Is Your GMAT Score More Important Than Ever?

GMAT ReasoningThe dreaded GMAT has long been one of the most feared components of the MBA application process. For many years the importance of the GMAT has been a bit overvalued by applicants, with too much focus being placed on the score and not enough on other areas of the application process. Just as admissions committees’ consistent message of their reliance on holistic reviews of candidate profiles has begun to sink in, a shift has seemingly started back the other way.

Although there has been a consistent upward trends over the last few decades in GMAT scores across the board, over the last year or two in particular the average GMAT scores at top MBA programs like Northwestern’s Kellogg School, Chicago’s Booth School and Pennsylvania’s Wharton School have risen by record percentage points. These record averages should signal to prospective applicant’s the increased importance of the GMAT.

Now, GMAT scores have always been important aspects of the MBA admissions process, but should applicants be more concerned with the rising scores at these top MBA programs?  The quick answer is no!  But you do want to accept this answer with a bit of a caveat: with dramatically rising GMAT scores across the board, it is even more important for applicants to target programs that are a clear fit for their background and showcased aptitude (GPA/GMAT). More specifically, applying to programs where your GMAT score falls below the average score has become a riskier option.

The typical candidate should make sure they hit or are very close to the listed averages. Now for candidates coming from a more competitive applicant pool like the Indian male, White male, and Asian male, it is important to target a score above schools’ listed averages to ensure you stand out from the pack. For non-traditional applicants, a strong GMAT score can be a way to stand out in the face of rising scores and increased competition.

The main takeaway from this trend for all applicants should be to really focus up front on creating the right list of target schools. Mind you, this list should not simply be one of the top 10 programs. Instead, create a list where your academic aptitude, professional goals, and other data points all align with the programs you plan to apply to so that you are able to maximize your chances of gaining admission to your target schools.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or click here to take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

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

Chicago Booth Admissions Essay and Deadlines for 2015-2016

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

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

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

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

Chicago Booth Application Essay

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

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

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

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

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

By

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

Chicago Booth Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2013-2014

Chicago Booth has released its application essays and deadlines for the 2013-2014 admissions season. The Great Essay Reduction continues… Consistent with what we have seen many other top-ranked business schools, Booth has dropped an essay this year. The school has, however, kept its more unique “PowerPoint” question, suggesting that the admissions committee likes what it sees with the responses it gets from this prompt.

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

Chicago Booth Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 3, 2013
Round 2: January 8, 2014
Round 3: April 3, 2014

Booth’s application deadlines are virtually unchanged since last year. Note that applying in Round 1 means that you will hear back from Booth by December 19, giving you a couple of weeks to pull together Round 2 applications for other schools, if needed. Also, note the school’s relatively late Round 3 deadline. As always, we recommend against applying in Round 3 if you can pull together a strong application earlier, but moves like this show that Booth really does give Round 3 serious consideration.
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Why I Chose to Attend Chicago Booth

Chicago BoothToday’s guest post features Jessica Wood. She has been a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for Chicago’s Booth School of Business since 2008. Previously, Jessica worked in Strategy Consulting and Business Development. Now, she spends her time raising a family in Houston, and working as a Head Consultant and School Specialist for Chicago Booth.

As an Art History major at a small Liberal Arts college, I had never taken a finance course or an accounting course when I applied to business school.  Additionally, almost all of my professional experience was in marketing.  My “soft skills” were strong but, in order to have a successful post-MBA career, I knew I needed to improve my knowledge of finance and financial theory.  I also knew I wanted to go to school in a big city and that I wanted to attend a top 10 school with a strong alumni network.  The University of Chicago Booth School of Business immediately made my short list.   Continue reading “Why I Chose to Attend Chicago Booth”

Chicago Booth Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013

Chicago Booth Admissions GuideThe University of Chicago Booth School of Business recently released its admissions essays and deadlines for the Class of 2015. Once again, as we predicted earlier this year, a top MBA program has significantly cut back on its essay load this year: While last year’s essay word count was 1,350 (not counting the presentation and an essay meant only for reapplicants), this year’s total word count is just 900 words. Read on to see what we make of the changes.

Here are the school’s new deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Chicago Booth Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 2, 2012
Round 2: January 8, 2013
Round 3: April 4, 2013
Continue reading “Chicago Booth Application Essays and Deadlines for 2012-2013”

Chicago Booth Is a Good Fit for You If…

Chicago Booth Admissions GuideIn terms of reputation, Chicago Booth is one of the fastest-rising MBA programs in the world. More and more top-tier candidates now consider applying to Booth than ever before, making getting in to Booth tougher. Over the past several years, we have probably seen inquires about Booth increase more than those for any other school. Booth is hot, and people want to go there. If you’re reading this, then odds are that you’re considering Booth, too.

But how do you know Chicago Booth is a good fit for you? Today we dig into five things that might make Booth an especially good fit for you. Not all of these need to apply to you, but the more these things sound like you, the more likely you are to fit in at Booth and excel in its rigorous learning environment:
Continue reading “Chicago Booth Is a Good Fit for You If…”

Admissions 101: The Rest of the Story

Last week the Chicago Booth MBA admissions team posted helpful advice for applicants who are rushing to meet the school’s Round 1 deadlines, on October 12. They present some very helpful tips, but — as is often the case — many of the the tips they share can be misconstrued or taken too far. It’s just like dieting: Make sure you don’t overdo it with the fats… but cutting fat out of your diet completely isn’t a good idea. Or investing: Stocks historically have represented your best chance for long-term gains that outpace inflation… But you don’t necessarily want a portfolio that only contains stocks.

