Stanford GSB Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2015-2016

Stanford GSB has released its MBA application essays and deadlines for the 2015-2016 admissions season. After making some pretty significant changes to the essay prompts last year, the Stanford admissions team has only made one minor word count tweak (actually adding 50 words!) this year. As a result, our advice mostly remains the same. Keep reading to see Stanford’s relatively unique questions, and how we recommend that you go about answering them.

Here are the Stanford GSB application essays and deadlines for the Class of 2018, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford MBA Application Deadlines
Round 1: September 22, 2015
Round 2: January 12, 2016
Round 3: April 5, 2016

The biggest change here is that Stanford Round 1 deadline is 10 days earlier than it was last year, pushing into September for the first time. Just as is the case with HBS, putting together a winning Stanford GSB application will require getting started no later than the beginning of August. Stanford’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines each actually moved back by a few days.

Note that, if you apply in Round 1, you will receive your decision by December 9. That’s critical if you plan on applying to some other programs in Round 2 if you don’t receive good news from Stanford in Round 1. It gives you close to a month to get your applications ready in time for most top schools’ Round 2 deadlines.

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays

  • What matters most to you, and why? (750 words suggested, out of 1,150 total)

    Despite all of the changes that have taken place in the MBA admissions essay landscape over the past few years, this question manages to hang on. Before you start to work on this essay, consider the advice that the Stanford MBA admissions team provides: “Reflect the self-examination process you used to write your response.”

    This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to the job of getting into Stanford GSB. Naturally, telling a random story that has nothing to do with anything of relevance can hurt your chances, but mainly because you will have wasted this valuable space to reveal something about yourself. Where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about their grand plans for the future, rather than providing a real glimpse into who they are as people. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in helping you get in. With the other essays in this application, you have ample opportunity to cover the exact reasons why you want an MBA from Stanford.
  • Why Stanford? (400 words suggested)

    Wow! Stanford is giving applicants 50 more words than it did last year! Otherwise, this essay prompt carries over unchanged from last year. Stanford has the luxury of not having to spend too much time sleuthing how interested you are in the program. Most people who are admitted to Stanford end up going there. However, the guidance that the admissions team provides with this question (“Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.”) shows that they really are paying attention to see if you’ve done your homework, and if you have given any real thought to making the most of your time at Stanford (beyond “Get into private equity and get paid.”)

    Definitely resist the urge to do a few web searches and then simply drop the names of some programs or professors into this essay. An effective response will provide specific details that tie back to you (think about your past and your future) as much as they tie to Stanford. Many applicants will read that “distinctive opportunities” advice and think “The scavenger hunt is on! Let me find something no one else will write about!” but that misses the point. Stanford wants to know that you’re applying for reasons other than the fact that it’s such a platinum name in education, so spell out how You + Stanford = A More Effective Business Leader.

Note Stanford’s Take on “Feedback” Vs. “Coaching”
Stanford includes some noteworthy language re: what is an acceptable form of guidance to seek as you craft your application essays. As the admissions team writes:

Appropriate feedback occurs when others review your completed application — perhaps once or twice — and apprise you of omissions, errors, or inaccuracies that you later correct or address. After editing is complete, your thoughts, voice, and style remain intact. Inappropriate coaching occurs when you allow others to craft your application for you and, as a result, your application or self-presentation is not authentic

It is improper and a violation of the terms of this application process to have someone else write your essays. Such behavior will result in denial of your application or withdrawal of your offer of admission.

We appreciate that Stanford spells this out, and we couldn’t agree more with the school’s stance. If you can’t even write your own essays, then you already know that you’re not Stanford GSB material. For more than 10 years we have been helping people apply to the world’s most competitive MBA programs, and we have done it (pretty well, we might add) without writing essays or putting words in our clients’ mouths.

If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stanford and other top business schools, 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

What to Wear During Your MBA Admissions Interview

Admissions InterviewSo you finally got those pesky business school applications out of the way and after a few weeks of waiting, you receive the great news that you’ve been invited to interview with your dream school. Now, on the prep side you have it all together, you are ready to ace your interview but with one not so minor question. What to wear!

This seemingly innocuous question tends to create as much anxiety as in any other aspect of the admissions process. This commonly stems from overthinking by the applicant but also a lack of overall comfort with this type of interview. For most candidates they have also not interviewed in some time, which can make the whole process daunting.

Now when it comes to dressing for success, treat the MBA interview as you would a traditional job interview, which for men involves a traditional suit. Keep it simple guys and wear basic colored suits and simple collared white or blue dress shirts. You can get a little more creative with your ties, but your choice of dress should not be something that even registers for your interviewer.

Now for women the same rules apply. Treat your MBA interview as if you were interviewing for a job. Interview day is not the time to take any risks; keep it simple and let the quality of your background and how you communicate it speak for itself.

Increasingly, MBA programs are evolving their interview practices. Programs like Kellogg and the Yale School of Management have incorporated virtual interviews and essays into their application process. You should treat dressing for these virtual sessions a bit different. For the remote virtual interviews, same rules apply; well at least for the upper half of your body. You want to dress business professional.

However for the video essays, that have become increasingly popular, business casual is more appropriate. Defer to the specific directions if provided but if not keep it neat and clean with your choice of clothing. For men, collared shirts or polo shirts with no jacket are acceptable. For women, aim for neat and clean with appropriate dresses, shirts and blouses. Same rules as the men, your wardrobe should not be a distraction, thus keeping the focus on the content of what you are communicating.

A common rule of thumb is over dressing is better than under dressing, but if you can follow some of the guidance above, you will be dressed for success and in the perfect position to make the most of your interview opportunity.

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

3 Ways 2nd Year MBA Students Can Help 1st Year Students

Student HelpThe first year on campus at business school can be a very challenging time for many students.  For some, this brings about a new city, new friends, and a return to the classroom after years away. There is very little that can prepare many students for all of this change. Who else could understand what a 1st year student is going through in this very specific circumstance? 2nd year students, that’s who! The proverbial upper classmen of the business school world are a 1st year student’s best bet on navigating life as an MBA.

Here are a few areas a 1st year MBA can utilize their more experienced classmates:

Life

Where should you go grocery shopping? Which hair salon is the best? What’s the closest vegan restaurant? These basic questions can often be a challenge for incoming students as they transition to a new community. 2nd year students are the best source to address all of these life related questions that are so integral to surviving the two years of business school. Of particular help are student clubs that cater to needs of students like the affinity, international, or lifestyle groups on-campus.

Academic

2nd years are also key when it comes to handling academics on-campus. Knowing the best classes to take and when can help 1st year students make better decisions when it comes to maximizing their academic experience. Timing is a major factor with academics because some classes can help prepare students for internships in certain industries like marketing or finance so might make more sense to take during the first year. Other classes require a lot of work so may not make sense to take during heavy recruiting periods. 2nd year students in similar career paths can provide a lot of context when selecting which and what time to take certain classes.

Recruiting

Recruiting advice is one of the best uses of 2nd year students on-campus. An easy way to tap into the right classmates is via campus groups. Each major recruiting track i.e. marketing, finance, consulting, etc. will have a campus group focused on providing support in the recruiting process. These career focused campus groups are led by 2nd years that have already gone through the process and should serve as a resource for 1st years. These groups will often match-up 1st year students with experienced 2nd years to encourage mentorship throughout recruiting season.

Make the most of your 2nd year classmates during your first year and avoid all of the mistakes of inexperience by utilizing the bevy of resources available on-campus.

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

Harvard Business School Application Essays & Deadlines for 2015-2016

MBA applicants, start your engines. A handful of the top U.S. business schools have already released their application essays and admissions deadlines, it’s that time of year when we start digging into them for you. Today, we’re going to start with the business school with the biggest name and the earliest Round 1 deadline: Harvard Business School.

After years of slimming its essays down to the point where it had only one essay and even made it optional, HBS has changed course this year. The school has an all-new essay prompt, and it’s no longer optional. The essay becoming mandatory again actually isn’t huge news; in a recent blog post, HBS Admissions Director explained that, not surprisingly, every applicant submitted a response. So, no point in making the essay optional and confusing the issue. There’s one essay in the application (not counting the Post-Interview Reflection), and you’re going to write it if you want to get into HBS.

Without further ado, here are Harvard’s deadlines and essays (including the “Post-Interview Reflection”), followed by our comments in italics:

Harvard Business School Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: September 9, 2015
Round 2: January 6, 2016
Round 3: April 4, 2016

Harvard still has the earliest Round 1 deadline in the business, although the school’s Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines are exactly the same as they were last year. To give you an idea of how much this deadline has crept up over the years, back in 2008 HBS’s Round 1 deadline came on October 15! Harvard’s Round 3 deadline moved up two days this season, but that’s the only change this season.

Harvard Business School Admissions Essays

  • 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. Note: Should you enroll at HBS, there will be an opportunity for you to share this with them. We suggest you view this video before beginning to write. (No word limit)

    Harvard went with an entirely new essay prompt this year. Last year’s “What else would you like us to know?” question seemed effective, but this change tells us that the HBS admissions committee is still trying hard to break applicants out of the habit of writing overly formal essays that don’t tell them anything interesting. While Harvard is normally a trendsetter, this year the school follows in the footsteps of schools such as Stern and Fuqua, which have used similar questions in recent years.By trying to put you in the shoes of students who have already gotten in and are now introducing themselves to their classmates, HBS wants get you to write with as natural a voice as is possible. In fact, in the blog post that introduces this question, Dee Leopold urges you to imagine “saying it out loud.” Of course, you will (and should) put more thought into this essay than you would put into what few words you might say to break the ice in Aldrich Hall.

    Any essay you write here still needs to help you do at least one of the two things that all successful MBA applicants do — demonstrate fit with HBS and also stand out in a very competitive field of applicants. Resist the urge to go for a gimmick, but don’t be afraid to truly listen to Leopold and actually let your hair down a bit. What brought you to this point in your life? What do you want to do after HBS? (Remember, write in the voice of someone who’s already gotten in.) What do you like to do outside of school and work? What gets you up in the morning? What would you say in your verbal introduction to get a laugh out of your new friends?

    Of course, the challenge is that there’s a lot that you would normally emphasize in a more traditional essay (“Why an MBA? Why now? Why HBS?”) that you probably wouldn’t say as you’re speaking to your new classmates. While in a traditional essay you might want to go on and on about how your minimal community involvement is actually something you’re really passionate about, how much time would you really spend on that in a verbal introduction? So, those things need to come out in your resume, your recommendations, and — should you get that far — your admissions interview.

    Overall, we bet that applicants will still err on the side of being too formal (and to wordy!) with this essay. One way to combat this is to actually record yourself doing a verbal introduction of yourself, and then, once you have a complete draft of an essay, compare it to see how much it matches it in terms of tone and length (not necessarily in terms of exact content). If your written piece is much longer or much more formal than your verbal sample, you know you have a bit more work to do to get to what the Harvard Business School admissions committee wants to see. We expect that most great responses will take up less than 1,000 words (maybe even more like 500 words) here.

