Many business schools ask variations on the theme of making mistakes. Describe a time that you failed; what did you learn from a mistake; tell us about a time when you should have done things differently, etc. These are all possible, if not likely, essay questions that you’ll confront during the application process, either during the interview or while writing your essays. Every applicant’s background is different and arguably you are really the only one who knows about your past mistakes. However, we’re here to share some guidelines about “the mistake question” that will help you select the right kind of mistake. For the purposes of this post, we’ll discuss the mistake essay question and how you can write about it in a way that actually sheds light on your strengths.
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Today’s guest post features Jessica Wood. She has been a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for Chicago’s Booth School of Business since 2008. Previously, Jessica worked in Strategy Consulting and Business Development. Now, she spends her time raising a family in Houston, and working as a Head Consultant and School Specialist for Chicago Booth.
Today’s guest post is from Courtney Jane, a Veritas Prep Admissions Consultant who focuses on the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. When she’s not consulting, she works as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch, helping clients protect and grow their assets. Before going to Dartmouth to study business, Courtney graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Political Science, and Communications.
The Tuck School at Dartmouth is a magical place. It is the quintessential college campus, and to me the most beautiful of all the Ivy’s – not a bad place to spend two years. I think the picture attached to this post sums it up as to why I chose to attend Tuck after also being accepted to Columbia, Wharton, and Cornell, among many others.
Last week Wharton Admissions Director Ankur Kumar posted an update on how Wharton’s team-based discussions went during Round 1. It sounds as though the experience has been very positive so far, both for the school and for applicants. While we were quite skeptical when Wharton officially rolled out the team-based discussions, and still wonder how authentic the setting truly can be, it’s worth revisiting now that we have some real data coming in.
The feedback we have been hearing from students is that the discussions haven’t turned out to be the shark tanks — with applicants elbowing each other for air time — that some had feared. (We will put ourselves in this group.) If anything, the opposite has occurred, with applicants going out of their way to show how courteous they can be. Multiple outlets and our own clients have reported seeing this effect in action as the discussions have taken place.
Today we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Tiffany Singleton. Tiffany currently serves as the Senior Director of National Campaign at Year up, a nonprofit organization. She has served as an alumni interviewer for Management Leadership for Tomorrow, and has recruited undergraduates and MBA candidates for JP Morgan. Tiffany has also represented HBS at various admissions events. Before receiving her MBA from Harvard Business School, she went to Dillard University and received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Finance.
The experience as a prospective student – in addition to the interview! (see more below) — most memorable to me was the HBS Immersion Program (aka IXP), specifically the New Orleans trek. I had the incredible opportunity to attend a seminar held in early December 2006 because of my collaboration with the Dillard team and Tim Butler, Director of Career Development Programs.
Each December, we hear from dozens of applicants just a week or two ahead of Round 2 deadlines who are seeking last-minute admissions consulting services. Often, they’re too late to make significant improvements, so we’re offering up to $1000 off admissions consulting services this week to get you started earlier! Here’s why it is so important to start now:
1. You can recycle surprisingly little among different schools’ essay questions.
Every year, we see clients who expect that they can simply do a “Find & Replace” function on their MBA applications, strip out the name of one school and insert the name of another. MBA applicants do this at their peril! Don’t wait until just a couple of weeks ahead of the Round 2 deadlines to start writing your essays for additional schools! Even questions that essentially ask for the exact same information (for example, “Why MBA, why now and why XYZ school,” will ask them in slightly different ways that require significant reworking. Admissions officers see thousands of essays every year, and they can spot a repurposed essay from a mile away. Applying to multiple schools takes time!
Bloomberg Businessweek has just released its business school rankings for 2012. Businessweek’s rankings aren’t the only game in town — the U.S. News business school rankings are also very influential, and others such as The Financial Times carry more clout in Europe — but the fact that Businessweek’s rankings only come out every two years always creates a little more buildup for this moment.
A word of caution before we proceed: When you look at any ranking system, remember that there’s no single “right” way to rank the schools. Each of the popular business school ranking systems below rely on a different set of criteria, including acceptance rates, average GMAT scores, and post-graduation salaries. Some also use more subjective criteria, such as peer ratings by administrators at other business schools, and how each school is rated by its current and former students. It’s therefore no surprise that no two ranking systems will completely agree with one another.