With that in mind, we dig into a few of Booth’s tips and present the rest of the story where it’s appropriate. Again, we think the advice they provided is quite helpful, but here’s more for you to chew on before you click the “submit” button on your application:
Continue reading “Admissions 101: The Rest of the Story”

Chicago Booth Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

Chicago Booth Admissions GuideChicago Booth has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2011-2012 applications season. Last year the Booth admissions office made a lot of changes to the school’s application. While the change look less dramatic this year, there’s still plenty to dig our teeth into, so let’s begin.

Here are Chicago Booth’s MBA admissions deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:
Continue reading “Chicago Booth Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012”

Four Things That Make Chicago Booth Different

Chicago Booth Admissions GuideEvery week we hear from applicants who are considering Chicago Booth. Given its reputation in finance and as an overall program that turns out analytically superior grads, it’s no wonder. What does surprise us, though, is that so few of those applicants really know the school beyond its strong rankings and location in Chicago. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they start crafting their Booth applications.

If you’re considering applying to Chicago Booth, ask yourself: How do you know if Booth really is a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the Booth admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school? Today we look at four things that set Booth apart from other top-tier business schools:
Continue reading “Four Things That Make Chicago Booth Different”

Chicago Booth Application Essays 2010-2011

Recently we wrote about Chicago Booth’s admissions deadlines for the coming year. Today we dig into the school’s admissions essays, which have changed quite a bit since last year.

It’s interesting to note that, after there was some chatter a few months ago that Booth would drop its “PowerPoint question” this year, it lives on. We firmly believe that schools like Booth are still looking for new ways to learn more about you, and while that question hasn’t been perfect, they don’t want to give up on it since it’s still Booth’s best bet to get to know the real you before interviewing you.

Here are Chicago Booth’s essays for the Class of 2013, followed by our comments in italics:

Recently we wrote about Chicago Booth’s admissions deadlines for the coming year. Today we dig into the school’s admissions essays, which have changed quite a bit since last year.

It’s interesting to note that, after there was some chatter a few months ago that Booth would drop its “PowerPoint question” this year, it lives on. We firmly believe that schools like Booth are still looking for new ways to learn more about you, and while that question hasn’t been perfect, they don’t want to give up on it since it’s still Booth’s best bet to get to know the real you before interviewing you.

Here are Chicago Booth’s essays for the Class of 2013, followed by our comments in italics:

Chicago Booth Admissions Essays

  1. The Admissions Committee is interested in learning more about you on both a personal and professional level. Please answer the following (maximum of 300 words for each section):
    a. Why are you pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life?
    b. Define your short and long term career goals post MBA.
    c. What is it about Chicago Booth that is going to help you reach your goals?
    d. RE-APPLICANTS ONLY: Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application?
    This question is new this year, although in many ways it’s a direct descendant of last year’s first essay question. This is the fairly standard “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question that most schools ask. Note that, as important is it is to make a convincing case about your career goals and your reasons for wanting an MBA, you also really need to take part (c) seriously… What about Booth attracts you to the school? This is where you need to show that you’ve done your homework, and convince the school that you’re not only applying because Booth is highly ranked.
  2. Chicago Booth is a place that challenges its students to stretch and take risks that they might not take elsewhere. Tell us about a time when you took a risk and what you learned from that experience .(750 words)
    This question is also new this year. The best response here will come directly from your work experience, provide enough drama to pull the reader in, and give you an opportunity to really answer the second part of the essay prompt: What did you learn from the experience? Last year “reflection” was a big theme in Booth’s essay questions, and while this question doesn’t specifically ask for reflection, this is your chance to show the kind of self-awareness and introspection that Booth admissions officers really want to see.
  3. At Chicago Booth, we teach you HOW to think rather than what to think. With this in mind, we have provided you with “blank pages” in our application. Knowing that there is not a right or even a preferred answer allows you to demonstrate to the committee your ability to navigate ambiguity and provide information that you believe will support your candidacy for Chicago Booth.

    We have set forth the following guidelines:

    • The content is completely up to you. Acceptable file formats are PowerPoint or PDF.
    • There is a strict maximum of four pages, though you can provide fewer if you choose.
    • The document will be printed in color and added to your file for review; therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points.
    • The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.
    • Files need to be less than 9 megabytes in order to upload. If your file is too large you may save your file as a PDF and upload your essay.

    This is the famous “PowerPoint question,” although Booth sets it up differently this year, putting much more emphasis on the “Hey, you have a blank slate here!” message than before. Here the school asks you to present yourself creatively and succinctly. Almost nothing is out of bounds, but you really must ensure that these pages add something new to your application — don’t use it 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, give them some!

Are you applying to Chicago Booth this year? Download our Chicago Booth Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Sunil Kumar Named New Dean at Chicago Booth


Yesterday the University of Chicago Booth School of Business announced that Stanford GSB’s Sunil Kumar will assume the role of Dean at the school. Kumar’s appointment ends a search that began seven months ago, after Edward A. Snyder announced in December that he would leave the school at the end of the academic year after serving nearly two full five-year terms at the head of the school.

Kumar, who is currently the Fred H. Merrill Professor of Operations, Information and Technology at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, will begin his five-year term at Booth starting January 1, 2011. He brings with him an extensive resume of thought leadership in the operations management space. Kumar also is familiar with the role of leading an MBA program, currently serving as Stanford GSB’s Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.

This is an interesting appointment on multiple levels. For one, while longtime Chicago Booth faculty member Harry Davis never seemed to be a front-runner for the job, his extensive experience at the school made him someone the search committee had to at least consider. Davis was one of the key players who led the development of Booth’s relatively new LEAD program, which represented a very significant change to the school’s curriculum. Anyone who thought that Davis would be “too much of an insider” (i.e., unwilling to shake things up if needed) wouldn’t need to look any further than that program.

