2018. Tuck stuck with two required essays this year, and the questions are substantially the same, although both of them have been reworded a bit for this year’s application. These small changes suggest that the Tuck admissions team was mostly happy with the responses they saw from last year’s applicant pool.

Without further ado, here are Tuck’s deadlines and essays for the 2015-2016 application season, followed by our comments in italics:

Dartmouth (Tuck) Application Deadlines
Early Action round: October 7, 2015
November round: November 4, 2015
January round: January 6, 2016
April round: April 4, 2016

Tuck’s deadlines are almost exactly the same as they were last year. Rather than joining other top MBA programs in pushing its first round deadline into September, Tuck decided to hold steady. Note that Tuck is one of the few top business schools to offer an Early Action admissions option. “Early Action” means that the decision is non-binding, although if you are admitted you will need to send in a $4,500 deposit by January 15 if you plan on enrolling. If Tuck is your top choice, or at least a very strong 2nd or 3rd choice, Early Action is a great way to demonstrate that you’re seriously interested in Tuck.

Dartmouth (Tuck) Application Essays

  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 question has been substantially reworded since last year, although at its core, it’s still the same fairly standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that many business schools ask. One notable change is actually the addition of the second question in there (“Why do you need an MBA?”), and the fact that the Tuck admissions team added this part suggests that perhaps not enough applicants were addressing this fairly obvious question last year.

    The other subtle change is how the last part of the prompt changed from “Why are you the best fit for Tuck?” to “Why are you interested in Tuck specifically?” No matter how the question is asked, Tuck really is still trying to get at the concept of fit here — what about Tuck interests you enough that you would consider devoting two years of your life to the program? Tuck takes the concept of fit very seriously when evaluating candidates — which makes sense, given its small class size and remote location — so you need to take it seriously, too.

    Keep in mind that anyone can browse the school’s website and drop some professors’ and clubs’ names into this essay; a response that will really stand out is one that is believable, shows that you’ve done your research and reveals something unique about you. In this way, the wording in last year’s essay prompt can be a great guide to writing a great response to this year’s question.

  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 question has also been tweaked for this year’s application. The meaningful difference is in the second part: While last year’s question asked you what you learned about yourself, this year’s version squeezes in the part that was dropped from Essay #1. Why does this matter? Because the part that was dropped (“What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience?”) is still actually pretty important, and it’s hard to imagine writing a great essay that doesn’t at least briefly cover that material this year.

    Since you only have 500 words for the whole essay, being succinct will be important! You need to describe what the situation was, what action you specifically took, and what the results were (Situation-Action-Result, “SAR”). And devoting at least several sentences to how you grew or changed makes a lot of sense… So you’re left with less than half of essay to tie this all back to Tuck and how you will contribute. No problem, right?

    Are you grasping for a story to use for this essay? Don’t lose site of that important word in the first part of the question: leadership. Keep in mind that leadership shows itself in many forms, not just from being the official manager of a team. Perhaps you took on a tough problem that no one else wanted to deal with. Maybe you faced a tough ethical decision that kept you up at night. Or maybe you spotted an opportunity for how something could be done in a better way, and you convinced your peers to come around to this new way of doing things… All of these could make for rich stories to use in this essay!

    Finally, remember to tie it back to Tuck. Our advice here is not to force it (e.g., “… and that is why I will be a natural to lead the Tuck Finance Club”). The key is to tell an story that demonstrates your growth as a young, developing leader, and then to demonstrate that you understand what Tuck’s respectful, collaborative culture is all about.

  3. (Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application. (500 words)

    As we always tell applicants when it comes to the optional essay for any application, only answer this essay prompt if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it is entirely okay to skip this essay!

Each year we work with dozens of MBA applicants who want to get into Tuck. If you’re ready to start working on your own candidacy, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chicago Booth Admissions Essay and Deadlines for 2015-2016

The Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago recently released its MBA application deadlines and essay for the Class of 2018. After years of whittling down its essay count to just one single essay last year, Booth returns with one essay this year, although it’s a new one. Booth has always been one of the pioneers in using unusual essay prompts, and it’s good to see that continue. The way they go about it this year is a little different (and perhaps not ideal), but we dig into that in much more detail below.