Today we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Nita Losoponkul. Nita is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant and UCLA Anderson MBA graduate. She received her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Caltech and went from engineering to operations to global marketing to education management/non-profit. Her non-traditional background allows her to advise students from many areas of study.
Full-time or part-time… That is often a question that many business school applicants gloss over and don’t even consider asking. Many MBA candidates automatically exclude part-time MBA programs assuming that the programs are either less rigorous (a check box for executive resumes), impossible to balance with work, too expensive, only for older candidates, or less beneficial for networking. While the part-time MBA program is not for everyone (and I am slightly biased as an alumna of the Fully-Employed MBA program at UCLA Anderson), here are some reasons you, a non-traditional part-time MBA candidate, might want to at least explore this possibility as you begin your business school search:
Today’s post comes from a Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant and Tuck alumna. She shares a recent conversation with a client about Tuck and what students can expect if they spend two years in Hanover.
Earlier this spring, I received the following inquiry:
“I think I would like to seriously consider Tuck as an option. Obviously the academics are wonderful, it is well known in general management, it is extremely well established, and it is not so far from my home. I visited Dartmouth when I was applying to undergrad, and Hanover seemed small, without much to offer. Can you tell me a little bit about your experience there?”
This was my reply:
If you can swing it, we highly recommend visiting the schools you are applying to before you submit your applications. Websites and school brochures are great for basic research purposes, but there’s no comparison to experiencing an MBA program in person. Your day on campus will inform your essays and help you craft authentic responses to interview questions. Therefore, when you’re on campus, make the most of your visit!
When you arrive, or at some point before you leave the school, visit the admissions office. Typically, the admissions department will ask you to sign in when you arrive. However, if you’re on a more informal visit, one that you didn’t schedule through the admissions office, make sure you remember to do this. Admissions officers like to see who has visited. While they don’t penalize students for not coming to the school, it never hurts to show your interest and dedication by visiting, so make sure you get credit for your visit! Additionally, the school may offer special activities or events for prospective students. You may only be able to learn about these opportunities through the admissions office. Make sure your visit includes a stop here for this reason.
Now that top-ranked business schools have started to send interview invitations to Round 1 applicants, the conversation has turned to exactly how applicants can prepare themselves for this rite of passage. While business schools rarely try to make the interview a stressful process, applicants can’t help but worry about the pressure they will face in the 30 to 60 minutes they spend face-to-face with tan interviewer.
If you’re one of these folks, or if you simply want to prepare now for an interview invite that will hopefully be coming soon, we bring you the top three ways you can best prep for the business school interview:
Today we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Nita Losoponkul. Nita is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant who attended UCLA Anderson. She received her undergraduate degree in Engineering from Caltech and went from engineering to operations to global marketing to education management/non-profit. Her non-traditional background allows her to advise students from many areas of study. She has successfully helped low GPA students get admitted into UCLA, and today Nita shares what went into her decision to earn an MBA from UCLA Anderson.
Do as I say (well, write), not as I do. That’s the truth. I’m proud to be an alumna of UCLA Anderson’s Fully Employed MBA (FEMBA) program, but I took the unlikeliest path to get there, one I don’t recommend anyone else pursuing. I still joke to this day that the Admissions Committee must have had a few too many drinks when they reviewed my application, but knowing the team now, I know they saw something in me that even I didn’t see in myself at the time, and I am truly grateful they did.
Today we feature a guest post from Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultant Lauren Thaler. Lauren received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Brown University and started working for The Advisory Board Company in Washington D.C. shortly after graduation. She worked in Business Development, Account Management and Marketing, and Business Intelligence Delivery. After a few years she decided to go to Wharton to pursue her MBA, and has since worked with dozens of business school applicants and founded her own business, Punchwell Press.
The day I returned home from Wharton Welcome Weekend, I put down my deposit at a different school.
There just wasn’t a wow factor for me when I visited Wharton’s admitted students event. I didn’t establish instant friendships with fellow admits, and Huntsman Hall overwhelmed me with its throngs of grad and undergrad students moving from here to there with such purpose. Furthermore, nothing stood out as unique during my visit.
When we work with MBA admissions consulting clients, they often start off the first conversation with “What are my chances?” and we often start with “Well, what do you want to do in your career?” This seemingly simple first step makes all the difference in ensuring that you’re on the right path when planning out your MBA application strategy.