Additionally, over the past decade Booth has certainly spread its wings beyond hardcore quant and finance to gain a more well-rounded reputation among applicants and leaders at other schools. Appointing an “ops guy” like Kumar suggests that the school is comfortable with how far its reputation has come recently, and doesn’t feel a need to go any farther than it already has. Ten years ago, we wonder if the school, which has been interested in broadening its branding beyond the stereotype of hardcore quant-types, would have made this same appointment. That’s not to say that Kumar’s leadership will put a damper on the school’s other departments — everything we’ve seen about him suggests that he’s a well-rounded leader who happens to have a PhD in Electrical Engineering — but it’s an interesting signal about what the search committee thinks the school needs more right now.

Kumar had this to say about his appointment in Chicago Booth’s announcement:

“I am excited to become dean of Chicago Booth,” Kumar said. “I share the school’s passion for the pursuit of ideas that hold up under careful scrutiny. I look forward to helping strengthen and enhance Booth’s outstanding research environment and its rigorous, discipline-based approach to business education. I am eager to get to know the faculty, students, alumni, and staff of the school, and to engage with the business community in the city of Chicago.”

No doubt about it, Kumar has some large shoes to fill. Snyder’s tenure at Booth was arguably the most successful run by any business school leader over the past decade: In 2008 alumnus David Booth donated $300 million, a staggering sum that led to the school changing its name from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business to Chicago Booth. The school also opened its new state-of-the-art Harper Center, which has significantly improved the quality of life for the student body. And, Chicago Booth’s global footprint has also grown significantly over the past decade, with a new campus in London and a planned campus expansions in Singapore. It’s hard to argue that any dean has had more of an impact on his or her school over the past ten years than Snyder had.

Getting ready to apply to Chicago Booth? Download our Chicago Booth Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. Every year we help many applicants get into Booth, and we can help you, too. Call us at 800-925-7737 to speak with a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert today.

Chicago Booth Admissions Deadlines for 2010-2011

Chicago Booth Admissions GuideChicago Booth’s online application is now available for the 2010-2011 season. In a few days we’ll dig into the school’s significantly revamped essays for the coming year, but first we wanted to share Booth’s admissions deadlines for the Class of 2013.

While Round 1 and Round have barely changed, there’s some interesting news on the Round 3 front that has bigger implications for many applicants’ overall timing strategies. We’re diving into Booth’s deadlines alone today to give enough space to this important lesson.

Here they are, followed by our comments in italics:


Chicago Booth Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 13, 2010
Round 2: January 5, 2011
Round 3: April 13, 2011

Round 1 and Round 2 have each only changed by a day this year, although Booth’s Round 3 deadline is now five weeks later than it was last year! We suspect the reason may be similar to the reason that UCLA Anderson gave us before: Top U.S. schools compete with many top international schools to attract great candidates, and many international schools’ final deadlines come much later than American schools’ deadlines typically do. Booth doesn’t want to miss out on a great applicant (who has legitimate reasons for applying in Round 3) simply because the admissions office has already shut its doors for the year.

For any applicant wondering if Round 3 is truly a dead zone in terms of admissions chances, this is an important clue: The school has pushed back its deadline to encourage more people to apply! Round 3 must not be a complete dead end, then. While we still advise that candidates aim for Round 1 or Round 2, don’t believe all that you hear about Round 3 being impossible, especially at schools such as Booth that have made changes in their schedules to encourage more applicants to apply in Round 3.

Getting ready to apply to Chicago Booth this year? Download our Chicago Booth Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. Every year we help many applicants get into Booth, and we can help you, too. Call us at 800-925-7737 to speak with a Veritas Prep MBA admissions expert today.

And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Chicago Booth to Eliminate PowerPoint Essay Question

MBA AdmissionsA new BusinessWeek article titled Business Schools Revamp the Application investigates how some schools are breaking with tradition and exploring new approaches to the MBA admissions process. In some cases it’s a matter of moving deadlines earlier or accepting the GRE in addition to the GMAT, while in others cases some schools are replacing traditional written essays with audio and video responses.

All interesting stuff, but what we actually found most intriguing was the fact that Chicago Booth will drop its PowerPoint question this coming admission season (2010-2011). This questions had been a staple of Booth’s application for the past couple of years, but apparently it wasn’t doing what the school had intended, so they put it out to pasture.


According to the article:

For the past few years, Booth has asked candidates to provide a PowerPoint presentation to show another side of themselves to the admissions committee. Although the committee has decided to eliminate the PowerPoint presentations starting with applications for the 2010-11 academic year, a new component — as yet undisclosed — will likely be in place this summer, says Rosemaria Martinelli, associate dean of student recruitment and admissions at Booth. The new addition to the admissions process may be something that MBA applicants will have to do after they get through an initial screening process, says Martinelli.

The PowerPoint slides didn’t work, Martinelli says, because they became rote and entirely too easy to predict, They didn’t showcase the applicant’s personality and help the admissions committee determine who is and isn’t a good fit, she said, adding that she hopes the new application procedure will do just that. “It’s hard for us, especially when so much of the applicant pool is admissible,” says Martinelli. “It comes down to who fits the life, spirit, and culture of an institution.”

When a school adds or changes or deletes an essay question, it’s a sign that the admissions office isn’t quite getting what it needs. When reviewing every application, two main questions that goes through an admissions officer’s mind are, “How well does this applicant fit with the school?” and “What about this applicant makes me want to choose him over other, similar applicants?” If a question generates similar answers from hundreds of applicants, or doesn’t add anything new to most applicants’ stories, then it’s not getting the job done.

We suspect that many applicants’ PowerPoint slides were nothing more than recaps of the rest of their applications, offering not much in the way of personality or useful information. This definitely wasn’t the case for everyone — some of our clients got into Chicago Booth this year with terrific PowerPoint slides — but odds are that not enough applicants took full advantage of the medium, so Booth will move on.