Here are Chicago Booth’s admissions deadlines and essays for the 2015-2016 season:

Chicago Booth Application Deadlines
Round 1: September 17, 2015
Round 2: January 5, 2016
Round 3: April 5, 2016

Once again Booth has moved its Round 1 deadline forward by a week, making Booth the latest top business school to have its first deadline come in mid-September. (Five years ago, Booth’s Round 1 deadline was October 13… Things have changed!) The good news is that applying to Booth in Round 1 means that you will get your decision back by December 10, which gives you almost a month before most business schools’ Round 2 deadlines come in early January. Booth’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines each moved only slightly compared to last season.

Chicago Booth Application Essay

  1. Chicago Booth values individuality because of what we can learn from the diverse experiences and perspectives of others. This mutual respect creates an open-minded community that supports curiosity, inspires us to think more broadly, take risks, and challenge assumptions. At Booth, community is about collaborative thinking and tapping into each other’s different viewpoints to cultivate new ideas and realize breakthrough moments every day. Using one of the photos provided, tell us how it resonates with your own viewpoint on why the Booth community is the right fit for you.

    This essay prompt is new this year, although at its core, it’s not that different from last year’s essay. The Booth admissions team wants to get to know you better, and this is their way of doing it. Why did they change the essay prompt? Our bet is that they actually liked what they saw from applicants last year, but they seemed determined to make their essays a moving target because of all of the coaching resources that applicants have access to (such as this blog!)… This is their way of trying to keep it fresh while not messing with the formula too much.

    We always tell applicants that they have to do two things to be successful: stand out from other applicants, but also show fit with their target MBA program. With this essay prompt Booth is going after the latter; they explicitly ask you to show why the Booth community “is the right fit for you” here! But, how you show fit is one way you can stand out vs. other applicants. Don’t be afraid to get creative here! (Here are all of the technical details of what you can and can’t submit.) Remember, the reason Booth kept this question is because it really is the admissions committee’s best chance to get a sense of your personality, so let that personality shine through here!

    Finally, the addition of the “react to one of these photos” idea is… interesting. We have a feeling that a lot of applicants will end up forcing the explanation of why a photo of Eugene Fama resonates with them… At a high level, our advice is not to get too hung up on your choice of photo. Don’t just randomly pick one and then use editorial duct tape to attach that your own story, but remember that the admissions committee really wants to learn about YOU here, not about what you think of one of these photos. Any one of Booth’s thousands of applicants can write about those photos, but only you can tell Booth about you.

If you’re ready to start building your own application for Booth and other top MBA programs, fill out a free profile evaluation and speak with an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By MBA Admissions Deadlines, MBA Essays

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysThe Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley recently published its MBA admissions deadlines and essays for the coming application season. After chopping away at its essay count in the recent past, Haas has held steady this year, keeping the required essay count at three. But, interestingly, the school has made some changes that make this year’s application look more like the application that Haas used two years ago. We’ll dig in and tell you everything you need to know below.

Now let’s dig in! Here are Haas’s deadlines and essays for the Class of 2018, followed by our comments in italics:

Berkeley (Haas) Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2015
Round2: January 7, 2016
Round 3: March 31, 2016

Haas’s Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines are exactly the same as they were last year. The one bit of news here is that while the school used to wait until mid-January to notify Round 1 applicants, now applying in Round 1 means that you will get your decision by December 17, giving you at least a couple of weeks before most schools’ Round 2 deadlines, should you need to scramble and apply to some backup schools. Looking at Round 3, Haas pushed back this deadline by nearly three weeks vs. last year, matching similar moves at some other top schools to hopefully catch a few more great candidates who may have missed the earlier rounds.

Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays

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

    This question is new this year, although Haas actually used it before dropping it last year. Now it’s back, and it’s clear that the Haas admissions team wants to get past the normal jargon and stuffy language and get a real sense of your personality here. That means you shouldn’t be afraid to have a little fun or reveal the real you here. If an admissions officer reads this essay and then still has no sense of what it would be like to meet you in person, then you haven’t made good use of this essay. That doesn’t mean your choice of a song needs to be wacky or so deep that it will make the reader cry, but avoid the temptation to choose a song that merely echoes one of the more straightforward themes you will cover below. And, we’re willing to take bets on the number of applicants who say their favorite song is John Lennon’s “Imagine”… Save the high-minded “I want to save the world” stuff for another essay! This one is more for just helping admissions officers feel like they know you at least a little bit.

