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.

5 Common Misperceptions About Military Applicants and How to Overcome Them

Military applicants to business school represent a non-traditional applicant pool but nonetheless a demographic that is consistently represented each year in the application process.  That said, it is no secret that many of the gatekeepers at top MBA programs most often have very little real world experience with the military.

While admissions committees tend to value the leadership experiences and professionalism military candidates bring to the MBA classroom, misperceptions can abound about other areas of strength and weakness among military applicants.  Accordingly, a critical part of your MBA application strategy should include understanding what these misperceptions and stereotypes are and how to overcome them in your application.

 Top 5 Most Common Misperceptions About Military Applicants (in no particular order):

1. You don’t have control of your military career. 

Use your applications to talk about the opportunities you have created for yourself and challenging roles you have taken on of your own volition.  Let the admissions committees know that you aren’t simply moving up the ranks because it is time, but rather seeking out challenging assignments and driving your own career.

2. You don’t have experience thinking outside of the box or coming up with creative solutions.

As a consultant I find this misperception most frustrating and damaging because, regardless of service, most of the military clients I’ve worked with are not only coming up with creative solutions, they are doing so in stressful scenarios with limited resources.  Don’t be afraid to highlight these experiences!

3. Your teamwork skills may not be as robust as your civilian peers.

Teamwork is an important quality the admissions teams seek from all applicants and the military applicant pool is no exception.  Admissions committees can be cautious about applicants who spend too much time talking about top-down leadership.  Make sure to emphasize your lateral, team-based leadership as well in order to help admissions committees understand you are great at working in a group setting as well as at giving orders.

4. You are a good leader but not necessarily a good follower.

This idea is based on the notion that as an officer you are trained to lead subordinates.  But as anyone who has served understands, you also follow a chain of command.  While your MBA applications should always emphasize your leadership experience it can be an effective strategy to include a well-placed mention of when you have let someone else take the reigns.

5. Your recommenders don’t really know you that well.

Recommendations can be an important point of distinction for military candidates in the application process.  It isn’t uncommon for military recommendations to come from supervisors who are accustomed to writing military performance reports.  The style of military performance reports is predicated on effusive language (my #1, best of, etc.) and military supervisors may make the mistake of using that same approach in academic recommendations.  Without the use of specific examples, this can come across as being distant or reflecting a supervisor who really doesn’t know you all that well.  Coach your recommenders to give specific examples of your successes, compare you directly with your peers and discuss your potential for success outside of the military.

As you develop your application with these considerations in mind you will differentiate yourself from your peers and assuage any perceived concerns the admissions teams may have about your ability to perform in their program and excel in the private sector.   Just as you would prepare a briefing with your target audience in mind, prepare your MBA applications with the same awareness.

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!

Emily Sawyer Kegerreis is a Head Consultant at Veritas Prep and specializes in the career development needs of transitioning military veterans through her company, CareerWise Consulting. Take a look at her other post here

What to Expect with the Video MBA Essay Questions

Written essay questions have been the foundation of MBA applications for as long as we can remember but some leading graduate business schools have introduced a new wrinkle over the last few years. Recent technological advances have made video essays a reality within the admissions process at top b-schools around the world. However, there’s no need to worry, this new addition at schools like Kellogg, Yale and Rotman are not meant to stump you.

These video essays are genuinely so the admissions committee can “get to know” the candidate on a more personal level.  Therefore, the applicant should try to be friendly and open about the questions (while still being appropriate, of course) rather than overly stiff & formal. The video provides a little glimpse into the personality traits of all applicants. So don’t expect to see anything really tricky or challenging, such as a mini-case, these are designed to be much more personal.

Specifically, admissions is looking to see how you come across in an unscripted, conversational moment.  The important thing is to convey confidence and answer the question directly, within the time allotted, in an articulate manner.  As always highlighting the core elements of Leadership, Innovation, Teamwork and Maturity that business schools covet within your responses will go a long way in executing a successful response. If you’re an international candidate, take the video essay seriously. Because for admissions, this is also another way to assess the English ability of international applicants so additional prep may be required.

Speaking of preparation, do it! Prep some responses to common interview questions, again these questions are not meant to be brain teasers just personal questions you should have already sorted through, about yourself and your interest in the school, prior to completing your application.

This is the kind of thing where I do think over-preparation could potentially backfire since you don’t know what the question will be, and the objective of the exercise is to be yourself and have fun.  The important thing is to be flexible. Your personality during the video essay should be consistent with who you have portrayed yourself to be in the application (which should be consistent with who you are) while factoring how admission perceives you (young candidate, international, brain, etc). With this being said remain professional in your tone, language and dress to ensure admissions continues to view you as a serious candidate.

Finally, each video essay school has a slightly different process when it comes to this exercise. Help yourself out by reviewing each aspect of the process diligently so there are no surprises when it is time to complete.

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!

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.

Prospective Student Days for MBA-Bound Military Veterans

Each year military veterans typically make up around 5% of the incoming classes as top MBA programs in the U.S., making veterans an important demographic for business schools. Prospective military applicants have a secret weapon for business school applications not available to applicants from other industries:  armed forces clubs. These clubs are a great way to learn more about individual programs in addition to providing a wealth of insider information. Whether you are just beginning your b-school research or planning on submitting applications this season, one of the first things I recommend to all military applicants is to reach out to these clubs.

Some schools have a central contact point while others, like Fuqua, go as far as listing the names of all their current students who are veterans, along with their contact information. Regardless of how you connect with these clubs and their members, you’ll find they are more than willing to help you answer questions and chat about their experience as veterans. You will also get a sense of what programs may be the best fit for you as a result of interacting with members of the current class.

If your schedule allows, go one step further and take advantage of the military prospective student events being held around the country at business schools this fall.  Military visit days are typically daylong sessions complete with admissions FAQ sessions, campus tours, class visits and the opportunity to network with current students.

Of the top ten MBA programs in the U.S., seven hold a yearly military day event.  While the majority of these days happen between September and November, Tuck and MIT host their military day events in the spring.  Here’s a rundown of the military events at top programs this fall to put on your radar screen:

HBS Military Prospective Student Day, September 26

http://hbs.campusgroups.com/afaa/home/

Wharton Veteran Prospective Applicant Day, September 25

http://whartonveterans.org

NYU Stern Military Event, Saturday October 4

By invitation only, deadline has passed to apply.

http://www.stern.nyu.edu/programs-admissions/full-time-mba/students/military-veterans/military-event

Duke Veteran’s Symposium for Military Applicants, October 10-11

https://events.fuqua.duke.edu/veterans/

Kellogg Military Visit Day, October 17-18 http://kellogg.campusgroups.com/veterans/web_page?url_name=about&club_url2=veterans

Columbia, Veterans Matter@ Columbia Event, November 10

http://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/programs-admissions/why-a-columbia-mba/community/diversity-columbia/veterans

Cornell Military Preview Day, November 13, 2014

https://www.johnson.cornell.edu/About/Veterans-at-Johnson/Military-Preview-Day

Michigan Ross Military Preview Day, November 15

https://michiganross.umich.edu/events/military-preview-day

All of these events, with the exception of Stern, which is by invitation only, are open to anyone with a military background. Whether you are active duty and just beginning to research business school or a veteran already planning on R2 applications, attending these tailored events and reaching out to Armed Forces Clubs will give you a strategic advantage in the application process. For the events that have passed, keep these in mind if you plan to apply next year!

Emily Sawyer Kegerreis is a Head Consultant at Veritas Prep and specializes in the career development needs of transitioning military veterans through her company, CareerWise Consulting.

Get to Know Your MBA Professors

Over the summer, one of my Veritas Prep clients from last year asked me if I had any advice for him before school started. Offering advice is what I do for a living, so it’s a safe bet that I did, but he probably knew that before he asked. This 3-part blog series grew out of that initial off-the-cuff email response and is designed for anyone in any stage of business school, whether you’re still researching schools, walking onto campus for the first time, or have graduation in the near future. Your two years will fly by, and you want to make sure you graduate without saying “If only I had ….”

Part Three – Tear Down that Glass Wall!

If you went to a large undergraduate school, the concept of getting to know a professor might sound pretty unrealistic. She might have been just a speck in the front of an enormous lecture hall, or graduate TAs might have been your primary instructors. If you attended a smaller school, the faculty might have seemed more approachable, but the age and experience gaps could still be a little intimidating. Either way, you might have felt as if an invisible glass wall stood between the class and The Mysterious Professor.

In business school you’ll find the interaction can be different. It’s not uncommon to have a professor whose age makes them closer to a peer, and because professors encourage students to bring real-world experiences into the classroom, sometimes the teacher/student roles are reversed. Although the faculty still garners well-deserved respect from their students, the barrier between “us” and “them” is much less rigid than it was in undergrad.

Don’t misunderstand – professors are still authority figures and based on that alone, they can seem inaccessible. They’ll issue your grade at the end of the course, and the mere prospect of a cold call from them can induce fear into even the most over-confident investment banker. Some are downright famous. And oh yeah, they can be scary smart. (Imagine my cohort’s surprise when, on the first day of our first semester operations class, our professor called on us by name! It turns out he had memorized all of our faces and names, using the pre-Facebook version of Facebook.)

But don’t be intimidated – breaking through the wall has many benefits. At the risk of stating the obvious, you could learn something. That course you’re taking represents a mere sliver of what she knows about the subject. You can also bridge the gap between academics and career development. Many professors maintain outside consulting relationships with companies and can actually be quite good sources of career advice and even job leads. (And speaking of job leads, sometimes they need second-year students as TA’s.) Some professors even act as angel investors, so if you’re entrepreneurially minded, you might land some good advice at minimum or an investor at most.

Some schools make it easy to do this. Wharton offers a popular Take A Professor To Lunch program. My team did this several times, and it was well worth it. We loved that our buttoned-up accounting professor, known for wearing suits, panty hose and heels on class days, showed up for lunch in jeans and flip flops. Professors! They’re just like us! Darden is famous for “First Coffees” – a dedicated time after the first class of the day when students, faculty, and visitors all gather.