Still, kudos to the school for trying something new. Also, we’re very intrigued by the “may be something that MBA applicants will have to do after they get through an initial screening process” comment… The natural move would be for Booth to follow schools such as UCLA Anderson and offer a video or audio component. But, maybe it will be something else entirely, and maybe it will be something used as the admissions interview is used — to get to know an applicant better after the school likes what it initially sees. We’ll find out this summer, when Chicago Booth releases its application for the 2010-2011 admissions season.

For more advice on getting into Chicago Booth and other top business schools, download our Annual Reports, 15 guides to the world’s top MAB programs, available for purchase on our site. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter!

Six Must-Have Professors at Chicago Booth

Chicago Booth Admissions GuideContinuing our series of admissions insights clipped from Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, our in-depth insider’s guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools, this week we take a look at six professors who have earned Chicago Booth students’ love. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Booth research.)

Among Chicago Booth students, there are a handful of professors who are considered “must-haves” during one’s time in Hyde Park. Note that, while Booth is best known for finance, some of the school’s most popular professors come from other departments:

  • Sanjay Dhar – Professor Dhar primarily teaches the basic marketing strategy class and is very active in all Chicago Booth MBA programs. Professor Dhar makes this list because his passion in teaching is infectious. He makes the effort to truly know his students and it is not uncommon for Professor Dhar to have all 65 (or more) students in his class remove their name cards so he may recite their names back on the first day of class. Dhar is the recipient of several awards such as the McKinsey Award for Teaching Excellence in 2000, and was cited among the outstanding faculty in BusinessWeek’s Guide to the Best Business Schools.
  • Steven Kaplan – Professor Kaplan primarily teaches entrepreneurial finance and private equity. A quarter does not go by without students complaining that they were unable to get into his class prior to graduation. His courses are highly completive choices during the bidding process and students are only able to take his courses late in their program, when they have accumulated enough point “wealth.” Professor Kaplan consistently attains top scores in Chicago Booth’s internal faculty rankings by students over the last decade.
  • Eugene Fama – The percentage of students who take Professor Fama’s class is relatively small, but the reason for this is that his course content is highly specific, highly rigorous, and has a scope that may go beyond the average Booth student’s interest. Professor Fama has been called the “father of modern finance.” Professor Fama is highly respected both in academic circles and in the outside investment community. Taking a “Fama course” and doing well does wonders for the credibility of a Booth graduate in the field of finance, but truth be told, only highly skilled Booth students with an interest in analytical finance tend to enjoy his classes.
  • Art Middlebrooks – Art Middlebrooks is a prime example of a great adjunct faculty member. His teaching method of “learning by doing” is appropriate in his services marketing and product marketing classes. As a Booth alumnus, he really connects well with his students and continually gets top marks in faculty evaluations. Mr. Middlebrooks is also the current Executive Director of the Kilts Center for Marketing and is the coauthor of Innovating the Corporation and Market Leadership Strategies for Service Companies.
  • Harry Davis – Harry Davis is the type of professor who brings balance and perspective to the MBA experience. His Business Policy course is not at all the typical Chicago Booth fare.
    While most courses at Booth tend to dominate the left brain, Professor Davis focuses more on right brain activity: being intuitive, holistic, and metaphorical. Part of the Chicago Booth faculty since the mid-1960s, Professor Davis was once co-dean of the program and was integral to Booth’s push to establish campuses in other countries. Booth is not really known for emphasizing leadership topics, yet Professor Davis does just that.
  • James Schrager – James E. Schrager’s New Venture Strategy is another highly sought-after course at Chicago Booth. His credibility in the business community equals his reputation as
    a faculty member at Booth and his expertise is on display in multiple mainstream media formats, such as the Wall Street Journal and various major television networks. Booth students across the board absolutely love taking his class.

Today’s blog post was clipped from our Chicago Booth Annual Report, one of 15 guides to the world’s top business schools, available for purchase on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Chicago, Harvard, Kellogg, or any other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions consultant today!

Yale SOM Names Edward A. Snyder New Dean

This morning the Yale School of Management announced that Edward A. Snyder, currently Dean and George Shultz Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, has agreed to become the next Dean of the Yale School of Management. Snyder, who last fall announced his decision to step down from the role of Dean at Chicago Booth on June 30, 2010, won’t actually begin his term immediately. He will take a year off, and then step into the Dean’s office at Yale SOM on July 1, 2011. Current Yale SOM Dean Sharon Oster will continue on in her current role until then.


When Snyder announced that he was leaving Chicago Booth, it made a lot of waves in the education space, since he had put together one of the most successful tenures of any business school dean in recent memory. Under his leadership, Chicago Booth almost doubled its number of endowed professorships and more than tripled its scholarship assistance to MBA students. He transformed Chicago Booth by overseeing the move to the school’s new Hyde Park campus and establishing a new campus in London. The school is now expanding its presence in Singapore and is playing a significant role in the University

Chicago Booth’s Rose Martinelli Gives Advice to Reapplicants

Last week Chicago Booth’s Associate Dean for Student Recruitment and Admissions, Rose Martinelli, wrote a followup to her first blog post about how reapplicants can approach the MBA admissions process. While the first post gave very general information that our readers have seen multiple times (e.g., think about what aspects of your application you need to bolster, consider if your goals are the same this year…), Rose’s second post contains some more concrete info that provides a good insight into how Chicago Booth reads reapplicants’ applications.

About your data forms, Rose writes, “Do not rely on last year’s application to provide us with that information since the forms change a little bit each year. A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself –

Chicago Booth Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2009-2010

The Chicago Booth admissions office recently announced its admissions deadlines and application essays for the coming year. These will help you start planning your Chicago Booth application. Our comments follow in italics:

Chicago Booth Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 14, 2009
Round 2: January 6, 2010
Round 3: March 10, 2010

(These deadlines haven’t changed much vs. last year’s. Note that, like other top MBA programs, Booth is is pushing to get all of its Round 1 decisions out before the holiday season. If Booth is your top choice, this will give you a chance to know your status with the school before you decide whether or not you need to work on Round 2 applications at your backup schools.)