  • Post-Interview Reflection: Within 24 hours of the interview, candidates are required to submit a written reflection through our online application system. Detailed instructions will be provided to those applicants who are invited to the interview process.

    The Post-Interview Reflection gives you a chance to include anything you wish you had been able to mention in the interview, and to reframe anything that you discussed but have since thought about a bit more. You will submit this piece within 24 hours of your interview.Especially since this letter has no word limit, the temptation will be for you to cram in half a dozen additional things that you wish you had covered in the interview. However, less is always more — keep the note limited to no more than two or three core ideas that you want to highlight. Ideally you covered all of the important things in the interview already, but of not, then this is a chance to hit on those here. Keep in mind, though, that sharing these ideas in the interview is always going to be more effective than cramming them into this note.

    Finally, be realistic about how much this letter will help you. Chances are that it won’t turn a dud of an interview into a terrific one in hindsight. Do NOT go into the interview with this note already drafted; let it truly be a reaction to the discussion, which was hopefully an interesting and provocative one. If your interviewer reads this note and it sounds like a replay of an entirely different discussion than what he or she remembers, that will only serve to hurt you come decision time.

Read more of our thoughts on the HBS essay here.

Every year we help dozens of applicants apply to Harvard Business School. Want to see if you have what it takes to get into HBS? You can get a free profile evaluation from a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

4 Reasons to Attend the NBMBAA Conference This Year

HandshakeThe National Black MBA Conference (NBMBAA), or as it’s better known “National Black,” is a yearly conference and expo, held every September in a different city, that targets past, current, and future black MBAs. This September, the conference will take place in Orlando, FL. It is the preeminent national event for black MBAs, but in recent years the attendance at the event has become even more diverse with students from all backgrounds attending the event to take advantage of all the offerings.

National Black presents an array of learning and development opportunities for attendees, but the most popular aspects fall in the below four categories:

1) Recruiting

The primary reason why National Black has become a more diverse event is because of the fantastic recruiting opportunities. The conference boasts a massive job fair where many of the world’s top companies like General Mills, Microsoft, and Deloitte connect with MBA students. This job fair represents an excellent opportunity for students to meet influential recruiters and target companies. Each company utilizes the conference a little bit differently but relationships forged at National Black can lead to placement on the interview “closed list” back on campus. But why wait to get back to campus? Some companies will actually even interview candidates right on-site at the conference. The event has allocated space for companies to interview attendees they have vetted in advance or those met during the job fair. Opportunities to interview exist for both 1st year and 2nd year students so it is possible for any MBA student to walk away with a job.

2) Enrichment

The conference boasts tons of speakers and events geared towards developing the future business leaders of tomorrow, which provides a great learning experience for attendees. Scholarship events, workshop seminars and case competitions round out the enrichment opportunities at National Black. With a full schedule of events, National Black represents the perfect opportunity for an attendee to immerse themselves in the business conversations of the day.

3) Networking

With so many MBAs in one location the networking opportunities are unparalleled. The event has begun to represent a yearly gathering of the nation’s best and brightest minority business professionals. Schools and companies typically host events for current students to connect with alums to foster continued generational relationships. The networking opportunities for attendees with recruiters were covered above and represent an overwhelming draw to the conference.

4) Social

National Black would not be a true business school event if there was not a social component right? National Black is littered with a bevy of parties, mixers, and dinners thrown by companies. Some are recruiting focused but most are oriented around pure and unadulterated fun! Companies like Diageo and Target throw yearly parties, which have become some of the hardest tickets to secure at National Black, including major headlining musical acts.

Check out the event here!

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

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Applying to Business School

Magnifying GlassHiring an admissions consultant is a great way to make sure you produce the best possible business school application possible, leveraging the inside knowledge and experience from someone who has been through the process successfully many, many times.  Yet, working with an expert does not mean that you can take a back seat and put things on cruise control.

You should still expect to do a lot of work writing, editing and rewriting essays, in addition to making sure you complete each step of the application process on time.  (We will certainly provide expert guidance to help you make the right decision at every step of the way).

Below is a list of some of the mistakes I have seen clients make over the years:

  • Missing deadlines by getting the time zone wrong.  Even if this mistake can be remedied with a very apologetic phone call the next day, it is not a situation you want to put yourself in.  Our advice is to always submit a day early to avoid missing any technical glitches from overloaded servers, or a computer that crashes.
  • Missing communications from schools: make sure those emails do not end up in your junk folder.  Reading and responding to requests from the admissions committees should be a priority. If you don’t respond in a timely fashion, they will wonder about your commitment and professionalism.
  • Recommendations being late: not too uncommon, but there is no excuse for this to happen.  Most online application systems allow for a reminder to be sent.  In addition, you should check in with recommenders to make sure they are on track. Also, be aware of their schedules, whether vacations or major high priority projects that could delay or postpone completing your letters of recommendation.
  • Insufficient school research: not everyone has the ability to visit each school they are applying to, but this is not an excuse to not have a firm grasp of what resources are relevant to your career goals.  We will certainly point you how and where to look, including relevant professors, courses, clubs and experiential learning programs, but you have to take the time to follow through.
  • Underestimating the amount of work needed to complete the applications on time.  It requires a significant amount of work to prepare successful applications.  This is especially true given the amount of introspection required to answer essay questions about who you are, what motivates you, etc.

Granted, much of the above can be avoided by following a logical and detailed process, so there is no reason the above should happen to you.

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!

By Marcus D.  Read more articles by him here, and find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

4 Ways to Build Your Network during Business School

NetworkingOne of the primary reasons applicants flood the world’s best business schools every year is to gain access to a network of career changing professionals. This is often the primary reason applicants cite for pursuing an MBA.

Now once you are on-campus how do you make sure you are taking advantage of this network? There are a few obvious areas but also some other areas that get commonly get overlooked. Let’s discuss a few areas where students can network on campus:

 

1. Classmates

Your classmates will be your primary network while in business school, as well as afterwards. These are the people you will spend time with every day in the classroom, recruiting, in extra-curricular activities and even working in the office. Your classmates are the best people to forge your network with, because of the daily interactions and mutual connections that exist from your shared experiences together. Contrary to popular belief these relationships are best formed outside of the classroom via extra-curricular activities and social functions, so don’t be afraid to get to know who your classmates really are!

2. Alums

Another great networking opportunity is with alums. Now, you may be saying “but alums aren’t on-campus?” Well, in fact they are! Alums are all over business school campuses across the globe. Many come back for sponsored events from their firms that recruit on-campus, others engage with students via speaking engagements in the classroom, and even attend business school conferences. The point is alums are around; take advantage of their visits to campus and leverage their experience to make the most of your alumni network.

3. Professors

Here is something most would never guess. Professors probably have the most expansive network of anybody on campus. They have relationships with current students, alums, and even corporations. It is very common for professors to connect students with alums and companies for potential employment opportunities, particularly in niche industries. Building a strong relationship with professors is not only good for your grades, but also for your long-term professional career.

4. Other Grad Programs

One of the benefits of the university system is that it fosters an environment of community learning. Take advantage of the other graduate programs on campus – like law, medicine, and engineering – to network with other students. For students pursuing careers in industries like entrepreneurship, healthcare or technology, these relationships can be particularly impactful.

Make the most of your time on campus, by leveraging all of the opportunities above to leave campus with a powerful network!

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

How to Successfully Navigate the First Year Presentation in Business School

HandshakeAfter months of anticipation you’ve finally arrived on-campus to begin your 1st year of business school. As the anticipation starts to subside and you’re excitement levels return to normal, it’s time to turn your attention towards recruiting.  Many 1st year MBAs are anxious to get this part of the business school experience kicked off as soon as possible. For their benefit most schools have in place restrictions that delay contact with recruiters for 1st year MBAs.

However, once these restrictions abate the official kick-off of recruiting season begins with the 1st Year Presentation. 1st Year Presentations are a fixture in on-campus recruiting and this event is the firm’s opportunity to introduce the company and the yearly calendar to 1st year students. The way a typical 1st Year Presentation is structured, the first half of the event will be very much presentation style with the firm walking students through general information about the company, recruiting calendar, and an introduction of the participating firm employees in attendance.

The second half of the event is typically reserved for networking. During this time students have the opportunity to meet with firm employees and get a feel for the company and what makes it unique. Bigger feeder industries like consulting will sometimes have large amounts of employees from across the country and from various functional roles. Even with the potential for you to access employees at these events, remember that there will be many students in attendance just like you, so be sure to make the most of your time.

The key to successfully navigating a 1st Year Presentation begins with preparation. Most see this event as an opportunity to learn what the firm is about.  Taking this approach does not allow you to make the most of your time at this kind of event. By conducting research on basic information related to the hosting firm, it is much easier to focus on deeper, higher level information at the event. This manifests itself best during the second half of the event where the format is more open and students can connect directly with employees. Many will ask generic, boilerplate questions to the participating employees. Take a different approach and ask more introspective questions that will not only impress the employee but also provide you answers to your questions.

Also, be smart about which employees you network with. If you are seeking employment in a specific region or functional role make sure to connect with employees that are relevant to your career goals. The most senior person in the room is not necessarily the most influential in the recruiting process, so target employees like recruiters and staff most relevant to your needs.

Successfully navigating the first year presentation is a great start to the recruiting process, follow the tips above to set yourself up for success with your dream firm!

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

5 Ways to Make the Most Out of Your MBA Coffee Chat

Coffee Chat - MBACoffee chats are one of the best ways to stand out during the on-campus recruiting process. Your ability to connect one on one with an employee at your dream company is a great way to earn kudos with your target employer. However, many other aspects of the recruiting process are covered in great detail elsewhere, but for some reason coffee chats don’t get the same level of attention.

One could even argue with the very personal nature of a one on one coffee chat that it is one of the most important touch points in the entire recruiting process.

Follow these 5 tips below to ensure you make the most of your coffee chats:

Sign-Up

This sounds really simple but slots for on-campus coffee chats go quickly. Each company is different so make sure you are on all the relevant club lists and in target company databases so you don’t miss your chance to participate. Popular career tracks like marketing or consulting are particularly competitive when it comes to time slots for coffee chats. Typically there are multiple opportunities to sign-up per company, so you should be able to secure at least one time slot, but don’t risk it, make sure you are taking note of any event held by your target firms.

Prepare

Once you have your coffee chat scheduled, it’s time to prep for it. Typically you will know who you will be chatting with so take the opportunity to conduct some career related research via LinkedIn or the company website. Time for these coffee chats is typically limited so it is important to have a game plan before your coffee chat. Identify some questions that will help you get a better picture of the firm, learn about the firm representative’s experience with the company, and ultimately position yourself for success during the interview process.

Engage

Now that you are prepared for the chat, it’s time to engage and execute your game plan. You want to treat this conversation professionally while letting your personality flourish within the semi-structured conversation. Remember this is about connecting with a potential decision maker or future employee, so it’s not enough to just ask a bunch of questions. You want to be engaging here.

Document

Completing the coffee chat does not end the process, it is important to document the conversation you just had. With many companies there will be multiple representatives from a firm you chat with throughout the recruiting process, so by documenting all of your interactions it makes it easy to reference past conversations and employee names.

Follow-Up

Finally, following-up and confirming interest should be another one of those immediate next steps candidates take post coffee chat. These employees typically talk to many students on-campus so follow-up soon after the conversation and remind them of that engaging conversation you had.

Utilize these tips to start relationship building with your target companies to ensure you stand out in the recruiting process!

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

What to Expect from an MBA Coffee Chat

Coffee Chat - MBAOne of the great aspects of the MBA recruiting experiences is the 360-degree approach many employers utilize to get to know candidates. Recruiting events like the 1st year presentation and interview tend to get more attention from interested candidates, but coffee chats are also an important way for recruits and recruiters to learn about each other.

So what is a coffee chat? Well it is not totally about coffee. A coffee chat in its simplest form is a planned conversation with an employee of a target firm. This conversation can be in person or remote via phone or video-conference. The firm representative of your target firm conducting the coffee chat tends to have some ties to your MBA program, in many instances, but not always. Firms that recruit at larger MBA programs with deeper alumni bases tend to utilize these alums in greater numbers for coffee chats, so there may be some familiarity with the participating representative.

From the student perspective, coffee chats provide the opportunity to learn more about what day-to-day life is like at a company. Students can use this time to ask specific questions they have about the firm, recruiting process, and the employee’s experience at the company. This knowledge can aid candidates during interview season as well as help make final decisions on whether to work at the firm or not.

From the firm side, a coffee chat is a strong sign of interest by a candidate and although these talks are informational, candidates are most certainly being judged.  Conversations held during these coffee chats are documented internally and feed directly into decisions regarding the interview list and sometimes even the ultimate interview decision. How a candidate comes across during these sessions is very important and can have a long lasting effect on securing an internship or full-time offer at the target company. So these coffee chats are not just about sipping cappuccinos!

In some instances this may be a candidate’s only opportunity to connect one on one with a representative of their dream company so it is important to make this limited time count. The chat typically last between 15 minutes and 30 minutes so the impetus will be on the candidate to make the most of the time allotted.

Don’t get blindsided by coffee chats on your campus. Know what you are getting into beforehand and take advantage of this opportunity to shine!

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

2 Steps to Take When Asking for Letters of Recommendation for Business School

RecommenderBusiness school recommendations are a black box for many applicants.  They go ahead and ask two people for whom they have worked and who they think have an overall positive perception of them to write their recommendation.  They might vaguely discuss their career goals and why they want an MBA.

For recommenders without a significant business background, that conversation will likely go in one ear and out the other.  Regardless of how highly the recommenders think of the applicant, the actual recommendation will be of little help. Many applicants will know this and are simply hoping for the best, or that the recommendation will at the least not cause any irreparable damage.

Given the highly competitive nature of admissions to top tier business schools, this is not the way you should approach your recommendations.  In order to turn your recommenders into true advocates you must take a much more proactive role.

The first step is selecting the right recommenders.  Create a list of possible recommenders for any job you have held since college – err on the side of being inclusive at this point.  This list can include customers, clients, partners, etc, but should generally exclude college professors.  Evaluate your recommenders based on your key accomplishments working with/for them, their ability to discuss your managerial potential, length and quality of interaction and also on how well you believe they can put forth their arguments on paper.  Title and seniority at the company matters less.  Typically one of the recommenders should be your current manager, but schools realize this is not always feasible (especially if you don’t want your employer to know that you are considering leaving); there is room to explain a different choice in the optional essay.  This should hopefully leave you with 2 strong options.

Next, you need to provide the recommender with what we refer to as a recommender packet.  This would include your resume (or list of key accomplishments at the company), short-term and long-term career goals, your reasoning for why you want an MBA, and what overall themes you are trying to develop for your candidacy.  Putting this on paper will force you to crystallize your own thoughts and be more effective.  More importantly, you need to have an open discussion on how best to answer the recommendation questions using specific examples of past accomplishments that support your key themes as an applicant. The point here is to provide the recommender with sufficient background to write convincingly about why you are amazing.  And just to be clear, we do not encourage you to write your own recommendations – it is unethical and much more likely to hurt you than help.

As schools offer fewer essay questions, having amazing recommendations is becoming increasingly important. Do not leave your recommendations to chance – give them the attention they deserve.

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!

By Marcus D.  Read more articles by him here, and find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

Win a Free Veritas Prep GMAT Course!

NSHMBA Thumbnail 1Veritas Prep is excited to announce a scholarship opportunity to help you achieve your target GMAT score! We’ve partnered with the National Society of Hispanic MBAs to offer 100 GMAT preparation courses to qualifying applicants completely free of charge!

A good GMAT score is crucial when applying to business school, and we want to help you succeed. Our GMAT courses are available in over 90 cities worldwide, and also online using new Smartboard technology.

 

Every GMAT course comes with the following:

  • 36 hours of live instruction
  • An instructor who scored in the 99th percentile on the actual GMAT
  • 12 lesson booklets
  • 12 computer-adaptive practice tests
  • Live instructor help seven days a week
  • Veritas Prep GMAT on Demand pre-recorded lesson videos
  • 3,000 GMAT practice problems and solutions

To learn more about this scholarship and how to apply, visit the NSHMBA website. The deadline to apply is May 8th, so if you’re thinking about taking the GMAT, submit your application today!

We’re excited to get you moving on your next step towards graduate school!

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

By Colleen Hill

4 Factors to Consider when Determining if Your GMAT Score is High Enough for Business School

GMAT ScoreThis is a common question we get as head consultants.  At what point is your GMAT good enough that you can move to the next stage?  If you read my previous post on timelines and milestones, I recommend getting the GMAT out of the way first as it serves to guide your school selection, and, frankly, is pretty stressful – having to take the GMAT close to a school deadline will only add to that stress.

The short answer to the question is to always retake the GMAT if you think you have a decent shot at improving the score by ~20 points.  The top tier business school admissions process is so competitive that you really cannot afford to not improve every single part of the application when possible.

That said we cannot expect every single applicant to score 750 on the GMAT.  Not everyone is capable of that score, and there are additional constraints to consider, such as time to a deadline.  Given that, I think there are some basic rules of thumb that could help guide your decision to whether to retake the GMAT.

To help guide us, let’s assume a fictitious top tier b school with a mean or average GMAT of 730, overall range of 620-780 and middle 80% range of 710-750 (meaning 10% of students score above 750, and 10% below). Let’s consider a few factors:

GMAT Range

Generally speaking, you should always strive to beat the average of the school to which they are applying.  If you haven’t done that, it means the rest of your application needs to be that much stronger and differentiated.  If it’s less strong, or if there are likely to be many similarly looking applicants, then retake.

On the other hand, if you are scoring above 750, or above the middle 80%, it means you are among the top 10% of GMAT scores for this school – probably ok to move on to other parts of the application.

If you are scoring below the middle 80% percentile, you should probably retake assuming you have the time.

Low GPA

If your GPA is low, say more than 5-10% below a school’s average, your GMAT needs to be that much higher to remove any doubt that you can handle the academic coursework (GMAT is acts as a predictor of academic aptitude).  Best to try to beat that average score, or at least get into the middle 80% range.  This is especially true if you are coming from a less reputable school.

Applicant Pools

Applicants from b school feeder industries, such as finance and management consulting, or those with engineering backgrounds are expected to help raise the average.  Just getting within that middle 80% is not good enough, you should be scoring above the average. An i-banker with a 710 is not getting that interview invite.

Industry Pools

Applicants from the government, active duty military, NGOs, or those from other non-traditional backgrounds, will typically get a break.  This doesn’t mean that you should be happy with a 650.  If you have the time, sit down and assess what sections of the GMAT are more challenging for you and attack those (a competent GMAT tutor will help you with this).

Of course, there might be plenty of personal situations and specifics to your specific situation that need to be considered, but hopefully this serves to provide some initial guidance.

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!

By Marcus D.  Read more articles by him here, and find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

MBA Admissions Timeline: When You Should Take the GMAT, Ask for Recommendations, and More

ChecklistAs we are putting final touches on R3 applications, it is already time to start thinking about the next application cycle for many of you.  This is especially true if you want to apply in R1.  Deadlines that seem distant always have a way to sneak up on those who are unprepared.  To help you in the planning process, we thought it would be useful to outline what a well thought-out timeline for a successful business school application might look like.  This is written for the average applicant; some might be able to pull it off in a much shorter period (not recommended), others, such as non-traditional applicants, might need a lot more time.

For the purposes of this exercise it is useful to divide the complete application into the following streams of work:

  • Tests: GMAT or GRE, and TOEFL (for most international applicants);
  • School selection: school visits, desktop research, primary research or informational interviews with alums;
  • Online applications: essays, resume and general information;
  • Recommendations: selecting recommenders and preparing them to write amazing recommendations.

Roughly speaking, the above work streams are listed in the order they should be approached.  There is certainly some overlap between the different streams, and you should build in some flexibility in your timeline.  The best way to develop a timeline is to work backwards from admissions deadlines.  Starting with the online application, it generally takes about 3 months to complete the essays, resume (which might have to tweaked for each school) and gather all information you need to complete the online application.  For a September deadline, it means you should start brainstorming and drafting essays in early June.  It is generally a good idea to complete the resume first as it serves to create a summary of who you are and what you have achieved.

Regarding your recommenders, you should prepare them to write those amazing letters of recommendations.  Don’t just tell them which schools you applying to and send them the email with instructions.  Instead, provide them with an updated resume, relevant examples of leadership and an overview of what themes you are trying to convey in your application.  (Having started the essays and resume already you will be well prepared for this.)  This should happen about 6-8 weeks before the first deadline, or by early July for a September deadline.

School selection starts with desktop research, includes class visits (international applicants should try to attend local information sessions), as well informational interview with alumni and current students.  Be sure to check the visiting schedule well in advance, as most schools do not offer class visits around final examinations.  Try to complete these by April (after that things you run out of options).

Standardized test results serve as an important indicator of academic abilities in the Admissions Committee’s eyes.  If you are striving for admissions to a top tier b school, you should be aiming to get it around average for that school.  This means you might have to retake it more than once.  (Non-traditional applicants, including military, get a break typically.)   Your GMAT and GRE also serve to inject some realistic expectations into your short list of schools.  Hence, getting tests out of the way early is really ideal.  For a typical applicant the tests should be completed about 4 months prior to the first deadline.  For September deadlines, it means the official GMAT should be taken in April, allowing sufficient time to retake the test if necessary.

In summary, for a September deadline, here are some milestones you should try to hit in order put yourself in the best possible situation when applying to b school :

  • GMAT: complete by April for a September deadline (4 months prior);
  • School selection: finalize by June, after taking the GMAT, and extensive primary and secondary research (3-4 months before deadline);
  • Recommendations: provide recommenders with all necessary information to write amazing letters of recommendations in early July (2 months before deadline);
  • Online applications: begin essay drafts in early June (3 months before deadline), and iterate many, many times!

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!

By Marcus D.  Learn more about him here, or find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

What to Expect During Consulting Recruiting as a First Year MBA Student

RecruitingManagement consulting is one of the most popular career tracks for enterprising MBA students. In fact at some top feeder schools, this career track can represent upwards of 40% of accepted job offers. Consulting recruiting in business school is one of the most competitive and hotly contested industries for summer internships. Firms tend to only test drive a fraction of their full time hires during summer internship programs, so limited spots exist for 1st year students.

Once on-campus, interested students will be surprised at the number of other students going out for consulting. This is a common occurrence at most top feeder programs, so if a career in management consulting is really your goal this should not deter you. For many schools there is a recruiting grace period that begins once you get on-campus and extends a few weeks into your first quarter/semester. This serves to allow you some time to transition into life as a student without the pressure of recruiting. However, once this grace period is over, consulting recruiting will kick into high gear. You may receive a few introductory emails from consulting firms at first but the firm specific 1st Year Presentations is the official launch of the recruiting season.

During these presentations, consulting firms will introduce themselves to interested students in a formal setting. Depending on your program and the company, this may occur on-campus or off-campus at a hotel, restaurant or other private space. During this event you will have the chance to learn about firm values, meet consultants, sign-up for the mailing list, and view the summer internship recruiting calendar. The next phase involves you getting to know the firm and the firm getting to know you. This is primarily done through email, personal calls from working consultants, and “coffee chats” which are one on one in-person conversations. Also, firms may host events on campus through your consulting club about various topics related to working in the industry. During this process, firms will build a profile on potential recruits based on measurables like your resume and GMAT score but also your perceived fit. All of these elements will feed into who gets on the coveted interview list.

For most programs, interview season kicks off in the new year so resist the urge to get started on case prep much earlier than this. A common issue 1st Year students struggle with is getting burned out from doing too many mock interviews. Trust experienced 2nd Year students and club leadership as they should be offering organized and structured prep for you. During interview season each firm has a different process but all involve multiple rounds with junior and senior consultants testing you with both case and behavioral questions. Once you secure your offer and make a decision on what firm to spend your summer with, the recruiting process finally ends.

However, one thing you will learn about consulting recruiting is that it never really ends and after accepting the offer, and especially during your internship, you will constantly be evaluated. This can be an anxious and exhausting process so make sure to leverage your peers for support as you navigate consulting recruiting.

Thinking of going 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

4 Ways to Get the Most Out of Your Second Year of Business School

ChecklistYou’ve survived the 1st year of business school – congrats! Memories of those challenging core classes, long nights preparing for case interviews and student led conference feel distant in your mind. You didn’t think you would make it through that summer internship from hell but you managed and now return to campus with an offer in hand and your entire 2nd year in front of you.

For many, your 2nd year of business school will be more relaxing and less stressful, especially if you have an offer in hand. So how do you make the most of your final year in business school? Follow these tips below to ensure a productive last year on campus.

Skill Development

Remember why you are at business school! Your 2nd year is a great time to really focus on any remaining gaps in your business training. For some, its functional, where specific areas like leadership, teamwork, and creativity need to be refined. For others, industry knowledge gaps in areas like finance or marketing are key to ensuring success in future professional endeavors. By targeting these gaps with applicable coursework you can leave business school with a polished professional skill set.

Career

If you have secured a job in advance of your second year, your remaining time on campus is the perfect opportunity to prep for your future career. Engaging in specific training for programs like PowerPoint or Excel can help you hit the ground running on your first day in the office. It is also important to continue to stay abreast of the latest happenings within your industry and firm. Most employers will maintain contact with you throughout your 2nd year and will sometimes connect you with current employees. Remain impressive in all of these discussions to continue developing your reputation within the firm.

If you were unable to secure a full-time offer after your summer internship, there is nothing to worry about. Many 2nd year students, even those with full-time offers will be recruiting as well. Recruiting should be a key focus if you’re still looking. The earlier you are able to wrap up recruiting, the faster you can switch your focus to other more enjoyable areas of your 2nd year experience.

Relationship Building

I avoided using the term networking here because these relationships are exclusively focused on developing stronger bonds with your classmates. These relationships should not be focused simply on career related items but instead on cultivating long lasting relationships. One of the greatest benefits of business school is the vast amount of connections that can stem from your relationship with the university. Take the time during your 2nd year to develop these relationships through student clubs, dinners, trips, and social outings.

Travel

Finally, make sure to travel! When else will you have all of this free time to travel the world and create timeless memories? Once you start your full time job, the ability to travel for weeks on end becomes more and more unlikely, so enjoy the flexibility while you can.

Your 2nd year of business school should be a wonderful time as you close out one of the most transformative experience of your life. Take advantage of all the opportunities available to you and cap off your time in business school the right way.

Thinking of going 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

How to Succeed During Your Summer Internship

Stand OutYou survived the perilous and anxiety ridden seven-month journey that is internship recruiting. After enjoying a few months of post-recruiting relaxation it’s time to wrap up your 1st year of business school and start your internship. Many students think once they receive their summer internship offer the hard part is over. That could not be further from the truth. Securing a full time job offer after your summer internship can be just as difficult as it was to initially get your internship offer.

Here are four tips to help ensure success during your summer internship:

1) Prepare in Advance

Start your internship the right way by coming in as prepared as possible. Many employers will provide a preview of your summer project, brand, or rotation. Use this information to research everything you can to provide yourself an advantage once your summer internship begins. Beginning your internship with even a cursory knowledge of an industry, client, or competitors can create a positive early impression.

2) Set Goals

The easiest way to prevent surprises come offer day is to make sure you are working towards the right goals and objectives during your internship. These can be both task specific goals as well as overall summer goals that ensure you are addressing all of the requirements necessary to receive an offer. Working with your supervisor to clearly articulate goals for each of these scenarios upfront will help position you for success.

3) Work Smart

Succeeding in an MBA internship is not just about working hard. Most interns will work as hard as they can to try to receive a full-time offer.  However, working hard is not enough to secure an offer; you must also work efficiently and in line with cultural norms at your firm.

4) Ask For Feedback

The best way to work smart is to make sure you are executing your deliverables in the proper fashion. By creating a feedback loop, with your supervisor, where open lines of communication exist concerning your performance, you can ensure that you are meeting all of the firm’s expectations. Some internship programs have structured feedback baked into the assessment process. Others internship programs are more informal. Identify which type fits your internship program and make sure you are leveraging the value of feedback to excel in your summer internship.

Follow these four tips and your full-time offer will be in your hands before you know it!

Thinking of going 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

3 Ways to Develop Your Leadership Skills in Business School

Developing Leadership SkillsLeadership skills are one of the top skills students hope to develop while in business school. However, what few students consider is how they will develop these very important skills. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t just gain leadership skills by showing up to campus on your first day of business school. Focusing on a few key areas during your business school experience will allow you to reach your goals as a future business leader.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Extra-curricular involvement and club activity is a fun and natural way to develop your leadership skills. Taking a leadership role in a student club can provide you with a great opportunity to lead your peers. Managing the day-to-day infrastructure of a student club can be an excellent way to test out management techniques learned in the classroom and from past professional experiences. Leadership in these extracurricular activities can also provide you with interview fodder during recruiting season. Companies are looking for recruits who possess intangibles – like leadership – to become future leaders in their organizations. Leveraging lessons from your extra-curricular experiences can help you stand out as a strong candidate for potential employers.

Academics

Another key area where you can develop your leadership skills is in the classroom. This is a great opportunity to lead classroom discussions, group projects, and presentations. Again, working with some of the world’s best and brightest young business students during your time in business school is great prep for what one can expect in the workplace. Proactively seizing opportunities in and out of the classroom will aid in your development as a leader.

Internships

Internships represent a professional environment to flex your leadership muscles. MBA interns are often given serious responsibilities that involve leading work streams and working with junior staffers. Utilize these opportunities to continue your growth while learning from your more experienced counterparts. In major MBA tracks like management consulting, investment banking, and brand management you can even expect a mentor to help guide you through your internship experience. Leverage these mentors to help you identify areas within your role to lead. Remember, just because you do not have formal leadership responsibilities does not mean leadership opportunities do not exist in your role. Carve out your own path if possible and show your employers that you have what it takes to become a future leader at the firm.

Leadership can exist anywhere. Canvas these categories to ensure you leave school as the business leader you strive to be.

Want to craft a strong application? 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. Find more of his articles here

How to Showcase Teamwork Skills in Your MBA Applications

teamTeamwork skills are a crucial element of conducting modern business today, and business schools are increasingly placing a major emphasis on identifying applicants with these skills. Although this skill can be an area of development for an applicant prior to starting business school, it is important to highlight past examples of teamwork in order to stand out from the masses.

Much of your work in business school and beyond will involve completing deliverables with others. The more clearly you can showcase a track record of skill development here the better your chances of admission into your target school. The focus here should be on what you uniquely contributed to the team as well as how your interaction within the team helped drive success for the group as a whole.

There are a few areas within your application where you can share your teamwork skills:

Academics

Think back on your undergraduate experience and identify examples from your academic career that show you as a team player. When thinking purely academically, group projects and case competitions are some of the more obvious places to pull anecdotes from. Academic examples can sometimes be a bit less interesting so make sure you are painting a complete picture of why this experience was impactful for you.

Extra-Curricular / Civic Obligations

Your extra-curricular activities outside of the classroom and the workplace are a great place to pull examples from. These experiences tend to be very interesting and also help to highlight a multitude of other interpersonal skills like leadership, creativity, and determination. Categories to parse anecdotes from include greek life, athletics, volunteer activities, and student clubs. Keep in mind all readers may not be familiar with the extra-curricular activities in your life, so provide enough background to inform the narrative. Information like size, participants, and money involved help to add context to these examples.

When identifying examples as a professional, the same approach should work. Sharing your reasoning for why you are involved in each activity may also open opportunities to show your passion for a particular topic like health, nature, or the environment.

Work Experience

You should not only pull examples from your undergraduate experience but also pull them from your professional career. Remember you are applying to business school to further your career so schools love to know how you have developed teamwork skills in your pre-MBA professional career. These examples should probably be the easiest to uncover for your application. Work to identify examples where you have excelled as a member of a team. Think of the context of the situation and the overall business impact and select the situations where you have delivered meaningful contributions that paint you in the best light as a candidate.

Showcasing a strong track record of engagement is one of the best ways to signal to admissions that you will be equally engaged once you return to campus as a grad student.

Want to craft a strong application? 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. Find more of his articles here

3 Ways to Identify Alumni from Your Business School

A key reason why many applicants decide to pursue an MBA is the tremendous network available from some of the world’s top programs. Networking opportunities that exist with current students, and in particular the thousands of alums working at top companies around the world, represent a strong incentive for many to pursue an MBA. Once on campus, it can often take a little bit of legwork to put your alumni network to work for you.

MBA alums often cherish their experiences in business school, and the value of contact with older alums, so don’t be afraid to utilize these resources to make the most of your alumni network while on campus:

MBA Alumni Database

This is the low hanging fruit of alumni outreach for students. Most schools have well-maintained and up-to-date alumni databases so get comfortable with accessing this tool. When reaching out to your MBA alums, be patient. Remember these are busy working professionals at demanding and high profile jobs so your email may not always be their top priority. Connecting with alums should be seen as a long-term investment so exercise patience and focus on building a relationship that spans not only your two years in business school but also your entire professional career.

Recruiting

During the recruiting process you will have an opportunity to meet many alums. The great part about meeting alums via the recruiting process is that your interests are immediately aligned. These alums can add a tremendous amount of value for you as you work to identify the job of your dreams. These connections are forged in a few ways. Employers create lists of target or interested students and will connect these students with alums at their companies. These alums will help provide information about their specific firm as well as life working at the company. Utilize these alums to gain information about the firm and the industry as a whole. Do remember however that these alums are agents of the company, so they will still evaluate every interaction they have with you, and it is important to remain professional at all times.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is another a great way to connect with alums. One of the most valuable aspects of using LinkedIn is that alums can quickly review your professional background and see that you are a classmate from their MBA program. Many school specific groups also exist on Linkedin with some even being sub-divided by career industry and function so take advantage of this very targeted resource.

Make the most of those powerful alumni networks that business schools brag so much about. Reach out early and often to unlock the power of your network!

Want to craft a strong application? 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. Find more of his articles here

Applying for Your MBA as an Older Applicant

Business SchoolMBA programs are often seen as a place where the world’s top young business professionals go to finish their academic training in subjects like finance, marketing, and operations. However, business school is not only for the young; many more seasoned students can extract a tremendous amount of value from the experience. The approach for every applicant should be unique, but this is even more so the case for older applicants.

Before we delve into specific tips, let’s determine what an older applicant actually is. Now there is not a universal cutoff that determines what an older or younger applicant is, but rather there is more of a guideline. Generally you want to base this determination off of the average age of the student body. For most schools the average age ranges from 26 – 28 of course with any average there are people who fall above and below to create this average. Generally candidates above the age of 30 are considered older candidates, as mentioned earlier this is really a school-by-school determination. To complicate it further work experience is also considered a qualifier when reviewing this aspect of an applicant’s profile.

As an older applicant a major key is clearly articulating why “right now” is the ideal time for you to apply. This is your chance to communicate directly to admissions why now and not 3 or 5 years ago is the perfect time for you to apply. It is important to be clear and thoughtful and truly express what you can get out of the business school experience. A negative perception of older applicants is that there may not be much that they can gain from the business school experience. Attack this perception head on and be transparent with the impact an MBA can have on your professional career.

Other factors include your GPA and GMAT score. As an older applicant and being further removed from academia, schools are less reliant on these scores to make decisions than they would be for a younger candidate. Now of course in the very competitive world of MBA admissions every data point matters but the value older candidates will bring to the student community stems from their work experience.

Finally, program choice can be a factor. This is largely dependent on the amount of experience the older candidate has. The decision whether to apply to a part-time, full-time, or EMBA program tends to be correlated tightly with age. Think through which program makes the most sense for where you are at in your life and career and what you desire out of your MBA experience. Generally the part-time and EMBA programs attract an older applicant pool given the structure and set-up of the programs. With whatever program makes the most sense for you make a strong case for how the offerings best align with your development needs.

Business school is a wonderful experience for people of many ages. Understanding how age and relative experience factor into the process will ensure success come decision day.

Want to craft a strong application? 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. Find more of his articles here

4 Ways Your Career Goals Factor into Your MBA Admission

MBA AdmissionsWith all of the various components of an MBA application, the primary reason most candidates apply tends to get overlooked when it comes time to discuss the application process. Career goals are at their core the root of why most applicants apply to business school.

In some form or fashion the desire to improve the state of ones career is why business schools exist. Career goals factor into MBA admissions in a few key ways:

 

Hire-ability

As stated above a major part of pursuing an MBA is improving your career. As schools review your application they are putting your hopes and dreams through a vetting process. Schools need to determine that given your background and aptitude the academic training provided by the program will allow you to reach your short term and long term goals. If they feel they cannot address this very basic business school mandate then your chances of receiving admission at that specific program are low.

Career Trajectory

With your career trajectory, schools are tasked with determining how realistic your career goals are given your background. Does your desired career story make sense? How well connected are your short term and long term goals? These are just a sample of questions that admissions teams will use to scrutinize your career goals.

Maturity

The maturity of a candidate also plays a role in the process. The type of goals that are referenced in an application, particularly for younger applicants, can help determine the maturity level of a candidate. This measure is a major part of the decision process. In particular, candidates should make sure their goals are clear and consistent with current industry norms.

Program Alignment

Each MBA program has their own specialty, both academically and professionally, when it comes to campus recruiting. Top candidates will target MBA programs that offer the best opportunities to reach their own career goals. Situations where this alignment between the candidate and the program does not exist can represent a red flag for your chances at admissions. If the alignment is not clear, candidates should offer up specific courses, academic programs, and recruiting opportunities that highlight the tight fit between their goals and the target program.

Your career goals are a major factor in how admissions teams make admissions decisions. Make articulating clear and consistent goals a key aspect of your application package.

Want to craft a strong application? 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. Find more of his articles here

Full Time MBA vs. Executive MBA: Which Program is the Best Fit for You?

Business SchoolChoosing which type of MBA program to apply to is a big decision. There are a variety of options available for candidates who are interested in pursuing a graduate education in business. One common set of choices comes down to pursuing a full-time MBA vs. an Executive MBA. Both programs offer different things and cater to different audiences so it is important to enter this decision with all of the information.

Asking yourself a few key questions can help you decide if an EMBA is right for you:

Experience

Do you have the experience required to contribute to an EMBA program? These programs attract a more seasoned caliber of applicants with the average student being in their mid 30’s. Programs are looking to bring students into this program who have a lot of leadership and management experience. Make sure other program types are not more appropriate given your experience.

Development Needs

What do you really want to get out of your MBA? EMBA programs tend to be less focused on activities outside of the classroom. If you are looking to recreate the traditional college experience an EMBA may not be exactly what you are looking for. Full time MBA programs tend to be a more social and immersive experience since so much time spent in the program is not exclusively focused on academics. Also, on the career side if you are looking to make a major career switch an EMBA may be the wrong program for you. With no summer internship and a common reliance on sponsorship restrictions by the paying employer most EMBA programs are predominantly focused on students who want to grow within their firm and not leave in the short term.

Sponsorship

Will your firm sponsor you? The vast majority of students in EMBA programs are sponsored by their employer. This is great not only because EMBA tuition is very high, but also because this is a strong sign of confidence an employer has in the applicant. Each employer has different rules and restrictions when it comes to sponsorship so make sure you are clear on the expectations. Typically the sponsoring firm will expect the student to return for a pre-determined time once the EMBA is completed.

An EMBA is not the right fit for everyone; utilize the information above to help determine if you are applying to the right MBA program.

Want to find out which program is right for you? 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. Find more of his articles here

3 Ways to Highlight Your Analytical Skills in Your Business School Applications

books_stackedOf all the power grad degrees (law school, medical school, etc.) business school tends to put the biggest focus on analytical skills. These skills tend to be focused on numbers, and in particular the ability to manipulate and make numbers tell a story. The MBA has historically been known to place a high percentage of graduates in analytical careers like finance and consulting, operating as a feeder system for these industries.

As competition has increased for spots in elite business schools, candidates are expected to come to business school with analytical skills or some proof of competency. So how do you make sure your analytical skills shine bright in your application?  Focus on these three areas to stand out from the competition.

Transcript

If you scored a high GPA in undergrad well you’re in luck, as MBA programs look at GPAs as an indicator of future performance in business school. Not so fast though, what schools are really focusing in on is your grades in analytically based courses. These tend to be similar to what you can expect in your core classes during your first year in business school. Examples of analytical classes in undergrad include classes like Calculus, Finance, Accounting, Statistics, Economics, etc. If you have performed well in this area this will really help your candidacy. If you have not, take some additional coursework at your local university or Community College to show admissions you have what it takes.

GMAT

The GMAT is another great way to show off those fancy analytical skills. Schools will look at your overall score but tend to focus in on the Quant side of the GMAT report. Strong performance here can help you skyrocket to the top of the acceptance pile. Admission teams see the GMAT as a strong indicator of future academic performance in business school; so spend some additional time on the quant side during your GMAT prep.

Work Experience

Your work experience is another way to prove you have the requisite skills to compete at a top business schools. Some applicants have it easy where their career function or industry signals analytical competency to admissions. Pre-MBA experience in investment banking, consulting, accounting, or engineering give off the impression to admissions that the candidate is facile with numbers. Even if your pre-MBA experience does not fall into the obvious analytical bucket, highlight projects, work products or responsibilities that are analytical in nature. Do you manage the P&L for a major consumer brand? Did you raise capital to launch your start-up? Find the pockets of analytical experience you have had and make sure you highlight them on your resume and in your essays.

Don’t miss the chance to highlight your analytical skills in your application, follow these tips to avoid any red flags come decision day.

Want to craft a strong application? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. Click here for a Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! 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. Find more of his articles here

4 Factors to Consider When Determining if a Part Time MBA Program is the Right Choice for You

Alternative MBA OptionsMost MBA programs offer multiple options for business students to pursue a graduate education in business. For many people, the full-time, all-encompassing two-year commitment does not fit into current personal and professional realities. If you are interested in pursuing an MBA, one of the most efficient ways to balance out your professional career goals with the realities of life can be to pursue admission at a part-time program.

A part-time MBA program allows students to take classes towards an MBA while still working. For some, this set-up is an ideal way to reach career goals. Let’s discuss a few reasons why a part-time MBA may be right for you.

Timing

On average, part-time programs tend to attract an older student body. For some older students, taking two years off from life and a career is not a realistic option. Factor in the greater likelihood of an older applicant having a family or children and a part-time MBA can become a much more attractive option.

Financial

For many applicants the burden of a full time MBA tuition with no incoming salary can be extremely challenging. As a part-time student you will have the option to generate income while simultaneously taking classes and moving closer to your career goals. In some instances, employers will pay tuition for these programs with the promise of the employee returning to the firm for a pre-determined timeframe. Both of these scenarios can lessen the financial burden of an MBA.

Career Impact

If leaving the workforce for two years in your career path would set you back, a part-time MBA may be a preferred option. Industries like technology where the rate of change moves extremely fast can make it difficult for budding business students to leave the workforce for two years. The ability to learn while doing and to implement classroom studies directly at a full time job is attractive for many candidates.

Career Change

If you are not trying to make an immediate career switch post-MBA then a part-time program may be the best fit. For applicants looking to make a major career switch a full-time MBA tends to be more appropriate given the summer internship. Many part-time students are also able to make career changes as well but this change is much easier to execute in a full-time program.

Pursuing a part-time program is a great way to get an MBA, just make sure the program is a good fit for your current personal and professional situation as well as what your are looking to get out of your MBA experience.

Which program is right for you? 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. Find more of his articles here

4 Factors to Consider When Determining if Your GMAT Score is High Enough

Stand OutThe most common apprehension many candidates have during the application process concerns the GMAT. For many applicants the GMAT can be a serious roadblock to reaching their dreams of admission to their target programs. It can be downright confusing to determine if you can stop taking the GMAT and move on to other equally important aspects of the application process. Of course the highest score possible is what most candidates strive for but with considerations like time and resources, decisions have to be made. Now there is no real science behind determining if your GMAT is high enough but there are a few considerations when making the final decision.

Age

Age plays a factor in determining an appropriate score. Generally with younger candidates there is an expectation that given the close proximity to their college graduation date and a time when studying for a test was less foreign a higher GMAT score is more likely. Primarily this stems from how an application can be weighted. Younger candidates tend to have less experience and leadership skills to impress upon admissions while an older candidate could lean on these types of experiences but would be farther removed from regular studying and test prep.

Demographic

What demographic pool you fall into also factors in. Business schools strive to admit diverse classes of students. To avoid overrepresentation by certain applicant pools the GMAT can be used as a competitive filter. Applicant pools like the Southeast Asian engineer can be seen as overrepresented and in contrast the African-American woman can be seen as underrepresented. Understand how admissions views your profile and target a score that is competitive within that set.

Score Split

With your GMAT score it’s not all about your overall score. How your performance is split across verbal and quant is another measure of review. Of course a balanced split with a strong overall score is the target but the quant side of your score generally carries additional weight. The weight again is relative based on certain aspects of your applicant profile but regardless the score split should factor into your target score.

Target Career

An area where many applicants overlook is how your target career post-MBA affects the perception of your score. Competitive industries like investment banking and management consulting put major weight on the GMAT scores of prospective employees. Schools want to make sure that, if admitted, students will be able to reliably compete for jobs in their chosen function so during the admissions process consideration is given to this area. If you are targeting the above analytically focused industries, target scores should exceed 700.

These are just a few things that should factor into to determining if your GMAT score is high enough. Overall, each of these elements should be filtered through the specific range and average score provided by each school as a baseline. Once this is done then the aspects above can shift the applicant’s target up or done.

Want to craft a strong application? 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. Find more of his articles here

What to Do Before, During, and After Your MBA Interview

Business SchoolCongratulations! You have received an interview invitation at the school of your dreams. You’ve conducted tons of research to prepare yourself for the big day. You know the ins and outs of the school’s academic programs, have a good handle of the recruiting advantages, and even have a comprehensive list of the top extra-curricular activities you’d like to lead. Interview day comes and you’ve breezed through all of the questions…except one, “What questions do you have?” The complexity of this very simple question is a common source of anxiety for many applicants.

Here are a few tips for prior to the interview, during the interview and after the interview that can help you reduce your anxiety when this question is posed.

Before the Interview

One of the best ways to approach this question is with authenticity. What questions do you really want answers to? Many candidates spend a lot of time questioning certain things about the application process, school community, or even their own profile. Here’s your chance to ask these questions. Now use your judgment and consider preparing a few thoughtful questions that will make sense coming from someone with your background and that are not too invasive. The last thing you want to do here is offend. At the minimum have 2 questions prepared in advance. Easy questions to target are ones that are current or based on recent news as well as questions related to your career path or school specific interest.

During the Interview

The first few minutes of the interview tend to be some of the best fodder for question mining. Focus on listening to determine the interviewer’s association with the school (student, alum, admissions) and mine accordingly. Many interviewers, particularly non-admissions officers, will introduce themselves and their background right at the beginning so use this information to set-up your questions for later. This is an easy way to ensure your questions are authentic since many interviewees tend to ask canned and generic questions at the end of the interview. Also, remember interviews are not a one-way street, it is just as important for you to leave with a good impression of the school as it is for them, so ask questions that will help you make your eventual decision, if admitted. Make sure the questions are relevant to the party you are asking. For example, the questions you may ask an alum may be and probably should be different than what you would ask a current student or an admissions officer.

After the Interview

Was there a question you forgot to ask during the interview? It’s not too late; if you were smart enough ask for contact info after the interview, feel free to reach out in your thank you note with a question. Email tends to be a good medium to do this. I would caution you however if you are going to follow-up make sure the question is real and genuine. Most people associated with the admissions process are busy and you will not get any extra credit by taking up even more of their time with a generic question.

Make your post-interview questions an area of strength for you by following these easy steps above.

Looking for more interview tips? 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. Find more of his articles here

3 Ways to Overcome a Low College GPA and Get Into Your Dream Business School

GMATSo you’ve narrowed down your list of target schools and now it’s time to get real.  You’ve made the decision to apply to the school of your dreams but you’re worried that your low GPA may prevent you from real consideration. Many candidates feel as though there is nothing they can do about their GPA since they have already graduated from college. They believe that their dream school will remain just that, a dream.

Before we dive into how to overcome a low GPA, let’s define what a low GPA really is. GPA averages and ranges are a good place to start when making your case here. The farther you skew left or right of the mean will indicate your relative competitiveness for a program on paper. Qualifiers like age, work experience type (analytical vs. not), undergraduate rigor will all factor into the relative importance of these stats, so keep this in mind as you decide whether you truly have a low GPA. With this being said a low GPA really is a school-by-school situation, so make sure you are assessing fit on a case-by-case basis.

Own It

Now if you do have a low GPA there are a few ways you can overcome it. The first recommendation is to own it. Do not ignore your low GPA or even worse do not make excuses for your low GPA. Address it head on within the application package when possible. An obvious opportunity is the optional essay. Again be cautious not to make any excuses or shift blame. Own it and explain directly and succinctly what happened. Was it a lack of maturity? Was it your budding piano career? Was it the huge time commitment that is life as a varsity athlete on campus? Whatever it was, explain the reason for the setback in a concise, direct fashion. Also, if there are some positives you can offer about your academic profile like an upward trajectory or a high major or analytical GPA this will serve to somewhat counteract your low overall GPA.

New Coursework

Another way to overcome your low GPA is to create an alternative transcript. By taking additional coursework, particularly at the grad level, you can make a case to admissions that you can handle graduate level classes. Now of course you should make sure you are achieving top scores in these classes to make the case clear. Obvious opportunities exist to showcase your analytical mettle so if you performed poorly in undergrad in these type of classes, target courses in Finance, Accounting, and Statistics as a way to show you are capable.

Strong GMAT

Finally, you should really aim to perform well on the GMAT. A strong performance on the GMAT can go a long way in counteracting a low GPA. Admission teams see the GMAT as a strong indicator of future academic performance in business school, so help them reduce their anxiety over your low GPA by scoring well here.

Applying to business school with a low GPA is not the end of the world; follow the tips above to minimize the impact of this negative on your application.

Want to craft a strong application? 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.

What Round 3 Means to Business School Admissions Committees

Most MBA programs have three rounds for candidates to apply for a reason. Admissions teams take round 3 very seriously and admit candidates from this pool every year. Let’s start by understanding how admissions committees utilize round 3. Admissions teams primarily use this round to balance out their class to create the right mix for the entering crop of students. Candidates from underrepresented groups in particular can help fill holes within admitted class pools for schools. Keep in mind by this point admissions has a very solid wait list with a lot of top admits already locked in so the onus is on the candidate to make a compelling case for admission.

Schools are looking for applicants who can clearly demonstrate that this is the ideal time for them to apply to business school. So the burden lies on the applicant to show that applying round 3 is not some haphazard or last minute choice but instead a thoughtful decision that aligns clearly with the candidate’s career goals.

Outside of the applicant’s timing being aligned, admissions is also looking for candidates with complete profiles and strong qualifications. These strong qualifications include a strong GPA and GMAT score, which should fall at or above school averages given the limited spots available in round 3. A strong or unique set of work experiences is another way to get on the radar of the admissions team for round 3. MBA programs could admit a class full of investment bankers and consultants if they so chose with the vast crop of applicants coming from those fields but they don’t. Schools want a diverse class of students coming from a variety of different industries and job functions.

Round 3 applicants coming from unique backgrounds can pique the interest of admissions committees. Now just coming from a unique career background is not enough, candidates have to be high performers in this field, which should be supported in the essay section or via recommendations. Finally, a compelling personal or professional story can distinguish applicants with unique profiles as well so don’t be afraid to be transparent and dig deep into your personal history and motivations for the most revealing fodder.

Whether its round 3, round 2, or round 1, MBA programs are largely looking for the same thing. Candidates who can showcase and highlight the best aspects of their profiles while making a compelling case for why round 3 is the ideal time to apply will increase the likelihood of experiencing admissions success come decision day.

Let us help you create a strong application! 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.

5 Reasons You Were Not Accepted to Your Target Business School

You’ve invested months of prep and countless hours of hard work into your business school applications. You’re optimistic, but when the decision comes in you are left wondering why you have you been denied from your dream school. So why were you dinged after all of your hard work? Here are five reasons that may shed some light on why you did not make the cut.

Qualifications

You weren’t qualified. When we talk about qualifications, applicant profiles that fall outside of the GMAT and GPA averages and ranges are more likely to get dinged. The farther you skew left or right of the mean has a huge influence on getting accepted or denied. If you are not qualified on paper it is difficult to make a strong case even with strong performance elsewhere in your application. Luckily, you have time to get your GMAT score up if you decide to re-apply in Round 1 or Round 2 next year.

Fit

You were not a good fit with the school. Schools are looking for students that fit in with their culture. Whether it be program focus, class size, or personality even when qualified. Some applicants will be denied strictly on the basis of fit, so make sure to do your research ahead of time and pick programs that will be a strong fit with you.

Career Goals

Your career goals did not align with program strengths. Programs are constantly evaluating whether they can help applicants reach their career goals. It’s not enough for your goals to be clear, but they have to also be realistic given your pre-MBA experience and the strengths of your target program. If there is a disconnect here then the likelihood of getting denied will increase.

Readiness

You were not ready for business school. If you were a young candidate who was unable to make a strong case for matriculating this year, it may have proved problematic for you. Also, not being clear on why this year or this school was the ideal next step in your career will be a certain red flag for admissions.

Presentation

You did not present your profile in the best way possible. You can be qualified and ready for business school but if your application is not written well, proofread or otherwise completed in a professional manner this may derail an otherwise strong profile.

It’s tough to ever know truly why you may be denied from your target school, make sure you avoid these pitfalls above and reduce the chances of disappointment on decision day.

Let us help you create a strong re-application for next year! 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.

Why You Should Try the Presentation for the Booth MBA Application

Chicago BoothThe most challenging part of the Booth application for many is simply getting started.  Should you write an essay? Or should you build a PowerPoint presentation?  If you write an essay, what do you write about?  How long should it be?  If you build a presentation, where do you even begin?

It’s hard.  And it’s fun.  Trust me.

One general piece of advice that I give to all of my clients: try the presentation.  Since Booth has started giving candidates the choice between writing an essay and building a presentation, I’ve advised every single client to try the presentation.  And each one of them is glad they did.  Many clients have told me that they feel the presentation was the single most important factor in getting in, despite the fact that many struggled with ideas in the beginning.  That’s just part of the process.  Very rarely do candidates have the right idea on the first shot.

That’s not to say that there aren’t cases where an essay is more appropriate.  There probably are.  But I have yet to meet someone who didn’t have an equally compelling or creative story to tell with a presentation.

Why do I recommend the presentation over writing another essay?  There are two main reasons.

First, I believe that Booth is laying down a challenge to its applicants here and looking to see who is willing to step outside of his or her comfort zone.  And that’s exactly what the presentation does.  It’s uncomfortable.  It’s not something everyone is used to working with, and it requires some creativity.

Which is my second point: the presentation allows candidates to showcase a very wide range of dimensions that are virtually impossible to share in an essay format.  Things like creativity, your personality, your passions, and more.  It can be incredibly fun, something that very few applications give you a chance to share with a business school, and something exponentially harder to pull off in an essay.

You can literally do anything you want with only two restrictions: it can’t move (no animation, videos, etc), and it can’t be over 16 MB.  As long as you abide by those two restrictions, it’s possible.  This year, there are no page limits.  No rules.  You can do whatever you want.  Which is what makes it both challenging and fun.

So now that you are convinced that the presentation is the right choice, where do you start?  Well, let’s start with answering the question, “Who Are You, Anyway?”

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. 

What You Should Do after Your Acceptance to Business School

First it was the GMAT, then it was the essays and finally the interviews and after months and months of hard work you’ve received admission to the school of your dreams. Now what do you do? I’m sure you thought the hard part was done, but not so fast, there are a few things you should do once school decisions start flowing in.

Make A Decision

If you were fortunate enough to get into multiple programs then it is time to make a decision. Pay attention to deadlines and deposit dates as each school has a different policy and timeline for each stage of the process. Evaluate your options and make the best decision for you. But don’t forget about the other schools, so make sure to remain professional and notify the other schools of your decision.

Determine How You Will Pay for School

Some students will not only receive admission but also scholarship news from their target schools. This is great news and will help to lessen the burden for those lucky students. There are also outside scholarships available from corporations, civic groups, and philanthropic organizations. So do your due diligence and make sure you are not missing any opportunity to get school paid for. Financial Aid for domestic admits is also another option, so make sure to fill out the necessary forms provided by the school. Don’t fret if you did not receive scholarship money at the time of admission as many schools still have dollars available for students before, after, and during their time in business school.

Address Any Gaps

Are you weak analytically? Need to start making contacts in the Private Equity industry? Take this time to start mitigating some weaknesses before business school. Take an MBA Math course, start networking in your industry, and figure out what ways you can set yourself up for success once you start school.

Plan Your Move

Determine when you plan to pause your professional career for your academic career to move to campus. This also involves notifying your employer that you will be pursuing your MBA. You should find the time that makes the most sense at your organization. For some admits it’s right away and for others its much closer to the start of school, do what makes sense for your situation.

Relax

Finally, you have worked so hard over the last year. Now it is time to relax. Find some time before school starts to engage in some fun, relaxing activities to help you mentally and physically prepare for your upcoming business school experience.

Congratulations!

Want to craft a strong application? 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.

3 Reasons to Consider Applying to Business School in Round 3

Round 2 deadlines are closing in and you do not feel ready.  Your GMAT score may not be where you had hoped. Your essays feel rushed and not like an accurate representation of your story. But what do you do? Of course you want to apply by round 2 like the majority of MBA applicants, but you know doing so will put you at a disadvantage. The consensus is that the prime application periods are round 1 and round 2. You have had it in your head that you were applying this year though. So what do you do? Should you really consider applying in round 3?

Every year many applicants are faced with a similar dilemma. Round 3 has long been a cautiously avoided application round for most applicants. It is in fact the round where the least spots are typically available so the apprehension has merit. However, there are reasons why an applicant may still want to apply in round 3.

Age

For some candidates, age is a factor. The average age range for most schools is between 26 and 28. If a prospective applicant is well over the average age at a target school then delaying an entire year can raise even more questions for admissions. The older an applicant is, the more they have to prove to admissions that the program can add value to their career.

Timing

For other candidates, employment issues present round 3 as a realistic option. Turmoil at work, recently getting fired, or plain old discontentment in a current career path can warrant a last minute application from a candidate. The timeliness of the application round can make round 3 more attractive in atypical situations.

Qualifications

Finally, an impressive set of qualifications can make round 3 and frankly any round attractive to candidates with impressive profiles. Candidates with strong GPAs, GMAT scores, and blue chip resumes can often still be competitive even with the limited spots left in round 3. If the candidate’s application measurables align with or exceed target school class profile numbers then round 3 becomes a realistic option. In situations like this round 3 is not as far fetched as it seemed, and it may even make sense to apply in this round for the truly qualified.

Don’t automatically eliminate round 3 as a potential option as the situations above suggest round 3 may just be your best chance at admissions success.

We wanted to find a way to take out the risk in applying in Round 3 to top MBA programs, so whether you decide to apply in Round 3 or defer to Round 1 next fall, Veritas Prep’s Round 3 Guarantee  has you covered every step of the way!

Want to craft a strong application? 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.

How to Tackle the Booth MBA Application

Chicago BoothI’m biased, but the Booth application is my favorite out of all of them.  I love the question – it’s simple, but not easy, and it forces applicants to do something that all of us should at some point in our lives: introspect.  The possibilities are endless.  The question not only challenges each applicant, but provides them with a great opportunity to stand out if answered well.

I have worked with clients on the Booth application since 2007, and while it has evolved over time – wherein applicants have had to write fewer and fewer words for Booth over the past decade – one constant remains: the presentation.

It is daunting.  At first.  Many of the clients I have worked with over the years approach the question initially with the “blank stare” strategy.  I’m sure many former and current Booth applicants who are reading this know the feeling.  Confusion.  Anxiety.  No idea where to start.  It happens all the time.  And that’s where we come in.

As we inch closer to Round 3, I’m going to share my own beliefs about the Booth application and how I recommend approaching it here on this blog.  We’ll incorporate some thoughts from other Booth experts as well.  Hopefully, after a few weeks, you’ll be in a much better position to answer the question, “Who are you?”

For now, let’s look at the advice Booth gives on how to think about the question. Booth gives the following five pieces of advice on the website.  I’ve added my own thoughts for each piece of advice below:

Be reflective.  This should go without saying, but often people don’t think deeply enough about what goes into their application.  Think about it this way – when the reviewer has finished reading your application, what are all of the things you want that person to know about you?  Have you shared those things in your answer in one way or another?  Introspection is a critical part of this process.

Interpret broadly.  Each applicant has a unique way of answering this question.  It should be personalized and customized based on you, not trying to force-fit what you think the admissions committee wants to know about you into some framework that doesn’t feel right or doesn’t fit.  The question allows for a lot of creativity in the response, and that is a tremendous advantage if done well.

Determine your own length.  They mean it when they say this.  I’ve already seen successful submissions that are in the 10-page range as well as half that or less.  There’s no right or wrong answer for length.  Each story will have its own natural length, and that must be determined by the format you use, the way in which you decide to tell your story, and other factors.  So when they ask you to determine your own length, they mean it.

Choose the format that works for you.  I’ll be writing about this in more detail in the next post, but I like to have people think outside the box here.  The initial instinct of many applicants is to write an essay.  But I challenge my clients to think differently in the way they tell their stories and use creativity to their advantage as a differentiator.

Think about you, not us.  The key message here is not to tell them what you think they want to hear.  Be original and sincere in your message.  But there are areas where it is perfectly fine to talk about Booth.  Your quest to get into Booth is part of who you are – sharing parts of that story is often essential (or necessary).

Hopefully, after you’re done with your Booth application – after you’ve looked at yourself objectively and pushed yourself out of your comfort zone creatively – you can look back and agree with me that it was your favorite application, too.

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 Ways to Make the Most of Your First Year in Business School

The first year in business school is an often overwhelming time for most students There is so much that is new about this setting from what most admits have ever experienced. The biggest challenge most students suffer from is FOMO. What is FOMO you ask? It stands for Fear Of Missing Out and when you consider all of the social, academic, professional, and cultural options students are tempted with during year one of business school the phrase makes a lot of sense.

No matter how hard many students try it is not possible to do everything once they get onto campus. Explore these categories below for some tips on how best to make the most of your first year in business school.

Socially

You just got to campus and what better way to learn the ins and outs of your new world than with other people. Utilize school specific pre-term networking programs and trips to start off your MBA experience the right way. Once formally on-campus, student clubs allow students to bond over similar interests. Leverage these clubs to meet other like-minded students. You’ll want to be selective here; clubs can take up a lot of time so be judicious with what you sign up for.

Business school is not just about business so take advantage of the bustling social life on campus and connect with your classmates outside of class and start to forge real, long-lasting connections. Limit these social outings to a few times a week so you don’t short change your performance on the academic and career front.

Academically

This will be the core of your time spent in business school. But certainly not your only obligation so you will need to balance these obligations with everything else going down on campus. A great way to manage time spent on academics is to schedule in your time for classes, group meetings and studying so you have clear visibility into your academic obligations.

Professionally

Business school is about improving your professional career, so the commitments on your end here will be very time consuming. Many 1st years struggle in this department because of all of the career options that are available. The earlier you can identify your recruiting path the faster you can begin to focus your time and resources on reaching those pesky career goals you wrote down in those application essays.

Culturally

Finally, a great aspect of business school is the opportunity to integrate into your local and global community. Locally, make sure to take advantage of the great cities and college towns in which your business school exists. Areas like Evanston, Palo Alto, Hanover, and Ann Arbor are some of the best college towns in the country.

Globally, the opportunity to interact with a diverse set of classmates and immerse yourself in other cultures is something that should be an aspect of every students MBA experience. International travel via experiential learning opportunities as well as social trips are a great way to connect with your domestic and international classmates as well as expand your knowledge of global markets and culture.

Approach your first year of business school by trying to balance time spent in each of these four categories and it will go a long way towards maximizing your experience.

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!

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.

One Thing to Consider When Selecting Target Business Schools

Location, location, location! We’re not talking about beachfront property here. We are talking about the location of your target business school and why it should matter to you. What may seem as an innocuous aspect of a school to some, location can play a pretty big part in a candidate’s overall experience in business school and the perception of value of their MBA afterwards.

One of the main considerations applicants overlook when it comes to selecting schools is how the school’s location influences where they will end up post-MBA. The majority of schools have the highest career placement within their home state. So applicants should really identify schools in areas where they would prefer to live. This will make life much easier when it comes to making decisions for internships and full-time job offers.

Location also factors in strongly when it comes to campus recruiting. Many school reputations are based as much on school specific competencies as recruiting proximities. Regional specialties exist in every part of the country for MBA programs. Now we don’t have to break down here which came first, the chicken or the egg, when it comes to these regional specialties, but the connection exists. For example Stanford’s connection to the Bay Area tech scene or Kellogg’s connection to the consumer packaged goods industry of the Midwest should be factors that help determine your school selection.

Another important factor is how the location fits with your personal desires and needs. There is such diversity in business school locations that can range from small college towns like Darden’s Charlottesville location to Booth’s location in the metropolis of Chicago. For some, the small town vs. big city debate is not a big factor but instead cold vs. warm weather locales present a much bigger decision. Not only is it important to figure out where you stand on these factors but also how they all rank out relatively. You may really want the sunny weather of a school like UCLA Anderson but can’t pass up the prestige and access of Wharton’s finance program. All of these decisions should be thought of holistically and with a long-term outlook on what truly makes the most sense for you and your career.

However location factors into your school selection and eventual decision process, make sure it gets the attention it deserves and you will set yourself up to be at the school that makes the most sense for you.

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!

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.

How to Create an Alternative Resume and Successfully Switch Careers

Many students enter business school with plans to make major career transitions post-MBA. Traditional recruiting can do a lot to help students career switch into target industries, but many recruiters remain focused on specific functional experience. For students that are making bigger career changes, creating an alternative resume is a great option to increase your competiveness in tough industries.

But what is an alternative resume?

It lists work or functional experience created during your time in business school used to supplement your traditional resume. It can showcase to employers skills and expertise not exhibited in your past work experience. The three key components of any alternative resume will include academic coursework, experiential learning, and internships.

Coursework

By aligning your coursework on functional areas that you need to develop in your chosen career path you can not only tighten up subject area knowledge but can also network amongst professors, guests, and other students to make industry inroads. Part of creating an alternative resume is to showcase your competencies to prospective employers. But one must gain the competencies first so take your in-class experience seriously as you need to make sure you can “talk the talk” as you never know who will be able to help you out.

Experiential Learning

The best academic experiences often occur outside the classroom. Participation in experiential learning opportunities does not only build your real-world skill level but also provides you with a direct connection to companies and decision makers in your target industry. Popular experiential learning initiatives at most schools include Venture Labs, Start-Up Labs, and Asset Management practicums.

Internships

Internships are probably the best way to prove your skills in a given industry. But don’t just sit back and wait for the traditional summer internships. Utilize fall, spring, and winter internships to consistently develop your skills throughout your MBA experience.

Take ownership of your career by following these tips to create the perfect alternative resume!

Want to craft a strong application to get into business school? 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!

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.

How to Identify Your Career Goals for MBA Applications

An MBA can open tons of doors for students who are looking to break into careers they never thought possible. The opportunities, the networking, and the access can offer unparalleled career choices to budding MBAs in some of the most exclusive industries in the world. Many applicants struggle to find the balance in deciding which careers they think they should list in their application as opposed to those they truly wish to pursue.

It does not have to be one versus the other. The value of a great MBA program is that you can get pretty close to having it all, but it starts with introspection, self-reflection and research. Before we dive into that aspect, it’s helpful to understand the formula with which MBA programs typically look at your career goals. So lets start with the first formula for your short-term goals. Admissions will determine whether your pre-MBA academic career + pre-MBA work experience + their MBA program will equal your short-term career goals. Now for the formula for your long-term goals which is pre-MBA academic career + pre-MBA work experience + their MBA program + short-term career goals = long-term goals. For both formulas admissions is looking to assess whether your goals are logical given your background and realistic given the expected growth you will encounter at their program. If they don’t feel their MBA program can help you reach your career goals than this is a red flag.

Now understanding that as an applicant you must connect the dots for admissions, how do you figure out what you really want to do? I propose starting very broad; think about what you would do if money or experience were not a factor. Would you work at the circus or in sports or travel for a living? Think about the things you enjoy doing in your free time or that hold a particular passion for you. Next, get a bit more reflective and think about where you excel professionally: is it as a communicator, leader or analytically? If possible, think even from a functional perspective to gain additional clarity. Now, identify the job that combines your personal and professional passions. If you are great at finance, but love sports, maybe a career as a General Manager of a Pro Sports team is the career for you. Take this approach to identify what a realistic MBA dream career would be.

But how do you get to a realistic short-term goal? Just work backwards, start by researching people in similar roles as your dream long-term career. Find out what steps they took to reach these goals and identify what relevant short-term goal would be realistic given your background. Focus on developing at least functional or industry skills through your short-term goal that will allow you to present your long-term goals as a realistic option. If focusing on industry vs. function, focus on whichever you have the least experience in pre-MBA so you are covering all of your bases.

Finding your dream job is never easy but utilizing your MBA to get closer to your long-term career should be the target of every MBA applicant.

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!

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.

4 Things to Consider if You Are on the Waitlist for MBA Admission

You’ve taken the GMAT, polished up your essays, and secured that final recommendation and finally submitted what you thought was the perfect application. Unfortunately when decision day came around you did not receive that highly coveted “ADMITTED” message or even the dreaded “DENIED” message. So did the admissions team forget to give you a decision? No, you are in the b-school applicant’s version of purgatory, you’ve been WAITLISTED.

Now, being waitlisted is of course not the desired outcome when you submit an application but look on the brighter side, your application is still in play. Now what do you do next? Generally, a spot on the waitlist is a positive reflection of your candidacy by the admissions team but there was something in your application that made the committee reluctant to admit you outright. I’ve seen candidates with fantastic work experience, sterling recommendations, and top GMAT scores be placed on the waitlist. Schools are generally very tight-lipped when it comes to sharing details but issues can range from unclear career goals, to lack of impact at work to a weaker academic profile.

The first step is to decide whether you even want to remain on the waitlist. Each school has a different protocol when it comes to how they handle their waitlist so the first step is determining what rules apply. So if you have received admission elsewhere with a pending decision timeline or simply do not want to wait around for an answer, follow the relevant directions that apply to your situation. Now, assuming you want to remain on the waitlist, review the application you have submitted and take inventory of the strengths and weaknesses of your submission. Some schools will provide feedback but many will not so this review may fall upon you, the applicant.

Once you have determined potential weaknesses in your application it is time to see what you can change in the limited time you may have before a final decision is rendered. Let’s look at the different levers you can push to improve your profile.

GMAT:

Does your GMAT not fit comfortably in the school range? Is it below the average score? If so, it may be time to take the GMAT again. Set a timeline and determine whether you will have enough time to prep and take the exam.

Academic Performance:

Low GPAs and lack of analytical coursework (or within your work experience) can be seen as red flags on your profile. Identifying additional coursework at local universities, community colleges, or even online schools may help address concerns about your academic readiness.

Work Experience:

Have you received a promotion or new and increased responsibilities since submitting your application? If so, this is a great addition to your profile. Show the admissions committee that you have the requisite leadership and teamwork skills they are looking for and that you are making an impact at your organization.

Interest/Fit:

Does the school know how much you want to be there? Make sure your interest is clear. Engage with the school to highlight your desire to matriculate. Many schools will provide a point of contact in the department for waitlist candidates, use this person as your personal champion to help get you off the waitlist. Reach out to personal contacts who are students, alums, or professors who may be able to send letters of support in your favor.

However, make sure to follow the directions provided by the school. Certain schools want to limit contact with candidates and are only truly looking for substantive updates so please keep this in mind as you activate your waitlist strategy.

Leverage all of these additions to your profile to enhance your application and escape the waitlist.

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!

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.

How to Show Fit at Kellogg School of Management

The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University is one of the top graduate business programs in the world. The school’s reputation for team-based learning and development of graduates with strong interpersonal skills has kept Kellogg at the top of various business school rankings over the last few decades. With a track-record of delivering a high volume of candidates to dream MBA careers in management consulting and marketing, Kellogg year in and year out is one of the most popular business schools for applicants.

Kellogg over the years has taken a unique approach to the application process with a focus on bringing in candidates that exhibit a strong fit with the school. Whether it is the new video essay or the fact that the school interviews every candidate, Kellogg is the one school where every candidate has a chance to showcase their fit. Here are some of the best ways to showcase fit at Kellogg:

Highlight Interpersonal Skills
Kellogg more than any other school seeks to build and develop a community based around strong interpersonal skills and a social mindset. There is a reason the school interviews every candidate and has now even incorporated a video essay into the application process. Kellogg is known for its unique student-led culture that emphasizes collaboration. What is even more unique about this collaborative mindset the school craves in candidates, is that Kellogg is not just seeking team players but instead applicants with a track record as leaders of teams. So utilize these various touchpoints to showcase your leadership and teamwork skills, which are points of emphasis in the Kellogg application. Self-reflection and maturity are also critical areas that the school clearly targets in applicants; the essay questions clearly prompt candidates to explore these areas, so take the bait!

Knowledge of Kellogg Programs
Want to know what Kellogg loves more than anything? Candidates who actually have done research on the program! Too often applicants submit generic wants and needs from target programs that could embody hundreds of other programs. Get specific on which academic, extra-curricular, and social programs drive your interest in the school while connecting the dots to your short and long-term career and personal development goals. Students at Kellogg are incredibly engaged throughout their time at the school and as alums, so showcase your track record of engagement in the past as well as plans for how you plan to add value to the greater Kellogg community in the future.

Get Personal
Kellogg really wants to get to know you. You know how I know this; they use every application component to assess fit. Whether it is through the deeply personal essays, the universal interviews of every applicant or the fit focused video essays, Kellogg is trying to piece together who you are. Show the school that you are open and honest and can dive deep into your motivations for not only pursuing an MBA but one at the Kellogg School of Management. Use the different application components to provide insights into how you handle people and problems in your personal and professional arenas. Don’t forget this is a professional application for grad school so make sure to link your personal anecdotes to real world skills and lessons and you will be standing out from the competition at Kellogg in no time.

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!

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.