  • Please respond to one of the following prompts: (250 words)
    – Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world and how it transformed you.
    – Describe a significant accomplishment and why it makes you proud.
    – Describe a difficult decision you have made and why it was challenging.

    All three of these essay prompts try to get at the same thing — identifying an experience in your life that led to growth and transformation. The first one is essentially carried over from last year’s application, and the second one is quite similar to a prompt from last year, although it’s a little broader this time around (it can be any accomplishment, not just a professional one). The third question is new this year. And, most notably, you’re picking just one, while the first two questions were actually two separate required prompts on last year’s application. We like that Haas gives applicants three different ways to go about this one; your best story may come from an accomplishment, or from overcoming a setback, or from making a tough choice in life. Why not let you choose which story to tell here?

    No matter which essay prompt you choose, think about the “SAR” (Situation-Action-Result) essay framework here — describe what happened, what you did, and then what happened as a results. Sounds obvious, right? You would be surprised by how often applicants get lost in the details and end up using most of their words merely to describe to the situation… the result gets tacked on in two sentences at the very end! That’s too bad because the result — not just what happened in that situation, but also how you changed as a result — is what Haas really wants to know here! Even seemingly smaller accomplishments or life events, such as the first time you spoke in front of a large group, can make for a really impactful essay here.

  • 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 the more conventional “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that MBA programs often ask. Ask yourself these questions: Where do you see yourself in a few years (and beyond that), and why do you need an MBA to get there? Specifically, why do you need a Haas MBA to get there? Why not another top-ten MBA program? Really force yourself to answer that question, even if not all of your answer makes its way into your final essay response!

    By the way, the Haas admissions team gave you a big hint here: On the Haas website, check out the paragraph that introduces the essays. It describes the four key principles that define the Haas culture: Question the Status Quo, Confidence Without Attitude, Students Always, and Beyond Yourself. Your goal here is NOT to see how many of these you can cram into your essay (this is not merely an exercise to see if you bothered to read the website), but if none of that appeals to you, and you can’t even articulate why Haas is the right way for you to invest in yourself, then you need to take a step back before drafting this essay. You obviously are an unfinished product, which is why you’re considering business school… Help the admissions committee believe that Haas is the right place for you to grow for the next two years, invoking those four key principles where you can.

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

By Scott Shrum

3 Ways to Write the Perfect Business School Application Essay

writing essayEssays are one of the most important aspects of the MBA application process. They are also one of the most challenging for many applicants to excel at. The essays are a critical opportunity for candidates to distinguish themselves from the hordes of similar applicants in the process. Admissions committees are looking for a surprisingly small list of things in these essays and executing on these elements is a step in the right direction for breakthrough candidates.

Now there is no such thing as a perfect business school essay but the three points below are necessary in executing a successful business school essay:

Relevance

Have you answered the question asked? Candidates would be surprised how often this very basic question goes unanswered at the end of an essay. Many applicants become so consumed with including every element of their past, present, and future into an essay that often times the most obvious aspect of the essay goes unnoticed. Not only is it important to ensure you have answered the question but also that the response selected is the most relevant to the question posed. It is important to step back and consider if there are any better anecdotes, stories, or examples that could be used for this essay.

Authenticity

Could anybody else have written this essay? Successful applicants present their authentic selves in a captivating and compelling fashion in each essay and the entire application as a whole. Don’t be afraid to explore uncomfortable themes and personal anecdotes that can amplify interpersonal elements of your candidacy. Remember it is easy to write the bland, impersonal essay that is commonplace with unsuccessful applicants. Dive deep and show the admissions committee what makes you unique and why you will be a valuable addition to their business school community.

Polish

There is no worse way to show you are not business school material than to submit an essay loaded with typos, misspellings, and grammatical errors. Mistakes like this show an obvious lack of attention to detail and carelessness that can be disastrous for an applicant during such a competitive process. Take the extra time to earmark additional reviews from friends and trusted advisors like Veritas Prep to ensure come decision day minor typos do not stand in the way of an admit.

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

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

4 Reasons MBA Students Love Management Consulting

Business SchoolManagement consulting is one of the most revered, sought-after, and difficult to crack industries in the world. Prestigious firms like Bain & Co, McKinsey, and the Boston Consulting Group commonly rank at the top of many Vault employer lists of top companies to work for.

Candidates applying to business school and entering students alike have made management consulting one of the most popular post-MBA industries. At top schools like Kellogg, Wharton, and Booth, upwards of 40% of the graduating class have been known to join the ranks of the consulting elite in a given year. With numbers this high why do students still continually gravitate to this mysterious industry in droves? The answer is as multi-faceted as the industry itself.

Let’s look at a few aspects of the industry that make it particularly attractive to MBA students:

1. Prestige

Management consulting is a glamor industry, from the high profile clients to the high impact relationships and even the complicated frameworks; a career in the industry is a high point on any professional’s resume. Consultants often enjoy senior level positions in industry at top firms after their consulting days are over, making this a coveted career for MBAs.

2. Travel

Nobody loves to travel like MBAs, so a career in consulting is a natural alignment. Now, the travel is primarily business oriented and not for leisure, but this aspect of the industry still feeds into the natural wanderlust of many MBAs.

3. Salary

One of the more tangible perks of a career in consulting is the high salary. Management consulting is one of the highest paying post-MBA careers, which has long been part of the attraction of the industry. Additional financial perks like generous signing bonuses and tuition reimbursement make consulting a much-pursued industry.

4. Skill Development

It’s not all just about the perks as a consultant; the industry provides unparalleled opportunities to develop analytical, creative, and interpersonal skills. Consultants become experts in programs like Excel and PowerPoint making them hot commodities in the workforce. Many students see a short-term career in management consulting as a finishing school of sorts that can set them up for the rest of their professional career.

A career in consulting offers many perks that align well with what students are looking for post-MBA.

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

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

Kellogg Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016

Kellogg School of ManagementThe Kellogg School of Management recently released its essay questions and deadlines for the 2015-2016 admissions season. After doing a lot of essay trimming over the past several years, Kellogg has decided to stay the course this year and stick with two required written essays. However, the essay prompts are new this year. And, the school’s “video essay” remains. Kellogg has a decent FAQ for its video essay on its website.

Let’s get down to it. Here are Kellogg’s application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2018, followed by our comments in italics:

Kellogg Application Deadlines
Round 1: September 22, 2015
Round 2: January 6, 2016
Round 3: April 6, 2016

After moving its Round 1 application way up (i.e., making it much earlier) last year, Kellogg has only made a minor adjustment this year. Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will get your decision by December 16, which should give you enough time to complete your Round 2 applications for other programs if you don’t get into Kellogg. The school’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines have not changed much this year, with the only notable change being that the Kellogg Round 3 deadline comes five days later this year than it did last season.

Kellogg Application Essays

  • Leadership and teamwork are integral parts of the Kellogg experience. Describe a recent and meaningful time you were a leader. What challenges did you face, and what did you learn? (450 words)
    This question is new this year, although it’s really quite similar to the second essay on last year’s Kellogg application, which started with, “Leadership requires an ability to collaborate with and motivate others.” Note the emphasis on leadership and teamwork here… Both are key traits that the Kellogg admissions team looks for in all applicants. And, even though the second sentence above only mentions leadership, you’d better believe that the admissions committee also wants to see evidence of collaboration and cooperation… in other words, teamwork! Kellogg isn’t looking for sharp-elbowed people who lead by ordering others around. rather, the school wants to find applicants who inspire people to work harder and achieve great things through teamwork and empowerment.

    This essay is a classic candidate for the SAR (Situation – Action – Result) outline that we recommend our clients use. The situation will likely be an opportunity or challenge where you needed to rely on someone in order to get something done. The action will be how you managed to influence them in order to see things your way and to convince them to take up your cause. Perhaps it was an employee or teammate who wasn’t motivated, or didn’t agree with what you wanted to do. How did you win them over? Finally, the result will be the outcome — not just of that particular situation, but also the positive impact that it had on you as a young leader. Pay particular attention to the last few words of this essay prompt; what you learned may be what admissions committee pays attention to the most.