What you will get out of a program depends completely on your situation. If you’re a career-changer, then you need to acquire new skills and demonstrate to potential employers that you have what it takes to thrive in their industry. If you want to move up in your current career, then you may only need to acquire a few very specific skills to complement your existing experience. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, then business school may be less about academics and more about networking and meeting future potential business partners. Knowing which of these categories you fall into will help you find the right program and go in with a solid plan for making the most of your time in school.
Putting forward excellent letters of recommendation in your MBA application is a challenge: You’re asking someone who probably knows very little about the business school admission game to argue persuasively that an MBA admissions officer should take a chance on you instead of another ultra-impressive candidate. We’ve written before about how you can boost your chances significantly by choosing someone who knows you well and by arming that person with specific examples of your past deeds to illustrate just how terrific you are. Doing these things can dramatically improve your ability to stand out vs. other applicants.
We preach these ideas all the time, but the questions we frequently get from business school applicants tell us that many are still hurting their chances by inadvertently sabotaging their recommenders. How can you manage to sabotage your own recommendation writers? Here are three ways:
It is shocking how often applicants present essays (either to professors, consultants, or even to the admissions committee) that are nothing more than glorified drafts. Crafting an essay is a time intensive process that requires a great deal of revision in order to write with economy, power, and persuasion. You will almost certainly go through multiple revisions with your consultant, but the client who takes the time to execute multiple drafts on their own will be leaps and bounds ahead when it comes time to take the next step.
Whether you are drafting admissions essays for college or for graduate school, proper revision requires at least these three crucial steps:
UCLA’s Anderson School of Management has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2012-2013 admissions season. While Anderson has made fewer dramatic changes than some other prominent business schools have this year, the school did change one of its two required essays, and trimmed the word count for each by 50 words. The essay word count diet continues…
Let’s dig into Anderson’s deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
UCLA Anderson Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 24, 2012
Round 2: January 9, 2013
Round 3: April 17, 2013
If you plan on applying to top-ranked MBA programs in Round 1, then you should already be working on your applications. That doesn’t mean that you should already have drafts of all of your essays, but it does mean that you should already have your MBA Game Plan laid out. That includes knowing where you will apply, having your post-MBA career goals sketched out, and knowing who you will want to have write your letters of recommendation.
This last one is often the toughest for applicants since it’s something that’s largely out of their control. Even with all the planning in the world, business school applicants still need to put their fate in someone else’s hands, and hope that their recommenders come through for them. So how do you know who is the best candidate for writing your letters of recommendation?
Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Like most other top-ranked business schools, Fuqua has made some pretty substantial changes to its essays this year, including the introduction of a “25 things” list that we think is pretty exciting. Before you start drafting your Fuqua admissions essays, take a look at this blog post from the Fuqua admissions team to gain some insight into the thinking behind the recent changes.
This quote sums up Fuqua’s point of view pretty well:
Earlier this week Dee Leopold wrote a piece on the Harvard MBA admissions blog clarifying what the school expects when it comes to the three letters of recommendation in the HBS application. In its application directions, Harvard asks for three recommendations, and states that two should come from a professional source. Somewhat unintentionally, it seems, this has implied that the third should NOT come from a professional source, but Leopold wants applicants to know that this is not the case.
It turns out that the Harvard admissions team was surprised that this was the signal that applicants were getting from these instructions, and now it wants to make clear that the “two should come from professional sources” rule means that at least two should come from the workplace, not that only two should come from this part of your life.
Back in March we reported that UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and Columbia Business School would end their joint EMBA program. Now, three months after Columbia announced its own program, Haas has unveiled its own new EMBA program.
Starting in May, 2013, the new program will span 19 months and will meet every three weeks on Thursday through Saturday in a schedule designed to be very doable for working professionals. While most classes will be taught on the Haas campus, some sessions will held in other global locations depending on the market and the subject matter covered.
The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015. While Ross hasn’t made changes quite as big as those at some other schools this year, Ross’s essay word count has slimmed down a bit, continuing the trend we have seen among most top-ranked MBA programs. We’ll dig into the Michigan’s essays and deadlines below, followed by our comments, in italics:
Michigan (Ross) Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 10, 2012
Round 2: January 3, 2012
Round 3: March 4, 2012
After piloting the program this past year, Wharton has announced that it will officially roll out its team-based discussion as part of the Wharton MBA admissions process. The news came in an announcement on the Wharton MBA admissions blog.