If there’s no organized program at your school, you’ll have to put forth some effort, but that doesn’t mean it’s hard. Even the most famous professors still have office hours; professors at Darden even have an open door policy. If you’re in their class, go visit. Bring questions about something discussed in a lecture. If you aren’t in the professor’s class but have a shared career or research interest, reach out to request a brief meeting. Now, not every single professor will welcome this level of contact, and that’s fine. If you encounter indifference, don’t sweat it and don’t take it personally. Just move on.

Professors are busy folks – among teaching MBAs (and maybe undergrads and PhDs, too), outside consulting, and of course their research and writing, time is at a premium – so be respectful. Don’t hog the ENTIRE office hour. Do your research – at minimum, read their bio on the school’s website, look over a few of their publications, or leaf through their latest book. Bring some specific questions that prove you’re exactly the sort of curious, well-prepared student who’s worth their time. Be cautious, though, about connecting with your professors on social media – to maintain boundaries, some discourage Facebook or LinkedIn invites while you’re still a student.

If you’re still in the application process, listen up. These very professors will have a profound influence on you, so do your due diligence. When you visit campus, observe the interactions between faculty and students. Ask students how accessible their professors are outside of class. If your school visit offers an opportunity to meet the faculty, take advantage of it. Ask about the protocol for reaching out to professors during the admissions process. Schools sometimes discourage this, but if you have a specific area of interest, the admissions office might be willing to facilitate an introduction.

Making a relatively small effort to tear down the wall between the front of the room and the back of the room can pay big dividends. You’ll at least end up just that much smarter; you might end up with a mentor, an investor or even a lifelong friend!

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!

Rachel is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, and Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Her specialties include consulting, older and part-time applicants, and international candidates.

How to Succeed as a Young MBA Applicant

GMAT ScoreAge is nothing but a number, is how the old saying goes, but when it comes to the world of business school admissions, this particular number can negatively signal much, much more. “Immature”, “not ready”, “lack of work experience”, “no leadership” are some of the thoughts admissions officers toss around when discussing the applications of young candidates.

The first step to success here is to really understand how a young candidate is viewed by admissions. This is important because the only way to properly set your application strategy is to understand how decision makers will view your profile. Understanding this and creating a strategy that properly counteracts the general perception of young candidates and the specific perception of your profile will set you on your way to MBA application success.

Next, it is time to really do your homework. What is the subject you ask? You! Focus on your motivations for pursuing a graduate education in business and really determine if right now is the ideal time to pursue your MBA. If you don’t ask yourself these very simple questions, I promise you, the admissions officers will! Another important question to address is “What are your career goals?” This again has to be very thought out, clear, and make sense given your pre-MBA work experience and targeted coursework. Admissions will scrutinize these areas even more for younger candidates, since they pose red flags because of limited work experience in comparison to peers.

These areas are of particular importance because admissions officers use these questions to gauge maturity, self-awareness, and clarity of goals for candidates. They want to make sure you have done your research and truly are ready for business school. Being ready and prepared for business school is a great start but being qualified on paper is even more important for younger candidates when compared to “traditional” candidates. As a more recent college graduate, admissions will scrutinize GPA and GMAT scores more closely in comparison to a more seasoned applicant with many years of work experience and potentially more leadership and teamwork experiences.

You are ready and prepared for business school, qualified on paper, but what value would your presence in the classroom bring to others? Classroom discussion and group work are the hallmarks of graduate business education, if from your work experience it is not clear the contributions you would bring to the MBA community it will be difficult to breakthrough at top programs. Clearly articulating your value add to your target program via essay topics, in-person interviews, and resume construction will round out your profile and dismiss the majority of concerns as a younger candidate, and finally ensure that when it comes to your application, age is nothing but a number.

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.

Get Out of Your Comfort Zone in Business School and Learn Something New

Over the summer, one of my Veritas Prep clients from last year asked me if I had any advice for him before school started. Offering advice is what I do for a living, so it’s a safe bet that I did, but he probably knew that before he asked. This 3-part blog series grew out of that initial off-the-cuff email response and is designed for anyone in any stage of business school, whether you’re still researching schools, walking onto campus for the first time, or have graduation in the near future. Your two years will fly by, and you want to make sure you graduate without saying “If only I had ….”

Part Two – Take the Hard Way Out

As I write this post, the “Ice Bucket Challenge” is dominating social media, and it seems we never tire of watching our friends and celebrities experience absolute shock when the cold water hits them. They’re clearly well outside of their comfort zones. But in our day-to-day lives, isn’t it often tempting to do what’s familiar, instead of challenging ourselves? We eat at the same restaurants, vacation in the same places, buy the same brand or color of clothing. Consistency makes the decision easier – “It worked last year/weekend/time, so let’s just do it again” – but it can also cause us to miss out on some really meaningful opportunities.

Business school works the same way. When you started your school research, you probably instinctively looked at schools that reflected your strengths. If you were a banker or accountant, maybe you focused on Wharton, Columbia, or Booth. If you came from consumer products, Kellogg might have been the first school to catch your eye. If you were an engineer, MIT and Stanford probably rose to the top of your list. Once you’re in school, it’s tempting to use the same approach for class selection. If you’re a “quant,” you’ll take lots of finance and accounting. If you’re a “poet,” you may gravitate towards management.

But is sticking with what’s safe and known really the best way to make the most of your once-in-a-lifetime opportunity at business school?

It’s not. Because business school isn’t just about making you better at the things you’re already good at – you don’t need to pay close to $200K to do that. It’s just as much- if not more – about filling skill gaps and, in the process, uncovering hidden talents and interests. You advertising gurus might discover an aptitude for statistics, or you might find you’re a CPA with a knack for branding. This approach isn’t risk-free: although your level of knowledge will increase, your grades might suffer. However, schools like Wharton and Columbia encourage academic risk-taking through grade non-disclosure policies.

A personal anecdote illustrates my point: when I was at Wharton, operations absolutely terrified me. And I do mean TERRIFIED. And the school required three courses in it, so I couldn’t hide under the desk, as much as I might have wanted to. I realized from Day One that I had two choices: give up and barely pass or jump in and conquer it. I chose the latter. I volunteered to do the homework assignments, sought out professors and TAs during office hours, did all the reading and then some, and pretty soon my teammates were coming to me for help.

I learned several important lessons – first, I loved operations! As a former journalist, I would never have known this if I hadn’t challenged myself. Second, I was good at it. Who knew?  Although I’d never been exposed to the underlying theories, I had a natural affinity for efficiency and process improvement, so the content intuitively made sense. And finally, I appreciated the opportunity to help my classmates. Helping an engineer with Monte Carlo simulation remains one of my proudest b-school moments.

Whether you’re researching, applying to, or already enrolled in school, you have a similar decision to make. If you’re still investigating schools, don’t automatically pick the “safe” one – really think about which one will best fill your skill gaps and will test you to extend your limits. You might even seek out a school with a grade non-disclosure policy. Once school starts, choose courses that take you well outside of your comfort zone. Volunteer to do the work that’s hard for you. If you let the CPA on your team do all the accounting homework or give the finance assignments to the banker, you’re wasting a learning experience. Don’t do that. Step up, jump in, accept the challenge. You just might find a new talent or passion, no ice required.

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!

Rachel is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, and Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Her specialties include consulting, older and part-time applicants, and international candidates.

3 Reasons That Extracurricular Activities Are Essential For Your Business School Applications

Do I need to re-take my GMAT? Is my GPA high enough? Do I have enough years of work experience? These are just a slew of the questions we receive from MBA applicants every year.

One question that is rarely asked and often overlooked is “Have I done enough outside of the office and classroom?” Business schools are looking in-depth at all aspects of the application process from the essays to the GMAT score to the resume. One area that candidates either forget or neglect to highlight in their application or cultivate throughout their academic and professional careers is extra-curricular activities. Admissions officers at MBA programs around the world take this aspect very seriously, and here are three reasons why you should do the same.

1) They Make You Well-Rounded

Extra-curricular activities can show you as a well-rounded candidate. The application process can be very much focused on your academic background and professional work experience, leaving many candidates forgetting that business schools are actually looking to admit real people and not just GMAT scores or GPAs.

Candidates that not only have substantial extra-curriculars but also choose to highlight them in their application via essays, interviews, etc can really stand out in the process. These activities that can range from fraternity membership to volunteer programs and even intense hobbies like marathon running and triathlons. The importance of these activities is the underlying soft-skills that are involved with participation. From leadership to teamwork, extra-curricular activities are often the best way for professionals to develop these skills. Also, extra-curriculars help highlight personal passions and interests of candidates, which again can humanize an otherwise austere profile or substantiate a candidate that is already compelling on paper.

2) They Show Commitment

Extra-curricular activities can show you as a candidate who can commit to people, groups, activities, and causes. Admissions see long-term commitment via extra-curriculars as a positive. A track record of past engagement by a candidate signals to admissions that the same candidate will be similarly involved on campus in their MBA program.

3) They Show Personal Contributions to the Community

Extra-curricular activities can show you as a candidate who will contribute something to your business school community. The focus of most business school applicants is on what they can get out of their target business school community; something of almost equal importance is to showcase what you will bring to that same community. What will your classmates learn from you? What clubs do you plan to lead on-campus? All of this can be traced back to your past performance and your track record of giving back to organizations and activities you have been a part of.

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 Ways to Make the Most of Your Business School Experience

Wharton AdmissionsOver the summer, one of my Veritas Prep clients from last year asked me if I had any advice for him before school started. Offering advice is what I do for a living, so it’s a safe bet that I did, but he probably knew that before he asked. This 3-part blog series grew out of that initial off-the-cuff email response and is designed for anyone in any stage of business school, whether you’re still researching schools, walking onto campus for the first time, or have graduation in the near future. Your two years will fly by, and you want to make sure you graduate without saying “If only I had ….”