Chicago Booth Application Deadlines

  1. How did you choose your most recent job/internship and how did this experience influence your future goals? What about the Chicago Booth MBA makes you feel it is the next best step in your career at this time? (750-1000 words)

    (This is a new question for Booth his year, although, at its core, it’s still the same “Why an MBA? Why now?” question that every business schools asks. What’s interesting is how much emphasis this question places on your most recent job. This suggests that Booth wants to know more about your career choices to date, rather than just your future goals. If your experiences don’t all line up into a perfectly neat, well-thought-out career trajectory, that’s okay. But be prepared to show some introspection and communicate credible reasons why a Booth MBA is a logical next step.)

  2. For reapplicants only: Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (250 words)
  3. (Ahh, “reflection.” Notice a theme here? Again, Booth looks for true introspection. What makes this different than many other schools’ reapplicant questions is that it asks what’s changed about your thinking, not what new jobs you have taken on or achievements you have earned. A strong answer to this question will still highlight these things, but the school also again wants to see evidence that you’re really digging deep to understand why a Booth MBA is right for you.)

  4. Please choose one of the following (500 – 750 words):

    Describe a time when you wish you could have retracted something you said or did. When did you realize your mistake and how did you handle the situation?

    or

    Describe a time when you were surprised by feedback that you received. What was the feedback and why were you surprised?

    (Both of these options are new this year. Usually, when a school replaces or changes its essay questions, it’s because the old ones weren’t giving the school what it needed in terms of really getting to know applicants and distinguishing one from the next. Both of these questions are a little different than the norm, and we even consider the first one a bit risky. However, that’s a good thing — don’t shy away from discussing a serious mistake you made and what you learned from it, because such an experience can make for a terrific essay. The key, as always, will be to not only discuss the mistake, but also write about what you learned from it.)

Slide Presentation

In four slides or less please answer the following question: What have you not already shared in your application that you would like your future classmates to know about you?

We have set forth the following guidelines for you to consider when creating your presentation.

  • The content is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong approach to this essay.
  • Feel free to use the software you are most comfortable with. Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.
  • There is a strict maximum of four slides, though you can provide fewer than four if you choose.
  • Slides will be printed and added to your file for review, therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points. Color may be used.
  • Slides will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.
  • You are welcome to attach a document containing notes if you feel a deeper explanation of your slides is necessary. However the hope is the slide is able to stand alone and convey your ideas clearly. You will not be penalized for adding notes but you should not construct a slide with the intention of using the notes section as a consistent means of explanation.

(Here Chicago Booth asks you to present yourself creatively and succinctly. Almost nothing is out of bounds, but you really must ensure that these slides add something new to your application — don’t use it to just show off professional achievements that you already cover elsewhere in your application. Be creative, and show some personality!!)

For more advice on applying to Booth, visit the Veritas Prep Chicago Booth information page, or download our FREE Veritas Prep Annual Reports. And, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

How Does Chicago Law School Do It?

An ongoing trend in the law school world over the past few years is that the University of Chicago Law School has been losing top professors to rival schools at an alarming rate. And not just any old professors either – the attrition has included some of the most brilliant and famous legal minds in the country, as well as several other prominent subject matter experts and prolifically cited researchers.

Yet for all that, Chicago still ranks second in the country – behind only Yale – in terms of educational quality, according to the foremost authority on such things, Brian Leiter’s EQR (Educational Quality Ranking).

Which begs the question: how do they do it?

To start with, Chicago has made a decision (and stuck by it) to put the quality of the teaching at the law school on the top priority rung, even to the detriment of other aspects of the school. As other elite law schools made the cirriculum more flexible and created more “crossover” opportunities with other programs, Chicago cinched its belt and required even more classes be taken within the law school. When Internet access flooded classrooms and threatened the intense dialogue between professor and student, U of C yanked out Ethernet and wireless in every room. Students didn’t like it. Prospective students want flexible classes and wireless access, but frankly, Chicago doesn’t care. At least, they don’t care enough to risk diluting the quality of instruction that goes on within the law school.

Of course, making it all about priorities is a bit of a negative way to look at things. The other reason that Chicago’s educational quality stays elite in light of the mass exodus is that they keep finding and nurturing amazing new professors. This is done through careful planning, the work of a highly-engaged hiring committee (populated with elite professors in their own right), and also by giving young academics a chance to come and shine in a “think tank” atmosphere. Very few schools allow as many workshops, seminars, and other non-traditional courses – all taught by some of the brightest young professors. Furthermore, Chicago was one of the first law schools to implement a mandatory legal writing class – called the Bigelow Program – and they staff the teaching positions with aspiring academics who show great potential. One of Chicago’s best new professors – Adam Cox – came from the ranks of the Bigelow Program.

It’s certainly not easy to add professors of high quality at the same rate that other school’s are poaching them, but a quick glance at the highest profile names – both new and old – shows that the school is managing to keep pace. Gone are such luminaries as world-renowned legal scholars Richard Epstein (to NYU) and Cass Sunstein (to Harvard, and then to the Obama Administration), criminal law expert Tracy Meares (to Yale), beloved constitutional and legislative scholar Adrian Vermeule (Harvard), and law and econ guru Alan Sykes (Stanford). And I suppose you could add a former constitutional law lecturer by the name of Barack Obama to that list.

But just as the school features an unfortunate list of departed stars, Chicago is also compiling a roster of emerging legal minds that should keep them at the top of the academic heap for many years to come. In addition to the aforementioned Adam Cox, Chicago can also boast of young “rock star” professors like Kirkland Ellis appellate lawyer-turned McKinnsey consultant-turned corporate law guru Todd Henderson, property law scholar Lior Strahilevitz, crim law expert Bernard Harcourt, and student favorite Adam Samaha.

And of course, the school still boasts some of the stars of yesteryear, including the wildly popular contract expert Douglas Baird, constitutional law scholars such as Geoffrey Stone and David Strauss, policy and family law expert Emily Buss, and current dean Saul Levmore.

All told, the school looks to maintain its lofty perch at the top run of law schools when it comes to educational quality. The challenge for Chicago will be to keep up with the times and the changes in legal education while doing so.

For more information on the University of Chicago Law School, or any other top law schools, please feel free to visit our law school admissions consulting website or contact us at law@veritasprep.com or 1.800.925.7737.

Chicago Booth Announces New International Loan Program

More good news is on the way for international business school applicants. Last week the University of Chicago Booth School of Business announced a new loan program for international students. Launched in partnership with JPMorgan Chase, the new program will give these students access to private educational loans without requiring a co-signer.

The new program will provide loans to international students who are not eligible for federal assistance in the U.S. and cannot qualify for standard private loans because they do not have a U.S.-based co-signer.

Under the terms of the new deal, JPMorgan Chase will provide financing to qualified international students for amounts up to the total cost of attendance, minus any financial aid received. Exact terms will be announced later this spring, when students will receive more information on the program.

“Almost 20 percent of our students are from abroad, and they add a great deal of intellectual vibrancy and cultural richness throughout the University and our community,” said Kimberly Goff-Crews, Vice-President for Campus Life and Dean of Students, in a release on the school’s site. “We have focused our attention on finding loan programs that will meet the needs of this important segment of our student body.”

For more information on applying to Chicago Booth, visit the Veritas Prep Chicago Booth information page.

GSB is Now the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (and for good reason!)

The University of Chicago announced yesterday that David Booth (in conjunction with his wife and family) has donated $300 million to the Graduate School of Business. Considering this is the largest donation in the history of the university and three times bigger than the previous business school donation ($105 million from Nike’s Phil Knight to the Stanford Graduate School of Business, it comes as no surprise that the university will be renaming its business school the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

This obviously comes as great news to all of the Booth School of Business (has a decent ring to it) student, past, present, and future. Fresh off of completion of a brand new building (which, rest assured, is the envy of all other U of Chicago graduate students), Chicago’s business school is poised to continue moving forward by offering state-of-the-art facilities and innovative programs.

Chicago’s business school is still not for everyone, given its focus on hard finance and quantitative skills, but future MBA applicants would not be unwise to trust in the words uttered by Deep Throat to Bob Woodward in All the President’s Men and “follow the money.” Something tells me $300 million will tend to make a difference.

For more advice on applying to the Booth School of Business, visit the University of Chicago information page at Veritas Prep.

Addenda Advice (from U Chicago Law)

The University of Chicago Law School’s increasingly helpful blog A Day in the Life has posted a particularly interesting bit of advice regarding addenda and supporting materials in the application process.

There is a great deal of confusion in the law school community as to whether addenda items are allowed as part of the application. Some schools welcome them while others forbid their inclusion and will refuse to review anything outside of the required components.

So whenever a law school comes out and makes a clear statement on this issue, it is extremely helpful. Here, Chicago is stating that addenda items are allowable and seem to actually be encouraged as a device to explain inconsistencies or weaknesses. The value of this stance should not be overlooked.

For starters, having the opportunity to mitigate a weakness outside of your personal statement preserves valuable space to tell a positive story in your application. Minor weaknesses are often best left alone and major weaknesses demand a forward approach, so there is almost no downside to being frank and forthright in a separate document. Again, even though addressing the issue in addenda calls more attention to the weakness in question, that isn’t a problem since the issue in question will stand out regardless (otherwise you wouldn’t be writing about it). Dealing with the negative factor (examples could include a wide gap in LSAT scores or low letter grades from an exchange program that was pass/fail for your program) on its own allows you to address it, move on, and deal explicitly with your strengths in the actual personal statement.

Additionally, it is helpful to note that Chicago Law is open to the idea of addenda because it may serve as a way to update your application should something eventful transpire during the review process. Addenda items are often a great waitlist tool and knowing that a school is open to the instrument allows you to position yourself aggressively should you land on the waitlist.

Chicago’s stance should not be assumed at other programs, but it provides clarity on that particular application and it establishes a baseline of inquiry at other schools. The most important thing is to discover how each program handles this component of the application process so that you can maximize every available resource in telling your story.

Chicago GSB Announces Curriculum Changes

Yesterday the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business announced changes to the school’s curriculum to increase the program’s flexibility and to add a leadership development component to the evening program’s requirements.

The school’s graduation full-time MBA requirements remain unchanged: It still includes nine required courses, 11 electives and a leadership course. The important change is that more approved substitute classes have been added to satisfy the nine required courses. Chicago GSB continues to offer several hundred courses (across the GSB and the rest of the U. of Chicago) to satisfy the other 11 elective courses.

Dean Edward Snyder attributed the changes in part to the increasing quality of the students entering the class. “We have added a hybrid finance class containing five weeks of corporate finance and five weeks of investments that will allow all the standard corporate and investment classes to be taken up a notch in difficulty,” said Dean Snyder in a release on the school’s web site.

As for the evening students, the new leadership development course requirement means those students will take 21 courses, the same as the school’s full-time students. The faculty cited the importance of giving all Chicago GSB students tools for self assessment and opportunities to improve their interpersonal skills — no matter what Chicago GSB program they attend — as the reason for the change.

If you are considering applying to Chicago, visit the Veritas Prep Chicago GSB information page.