  • Pursuing an MBA is a catalyst for personal and professional growth. How have you grown in the past? How do you intend to grow at Kellogg? (450 words)
    This question is also new this year. However, over the years Kellogg has asked similar questions that have all addressed the ideas of personal growth and change. Assuming you have a good leadership growth story covered in Essay #1, then look for stories that will complement that nicely. How have you matured as a young adult? What was a weakness that you’ve worked on and have overcome? What strong qualities in others have you been able to emulate? As yourself these questions as you consider what makes for an effective topic here. Your story absolutely can come from your personal life — indeed, those often make for the most moving stories in essays like this one — but the more recent, the better. You’re still young and you are still evolving, so a story from fifteen years ago will likely be less compelling for admissions officers than one that happened in the past few years. (Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule!)

    The second part of the question may require you to drastically shift gears halfway through this essay… Your reasons for wanting to attend Kellogg may have very little to do with the compelling growth story you identified for the first part of this prompt, which is why we don’t necessarily love this new question from Kellogg. Sticking these two questions together may leave many applicants tempted to invent a theme in which they dramatically shape the story in the first half to fit what comes in the second half. We actually think a more effective approach is to present a true, impactful story of personal growth in the first part, and then hit the “What do you want to do at Kellogg?” question (which is really a “Why an MBA? Why Kellogg?” question at its core) head on. Some writers will tie the two together better than others, but remember that this isn’t an essay writing contest. It’s far more important for you to help the admissions committee get to know you (and want to admit you!) than to come up with an artful essay theme that doesn’t reflect the true you or make a convincing case that Kellogg is right for you.

Want to know what your chances are of getting into Kellogg? Fill out a free profile evaluation and get an in-depth evaluation from an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

5 Things to Do Once MBA Application Essay Topics are Released

writing essayOne of the most anxious days for many candidates is the release of applications for their target schools. Candidates nervously obsess over all aspects of what to expect from a school’s yearly changes in the application process. So when the new applications are released it is an exciting day and signals the official start of a school’s application season.

Even if applications aren’t quite released, you can still start thinking about how to get rolling once applications are live.

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

1. Develop Mini-Stories

One of the most helpful aspects to have prepared before essays are released is your mini-stories. The focus of these mini-stories is to highlight your strongest and most in-depth personal, professional, and extra-curricular life experiences. These anecdotes will feed right into the essays once topics are released allowing you to mix and match appropriately.

2. Confirm School List

Prior to the kickoff of application season, your school list should be basically set. Many candidates waste valuable time once applications are released wavering on school selection and starting applications for programs that they will eventually not apply to. Get ahead of this by starting your school research in advance of application season, so once applications are released you can hit the ground running.

3. Complete School Research

Now that your school list is set, it is time to dive deeper into your school research and really begin to identify the elements at each individual MBA program that are uniquely attractive to you.

4. Outline School Specific Essays

With the details set of your specific interest in your target program it’s time to align your mini-stories with school specific essays. Remember each individual essay should be created from scratch but use the details developed via your mini-stories as a launching point.

5. Write and Review Essays

All the hard work has been done so now it’s time to actually write the essay. If the other steps are completed properly then the actually process should be very easy. A key aspect of the writing process is the review process. Utilize a team of trusted eyes to help you review your hard work.

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

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

Should You Go to Business School?

Business SchoolPursuing an MBA can be one of the toughest decisions a young professional has to make, some rush the decision and realize they are not quite ready for showtime come application season or even worse during their time in b-school.

Self-assessment is the key when it comes to making this decision.

Consider the four aspects listed below as you decide whether you should pursue an MBA right now:

Maturity:

Are you personally and professionally ready to make the most of an MBA? This question is not the same as could you get into business school, but is right now the ideal time for you and your career. MBA programs are looking to admit mature candidates who know exactly what they want out of the experience. So make sure you take personal inventory of your situation before you make a decision. Keep in mind age is not the only indicator of maturity, however; the average age of admits ranges between 27-30 so programs are looking for experienced applicants.

Accomplishments:

MBA programs are looking for the best and the brightest young professionals from around the world, so competition is stiff! Do you have the accomplishments befitting a top flight MBA admit? This is the time when you must honestly assess your candidacy. This involves looking at your academic, professional, and civic accomplishments and ascertaining the interpersonal skills you have developed and impact you have made thus far in your career.

Financial:

Are you financially ready to take on the commitment of business school? With tuition from many programs well into the six figures, the cost of an MBA is rising year after year. Options like student loans, scholarships, and fellowships do exist so make sure to factor these into any potential projections. Also, make sure your decision to pursue admission is based on holistic reasons and not simply to make more money.

Time:

Do you have the time to put together a compelling application? The entire business school application process is very time intensive. From school research to GMAT prep to writing those pesky essays, applying to business school is a major commitment.

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

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

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

MIT Sloan Application Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016

MIT Sloan recently released its admissions essay and deadlines for the Class of 2018. While hardly any top business schools have cut essays this year (after several years of doing so), Sloan actually did cut an essay, going down to just one required essay this year. But, here’s a twist: The Sloan admissions team has added a second essay just for those who are invited to interview. So, you’re still going to need to write two strong essays to get into Sloan, and we break down the essay prompts below.

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

MIT Sloan Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: September 17, 2015
Round 2: January 14, 2016
Round 3: April 11, 2016

Several noteworthy things here… First, Sloan’s Round 1 deadline has moved up by almost a week, pushing into mid-September for the first time ever. And, the school’s Round 2 deadline comes almost a week later than it did last year. If you apply to Sloan in Round 1, you will get your decision by December 16, which will give you plenty of time to get Round 2 applications ready for other MBA programs, if needed.

The other interesting thing here is that Sloan has added a Round 3! For a while, Sloan had been unique among top U.S. business schools in that it only had two admissions rounds. For instance, last year, if you hadn’t applied by January 8, then you weren’t going to apply to Sloan at all. Now stragglers actually have a chance of getting into MIT Sloan, although our advice about Round 3 is always the same — there are simply fewer seats available by Round 3, so only truly standout applicants have a real chance of getting in. Plan on applying in Round 1 or 2 to maximize your chances of success.

MIT Sloan Admissions Essays

  1. Tell us about a recent success you had: How did you accomplish this? Who else was involved? What hurdles did you encounter? What type of impact did this have? (500 words)This question is new to MIT Sloan’s application this year. What we like about it is how it very explicitly spells out what Sloan’s admissions team wants to see. For these types of questions, we always advise applicants to use the “SAR” method — spell out the Situation, the Action that you took, and the Results of those actions. There is no hard and fast rule for how many words you should devote to each section, but the situation is where you want to use up the fewest words; you need to set the stage, but with only 500 words to work with, you want to make sure that you give the bare minimum of background and then move on to what actions you took. And, make sure you leave enough room to discuss the result (“What type of impact did this have?”) Your individual actions and the impact that you had are what the admissions committee really wants to see.One final thought here: Don’t only think about the impact that you had on your organization, but also spend some time thinking about the impact that the experience had on you. What did you learn? How did you grow as a result? And, how did you put this lesson to work in a later experience? That may be a challenge to fit into a 500-word essay, but this is the type of introspection and growth that any business school admissions committee loves to see.
  2. For those who are invited to interview: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. Please share with us something about your past that aligns with this mission. (250 words)The wording of this prompt has changed slightly since last year, but the biggest change (other than the fact that it’s become the essay only for those invited to interview) is that the word count has dropped from 500 to 250 words. At its core, this is a “Why MIT Sloan?” question. The admissions committee wants to see that you have done your homework on Sloan, that you understand what the school stands for, and that you really want to be there.When Sloan asks you to share something that “aligns with” its mission, it’s not just asking about what you will do while you’re in school for two years, but also about how you plan on taking what you’ve learned (and the connections you’ve built) and going farther than you could ever have without an MIT Sloan MBA. Note the very last part of the question: The key to a believable essay here will be to cite a specific example from your past when you got involved and make things better around you. Don’t be intimidated by the high-minded ideals in the first part of the essay prompt — making an impact (rather than just standing idly by and being a follower) is what they want to see here, even if it’s on a relatively small scale.

The MIT Sloan MBA admissions team just posted a brief video that has some good basic advice on how to tackle their essays. There are no huge “Ah ha!” moments in the video, but it’s always good to hear advice straight from the course. Here is another article with some advice for the essay.

Do you dream of getting into MIT Sloan? Give us a call at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Why a Top 10 MBA Program Might Not Be Your Best Match

MBA“I want to go to HBS…” I want to go to Stanford…” “I want to go to Wharton…” These are the cries of MBA candidates around the world when contemplating what business schools they want to attend. But these venerable institutions and others like them can’t possibly accept all interested students for a variety of reasons that include space, qualifications, and fit. Every year many students are forced to reevaluate their target school list.

Applicants should approach the school selection process with an open mind and use this as the basis to conduct research on the programs that best align with their unique needs. For some students, profile limitations like GPA, GMAT, or work experience can restrict opportunities at higher ranked programs, so it makes sense to consider all alternatives.  Often lower-ranked schools are better aligned with the development needs of certain students. Some of the best programs for areas like entrepreneurship, operations, and supply chain management fall outside of the various rankings done every year. These programs can provide direct pipelines into career paths into these industries of interest.

Location should also be an area of note for aspiring MBAs. For some, targeting a specific location where the applicant wants to reside post-MBA is another smart strategy when identifying the ideal program. This is key because most schools have at the very least strong local recruiting within their geographic area. This strategy will increase the likelihood of landing at a target firm. These schools will often also have stronger alumni networks in their geographic region that trump higher ranked programs, so choose wisely.

A complimentary approach is identifying MBA programs close to target recruiters. For example if a career in Venture Capital is important then the west coast or Silicon Valley in particular should influence the school selection process. Interested in oil and gas? Then researching the local MBA programs in the state of Texas is a no brainer and would make more sense than pursuing admission at some higher rated programs outside the state.

Finally, some students just may not be academically equipped to perform or compete at certain MBA programs. Intense academic rigor, heavy workloads, and cumbersome pre-requisite coursework make some lower ranked programs a more comfortable academic environment.

Don’t be constrained by the various school rankings on the market. Create your own list that allows you to pick the program that makes the most sense for YOU!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7 Tips for your Application to the Chicago Booth MBA Program

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

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

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

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

What to write:

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

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

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

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

How to share your story:

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

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

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

Putting it together:

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

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

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

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

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

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

If you get stuck, we’re here to help.

Good luck!

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

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

4 Common Types of Teaching Methods in Business School

In ClassOne of the more commonly overlooked aspects by candidates during the school selection process is teaching methods at their target schools. Given that business school is in fact “school” and students spend a lot of time in the classroom, this area should warrant a lot more attention.

Teaching methods at certain schools like Harvard Business School and UVA’s Darden School, where the case method dominates, are core to the entire MBA experience for students, so it is important to know what you may be opting into. Most schools do not take as homogenous of an approach to teaching methods as these programs, so expect more of a mix from the majority of other schools.

The four types listed below are the most common teaching methods you will find in MBA programs.

Lecture:

Lectures are probably the most common teaching method found in business schools. With this format, students are typically greeted by slides via a PowerPoint presentation during the lecture and engage with content through this mechanism. Lectures tend to be more of a “lean back” or passive experience that is driven more by the professor. This teaching method will be the most natural to students as it is very similar to the way many undergraduate classes are structured.

Case Study:

The case study format involves a professor leading students through a historical analysis of a business situation. The “cases” are largely the product of Harvard Business School, which has pioneered the use of the case method. In case studies, students are expected to come up with a solution to some of history’s toughest business problems. Cases are commonly used as the driver for interactive classroom discussions and there is an expectation of strong class participation from all students.

Experiential Learning:

One of the more truly immersive teaching methods is experiential learning. This method allows students to operate within a specific topical area or industry of interest. Classes ending with the moniker “lab” fall into this bucket. Think your global lab, venture lab, asset management practicums, and many entrepreneurship classes. Also, many internship programs fall into this category. This method is all about learning while doing, a trend that continues to grow in many MBA programs.

Simulation:

Simulations are probably one of the least common, but still prevalent, teaching methods. This teaching method primarily uses technology recreations of common business scenarios. One of the most popular is the “MarkStrat” simulation used in marketing strategy courses.

The teaching methods at MBA programs are as diverse as the programs themselves, so do your research and make sure you are choosing the program that is right for you.

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

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