We were pretty skeptical when Wharton announced last year that it would run a small test of the program with a “randomly selected” group of applicants. Just knowing how stressed that applicants get about anything that involved performing in front of admissions officers in real time, we expected the pilot not to go well. This was our take when the news broke last fall:
The University of Chicago Booth School of Business recently released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Once again, as we predicted earlier this year, a top MBA program has significantly cut back on its essay load this year: While last year’s essay word count was 1,350 (not counting the presentation and an essay meant only for reapplicants), this year’s total word count is just 900 words. Read on to see what we make of the changes.
Here are the school’s new deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
Chicago Booth Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 2, 2012
Round 2: January 8, 2013
Round 3: April 4, 2013
The online education movement gathered more steam this week, as Caltech, Duke, Rice, Johns Hopkins, and other global universities announced that they will join Stanford and Princeton in offering free online courses through Coursera. Upping the ante even further, Caltech and the University of Pennsylvania will invest a combined $3.7 million in the online learning provider, which only launched last year and has already partnered with 16 universities.
While these moves aren’t strictly in the graduate education space (which we mostly cover), it’s important to note how quickly schools are adopting online learning as a legitimate alternative (or, in many cases, a complement) to traditional classroom-based teaching. Between Coursera and other initiatives such as MIT’s and Harvard’s EdX joint venture, it seems that there will be no shortage of innovation in this space in the coming decade.
Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business recently announced that its Allwin Initiative for Corporate Citizenship has a new name and a new mission. Now known as the Center for Business & Society, the new center “aims to prepare Tuck students for leadership in this increasingly complex, interconnected world,” according to the center’s website.
The original Allwin Initiative dates back to 2002, when it was created by a gift from the Tuck alumnus James Allwin, and was given the mission of training students in how to navigate the intersection between business and society. Such language is commonplace among top business schools now, but Tuck was on the vanguard of putting significant resources toward such training for its MBA students.
UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. As has been the case with nearly every other top-ranked MBA program this year, Haas has trimmed down its essays, going from six to five required essays in this year’s application, and shortening one from 1,000 to 750 words. Outside of that, there haven’t been too many dramatic changes this year, although the school’s new Essay #1 is an eye opener!
Here are Haas’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
We love it when our admissions consulting clients and GMAT students are able to connect directly with admissions officers at their target MBA programs. There are very few ways that are better in terms of getting to know a school, not to mention possibly making a positive impression on the people who may one day decide your fate.
MBA fairs are a great way to meet with admissions officers, and The MBA Tour runs one of the best MBA fairs in the world, which is why we’re happy to partner with them every year to help connect applicants to admissions officers. At no cost, you can experience everything that The MBA Tour has to offer:
Darmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently published its application deadlines and admissions essay topics for the Class of 2015. Once again, as we predicted a couple of months ago, another top school has slimmed down its essay count this year. In this case, Tuck actually merged two questions into one, reducing the total number of essays you will need to write for your Tuck application.
Here are the school’s new deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Deadlines
Early Action round: October 10, 2012
November round: November 7, 2012
January round: January 3, 2013
April round: April 2, 2013
MIT Sloan has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Sloan has made some tweaks this year, including dropping an essay, which continues a trend that we have seen among top MBA programs so far this year. However, the school’s famous cover letter returns. This cover letter is still unique among other top MBA programs’ application essays; apparently it still works well enough that the Sloan admissions committee wants to keep it around.
Here are MIT Sloan’s application deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:
MIT Sloan Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 24, 2012
Round 2: December 27, 2012
NYU’s Stern School of Business recently released its application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015. Just as we have seen with other top-ranked business schools so far, Stern has made some notable changes to its essays this year. In Stern’s case, we don’t see any trimming of essays or words, but we do see a new push to make sure you’ve researched the school as well as an entirely new career goals essay that we like for its creativity.
Here are NYU Stern’s deadlines and essays for the coming admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:
NYU Stern Application Deadlines
Round 1: November 15, 2012
Round 2: January 15, 2013
Round 3: March 15, 2013
The Yale School of Management has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Continuing the trend we’ve seen emerge among top business schools over the past month, Yale has changed a lot this year. However, in Yale’s case, once you dig down a bit deeper you realize that Yale is still mostly looking for the same attributes in its applicants this year.