More Advice from U Chicago Law – Letters of Recommendation

The University of Chicago blog, A Day in the Life, which was detailed here yesterday, has also posted a helpful missive on the elusive letter of recommendation.

The big takeways here are A) to find someone who knows you well enough to write substantively on your academic qualities and B) to “feather the nest” (so to speak) by providing a packet of information to the recommender in question, allowing that person to do a thorough job. Chicago also makes it clear that recommendations should be from academic sources whenever possible, so applicants would be well served to cozy up to a few professors during their junior year or (worst case) during the fall.

Furthemore, Veritas Prep is pleased to see our own tips and suggestions mirrored throughout the post. The client always wins when consultants and law schools see eye to eye.

The following is from Veritas Prep’s Application Tips page and features many of the sentiments included in the U Chicago blog post:

One of the most egregious misperceptions regarding letters of recommendations has to do with the credibility of the source. While you do want to ask credible people to pen these letters, that doesn

Law School Personal Statement Advice: U Chicago

The University of Chicago is considered by some to be the most “old fashioned” of the elite law schools – quick to ban Internet use in classrooms, slow to add cutting edge cirriculum additions (although it is clear that Justice Scalia would prefer they move even more slowly).

So it might come as a surprise to many in the law school community that Chicago actually features one of the most student-friendly and transparent admissions blogs out there.

A recent post was particularly helpful for law school applicants, as it provided some insight into the law school’s perspective on the increasingly tricky personal statement component of the application.

The advice contained within is not exactly groundbreaking, but still offers some nice commentary on the difficulty of the assignment (hopefully providing some peace of mind to applicants) and seems to invite worthwhile and honest feedback, which is a departure from a recent post on the Yale Law School blog.

Among other tips, the blog’s author – Sarah Arimoto-Mercer, Director of Financial Aid – stresses that applicants do not have to describe post-graduation legal practice goals, details some major “don’t” items (grammar errors, unconventional personal statements, naive statements, and “big words”), and hammers home the point that a personal statement is about the applicant.

The best news for client’s of Veritas Prep’s Law School Admissions Consulting services is that we see eye-to-eye with the University of Chicago. Consider the following phrases:

From Veritas Prep’s “Personal Statement” page:

One of the most difficult things facing an applicant during the law school admission process is the lack of control. Many application components are set in stone or out of a student’s hands entirely. This makes the personal statement of paramount importance. Students can control their own story in this critical writing sample.

And from the U Chicago blog post on the subject:

The personal statement is your chance to go above and beyond the numbers. Your LSAT and GPA are pretty concrete by the time you apply to law school. The personal statement is an element of the application where you can still make a difference. Since you cannot request an interview with the admissions committee, you can think of the personal statement as your chance to say what you would have wanted to highlight in an interview.

For students who would like to receive more insight into the personal statement component of the application, consider reading the following application tips on the subject.

Justice Scalia Slams University of Chicago

The Internets are alive with chatter about United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments regarding the University of Chicago’s loss of conversvative street cred.

In a Tuesday speech before the Federalist Society, Scalia expressed dismay and regret over the fact that Chicago had “changed considerably and intentionally” from a “rigorous and conservative law school” to … well, a rigorous and less conservative law school, apparently. He complained about the addition of more nuanced classes, stating: “I took nothing but bread-and-butter classes, not ‘Law and Poverty,’ or other made-up stuff.”

Of course, it wouldn’t have been a Scalia speech without a bit of controversy and we’re guessing that the University of Chicago Law School isn’t terribly worried, given the fact that today’s law school applicants aren’t exacty taking their cues from Justice Scalia. Far be it for Veritas Prep to say, but our take is that classes like Law and Poverty are probably a good thing and will keep Chicago in good stead with the best and brightest law students.

Chicago GSB Application Deadlines for 2008-2009

While we earlier posted Chicago’s application essays for 2008-2009, we wanted to get the word out about Chicago’s deadlines for this season:

Chicago GSB Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 15, 2008
Round 2: January 7, 2009
Round 3: March 11, 2009

To get a feel for your chances of gaining admission to Chicago and other top MBA programs, try the Veritas Prep Business School Selector. And for more information on business school application deadlines, visit our MBA application deadlines page.

Chicago GSB Application Essays for 2008-2009

Although Chicago GSB hasn’t yet released its full 2008-2009 application, the school recently announced its admissions essays for the upcoming year. Our comments are in italics:

Chicago GSB Application Essays

  1. Why are you pursuing an MBA at this point in your career? (750 word maximum)
  2. (This is similar to last year’s first question, although the maximim word count has been cut in half vs. last year.)

  3. Please select one of the following two questions to answer. (1000 word maximum)

    Option 1

    a) Please provide an example of a time when you had to make a choice between two equally important obligations. How did you decide which obligation deserved your attention?
    b) Did you try and predict other people’s reactions to your decision? If so, how accurate were you? Why do you think you were or were not accurate in your prediction?
    c) Reflecting on this experience, how do you think an MBA from Chicago GSB might have aided in your decision making process?

    -or-

    Option 2

    a) Have you ever made a decision that caused you to go against popular opinion? Please describe that situation and your rationale for you decision.
    b) Did you feel at any point that people misperceived your motives? Explain.
    c) In retrospect, how do you think an MBA from Chicago GSB would have affected your decision?

(These questions replace last year’s “If you could step into someone else’s shoes for a day” question. We wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t quite getting the information they wanted — i.e., true introspection on the part of applicants — and so they’ve replaced that with questions that are more explicitly about the applicant. We think this was a good change. The takeaway for you is to remember to keep the focus on YOU, how you’ve grown, what tough decisions you’ve made, what setbaks you’ve faced, etc. This is what the admissions committee needs in order to evaluate your candidacy, not a bland statement about being in some world leader’s shoes for a day.)