Part One – Rapunzel is not a role model

For better or worse, b-schools can be Rapunzel-like in their isolation – self-contained in their own buildings or even on completely separate campuses. Even the way we refer to many of them emphasizes their separation from the rest of the University – it’s “Wharton,” “Ross,” or “Darden” – not “Penn,” “Michigan,” or “Virginia.” It’s easy to spend the entire two years of your MBA experience locked up in the seclusion of Wharton, Ross, or Darden, completely forgetting that you’re also a student at Penn, Michigan, or Virginia. Embracing the isolation, however, really limits your overall graduate school experience.

Confession: I’m guilty as charged. Although I received two separate pieces of paper at graduation – one in Latin from “Universitas Pennsylvaniensis” and, just in case my Latin was rusty, another in English from The Wharton School, many of my friends and I ventured into non-Wharton buildings pretty much only when we had to. With the exception of our favorite library, which was so beautiful we’d gladly trek across campus for it, we only ventured out for a random final held at the nursing school, a guest speaker at the education school, or some other mandatory event. When I graduated, I didn’t really feel as if I’d earned that Latin-inscribed piece of parchment.

In hindsight, it wouldn’t have been difficult to do things differently, and it won’t be hard for you, either. Here are a few fairly easy ways to connect with your entire university and graduate as a proud “UCLA” alum as well as a proud “Anderson” alum:

  • Show your university pride. Buy a sweatshirt or a cap or t-shirt that says “Michigan.”
  • Wear the above when you show your school spirit by taking your study group to cheer on a university team at a sporting event. If you’re at Michigan, you might choose football, but if that’s not your thing, you can see the lacrosse team, the gymnastics team, or the water polo team. They’ll be glad you came.
  • Explore the many cultural opportunities at your university, and try something out of your comfort zone. You might find a contemporary dance performance, a music recital, an art exhibit, experimental theater, or even a museum right on campus. As a current student, you’ll get a discount on the likes of which you’ll never see again, so now’s the time to explore.
  • Take a class outside the business school. Even if you’re not a dual degree student, most schools permit, and even encourage, you to take a certain number of credits elsewhere. Wharton, for example, allows up to four electives from other schools, and Stanford allows 15 credits outside the business school. Of course, the trade-off is that you’ll “lose” a class in the b-school, so you’ll have to weigh the cost vs. benefit. But the advantage could be tremendous – if you want to work in real estate development, that public policy class on urban planning could be just the ticket. Besides, you’ll expand your network and meet some cool people who think outside NPV, IRR and ROI.

I can hear what you’re thinking – “How will I have time for all that? I have classes! And job interviews! And social events!” Okay – visiting the museum might take a couple of hours, attending a sporting event a few more, depending on your tailgating plans. But after graduation, you can’t go back and have a do-over. So just do it, and just do it now. Bring a friend or two and turn your excursion into a social event.

If you’re still in the researching / applying phase of business school – this advice is for you, too. Don’t limit your research to the business school – make sure you look at the university as a whole and find out what opportunities it offers. When you visit, explore beyond the business school campus and take a tour of the university (yes, that same tour with the high school students and their parents). Because you really shouldn’t spend two years of your life locked up like Rapunzel. There’s an entire university out there just waiting for you to climb out of the tower and explore!

Check back next week for Part 2!

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!

Rachel is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania, and Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University. Her specialties include consulting, older and part-time applicants, and international candidates.

Veritas Prep Consultant Spotlight: Get to know Kenyata, Chicago Booth MBA

Applying to the world’s most elite business schools requires much more than a high GMAT score and strong resume.  Self refection, creating your personal brand, understanding school fit, addressing profile weaknesses and capitalizing on your unique strengths are essential in crafting a successful application.  Don’t go at this alone – we can help!  Veritas Prep has the most stellar MBA admissions consulting team in the industry and we can help you achieve your MBA goals!

At Veritas Prep, you have the opportunity to work with the ideal consultant for your needs.  We have the most diverse and experienced MBA admissions consulting team ever assembled.

Get to know one right now:


Kenyata: Head Consultant, Chicago (Booth) MBA

Specialties:

  • Engineer/Scientist
  • Entrepreneur
  • Low GPA/GMAT score
  • Marketing
  • Underrepresented minorities
  • Media/Entertainment/Sports
  • Part-time/EMBA applicants

What do you find most rewarding about helping others apply to business school?

“I love helping others start the journey of pursuing their dreams and reaching their full potential through the experience of business school.  The application process becomes a bit of a self-discovery journey. The people I help find they grow a little after they have done the introspective exercise of exposing their vulnerability and celebrating their achievements.”

What is the most common application pitfall you help clients work through?

“Not having a clear story or a clear plan of action post MBA.  Many are afraid to commit to a direction because they view the experience as a life exploration.  I always remind them that it’s important to at least START with a plan (even if it evolves through their matriculation) and link that plan to their life’s journey to this point, creating a clear story of who they are as people.”

What did you find most challenging when you applied to business school and how did you overcome?

“My biggest challenge applying to business school was positioning my shortcomings in my application (i.e. low GMAT score, a couple bad semesters in undergrad, etc).  I think I was able to overcome these challenges by balancing these gaps with my achievements both academically and professionally.  I basically constructed the narrative that I only attend top tier academic institutions and work for top tier organizations, and although I’ve lost some battles, I’ve won the war.”

Where can I get the most delicious deep-dish pizza in Chicago?

Arenello’s in Glenwood… Chicken Sausage Deep Dish to DIE for.


Want to work with Kenyata?  Learn more about him here, or find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

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!

UCLA Anderson Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

UCLA AndersonToday we take a look at UCLA Anderson’s admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2017. Last year Anderson was on the vanguard of the effort across MBA programs to reduce essay count, dropping down to just one required essay, and for the 2014-2015 admissions season the school’s application returns with just one required essay once again. However, that one essay is all-new this year.

Here are UCLA Anderson’s admissions deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

UCLA Anderson Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 22, 2014
Round 2: January 7, 2015
Round 3: April 15, 2015

Not too much to discuss here. UCLA Anderson’s admissions deadlines are exactly the same as they were last year. Note that, unlike most top business schools, Anderson doesn’t release its Round 1 admissions decisions until late January. So, if UCLA is your first choice, you will need to already have your Round 2 applications done for your backup business schools before you now where you stand with Anderson.

UCLA Anderson Admissions Essays

  • UCLA Anderson is distinguished by three defining principles: Share Success, Think Fearlessly, Drive Change. What principles have defined your life and pre-MBA career? How do you believe that UCLA Anderson’s principles, and the environment they create, will help you attain your post-MBA career goals? (750 words)

    This question is new this year, although it’s really a heavy revision of last year’s question more than an entirely new prompt. The difference this year is that this question highlights Anderson’s three principles, and the takeaway here is that the Anderson admissions team clearly is looking for a fit with the program here. You don’t need to echo those same themes — in fact, the question explicitly asks what your own principles are — but here the school sends a strong signal about what traits it values in applicants. Knowing that Anderson wants applicants who are generous with others (“Share Success”), aren’t afraid to take chances (“Think Fearlessly”), and make an impact on those around them (“Drive Change”), what traits and experiences do you want to highlight from your career up until now?

    Not that you really want to demonstrate a knowledge of and a passion for UCLA Anderson. One way any school protects its admissions yield is by eliminating applicants who don’t show enough enthusiasm for the program. Failing to answer the second part part of the question — how will UCLA Anderson help you to achieve your goals? — is a quick and easy way to get weeded out by the admissions committee.

  • Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words)

    We always tell applicants the same thing regarding optional admissions essays: Only answer them if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it’s entirely okay to skip this essay. That advice especially holds now that Anderson’s application only includes on essay prompt… Don’t feel the need to submit extra essays simply to command a few extra minutes of the admissions committee’s attention!

Do you plan on applying to UCLA Anderson? Be sure to download our Essential Guide to UCLA Anderson, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. For even more personalized advice, sign up for a free profile evaluation by one of our MBA admissions experts. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Yale SOM Application Essay and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Yale School of ManagementToday we dig into the Yale School of Management’s admissions essays and application deadlines for the Class of 2017. Last year, Yale was one of the most aggressive movers in reducing its essay count, dropping from four required essays down to two. This year, the Yale admissions team has gone even further, announcing just one required essay for the 2014-2015 admissions season. Note that Yale has kept its video questions, which the school added last year.

Here are Yale SOM’s application deadlines and admissions essay for the coming year:

Yale SOM Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: September 18, 2014
Round 2: January 8, 2015
Round 3: April 23, 2015

Yale’s Round 1 deadline has crept forward by a week this year, although its Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines are virtually unchanged. Note that, if you apply to Yale in Round 1, you will receive your decision by December 8. This gives you plenty of time to get your Round 2 applications deadlines together for other MBA programs if you don’t get good news from Yale.

Yale SOM Admissions Essay

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

    Very interesting. Yale SOM has narrowed down its slate of essays to just one, and for that one essay the Yale has chosen a topic that focuses on one of the defining attributes of a leader — the ability to have a positive impact on those around you. When you hear the term “leader” it’s normal to envision an elected official or a CEO, but leaders exist at every level of an organization, even if they don’t have any people reporting directly to them. And, one of the best ways to spot a leader in a group is to find the person who is able to positively impact those around him or her.

    Note that the Yale admissions team not only wants to know what you accomplished, but also wants to understand exactly what you did to make it happen. Examples where you went above and beyond the call of duty, or went beyond your standard job description, will be the most powerful here. For this essay you can use the classic SAR (“Situation Action Result”) format: Describe the challenge or opportunity you identified, explain in detail what you did, and then be sure to spell out exactly how your actions positively influenced those around you.

    Finally, note that this question focuses on the impact that your actions had on your organization, not the role you were in. In other words, admissions officers care about what positive impact you truly have on those around you much more than they care about your job title.

Thoughts on Yale SOM’s Video Questions
As Yale SOM Admissions Director Bruce Delmonico wrote earlier this year, the work that goes into your application overall should prepare you well for the video questions. That means knowing how to deliver a short “headline”-type introduction of yourself, being able to succinctly explain why you want a Yale MBA, and being prepared for basic behavioral questions (the kind that start with “Describe a time when you…”). As Delmonico mentions in that article, the school isn’t looking for a perfect level of polish. In fact, the more off-the-cuff your remarks seem, the more likely you are to come across as authentic. You shouldn’t ramble for 90 seconds, but your answers should be just as they probably would be in an in-person interview — imperfect, yet succinct and convincing.

Want to earn a Yale MBA? Get yourself a copy of our Essential Guide to Yale SOM, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. For even more personalized advice, sign up for a free profile evaluation by one of our MBA admissions experts. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

UC Berkeley (Haas) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

UC Berkeley (Haas) Admissions EssaysEarlier this summer UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business released its MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2017. Like other business schools, Haas has chopped an essay yet again, dropping down to three required essays (although we should note that the school’s word limit for each essay actually increased). The Haas MBA admissions team has also made significant changes to the questions that it asks in its essay prompts, so we have plenty of new advice for applicants this year.

Here are the UC Berkeley (Haas) application deadlines and essays for 2014-2015:

Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2014
Round 2: January 7, 2015
Round 3: March 11, 2015

Another top-ranked MBA program has significantly moved up its Round 1 deadline! Haas has pushed its Round 1 deadline earlier by more than two weeks, meaning that only several other top schools have earlier first-round deadlines. Note that, while most schools will give you your admissions decision in December if you apply in Round 1, Haas may not notify you until January 15, 2015, meaning that you will probably have to have your Round 2 applications completed for most business schools before you get your Haas decision. Looking at the other rounds, Haas barely changed its Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines this year.

Berkeley (Haas) Admissions Essays

  1. Describe an experience that has fundamentally changed the way you see the world. How did this transform you? (400-500 words)

    This question is entirely new this year, and it replaces a fun one that asked, “If you could choose one song that expresses who you are, what is it and why?” This new question, while more conventional, is still a good one. Note the second part of the question, which tips you off to what the admissions committee really wants to see: How did you grow as a result of this experience? Think about the “SAR” (Situation-Action-Result) essay framework that we so often tell our clients to use — describe what happened, what you did, and then what happened as a results. Sounds obvious, right? You would be surprised by how often applicants get lost in the details and end up devoting 300 words or more to the situation, and not devoting enough space to their actions or the results! And, in this case, the “result” is not only what happened in that particular instance, but — again — how the applicant changed as a result. You could have experienced a terrible setback that made you more mature, or achieved something great that you never thought you would accomplish… It can be a “good” or a “bad” story, but the key is that it will only be interesting to Haas admissions officers if it shows how you changed (for the better) as a result!
  2. What is your most significant professional accomplishment? (200-300 words)

    This essay almost carries over unchanged from last year, but it contains one very important change. This year the Haas admissions team introduced the word “professional” to the question. That’s right… Previously, any story would do, whether it was from your professional life or your personal life, but now Haas wants you to devote this essay specifically to a professional experience. Often this kind of change means that the admissions team hadn’t been getting exactly what it wanted, and is trying to nudge applicants in a certain direction. However, in this case, we think the change has more to do with Haas’s new Question #1 (above). Applicants are likely to give stories from their personal lives, leaving this one wide open for a good professional story. Said another way, if you were thinking about using a professional story for the first question, think again, since this is where Haas wants you to tell that story. Again, use the “SAR” framework, and put special emphasis on the results and how you grew or changed as a result.
  3. What is your desired post-MBA role and at what company or organization? In your response, please specifically address sub-questions a., b., and c. (500-600 words combined)

    a. How is your background compelling to this company?
    b. What is something you would do better for this company than any other employee?
    c. Why is an MBA necessary and how will Haas specifically help you succeed at this company?

    This question is also new this year, and it replaces a fairly typical “Post-MBA career goals” that Haas used to ask. What makes this version less typical is how specific it is. In part (b), for example, Haas practically makes you prove your worth and talk your way into a new post-MBA job on the spot! Note that this question is very focused on the near future. While many such questions ask what you see yourself doing in 5-10 years, with this question it’s clear that the Haas admissions team wants to see that you have a clear and realistic goal for what you will do right after business school.

    Several thought here: First, Haas knows that you may not totally, completely know what you want to do after you get your MBA, and that your career goals are certainly subject to change. This is fine. The admissions committee just wants to know that you have realistic goals, and that you seem at least somewhat like someone who will hold up well in the grueling MBA job recruiting process. Second, you are obviously not yet a finished product, because if you were, you wouldn’t need an MBA. So, use part (c) to really highlight the two or three things that you expect to get out of the program. Finally, resist the temptation here to try to zig when everyone else is zagging — e.g., don’t fool yourself into thinking you need to write that you want to do non-profit work when your heart is really set on the financial sector. Be honest, and be specific.

Do you dram of getting into Haas? Be sure to download our Essential Guide to The Haas School of Business, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top MBA programs. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Haas and other top business schools, fill out a free profile evaluation and speak with an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Top MBA Programs with Application Deadlines and Essays for the 2014-2015 Application Season

Business school application season is among us. You are working hard to find the right references for letters of recommendation, get GMAT scores up, and finalize your essays.

Let us save you some time!

Here are the application deadlines and essays for the coming 2014-2015 application season for many of the top MBA programs.

 

Harvard Business School: Round 1 Deadline – September 9, 2014

Stanford GSB: Round 1 Deadline – October 1, 2014

The Wharton School: Round 1 Deadline – October 1, 2014

Columbia Business School: January 2015 Entry – October 8, 2015

MIT Sloan: Round 1 Deadline – September 23, 2014

Michigan’s Ross School of Business: Round 1 Deadline – October 6, 2014

Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business: Early Action – October 8, 2014

Fuqua School of Business at Duke University: Early Action – September 17, 2014

Kellogg School of Management: Round 1 Deadline – September 24, 2014

Booth School of Business: Round 1 Deadline – September 25, 2014

NYU Stern: Round 1 Deadline – October 15, 2014

Check back soon for UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Yale School of Management, and UCLA Anderson.

Learn more about these schools in our Essential Guides. If you want help crafting the perfect 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 Colleen Hill

NYU Stern Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

NYU Stern has released its MBA application deadlines and essays for the 2014-2015 admissions season. Among top MBA programs, Stern has perhaps made the fewest changes of any school. But, Stern’s famous “Personal Expression” prompt — for which you can submit almost anything at all — remains, which we like. Overall, our advice has changed very little since last year. Read on….

Here are NYU Stern’s admissions deadlines and essays for the Class of 2017, followed by our comments in italics:

NYU Stern Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 15, 2014
Round 2: November 15, 2014
Round 3: January 15, 2015
Round 4: March 15, 2015

Well, nothing new here. Nothing at all. In fact, NYU Stern’s admissions deadlines are exactly the same as they were last year! After adding an additional round last year — making NYU Stern one of the few top American MBA programs to stray from the typical 3-round model — the Stern admissions team has apparently decided to stand pat this year. Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will be notified by December 15, giving you several weeks to prepare Round 2 applications to other schools if you’re not admitted to Stern.

NYU Stern Application Essays

Note that the first prompt is required. Then, choose one of the next two prompts.

  1. Professional Aspirations: (750 words)

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

    Once more, this question carries over unchanged from the previous year, and so our advice pretty much remains the same. Pay special attention to part (b) of this essay prompt — Stern clearly wants to see that you have done your homework and are applying to the school for reasons that go beyond the obvious. Besides looking at the rankings or seeing that Stern places a lot of graduates in investment banks every year, what have you done to be sure that Stern is a good fit for you, and vice versa? Like most top-ranked business schools, Stern places a good deal of emphasis on fit, and you need to demonstrate that you have done the same.

  2. Option A: Your Two Paths (500 words)

    The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.

    – Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
    – What factors will most determine which path you will take?
    – How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?

    This question also remains the same as it was last year. As far as MBA admissions essay prompts go, this is one of our favorites because it’s a great way for Stern to try to get past applicants’ super-polished answers and try to get a better sense of what makes them tick professionally. Yes, you should have at least a pretty good idea of what you want to do after earning your MBA, but the admissions committee knows that you probably don’t know for certain what you want to do. And, even if you do, circumstances change, new trends emerge, life events happen, etc. While there is no single “right” way to approach this essay, one thing we recommend trying is laying out a fairly standard path (the one that you have probably already been telling people) and one pretty creative one — perhaps one career path could be as an investment analyst and one could be as a manager of a charter school system. The more different the two paths are, the more interesting your story will be, and the more it will help admissions officers get a read in who you are.

    Resist the temptation to make your second path an altruistic-sounding one simply for the sake of sounding like a model citizen! But, if there is a career path you’ve been toying with but have been reluctant to share because it might make you sound aimless or unrealistic, don’t be afraid to describe it here.

  3. Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative. If you submit a non-written piece for this essay (i.e., artwork or multimedia) or if you submit this essay via mail, please upload a brief description of your submission with your online application.

    Ahh, Stern’s famous “personal expression” prompt, which the school has used for years! This is significant because it means that the admissions committee must feel that it’s effective in helping the admissions committee get to know candidates. Stern truly wants to learn about what makes you unique. The school’s admissions officers are almost begging you to stand out here, which is a reminder about how you can make their job easier by helping them remember the real you.

    One other note: Just because this question allows you to use any medium, that doesn’t mean that you need to submit something other than the written word. If that’s your best medium, use it. “Being memorable” means more than just sending them something outrageous; the most effective submissions really are the ones that leave admissions officers feeling like they know you better. Finally, while this essay prompt truly is wide open in terms of what you can submit, note that there are a few parameters (e.g., nothing perishable!) that you need to observe.

  4. Additional Information (optional)
    Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information. If you are unable to submit a recommendation from your current supervisor, you must explain your reason, even if you are a re-applicant. If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.

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

If you want to get into NYU Stern, download our Essential Guide to NYU Stern, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stern and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Chicago Booth Application Essay and Deadlines for 2014-2015

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business recently released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2017. Once again we see a top-ranked MBA program cut back on its number of required essays this year; now Booth only has one essay, and it’s not a traditional essay at all. Booth has decided to keep its famous “PowerPoint” question and drop everything else! Of course, this puts even more importance than ever on how well you answer this prompt.

Here are Chicago Booth’s deadlines and essay, followed by our comments in italics:

Chicago Booth Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: September 25, 2014
Round 2: January 6, 2015
Round 3: April 7, 2015

Booth’s Round 1 deadline has crept up by about a week, making Booth the latest top MBA program to move its first deadline into September. Note that applying to Booth in Round 1 means that you will get your decision back by December 18, which gives you at least a couple of weeks before most business schools’ Round 2 deadlines come. Booth’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines each budged only slightly compared to last year.

Chicago Booth Admissions Essay

  1. Chicago Booth values adventurous inquiry, diverse perspectives, and a collaborative exchange of ideas. This is us. Who are you? (You can see all of the technical requirements and limitations here.)

    Chicago Booth’s “PowerPoint question” returns once again, although the wording of the question is new. Still, our advice mostly remians the same. As you think about how you want to approach this prompt, remember that the Chicago Booth admissions committee members already hold in their hands a great deal of information about you… What else do you want them to know? Don’t simply use this response to just show off professional achievements that you already cover elsewhere in your application. Be creative! The reason Booth kept this question is because, while it hasn’t worked perfectly for the school so far, it really is the admissions committee’s best chance to tease some personality out of your application. So don’t be afraid to give them some!

    Finally, note that an essay truly is okay here. Don’t feel that, because PowerPoint is an option, it’s expected or preferred. If you can best “broaden their perspective about who you are” using plain old words, then we recommend that you go that route.

Do you dream of getting into Chicago Booth? Download our Essential Guide to Booth, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Booth and other top business schools, fill out a free profile evaluation and speak with an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Veritas Prep Consultant Spotlight: Get to Know Heidy, Stanford MBA

Applying to the world’s most elite business schools requires much more than a high GMAT score and strong resume.  Self reflection, creating your personal brand, understanding school fit, addressing profile weaknesses and capitalizing on your unique strengths are all essential in crafting a successful application.  Don’t go at this alone – we can help!  Veritas Prep has the most stellar MBA admissions consulting team in the industry and we can help you achieve your MBA goals!

At Veritas Prep, you have the opportunity to work with the ideal consultant for your needs.  We have the most diverse and experienced MBA admissions consulting team ever assembled.

Get to know one right now:


Heidy: Head Consultant, Stanford MBA

Specialties Include:

  • Consulting, Entrepreneur
  • Low GPA/GMAT score
  • Marketing
  • Underrepresented minorities
  • International candidates

What is the most common application pitfall you help clients work through?

“GMAT (standardized test scores) and GPA (school grades) can be such limiting mental barriers for most clients and sometimes prevent them from putting together a great application.  I often hear clients beating themselves down over their lower than average scores or being overly confident (and thus, not putting much effort on the rest of the application) over their high scores. Both of those groups oversee the fact that a successful application goes beyond quantitative measurements. The application should be a well-rounded package that makes sense, is consistent and well put-together.”

What cuisine is best in the bay area?

“Being a Mexico-born Chinese living in California for over a decade, I enjoyed all types of cuisines from Asian to Latin to Mediterranean. What is common among all these cuisines is freshness and accessibility, thanks to the happy produce that grows in the local, sunny lands. From world-class wineries to organic artisan bakers and cheese makers to multi-cultural influences, California is a paradise for the most exquisite of palates.”

What fictional character (movie, book, TV, etc…) do you think best embodies the attitude of students at Stanford GSB?

“Probably Eliza Doolittle from the old classic movie My Fair Lady (Pygmalion), hehe! The GSB was such a major life-changing experience in my life, I now can think in much more well-rounded ways, aware of my unique abilities and able to use my new set of skills.”

What do you find most rewarding about helping others apply to business school?

“Doing an account of school, career and personal accomplishments, some people actually find the application some sort of a self-discovery process, which is essential to those interested in leadership positions in their careers. I enjoy working hard to get over that bump into those “a-ha” moments when my clients finally understand themselves and the process they are in. That’s when the creative juices kick in, and their stories and in turn, their application, become much more compelling and attractive.”

Want to work with Heidy?  Learn more about her here, or find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

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!

Kellogg Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has released its MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2017. While most top MBA programs have mostly been making nips and tucks to their admissions essays this year, Kellogg has made a lot of changes. And, like other business schools, Kellogg has dropped a required essay, going from three to two required essays for applicants to its traditional MBA program. The video response, which Kellogg introduced last year, remains.

Without further ado, here are the Kellogg essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:

Kellogg Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: September 24, 2014
Round 2: January 7, 2015
Round 3: April 1, 2015

Kellogg has moved its Round 1 application WAY up, by more than three weeks. If you plan on applying to Kellogg in Round 1, this means you should get started no later than early August. Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will get your decision by mid-December, which should give you enough time to complete your Round 2 applications for other programs, if you don’t get good news from Kellogg. The school’s Round 2 and Round 3 deadlines are virtually unchanged since last year.

Kellogg Admissions Essays

Note that we don’t include Kellogg’s essays for dual-degree applicants or re-applicants here. You can find those essay prompts on the Kellogg admissions website.

  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? (450 words)

    This question is new this year, although it actually replaces a fairly similar question that Kellogg used in last year’s application. This year’s version actually gives you 100 more words to work with, and puts a bit more emphasis on the “What did you learn?” aspect, although, at its heart, this question is still trying to get at the same thing: The admissions committee wants to see how you have grown in your relatively short professional career. The phrase “challenging experience” gives you the opportunity to talk about situations you faced that weren’t necessarily of your own doing. For example, getting laid off when your company goes out of business represents an obstacle, but not a mistake on your part.

    Your mission will be to show introspection (What did you learn?) and a motivation for self-improvement (How did you use what you learned to better yourself and avoid that mistake again?). Also, note that your story can be a personal or a professional one. Ideally you will have a terrific work-related story to at least consider using there, but remember to look for experiences in all aspects of your life. Your most powerful “obstacle” story may come from outside your job, and that’s perfectly fine.

  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? (450 words)

    This question is also new this year. Again, though, it mostly covers the same topic (leadership) that last year’s second question covered. In some ways, this new question represents at least a small move by Kellogg back towards the school’s roots in teamwork and collaboration. More than any other top MBA program, Kellogg has staked its reputation on its ability to produce great team players and collaborative leaders, and this question reflects that philosophy. Note both parts of that term (“collaborative leaders”)… Kellogg doesn’t want just friendly team players, bur instead wants people who can take charge and get things done. At the same time, the admissions committee isn’t looking for sharp-elbowed people who lead by edict; Kellogg wants to find applicants who inspire people to work harder and achieve great things through teamwork and empowerment.

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

  3. If needed, use this section to briefly describe any extenuating circumstances (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, etc.) (no word count)

    As we always tell applicants with these optional essays: Only answer this essay prompt if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. If you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it is entirely okay to skip this essay. Don’t let yourself get too tempted by that lack of a word limit… Less is more!

Finally, Kellogg’s video response returns for its second year. The recorded video answer was crafted to mimic an interview in that you will be given a question and will have to record your response right away (after a couple of minutes to gather your thoughts). Note that, while last year Kellogg would let you try again (with a new question) if you didn’t like your attempt, this year you will NOT be able to try again. (You will be able to warm up on some practice questions first.) And, you won’t know the questions ahead of time. For your official response, you will have just 20 seconds to think up your answer, and one minute to deliver it… No pressure! This is just one more example of how top MBA programs are trying to break away from the essay and get to know applicants better using other formats.

If you hope to get into Kellogg, download our Essential Guide to Kellogg, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Kellogg and other top-ranked MBA programs, fill out a free profile evaluation and get an in-depth evaluation from an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Veritas Prep Consultant Spotlight: Get to Know Marcus, Wharton MBA

Are you applying to the world’s top business schools?  Do you need help crafting the best application possible and standing out to admissions committees?  Veritas Prep has the most stellar MBA admissions consulting team in the industry – we’re talking the Jedi Knights of admissions consulting – and we can help you achieve your MBA goals!

At Veritas Prep, you have the opportunity to work with the ideal consultant for your needs.  We have the most diverse and experienced MBA admissions consulting team ever assembled.

Get to know one of our consultants right now:


Marcus: Head Consultant, Wharton MBA

Specialties Include:

  • Entrepreneur
  • Non-traditional career paths
  • Older applicants
  • International candidates
  • Technology

What do you find most rewarding about helping others apply to business school?

“What is most rewarding is helping applicants leverage the non-traditional aspects of their backgrounds. This could be an applicant who doesn’t have any business background to speak of at all, or someone who works in finance but has some unique non-business extracurricular activities.  Typically, the applicants are unaware of how powerful these non-traditional aspects of their backgrounds are.  For me, it’s very rewarding to help them with this realization and then subsequently tell their story effectively to the admissions committee.”

What is the most common application pitfall you help clients work through?

“Every applicant struggles with different aspects of their application.  But the most common challenge is undertaking the required introspection for admission to a top tier school.  Ultimately, this is what sets apart a good application from a great one.  In order to guide my clients through this process, my job becomes that of coach rather than purely providing feedback, i.e. I ask the appropriate questions that triggers their own thought process.”

If I attend Wharton, where can I get the best Philly Cheese Steak in Philadelphia?

“There is a long standing rivalry between Pat’s and Geno’s in South Philly.  Those are both excellent places, but my own personal favorite is Abner’s on 38th and Chestnut, which is a short walk from Huntsman Hall.”

Want to work with Marcus?  Learn more about him here, or find the expert who’s right for you here!  Visit our Team page today.

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!

Duke (Fuqua) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University has released is MBA admissions deadlines and essays for the Class of 2017. Duke hasn’t added or cut the number of required essays this year, although it did add a new option for the second required essay. The “25 Random Things” prompt remains, which makes us happy!

Here are the Duke (Fuqua) application deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Deadlines
Early Action: September 17, 2014
Round 1: October 20, 2014
Round 2: January 5, 2015
Round 3: March 19, 2015

Fuqua’a admissions deadlines are virtually unchanged vs. last year. On important note about the school’s Early Action deadline: Even though it’s called “Early Action,” which most schools interpret as “non-binding,” Fuqua considers it to be binding. So, we only recommend applying in this round if Fuqua is clearly your first choice. If it’s not, then save your application for Round 1, which still gets you your final decisions from the admissions committee before the holidays.

Duke (Fuqua) Admissions Essays

Required Short Answer Questions (Just 250 characters each)

  1. What are your short-term goals, post-MBA?
  2. What are your long-term goals?
  3. Life is full of uncertainties, and plans and circumstances can change. As a result, navigating a career requires you to be adaptable. Should the short-term goals that you provided above not materialize what alternative directions have you considered?
  4. This trio of short questions (and really, really short answers!) has not changed since last year, so our advice mostly remains the same. The three above short answers should add up to only about 150 words, if it’s easier for you to think about them that way. With the three short questions, the Fuqua admissions team really is just looking for the high-levels facts about you. In other words, they’re looking for less hand-waving and “big picture”-speak and for a more succinct, “to the point” story to help them quickly get a read on why you’re even applying to Fuqua in the first place. Think of this as your chance to make the admissions team’s job a little easier… Rather than making the admissions team sort through your application essays to figure out why you’re applying to Fuqua, here you’re spelling it out in three bold, unmistakeable headlines.

    One more thought: It’s easy to look at the third question and think it’s meant to be a curve ball, but this sort of adaptability is important to show. No one knows how exactly their career will unfold, and with this question the Fuqua admissions team wants to see if you “get” that idea and have at least thought through some alternatives.

First Required Essay

  1. The “Team Fuqua” spirit and community is one of the things that sets The Duke MBA experience apart, and it is a concept that extends beyond the student body to include faculty, staff, and administration. When a new person joins the Admissions team, we ask that person to share with everyone in the office a list of “25 Random Things About Yourself.” As an Admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these “25 Random Things” helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.

    In this spirit, the Admissions Committee also wants to get to know you—beyond the professional and academic achievements listed in your resume and transcript. You can share with us important life experiences, your likes/dislikes, hobbies, achievements, fun facts, or anything that helps us understand what makes you who you are. Share with us your list of “25 Random Things” about YOU.

    Please present your response in list form, numbered 1 to 25. Some points may be only a few words, while others may be longer. Your complete list should not exceed 2 pages.

    Fuqua has used this fun, unique question for several years now. This exercise makes many applicants uncomfortable since it’s so far removed from the “typical” MBA admissions essay, but it’s one of our favorite questions in the MBA admissions world. While you shouldn’t generate a completely frivolous list, you definitely don’t want to rehash what else is in your application. Seemingly random facts such as “I once came in dead last in a karaoke contest” are relevant and reveal something important about you (that you’re fun!), whether you realize it or not.

    Some admissions experts tell applicants that all 25 items must be “unique” and “aligned with their brand,” but it would be a mistake to apply that rule to all 25 items. If the favorite part of your week is playing pickup basketball with friends, then it would be crazy for that not to make it into this list, whether or not other applicants might possibly say the same thing. For us, a good rule of thumb is that approximately half of this list should reinforce your application themes (which you should have nailed down long before drafting this list), and the other half can be more “fun”… Don’t run the risk of putting the admissions committee to sleep with your list. Finally, take a look at these examples that Fuqua admissions officers and students have posted about themselves… You’ll see that they’re far from 100% serious!

Second Required Essay

Instructions: Choose only 1 of the following 2 essay questions to answer. Your response should be no more than 2 pages in length.

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

    Your response to this essay question should be no more than 2 pages in length. Please respond fully and concisely using 1.5 line spacing.

    This question also carries over unchanged from last year, and that’s a strong hint that the Fuqua admissions team likes what it’s been getting from applicants. The purpose of this question is really to assess your fit with the school. The school used to simply ask, “Why Duke?” in an essay, but this question is still about fit: This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have really researched the program, understand its culture, and really want to spend the rest of your life as a member of the Fuqua community. The first eight words of this question are the Fuqua admissions committee’s way of saying, “Please don’t just tell us what you think we want to hear.”

    Some pragmatic components to your response are totally fine — it has strong ties to the health care industry, or has a specific research center that interests you, for instance. That’s a completely real, honest response. But the school wants you to go beyond rattling off lists of professor and course names from its website and convince them that you will be eager to attend Fuqua if you’re admitted.

  2. The Team Fuqua community is as unique as the individuals who comprise it. Underlying our individuality are a number of shared ideas and principles that we live out in our own ways. Our students have identified and defined 6 “Team Fuqua Principles” that we feel are the guiding philosophies that make our community special. At the end of your 2 years at Fuqua, if you were to receive an award for exemplifying one of the 6 Principles listed below, which one would it be and why? Your response should reflect the research you have done, your knowledge of Fuqua and the Daytime MBA program and experience, and the types of activities and leadership you would engage in as a Fuqua student. (You can read the rest of the question here.)

    This question is new this year, and it’s another example of how much emphasis Fuqua places on fit and a desire to find applicants who truly want to attend the school. Fuqua is the classic example of a top business school that’s not quite in the uppermost echelon of MBA programs — it’s ranked highly enough that it attracts a lot of applicants, but there are enough schools ranked higher that Fuqua often loses out to other schools when an applicant has multiple offers to choose from. That’s not a knock on the school at all; rather, it underscores how tough it is for the Fuqua admissions team to try to determine just how enthusiastic an applicant is for the school.

    This question is your chance to show that you really, truly are enthusiastic about Fuqua, so much so that you see yourself embodying one or more of the traits that Fuqua’s own students have identified as the community’s core principles. Don’t just regurgitate what you read in Fuqua’s brochures and on its website: Bring out specific examples of your own past experiences that demonstrate how you embody one of these important traits. There are few more effective ways to show how much you want to be a part of the Fuqua community!

Optional Essay

  • If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Admissions Committee should be aware, please explain them in an optional essay (e.g. unexplained gaps in work, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, or any significant weakness in your application).

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

If Fuqua is on your list of dream MBA programs, download our Essential Guide to the Fuqua School of Business, one of our 14 guides to the world’s best MBA programs. If you’re ready to get started on applying, 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

Dartmouth (Tuck) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business recently released its application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season. Like so many other top MBA programs these days, Tuck has eliminated an essay, going down to just two required essay prompts this year. The two essays that remain are taken directly from last year’s application (with just one subtle tweak to the second essay prompt).

Without further ado, here are Tuck’s MBA application deadlines and essays for the coming year, followed by our comments in italics:

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Deadlines
Early Action round: October 8, 2014
November round: November 5, 2014
January round: January 6, 2015
April round: April 1, 2014

Tuck barely changed its application deadlines since last year. Note that Tuck is one of the few top business schools to offer an Early Action admissions option. “Early Action” means that the decision is non-binding, although if you are admitted you will need to send in a $4,500 deposit by mid-January, or else you will give up your seat. If Tuck is your top choice, or at least a very strong 2nd or 3rd choice, Early Action is a great way to signal your enthusiasm for the school. Also, if you want to know the fate of your Tuck application before most other schools’ Round 2 deadlines come, then aim for Early Action, which allows you to receive your decision by December 18. Applying in any other round means that you won’t receive your decision until mid-February.

Dartmouth (Tuck) Admissions Essays

  1. Why is an MBA a critical next step toward your short- and long-term career goals? Why is Tuck the best MBA fit for you and your goals and why are you the best fit for Tuck? (500 words)

    This question carries over from last year with no changes, and so our advice mostly remains the same. Last year, Tuck dropped “what will you uniquely contribute to the community?” and replaced it with the more straightforward “why are you the best fit for Tuck?” This newer phrasing puts more explicit on one of our favorite subjects — fit with a school! — and we expect it will work better for all parties involved.

    Beyond that important change, this question is the fairly standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that most business schools ask. Tuck takes the concept of “fit” very seriously when evaluating candidates — maybe more so than any other top school, given its small class size and remote location — so you need to take it seriously, too. The Tuck admissions committee knows that you’re probably applying to multiple top schools, and knows that it is a bit unique among programs… What really excites you about Tuck, and what about you should get the Tuck admissions team excited about adding you to the Tuck community?

  2. Tell us about your most meaningful leadership experience and what role you played. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience? (500 words)

    This question also carried over from last year, with just one small (but important) change: Last year this prompt asked for a collaborative leadership experience, and now the “collaborative” part is gone. (Interestingly, they added the word “collaborative” last year, and have now gone back to the wording they used two years ago.) It’s easy to overstate the importance of this change, but it likely indicates that the admissions team felt that last year’s prompt led applicants to bit too much emphasis on teamwork and not quite enough on actual leadership. Note that those things are definitely not mutually exclusive, but err on the side of discussing a time when you really made something happen, vs. a time when you were an active participant in something that was already happening.

    You only have 500 words in which you need to describe what the situation was, what action you took, and what the results were (“Situation-Action-Result,” or “SAR” as we call it). Don’t overlook the second part of the question, about what you learned about yourself. What exactly happened is very important, but evidence of how you grew and how you got to know yourself better is even more critical. A great essay tells about how you learned valuable about yourself, such as a shortcoming or lack of experience, and how you were able to act and improve upon it. That’s the type of response that has the potential to stick with the application reader.

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

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

If you want to get into Tuck, download our Essential Guide to the Tuck School of Business, one of our 14 guides to the world’s best MBA programs. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA application plan, 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

Michigan (Ross) Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Michigan Ross MBA Admissions GuideThe University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business recently announced its application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season. After dropping from four required essays to three last year, the Ross MBA admissions team decided to shed another one, going down to just two required essays this year. And, the two required essays that remain are entirely new this year. The changes just keep coming!

Here are Ross’s MBA application deadlines and essays for the Class of 2017, followed by our comments in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 6, 2014
Round 2: January 5, 2015
Round 3: March 23, 2015

Here Ross bucked the trend that we’ve seen at other top business school — Ross actually pushed back its deadlines a bit this year. The Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines really only moved back by a few days apiece, but it’s interesting to see given that admissions deadlines have been creeping earlier and earlier over the past few years. The biggest change is in Ross’s Round 3 deadline, which comes about three weeks later than it did last year (although we normally advise applicants to aim for Round 1 and 2 if they can hit those deadlines). Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will receive a decision from Ross before Christmas, giving you at least a couple of weeks before most other MBA programs’ Round 2 deadlines come in early January.

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays

  1. What are you most proud of professionally and why? What did you learn from that experience? (400 words)

    As mentioned above, this essay prompt is new this year. This and the next essay question — and you really can’t think about one without considering the other — are asking you to be choosy and pick two things that you really want the MBA admissions committee to remember about you. Regarding this professional question, the best responses will demonstrate a time when you went outside your comfort zone or went beyond what was expected of you. Did you take a risk? Did you notice a problem that no one else was willing to tackle, and constructively solve it? While doing that, did you grow as a result?

    This essay is a great place to use the “SAR” method (Situation, Action, Result) that normally works so well in admissions essays. You only have 400 hundred words, so you need to strike the right balance between properly setting the stage (otherwise, admissions officers may not fully appreciate the significance of your accomplishment) and getting right into describing what you did and what results you achieved.

    Finally, don’t overlook the second part of the question, about what you learned about yourself. While what happened is obviously important, evidence of how you grew and how you got to know yourself better is even more critical. A great essay tells about how you learned valuable about yourself and how you were able to act and improve upon it. That’s the type of response that has the potential to stick with the application reader.

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

    Even though this is about the personal side of you, our advice here isn’t radically different from what we wrote above. Use the “SAR” to succinctly help the reader understand the challenge or opportunity you faced, describe what you did, and then move into how you grew as a result. Again, how you answer the second part of the question is really what can turn this from an okay essay into a memorable one that will help admissions officers really feel like they got to know you better.

    A final thought: Don’t feel that your personal achievement needs to be something that’s outwardly impressive, such as completing a marathon or climbing Mount Everest. Some of the best essays we’ve seen have dealt with intensely personal issues, such as overcoming a speech impediment or putting life ahead of work to care for a sick relative. Be real and honestly discuss how you’ve grown, and odds are that you will write a great essay as a result.

  3. Optional question: Is there anything not addressed elsewhere in the application that you would like The Admissions Committee to know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (300 words)

    As always, only use this essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need any. More generally, if you don’t have anything else you need to tell the admissions office, it’s okay to skip this essay. Yes, the fact that there are only two required essays in which you can tell your story, but don’t feel compelled to command admissions officers’ attention for an extra 300 words if you don’t need to.
  4. Are you thinking about applying to Ross? Download our Essential Guide to Ross, one of our 14 guides to the world’s best MBA programs. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA application plan, 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

GMAT Scores vs. Average Starting MBA Salaries

It’s not a stretch to say that the more prestigious the business school you attend, the higher your starting post-graduation salary will tend to be. The more prestigious your MBA program is, the more options you will tend to have in the job hunt, and the higher potential employers will be willing to go to hire you. The more options you have and the more marketable you are, the more you’re probably going to make when you come right out of business school.

But, believe it or not, the correlation is actually very strong when comparing average GMAT scores and average starting salaries at top business schools! So, strong, in fact, that the relationship can neatly be summed up by this formula:

325 x GMAT Score – $123,000 = Starting Salary

This is just an approximation, of course, but it works surprisingly well at giving you an idea of what starting salary you might have in store for you when you graduate with your MBA, given a certain GMAT score.

To see more about this strong correlation, take a look at the newest infographic that we put together.

(Click on the infographic below to enlarge it.)

Correlation of GMAT Scores and MBA Starting Salaries

 

To embed this infographic on your own website or blog, simply copy the code below:

Of course, this demonstrates a correlation, but that’s not the same as proving causation. Your future salary will be determined by your own choices, including which MBA program you attend and what job you take immediately after graduation. If you’re a good fit for your company, you should be able to negotiate a salary that both parties can be happy with.

By Scott Shrum

MIT Sloan Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

The MIT Sloan School of Management has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 application season. Sloan has actually bucked the trend we’ve seen lately; the school still has two admissions essays, and actually increased the maximum allowed word count for its second essay (which is new this year)! The new question that Sloan added is a good one, but it will present you with some unique challenges, which we discuss more below.

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

MIT Sloan Application Deadlines
Round 1: September 23, 2014
Round 2: January 8, 2015

MIT Sloan’s deadlines are virtually unchanged since last year. Keep in mind that MIT Sloan is fairly unique in that it only has two main admissions rounds, so there is no “Round 3 or not Round 3?” dilemma here. Although Round 2 is Sloan’s final round, you should not assume that applying in Round 2 is as bad as applying in Round 3 anywhere else. If you need the extra several months to get your application in order, then take that time to improve your chances. Round 2 is a very valid round in which to apply when it comes to MIT Sloan.

MIT Sloan Application Essays

  1. The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and generate ideas that advance management practice. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words)

    This question carries over unchanged from last year (when it was new). Consequently, our advice mostly remains the same. At its core, it is a “Why MIT Sloan?” question. Sloan admissions officers have stated before that they don’t love explicit “Why this school?”-type questions, but it’s clear that this type of insight is what they’re looking for here, at least in part. The admissions committee wants to see that you have done your homework on Sloan, that you understand what the school stands for, and that you really want to be there.

    When Sloan asks you how you will contribute, it’s not just asking about what you will do while you’re in school for two years, but also about how you plan on taking what you’ve learned (and the connections you’ve built) and going farther than you could ever have without an MIT Sloan MBA. Note the very last part of the question: The key to a believable essay here will be to cite specific examples from your past when you got involved and make things better around you. Don’t be intimidated by the high-minded ideals in the first part of the essay prompt — making an impact (rather than just standing idly by and being a follower) is what they want to see here, even if it’s on a relatively small scale.

  2. Write a professional letter of recommendation on behalf of yourself. Answer the following questions as if you were your most recent supervisor recommending yourself for admission to the MIT Sloan MBA Program: [see the rest of the question here] (750 words)

    This is a new question for Sloan this year. In some ways, it’s a descendent of Sloan’s old “Write a cover letter describing your accomplishments” prompt that MIT Sloan used to include in its application. This is a tricky one because most applicants actually tend to be too humble when describing themselves. After all, it’s easy to fear coming off as too confident or obnoxious, especially when the stakes are this high, so your natural tendency may be to not toot your own horn enough.

    The key to tooting that horn, and doing in a way that’s believable, is to provide specific examples. This is exactly what we tell applicants to tell their recommendation writers, and this advice also applies when you write your own letter of recommendation. The easy part is that the specific questions Sloan asks (e.g., “Please give an example of the applicant’s impact on a person, group, or organization.”) make it very clear what the admissions committee is looking for. Now it’s your job to find examples in your recent professional past to show them that you have what they want.

    Finally, the question that asks “Which of the applicant’s personal or professional characteristics would you change?” don’t be afraid to talk about a weakness here. Even though you’re writing your recommendation (as if your boss were writing it), some introspection is really what the admissions officers want to see here. Here is a weakness or undeveloped area for you… here is what you’re doing to improve on it… and here is a recent example of how you have made progress toward this goal.

Are you thinking about applying to MIT Sloan? Download our Essential Guide to MIT Sloan, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own MBA application plan, 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

Columbia Business School Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Columbia Business SchoolColumbia Business School has released its application deadlines and essays for the 2014-2015 admissions season. Like other business schools, Columbia has done some more trimming to its essays, which we discuss in more detail below.

Columbia stands out among top U.S. MBA programs because of its January intake in addition to the more common August/September intake. Columbia’s “J-Term” program allows students to complete their degrees in less than a year and a half, and is ideally suited for applicants who don’t need a summer internship — especially those who plan on returning to the same job or industry, and those who plan on starting their own business.

Here are the Columbia Business School application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions cycle, followed by our comments in italics:

Columbia Business School Admissions Deadlines

January 2015 Entry: October 8, 2014
August 2015 Entry (Early Decision): October 8, 2013
August 2015 Entry (Merit Fellowship Consideration): January 7, 2015
August 2015 Entry (Regular Decision): April 15, 2015

Columbia is fairly unique among top business schools since uses a rolling admissions cycle. One way to look at it is that the one truly hard deadline for entry in Fall ’15 is the April deadline. The advice that we normally give regarding admissions deadlines still holds, though: We recommend that you apply early rather than later. Applying as late as March or April means competing for one of the very few seats still open at that point.

Also, remember that “Early Decision” means that you’re committing to attend Columbia if you are admitted. If you go back on your word, the worst that can happen is that you lose your deposit, but don’t forget the ethics of the situation: You take away a seat from someone who wants to attend Columbia more than you do. So, only exercise this option if Columbia truly is your first choice.

Columbia Business School Admissions Essays

Short Answer Question:
What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (75 characters maximum)

Wow! Last year more than one admissions consultant said, “This response can’t get any shorter,” when Columbia asked this same question and gave applicants just 100 characters to work with (down from 200 characters the year before). Now, after the school has chopped 25 characters, we’ll take a risk and say it: It’s hard to imagine this response getting much shorter!

Almost regardless of how few characters you have to work with here, your main takeaway is this: Columbia’s MBA admissions team truly just wants a super brief headline about your post-MBA career goals to better understand where you think you want to go with your degree. That’s it. Think of the Short Answer Question as the positioning statement for your short-term career goals. Do you want to be known as the applicant who wants to start a non-profit organization, or perhaps the applicant who wants to sharpen his skills and return to the technology sector as a business leader? Columbia provides some examples on its site, and you’ll see that there’s nothing particularly creative or special about them (e.g., “Work for an investment firm that focuses on real estate.”). Avoid the temptation to get too gimmicky here, but remember that this is the one thing (about your short-term career goals) that you want the admissions committee to remember.

Essay Questions:

  • Given your individual background and goals, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (500 words)

    This question carries over unchanged from last year, and so our advice mostly remains the same. This essay prompt is the fairly typical “Why an MBA? Why this school?: question that most business schools ask in their applications. Many applicants fail to adequately to explain why Columbia is the best place for them to earn their MBA, given the school’s culture, academic strengths, ties to certain industries, etc. Yes, Columbia has a big name and proximity to Wall Street. Those strengths are obvious. What else does Columbia offer that you can’t find anywhere else? And why — given where you’re coming from and where you want to go — is Columbia the best place for you to grow as a business leader? This is what the school is looking for when it asks about “fit.”
  • Please view the video below:
    The Center
    How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business?” (250 words)

    This question is new this year, although it replaces a question that wasn’t radically different last year. Basically, Columbia swapped out two videos for this one, and changed the question’s wording a bit, but the meat the this question hasn’t changed dramatically. So, our take hasn’t changed much from what it was last year: We find it interesting that the Columbia MBA admissions team chose to put so much emphasis on its New York City roots — we don’t think that many applicants need to be alerted to the fact that Columbia is in Manhattan or need to be sold on the benefits of being in New York. If you want to go into finance, then your answer here will obviously touch upon this fact. (Columbia bills itself as “The Very Center of Business” in this video, but much of the message relies on New York City’s reputation as a global hub.)Don’t limit yourself just to this obvious New York City tie-in, however. What other benefits do you expect you will gain from living and learning in one of the biggest cities in the world? Also, We’ve noted before that Columbia doesn’t want to be viewed as a commuter school in the middle of a huge city… Keep this in mind as you spell out how you will fit in at Columbia. Especially if you already live in New York, be sure to emphasize that you’re excited about immersing yourself in the Columbia culture.

  • What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (250 words)

    This question was new last year, and Columbia must like what it saw since the question returns unchanged for this year. This essay doesn’t need to be whimsical (although it can be), but it should present something that is interesting about you as a person, rather than rehashing something that’s already in your application or your resume. Go back to our comments above about fit and about Columbia wanting to build a strong community. Have an unusual hobby or funny story that people enjoy hearing? Can you think of something in your personal life that makes you feel very proud? This is the place to use it!

Like may other MBA programs, Columbia also provides space for an optional fourth essay. Our advice here is always the same: If you really do feel the need to explain something, then address it in this essay and then move on. Whatever you do, don’t dwell on it or provide that weakness with more stage time than it deserves!

Think you have what it takes to get into Columbia? Download our Essential Guide to Columbia Business School, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Columbia and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

Wharton Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Wharton Admissions GuideThe Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania recently released its MBA admissions deadlines and essays for the 2014-2015 application season. The trend that picked up speed last year has continued: After dropping its number of required essays from three to two last year, Wharton has announced that this year’s application contains only one required essay. We keep asking, “How much lower can they go?” but admissions officers keep finding a way to shed essays and put more emphasis on other parts of the application.

Without further ado, here are Wharton’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Wharton Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2014
Round 2: January 5, 2015
Round 3: March 26, 2015

Wharton’s application deadlines are virtually unchanged since last year. Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will receive your decision by December 16, which will give you about three weeks before most top school’s Round 2 deadlines. If you get bad news from Wharton in Round 1, you should still have enough time to pull together at least a couple of Round 2 applications (but don’t wait until the last minute!).

While many schools maintain that it doesn’t matter when you apply, Wharton gives pretty explicit advice on its website: “We strongly encourage you to apply in Round 1 or 2. The first two rounds have no significant difference in the level of rigor; the third round is more competitive, as we will have already selected a good portion of the class.” The school does add that there is room “for the strongest applicants” in Round 3, but your mission is clear: Get your application in by January 5!

Wharton Admissions Essays

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

    Yup, this is the only required essay in Wharton’s application this year. It has been reworded a bit, but this is really the same “Why an MBA? Why Wharton?” that the school has asked for years, so our advice mostly remains the same. Note the word “personally” in the question — Wharton isn’t only interested in what six-figure job you hope to land after earning your MBA, but also wants to know how you plan on growing as a person from the experience. You definitely still need to nail the professional part — you need to discuss clear, realistic career objectives here — but the admissions committee also wants to see maturity and introspection. How do you see yourself growing during your two years at Wharton? How do you hope the degree and the experience will impact your 10 years from now? This sort of depth will make the difference between a great response and a merely good one.
  • (Optional) Please use the space below to highlight any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know about your candidacy. (400 words)

    We normally tell applicants to only use the optional essay if you need to explain a low undergraduate GPA or other potential blemish in your background. No need to harp on a minor weakness and sound like you’re making excuses when you don’t need to. However, as schools like Wharton have been cutting down on essays, the role of the optional essay has evolved a bit. No need to monopolize the admissions committee’s time, but since Wharton’s application now gives you far less space in which you can describe your interests and inject some more personality into your application, this essay provides the perfect place to do that. Have a passion or something else that goes “beyond the resume” and will help Wharton admissions officers get to know you better? This essay gives you room to discuss it and make your application that much more memorable.

    Our original advice still holds, too. If you have a blemish that you need address, then this is the place to do it. You don’t want to leave a glaring weakness unaddressed. However, if you don’t have too much explaining to do, don’t be afraid to reveal something personal and memorable about yourself here!

If you plan on applying to Wharton, download our Essential Guide to Wharton, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top MBA programs… for free! If you’re ready to start building your own application for Wharton and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum

AIGAC Applicant Survey Shows that Applicants Are Positive Overall on Video Responses

Last week, at its 7th annual global conference, the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC) revealed the results of the 2014 edition of its MBA applicant survey. Since 2009, AIGAC’s MBA Applicant Survey has gathered and summarized the perspective of MBA applicants on the admissions process, helping member admissions consultants and business schools gain insights into applicant perceptions of each stage of the admissions process, from tools they first use to research programs and the reasons that they select programs to career and salary expectations. Many consultants and admissions officers consider it an extremely reliable read on the pulse of the graduate business education space.

This year’s survey was no different. AIGAC’s research partner, Huron Consulting Group, gathered more than 800 responses from applicants based around the globe. Among the 2014 survey’s most notable findings:

  • When it comes to choosing where to apply and attend, contact with alumni or current students and visits to the school are among the top five most important sources of information, more important, on average, than off-campus school info sessions or fairs.
  • When selecting an MBA program, men and women value the reputation and career impact at the same levels, but diverge on the importance of location and rank. Men placed significantly more importance on rankings than women.
  • 20% of this year’s applicants expect to start their own business upon graduation. This result is far higher than the 7% of recent graduates from top 10 US programs (per US News) who are self-employed post-MBA.
  • Approximately 80% of foreign students want to work in the US (20% only want to work in the US while a further 60% are considering a range of options that include the US). By contrast, only 40% of US students consider working elsewhere.

Perhaps one of the most interesting revelations of this year’s survey was the first significant reporting on MBA applicants’ reactions to the relatively new video responses that some business schools now employ, either as pre-recorded “essay” responses or as live online interviews. Looking at the numbers globally, applicants are positive about the use of video in the application process. 38% of those in the US who completed one or more applications with a video component felt the video response did represent them well. However, 50% of international applicants did not feel that their video response represented them as well.

See more here:

MBA Video Interview Survey Results

(You can click to enlarge the image.)
Source: 2014 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey

Why the disparity? A lot of it may come down to language differences, and applicants’ comfort with the English language. Kellogg and Yale SOM — two of the most prominent MBA programs that employe video responses — give applicants no more than two minutes to gather their thoughts after seeing a prompt for the first time. If you’re quick on your feet, you will do well with this format, but it’s obviously harder to do that when English is your second language. We can’t help but feel that many international applicants were left feeling dissatisfied with their output for this reason.

Of course, while U.S. schools try to be very globally-minded, the language spoken in their classrooms is English, and one reason MBA admissions officers like this format is that is lets them easily gauge applicants’ grasp of the language. From working in learning teams to speaking up and contributing in class to getting involved with student activities, a student’s fluency in English can have a significant impact on well a student does while in business school.

To read all the results of the 2014 AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey, go here to download a PDF report!

By Scott Shrum.

Stanford GSB Application Essays and Deadlines for 2014-2015

Stanford GSB has released its MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2017. Last year Stanford resisted the urge to cut an essay (while many other top MBA programs did reduce their number of required essays), but this year is another story: Stanford now only requires two essays, including its famous “What matters most to you, and why?” question. Plus, the Stanford GSB admissions team made a curious change to what we thought was one of last year’s most interesting application essays.

Here are the Stanford GSB application essays and deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions season, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford MBA Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2014
Round 2: January 7, 2015
Round 3: April 1, 2015

Not many changes here. Stanford’s application deadlines are virtually the same as they were last year. Note that, if you apply in Round 1, you will receive your decision by December 10. That’s critical if you plan on applying to some other programs in Round 2 if you don’t receive good news from Stanford in Round 1. It gives you close to a month to get your applications ready in time for most top schools’ Round 2 deadlines.

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays

  • What matters most to you, and why? (750 words suggested, out of 1,100 total)

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

    This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to the job of getting into Stanford GSB. Naturally, telling a random story that has nothing to do with anything of relevance can hurt your chances, but mainly because you will have wasted this valuable space to reveal something about yourself. Where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about their grand plans for the future, rather than providing a real glimpse into who they are as people. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in helping you get in. With the other essays in this application, you have ample opportunity to cover the exact reasons why you want an MBA from Stanford.
  • Why Stanford? (350 words suggested)

    This essay prompt is new this year, and it’s sort of too bad that Stanford got rid of last year’s version, which asked, “What do you want to do — REALLY — and why Stanford?” We kind of liked that extra emphasis that they added last year, but for whatever reason, the Stanford admissions team has decided to tone it down a bit, and make it a bit more like the standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that many business schools ask.

    Just like HBS, Stanford has the luxury of not having to spend too much time sleuthing how interested you are in the program. Most people who are admitted to Stanford end up going there. However, the guidance that the admissions team provides with this question (“Explain the distinctive opportunities you will pursue at Stanford.”) shows that they really are paying attention to see if you’ve done your homework, and if you have given any real thought to making the most of your time at Stanford (beyond “Plan to be insanely rich one day.”)

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

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

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

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

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

To see how we do it, download our Essential Guide to Stanford GSB, one of our 14 guides to the world’s top business schools… for free! If you’re ready to start building your own application for Stanford and other top business schools, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to find us on Facebook and Google+, and follow us on Twitter!

By Scott Shrum