Here are the school’s deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:
Yale SOM Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 4, 2012
Round 2: January 8, 2013
Round 3: April 18, 2013
Wharton has released its application deadlines and essays for the 2012-2013 admissions season. Last year Wharton didn’t make too many big changes after really mixing it up the year before. Let’s dig into this year’s application and see how much things have changed this year.
Here are Wharton’s deadlines and essays for the Class of 2015, followed by our comments in italics:
Wharton Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2012
Round 2: January 3, 2013
Round 3: March, 2013 (exact date TBD)
This news flew under the radar for many folks, but last week Yale SOM announced two key leadership appointments, drawing experienced administrators from two prominent international business schools.
Effective July 1, Anjani Jain will take office as senior associate dean for the school’s full-time MBA program. Jain comes from Wharton, where he currently serves as Vice Dean of MBA Programs for Executives. At Yale Jain will run much of the school’s day-to-day activities, overseeing SOM’s full-time MBA program, managing admissions, career development, and student and academic services.
In September, David Bach (who earned his B.A. from Yale in 1998) will become senior associate dean for executive MBA and global programs. He currently is the dean of programs at IE Business School in Madrid. He will wear several hats at Yale, running the school’s executive MBA program and the Master of Advanced Management degree program, while at the same time overseeing the school’s participation in the Global Network for Advanced Management, a network of global MBA programs which launched this year.
Following Stanford GSB’s recent release of its admissions essays for the 2012-2013 admissions season, Stanford has just released its application deadlines for the coming year. Not too many changes, although the school’s Round 1 deadline keeps creeping a bit earlier. This can make your job seem tougher, but there is also a benefit in the grand scheme of things, which we discuss below.
Here are Stanford’s admission deadlines for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:
Stanford Graduate School of Business Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 3, 2012
Round 2: January 9, 2013
Round 3: April 3, 2013
We always tell applicants that the very best way to get to know an MBA program is to visit the school. The next best thing, however, is when the school visits you! The upcoming MBA Tour Conferences involve a variety of formats to help you gain a competitive edge in the admissions process.
If you’re researching business schools, events like this one are an excellent way to get to know schools better as you narrow down your list of target programs. Additionally, individual school presentations will allow you to easily compare programs and get your questions answered in a comfortable setting. The larger MBA Fair will give you a chance to meet one-on-one with admission directors and alumni representatives.
What happens at The MBA Tour Conferences?
Stanford GSB recently released its MBA admissions essays for the 2012-2013 application season. You may notice some changes to the essays since last year; we’ll dig into those changes below. Perhaps most significantly, just as we predicted last month, Stanford removed one of its required essays this year, although the total recommended word count remains the same.
As it has done for the past several years, Stanford’s admissions committee provides some high-level advice right on its own website. While we think this advice is generally good, we don’t see anything in Stanford’s advice that hasn’t been said many times before. Still, any advice that comes straight from the horse’s mouth deserves your attention!
After releasing its application deadlines for the 2012-2013 admissions season, Columbia Business School has released its admissions essays, and we’ll dig into those today.
Note that Columbia is somewhat unique among top U.S. business schools because it has a large January intake every year. This program allows you to complete your MBA in less than a year and a half, and is ideally suited for applicants who don’t plan on switching careers or may want to start their own venture after school (i.e., you’ll need less help from Columbia’s career services office than the typical student). The January intake deadlines are also covered below.
UCLA Anderson became the latest highly ranked business school to incorporate online learning into how it delivers it curriculum. Anderson has just announced its new FEMBA Flex program, a new way for students to complete its existing FEMBA (short for “Fully Employed MBA”) program through a combination of online and in-person learning. The new program will launch in the fall of 2012.
Convenience is clearly a selling point of the new program, perhaps best summed up by this headline on the school’s website: “Make fewer trips to campus, get 100% of the UCLA Anderson MBA experience.” The new program will only require four weekend campus visits per quarter for core classes, with the remainder of learning taking place through the school’s online learning platform.
Time flies… The last applicants of the 2011-2012 admissions season are still finding out their fates, and Harvard Business School has already released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2012-2013 application season. Big news here: Consistent with what we predicted earlier this month, this year’s HBS application includes fewer essays… Just two required ones this year! (Back pats all around here at Veritas Prep headquarters!)
Here are the new Harvard essays and deadlines, taken from Harvard’s site. As usual, our comments follow in italics: