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
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  • 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.

How to Build Strong Relationships with Your Recommenders

RecommenderAn often overlooked area of the application package is the recommendation letter. Many applicants take this very important component for granted when allocating time spent on their application. The recommendation process in its most optimal scenario should start months if not years in advance of an eventual submission. This is true because the quality of your recommendation like your resume is not earned during the time it takes to type it up but instead in the months and years you spend cultivating the experiences within the document.

Most candidates will simply blindly ask a superior at their company for a recommendation with little to no connection or background on the candidates life plans and career goals. The best recommenders can speak confidently about your unique contributions in the workplace and how these experiences position you as a strong candidate.

The best way to begin starts with the selection process. Identify people in your life that can speak to how you operate in professional settings; this can include people from the workplace, civic or volunteer organizations, and even school. You want to select the people who know you best and can speak to your strengths in a positive and comprehensive way.

Once you identify these 3 or 4 potential recommenders start to build these relationships. I feel the best way to do this is through consistent personal interactions. In person is ideal via lunches and coffee chats but email updates and phone calls are an adequate virtual substitute if the potential recommender is not local.  This should not feel like work, it is simply you connecting and cultivating a pre-existing relationship. As you build this relationship pick the recommender’s brain for advice on career related things to make them feel more invested in your future. With the relationship flourishing your request for them to write your recommendation will come as no surprise so utilize this improved relationship to better align on recommendation expectations. Writing recommendations is a huge undertaking for an already busy senior professional so the more vested they are in your success the better you can expect your recommendation to be.

Another key aspect of developing these relationships is continuing to excel in the capacity in which they know you. Whether it’s professionally, academically or civically this is not the time to slack. Use your performance as the real catalyst to build your relationship and get the recommendation you 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!

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 Write Breakthrough Application Essays for Kellogg

The Kellogg School of Management has always been known to be as innovative in the design of their unique academic community as they have been in the construction of their application. This year is no different as the school returns for the 2014-2015 application season with a stark departure from last year’s set of essays. Kellogg’s change has resulted in the school having some of the most introspective essay topics amongst top business schools. A school like Kellogg that has such a clear sense of the type of candidates they are looking for is looking for candidates to really open up in these essays.

Let’s take a look at each individual essay:

Essay 1 – Resilience. Perseverance. Grit. Call it what you will…. Challenges can build character. Describe a challenging experience you’ve had. How were you tested? What did you learn?

The three adjectives signal right away what Kellogg wants from you in this essay. It’s all about self-reflection and maturity. So open up! It is not enough to simply offer up a challenging experience for this essay. Admissions is also looking for your thought process during this situation. Where was the strife? What made the situation so challenging? How did you overcome this challenging experience? How did this experience impact you moving forward? Be introspective and dive deep into the specific of the situation. Breakthrough essays will put the reader right in the middle of the conflict early on and show NOT tell the specific steps the applicant took to overcome the challenge while including the corresponding thought process during this experience. Also, since essay 2 is focused on a professional experience, this essay may be an obvious opportunity to get a little personal with your choice of topic.

Essay 2 – Leadership requires an ability to collaborate with and motivate others. Describe a professional experience that required you to influence people. What did this experience teach you about working with others, and how will it make you a better leader?

The core of the Kellogg MBA is development of interpersonal skills through collaborative learning. The school has always had the reputation as the premier teamwork school in the world. One rarely discussed nuance of the Kellogg MBA is that the school is not simply interested in developing team players but instead they want to develop leaders of teams. As you identify which experience makes sense here, select one that you can really tell a full and comprehensive story for. Too many candidates select anecdotes with limited scope, which really restricts the depth with which candidates can write.

A key trap many applicants fall into here is to not fully answer the question. The essay is about two things: leadership and influence; not addressing both will be a major missed opportunity to show off those fancy interpersonal skills Kellogg loves so much. The “influence” component of this essay is the more common area where candidate underwhelm. Breakthrough candidates will showcase how they have changed mindsets as leaders and the mechanisms by which they have successfully done so.

As with all Kellogg application components it is important to remain self-reflective while integrating the personal elements of your professional decision making into responses to these essays. Remain focused on these key tips and come decision day you will be seen as a breakthrough candidate by admissions.

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 Prepare for Your Business School Interview

For many applicants the notification of an interview invite from your dream school is an exciting next step after an arduous application process. All of your hard work has finally boiled down to some initial success. However, typically the excitement soon turns to anxiety as candidates begin to realize they have no idea how to prepare for an admissions interview for business school. “Is it just like a regular job interview?” “What type of questions do they ask?” are just some of the common initial questions that can arise once an interview invitation is received.

The business school interview should not be viewed as anything new to you. It is more similar to the traditional job interview than you might expect. Just like a regular interview you are aiming to impress and the majority of the interview will be focused on YOU! The key difference with this interview is really just the goal, which in this case is admission to the MBA program of your dreams.

I would recommend preparing for your MBA interview the same way you prepare for any job interview, it starts with knowing your own personal background inside and out along with your motivations for that target business school. Then it’s researching your target school and identifying the aspects that make the school uniquely attractive to you. A nice way to do this is to pair up school-specific offerings of interest with an adjoining explanation for why that offering is uniquely attractive to you. This includes academic offerings, extracurricular activities/professional clubs, career support/recruiting strengths, etc.

Next I would identify common MBA questions like…

  • What Are Your Career Goals?
  • Why an MBA?
  • Why School X?
  • Walk Me Through Your Resume

As well as other common situational business school questions that address interpersonal skills like leadership, teamwork, and maturity. For the most part, these interviews have very few surprises, and you will know what’s coming, which makes the prep all the more important. Preparing conversational responses in a script format to each of the common interview questions can be a method for those that prefer a more structured approach to their interview prep. But make sure to incorporate elements of your personality into your script to avoid coming off as too rehearsed.

Also, breakthrough candidates will make sure to incorporate the “I” of what they accomplished into their script. Make sure to connect the dots with regards to the steps you’ve taken in your career, and remain structured in your responses. Utilizing the S.T.A.R format (Situation-Task-Action-Result) and talking in buckets – “There are 3 Reasons Why I Want to Go to Fuqua” are other tactics one can sneak into their preparation for the interview.

Finally, take particular note of how the interview style of certain schools can affect your responses. Some schools like Kellogg have “blind” interviews so the interviewer will not have seen your application, so they will not have access to important information like GPA, GMAT, essays etc. Other styles can be influenced by the type of interviewer (Alum vs. Student vs. Admissions) or the location (On Campus vs. Off Campus) which can dictate the type of information you are prepared to share as well as list on your resume for the interview.

Don’t let the interview be the end of your business school journey, prepare accordingly and come decision day you will be all smiles!

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.

3 Ways to Make Your MBA Application Essays More Interesting

This essay is about how to make your essays for admission to graduate school in business more interesting. Oh wait, that opener didn’t catch your attention? Well that is exactly what admissions officers think when they read the majority of business school essays.

Admissions officers read thousands and thousands of essays a year and for lack of a better term the majority are boring. Now the term boring in a vacuum may not be perceived as necessarily a bad thing, when considering these essays are in fact for professional school, but the similar feel of most essays can clump most candidates together. With so much competition at top schools around the world it is important for candidates to utilize their essays to stand out from the pack.

Essays are a natural place to stand out, but how? The key here is to make your essays more interesting. Here are a few ways candidates can make their essays more compelling.

Topic:
Making your essays more interesting starts right from the beginning. Your choice of topic can go a long way in piquing the interest of admissions. When possible, choose topics outside of the typical professional variety. Topics that dive deep into personal, social, and academic anecdotes while highlighting b-school friendly skills like leadership and teamwork diversify your application in a very interesting way and will help you stand out from the masses.

Writing Style:
Clearly your main goal with any essay is answering the question but how you answer the question is just as important. The best essays read almost like a story where the reader is immersed into a colorful world that provides unique insight into the candidate and their life experiences. Leverage vivid imagery through “live” or “hot” openings to capture the audience’s attention. I know I already said making your essay more interesting starts at the beginning but it really does. How you open an essay can really set a positive vibe and direction for the reader.

Personalization:
What better to way to create a unique essay than by writing in a way and about things that only you can. Essays that utilize self-reflection, very personal anecdotes and internal dialogue can really stand out in a sea of monotonous essays while highlighting the maturity and insight b-schools crave in applicants. Other opportunities to personalize essays include using actual names and locations to really set an introspective context for your essays.

Follow these tips and watch your essays move to the top of the pile on 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 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.

7 Must-Have Items for Your Business School Recommenders

RecommenderA lot of time and effort for candidates is spent on areas like the GMAT, essays, and the resume. However, an equally important component of the MBA application is consistently overlooked. Business school recommendations are an integral part of any successful candidate’s application because they give the only external evaluation of an applicant’s work experience and career progression. This component of the application tends not to get as much focus from prospective MBAs, which can be a grave mistake come decision day. As applications become more detailed and specific, so do recommendation forms so the days of blanket recommendations are long gone.

Typically recommenders are senior people in organizations so with all of their own personal obligations writing recommendations can be a tedious act amid their busy schedules. So make the process easier for them by creating a recommendation package. The recommendation package should arm your recommenders with all the tools they need to write you a breakthrough recommendation.

The following elements should be included in your package:

1. Resume
Give your recommender the full picture of your professional background especially if your current job/role is not your only career stop. The resume is also helpful because it includes academic experience and some personal interests in your “Activities” or “Extra-Curricular” section that your recommender may otherwise be unaware of.

2. Reminder of Accomplishments
Highlight the great things you have done while working with your recommender, this reminder will make it easy for them to get specific in the evaluation form.

3. Sample Essays
I would limit this to a Why MBA/Career Goals essay just so you both are on the same page on your motivations for pursuing a graduate education in business.

4. Application Positioning
Help your recommender understand your interest in each specific school and provide some insight on how you will position yourself.

5. Recommendation Questions
Some schools will have the questions available for candidates for others it will be sent directly to the recommender. Either way a quick internet search should pull these up for most schools.

6. Recommendation Question Deconstruction
Just like essay questions, the recommendation questions are not always as straightforward as one might imagine. Help your recommender connect the dots on what the admissions committee is looking for here.

7. Timeline
This might be one of the most important aspects of your package. Remember YOU are applying to business school, not them. It is in your best interest to make sure they are clear on all dates and deadlines. A missed deadline can equate to you missing a target admissions round. I even like to give recommenders a hard deadline that is in advance of the real one, so even if they miss your self-imposed deadline, which most will, you are still in good shape.

Take advantage of these tips and help your recommenders help 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.

6 Things to Consider When Making Your List of Target Business Schools

You’ve talked to friends, family, and colleagues and made the big decision that you want an MBA. Now, the hard part is determining where you should apply. Some candidates already have their dream school in mind when they begin the application journey and others simply copy and past a list of the top 10 programs. However the majority of applicants have no clue how to get started when it comes to deciding where to apply. Since b-school is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life, the target school selection process should be treated with a similar level of importance.

Schools put applications through a true 360-degree review process once submitted and you should scrutinize schools the same way when you’re setting up your list. Here are a few criteria to help you put together a list of your target MBA programs.

1. Geography

Where do you want to live? If you’re open, that’s great! You have tons of schools at your disposal. If you have restrictions by city, region, or country this is a good place kick start your list. Also, note that many students work in the region of their school post-grad so make sure you are potentially comfortable with this reality as well. So decide whether your school is more of a regional, national or international powerhouse and how comfortable you are with what this means.

2. Career

What do you want to do post-MBA? Certain schools are industry feeders, some are well known like Kellogg with CPGs and Wharton with Investment Banks, but others are more nuanced and can be uncovered via a quick peek into the yearly job report.

3. Focus/Programs

What are you looking to learn in business school? Focus on the functional areas that you are looking to develop and use that to filter your list. If you want to study media-management then schools that do not offer such specialized coursework may not make sense for you.

4. Stats

So you’ve narrowed down your list and now its time to get real. Are you academically qualified for the schools on your list? GMAT and 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), and undergraduate rigor will all factor into the relative importance of these stats, so keep this in mind as you filter your choices.

5. Fit

People, learning style, and class size should all factor into what type of b-school experience you are looking to have. Determine what settings you thrive in and weigh the pros and cons. In person visits, outreach to alums, and conversations with current students are a great way to get a feel for your programs of interest.

6. Reputation

Last but not least is reputation. I know most people start here but I really would caution against it. Focus on other more tangible areas of your target programs and use reputation as an additional filter or as a way to rank your final list. Also, if you still have a big list use reputation as a way to truncate things so you can focus on a realistic list of programs.

Do your due diligence upfront as you determine your target list and it will pay dividends come decision day.

Learn about top MBA programs by downloading our Essential Guides! Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our Free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation! As always, be sure to find us on 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 Leadership in Your MBA Applications

Leadership is the most valued of MBA interpersonal skills. Sure teamwork, maturity and the million other skills admissions committees are looking for you to showcase are all important, but nothing signals MBA like those vaunted leadership skills. Everybody wants to highlight those pesky leadership skills, but does everybody have the ammunition to pull this off? The quick answer is, YES! Whether you know it or not every candidate from the most qualified to the least qualified usually has some leadership examples that can be crafted into a compelling essay.

So how do we start to identify and uncover these leadership experiences? Let’s look into some of the bigger experiential categories to find our leadership stories.

Academia

These are your formative years and tend to provide some nice coming of age leadership stories. You generally do not want to pull too many leadership stories prior to college because it may signal that you have not accomplished much recently, so try and keep things relatively current. Academia is a great place to uncover leadership stories because it is a very similar setting to what b-school will be like in the sense that you are surrounded by peers. Look into the big and small of when you interacted with others and parse situations when you led. Teamwork and leadership go hand in hand so if the outright leadership examples don’t jump out to you then start with teamwork examples and leadership should follow.

Extra-Curricular

Another big area for leadership examples is with extra-curriculars. Have you had leadership responsibilities in a fraternity/sorority, athletics, or in a student club? Leadership stories from this category tend to really highlight interpersonal skills well particularly where challenging situations occur. This is a great area to mine essay responses for these types of questions. Also, these situations tend to be a bit more interesting because of how social in nature they are so don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through here.

Civic Obligations/ Volunteer

What organizations have you lead or influenced in or out of the workplace? This category is generally for post-undergraduate life and tends to illuminate personal passions for applicants. Do not be concerned if you weren’t the Executive Director of the non-profit or raised the most money for the Red Cross initiative it’s all about what role did you play and how your leadership skills factored in.

Work Experience

This is probably the most obvious and easiest area for candidates to highlight leadership. Remember just because you do not have formal leadership responsibilities does not mean leadership did not take place. Think of the project, products, and work streams you’ve led. These are the areas most candidates will thrive. Make sure to set the stakes in your examples so the reader knows how important this leadership example was for your career and the company as a whole.

Leadership can exist anywhere, canvas these categories in your personal narrative and find the examples that showcase you as the leader you will be on campus.

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.

6 Reasons You Need at Least 6 Weeks to Finish Your MBA Applications

It’s almost December, and in just a few weeks we will begin hearing from applicants with only a week or two ahead of their deadlines looking for last-minute consulting services.

Often, they’re too late to make significant improvements.  If you haven’t already started on your Round 2 applications, here are 6 reasons why it’s crucial to stop shaking it off to Taylor Swift’s new album and begin working on your applications today:

1. You can recycle surprisingly little among different schools’ essay questions.

Every year, we see clients who expect that they can write essays for one application and simply strip out the name of one school and insert the name of another.  This is especially tempting with the current trend in open ended questions.  Rachel, a member of our Ultimate Admissions Committee and Head Consultant from Wharton, says “it’s more important than ever to consider the culture and environment of the school.”  Admissions officers see thousands of essays every year, and they can spot a repurposed essay from a mile away. Applying to multiple schools takes time!

2. Significant school research is imperative to success.
Deciding on what business schools to apply to can be as emotionally charged as deciding if you’re Team Peeta or Team Gale, Team Swift or Team Spotify.  Except now you’re deciding between Team Harvard or Team Stanford and this will be a life changing decision with a significant financial component. The schools are looking for candidates who’ve approached business school with a mature and thorough decision making process.  In order to write impactful essays that also demonstrate fit, you will need to do more than check rankings and click through their website.  Effective research often includes conversations with current students and recent alums, visiting campus and attending info sessions, or at least diving into comprehensive resources like the  Veritas Prep Essential Guides. Lack of research leads to generic essays, which are not compelling to admissions officers.

3. Impactful letters of recommendation take time.
Your recommender is Team YOU and their  #1 job is to be your biggest cheerleader. Most recommenders, just like you, are busy people with their own professional and personal deadlines.  Many recommenders may even be tempted to have you write the recommendation.  However, recommendations written by you are never as strong as those written by the supervisor themselves.  To have an effective recommendation, you will need to spend time preparing a “cheat sheet” of accomplishments, strengths, weaknesses (all with examples) that will enable your recommender to write the recommendation themselves.  Nearly every school will ask your recommender to rate you on a number of attributes and so you want them to be well informed.  Every recommendation is different, so you must provide your recommenders plenty of time and support – they are helping you out!

4. Your essays require review from multiple people.
Applying to business school is not the time to lock yourself in a dark room, light some incense, and go at your essays alone.  Reaching out to a few friends who really understand the MBA admissions process or your Veritas Prep admissions consultants (or both!), and gaining multiple perspectives on your essays is incredibly valuable.  An informed outside reviewer can help you see that you’re not answering the question or they may have suggestions on how to tell your story more effectively.  But this process of seeking input and incorporating feedback takes time.  Be sure to reserve enough time to get at least a couple of different perspectives on each essay.

5. Introspection matters.

“The journey you take in applying to business school can almost feel like you’re baring your soul to a stranger, but taking the time to reflect on what makes you tick and being honest with your strengths and soft spots will always make a stronger and more compelling application.” – Kenyata, Head Consultant Chicago (Booth)
Perhaps the biggest mistake we see our clients make in their initial drafts of essays is that they are too generic. Admissions officers have your resume and see what you have done.  They are more interested in learning how you have made important decisions in your life, why you chose a certain path and what you have learned from your choices.  Dedicating time to the self discovery process is crucial to writing compelling and successful essays.

6. Short essays are more challenging than you think. 
Dozie, Head Consultant from Kellogg, tells his clients, “the shorter the essay the more each individual word will be scrutinized by the admissions committee, so make every word count!”  We’ve seen MBA admissions essays get much shorter over the years, but this isn’t necessarily something to celebrate because you think these essays will require less time.  Actually, the opposite is true. It becomes even more challenging to share interesting stories and differentiate yourself from other applicants in just 500-800 words.  Short essays require a lot of outlining and dedication to making every word significant.  Applicants first drafts end up being double the word count so be sure to leave enough time to decide what to cut.

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 Jennifer Nakao

Bloomberg Businessweek Business School Rankings for 2014

Bloomberg Businessweek has just announced the 2014 edition of its influential biennial MBA rankings, and boy are there changes afoot! Business school rankings are normally only interesting when there are big changes, and the folks at Businessweek did not disappoint this year.

Here are Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 rankings of the top 25 business schools in the U.S., followed by our analysis of what’s changed:

1. Duke (Fuqua)
2. Pennsylvania (Wharton)
3. Chicago (Booth)
4. Stanford
5. Columbia
6. Yale
7. Northwestern (Kellogg)
8. Harvard
9. Michigan (Ross)
10. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
11. UCLA (Anderson)
12. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler)
13. Cornell (Johnson)
14. MIT (Sloan)
15. Dartmouth (Tuck)
16. Indiana (Kelley)
17. Maryland (Smith)
18. Emory (Goizueta)
19. UC Berkeley (Haas)
20. Virginia (Darden)
21. USC (Marshall)
22. NYU (Stern)
23. Texas at Austin (McCombs)
24. Georgetown (McDonough)
25. Rice (Jones)

Winners in This Year’s Rankings
There’s no doubt that they’re partying down in Durham today, as Duke’s Fuqua School of Business has taken over the #1 spot in Businessweek’s rankings for the first time, knocking previous champ Chicago Booth down to #3. Columbia also had a huge day, climbing eight spots from #13 to the fifth slot.

It’s hard to top Duke’s big day, but if anyone is even more excited than Team Fuqua, it may be the folks at Yale SOM, which climbed a whopping 15 spots, jumping from #21 all the way to #6. No doubt the student body in New Haven is feeling energized by the school’s new building and the leadership of new dean Ted Snyder.

UCLA Anderson also had a terrific day, climbing from #18 all the way to #11. UNC’s Kenan-Flagler was just a smidge less successful, jumping from #17 to #12 in the new rankings.

Losers in This Year’s Rankings
We already mentioned Booth, which lost the top spot this year, although there’s no real shame in being ranked the third best business school in America. Among business schools in the top ten, Harvard is smarting from a six-spot drop from #2 down to #8. And Kellogg fell out of the top five, drooping two spots to #7.

Looking a bit further down the list, Cornell’s Johnson School fell out of the top ten, dropping from 7th place down to 13th place. MIT Sloan had a similarly bad day, falling from ninth place to the 14th spot.

How Businessweek Ranks the Business Schools
Bloomberg Businessweek uses three data sources for its rankings: It relies on a survey of student satisfaction (which is given a 45% weighting), a survey of employers who hire those graduates (45%), and a measure of the faculty’s clout, judged by how much the faculty publishes in academic journals (10 percent). You can read about Businessweek’s ranking methodology in more detail here.

So, remember that these rankings are largely a measure of how happy MBA students are with their schools, and how happy employers are with the grads that the schools turn out. This is no better or worse of a methodology than any other, but keep that in the back of your mind as you consider whether any school really just got better or worse than 10 other top-ranked U.S. business schools.

You can read more about 14 of the the most competitive business schools in Veritas Prep’s Essential Guides, 14 in-depth guides to the most elite MBA programs, available on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA candidacy, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum.

How to Get Started on Your Business School Application Essays

You’ve made the decision to apply to business school and you begin sorting through a virtual pile of applications essay topics. You’ve written essays throughout high school and college, and for some candidates even other graduate programs like law school, but these business school essays are different. The schools seem to want something a bit different from you this time around.

Business school essays differ from other traditional essays because of what they require of the writer. Succeeding with this unique type of essay requires introspection, maturity, clarity, focus, preparation, and of course good writing skills don’t hurt either. Understanding that these are the necessary inputs is the first step in creating breakthrough essays.

The next step, and probably the most important, is creating what I like to call “mini-stories.”  The thought behind these mini-stories is that they are designed to be independent of the essay questions asked by schools and more-so select anecdotes that you choose to reflect the 4 dimensions of Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity emphasized by many MBA programs. The focus is on highlighting your strongest and most in-depth personal, professional, and extra-curricular life experiences. You will later apply these mini-stories to specific essay questions asked from each school.

To get started I would aim for 5-8 mini-stories covering a diverse set of experiences. With each story include a short description and then some supporting bullets describing some of the players involved and why the situation was transformative. Make sure to especially highlight the impact and what you specifically learned from the experience. After you have created your set of mini-stories its time to utilize all of your hard work. Now don’t start writing any essays yet, you’re not quite ready.

I’m sure you’ve already done a bit of research but take another pass at exploring your target schools and their unique DNA. Review recent press clippings, news and information published by the school, and hold conversations with current students and recent alums to get an in-depth feel for the program. Now take a look at the essay questions of your target schools utilizing your recent review of the school to identify not only what the question is directly asking you but also what the school is seeking to learn about you.

Once you determine this for each school match up your mini-stories to the corresponding application essay. As you decide which mini-stories to select keep in mind that each school specific set of essays should showcase the diversity within your profile and paint a complete picture of your candidacy. So be judicious with your essay selections and make sure each one builds upon the other. The essay writing process does not have to be daunting, follow these steps and you will be writing breakthrough essays before you know it.

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 Utilize the Re-Applicant Essay

A year ago you put together what you thought was the perfect application at your dream school and when the smoke cleared things did not quite work out as you expected. So you’re back at it again, a year has past since your last application, and you’re ready for another shot at admissions glory at your dream school. Of course you spent the year wisely improving your profile and now its time to tackle the re-applicant essay, but what should you include?

The optional essay should be all about showing admissions how you have changed (and hopefully improved) in the interim time between applications. The first step should be conducting a personal year in review. Take inventory of all the great things you accomplished over the year and frame them for admissions. Let’s look at the ideal areas candidates can mark improvement in their profiles in the re-applicant essay.

GPA/Courses:

Did you suffer from a low GPA or poor performance in analytical classes? Show the admissions team how you improved or counteracted past poor performance. If you took additional coursework or gained another degree in between applications this is a great place to showcase all of your hard work.

GMAT:

The GMAT tends to be one of the biggest reasons students believe they are denied admission. If you made a major improvement on your GMAT, share it in this essay. But don’t stop there. Share your hard work and how this score is a more accurate reflection of your aptitude and watch as potential red flags disappear in your profile.

Resume:

Were you really ready for business school? Some applicants suffer from lack of work-related accomplishments, impact, and management experience resulting in tough news come decision day. If you have received a promotion, more responsibility, led others, closed big deals or otherwise made a major impact at your company – the school wants to know. Don’t waste this opportunity to highlight the great work you did during the year. Additionally, changing jobs or careers warrants a mention as well. New roles can really show growth, round out a candidate’s profile, and eliminate skill gaps for the applicant.

Career Goals:

Have your career goals changed or even simply been refined? Lack of clarity with regards to career steps post-MBA can signal lack of research and immaturity when it comes to the process. Schools want to admit candidates they feel can be placed in their careers of interest. If in the past you have identified goals that don’t sync up well with your background or the specialties of that particular school, this may have been a reason for being denied. Re-evaluate your goals and make sure they are well aligned with your background and your target school. Don’t let this opportunity to explain any changes in your career trajectory pass you by.

If you’ve done your job in between your last application, writing the re-applicant essay should be the final piece in helping you claim a spot on 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 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.