Chicago GSB PowerPoint Presentation

We have asked for a great deal of information throughout this application and now invite you tell us about yourself. Using four slides or less, please provide readers with content that captures who you are.

We have set forth the following guidelines for you to consider when creating your presentation.

  • The content is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong approach this essay. Feel free to use the software you are most comfortable with. Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.
  • There is a strict maximum of 4 slides, though you can provide fewer than 4 if you choose.
  • Slides will be printed and added to your file for review, therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points. Color may be used.
  • (This is a tiny change, but “Color may be used,” is new this year. Don’t go crazy with color, though.)

  • Slides will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.
  • You are welcome to attach a document containing notes if you feel a deeper explanation of your slides is necessary. However the hope is the slide is able to stand alone and convey your ideas clearly. You will not be penalized for adding notes but you should not construct a slide with the intention of using the notes section as a consistent means of explanation.
  • (Stick with the PowerPoint presentation. Resist the urge to spill your story into a verbose extra essay. The challenge here is to present yourself succinctly. Rise to that challenge!)

Optional Essay

If there is any important information that is relevant for your candidacy that you were unable to address elsewhere in the application, please share that information here.

For more advice on applying to Chicago, visit the Veritas Prep Chicago GSB information page.

Surviving the Rankings Game

The U.S. News & World Report grad school rankings for 2009 came out a few weeks ago and revealed some interesting developments. (By the way, what is with the “2009” rankings coming out in April of 2008? Have academic rankings gone the way of automotive companies?).

For me, the most interesting development of all could be found in the Law School Rankings, where the 5-10 spots continue to undergo a major transformation.

First, a quick note to say that I am a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, which helps explain my attention to this sort of detail and my concern over some recent trends that pretty much boil down to two things:

1. Chicago does not care about rankings

2. Everyone else does.

These two trends have, obviously, led to significant changes at the top of most ranking systems, with U.S. News being no exception. While Chicago has continued to keep the ranking process at an arm’s length, other programs have embraced it, even staffing positions that deal exclusively with ranking services. Not only that, but many law schools have made strategic decisions to boost their profiles by pouring scholarship dollars into securing the best GPA/LSAT yields they can muster.

The combination is an effective one indeed. Schools are influencing public (and private) opinion in order to score higher in the subjective areas, while increasing their academic profile in order to score higher in the more quantitative ranking components.

Meanwhile Chicago is going the other direction. The administration has taken an “anti-rankings” stance that is both admirable (in that they refuse to game the system) and destructive (in that it is hurting the school). The problem with refusing to engage in the rankings world is that everyone else cares about this. Employers, investors, voters, and pretty much any other “er” is going to put some stock in rankings like U.S. News, which means that students will care about it. They have to, because it is their future on the line. Students can’t afford to rest on their laurels or sleep easy knowing how great the faculty is. They have to think about the rate of return on their educational investment. And if that return isn’t as promising at Chicago as it is at Columbia, then the student is going to Columbia. Period.

As recently as this decade, Chicago was ranked third in the country among all law schools by U.S. News. When I was admitted for the fall of 2004, the school was fourth (Stanford had moved up), just ahead of Columbia and NYU. By the time I reached my 3L year, the New York schools had moved ahead and dropped U of C to sixth. Last year, Penn moved into a tie for sixth.

Now, Berkeley has vaulted into the #6 spot, leaving Chicago in a tie for seventh with Penn.

No matter how you feel about academic rankings in general, or U.S. News specifically, going from third to tied for seventh in under 10 years is a pretty terrible.

Even worse, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the school slides in the rankings, it starts to lose out on the top students. Then, the quality of each class starts to drop. Before long, the school is sliding down the charts, not because of an aversion to “The Rankings Game,” but because they simply don’t have the same caliber of students.

And that’s what I fear for Chicago. It is a school with a lot of great qualities and a very pure approach to academia. But it is also a law school with a crappy old building, an increasingly archaic approach to education (one of the last schools to cling to the Socratic Method, one of the first to turn off wireless Internet in the classrooms), and a stodgy campus setting. If the University of Chicago starts to lose its level of prestige – which is derived largely from rankings – then what is left to keep the best and brightest from going elsewhere?

[- Read the rest here -]

Loan Forgiveness Programs: Should Applicants Consider Them?

Obviously, one of the primary factors that govern a graduate school applicant’s enrollment decision is The Almighty Dollar. As in: how much will this cost, what kind of aid can I get, and what sort of earning potential am I looking at once I finish? Analyzing educational cost is a complicated task because students must first identify actual numbers (sticker price – available scholarship and grant money) and then put those numbers in the proper context by understanding loan repayment and properly estimating future salary figures.

See, complicated.

One thing that is further complicating this financial aid stew is the addition of loan forgiveness programs. Popularized by elite law schools, the concept is a relatively simple one: eschew the big paychecks (and long hours) of a big law firm in favor of public interest work and, in exchange, you will get help paying back your enormous graduate student loans. Law schools have discovered that an attractive loan forgiveness program is a terrific marketing tool. This is primarily due to the fact that a huge number of law school applicants (especially those who are qualified to land admission spots in the elite programs) are highly optimistic people who view themselves as truth-seeking, freedom-fighting altruistic beings. In other words, everyone thinks they are going to do public interest work when they first apply to law school.

This poses an interesting question: how much stock should a top-flight candidate put in a school’s loan forgiveness program?

A quick look at any reputable survey (I’m too lazy to find one at present) will tell you that the number of law school graduates who ultimately do public interest work is far, far less than the number of law school applicants who say they will one day do public interest work. There are many factors that play a role in this phenomenon. It is easier for a student at an elite law school to secure a summer associate position at a law firm than with a cutting edge public interest entity. Public interest firms and groups have fewer recruiting resources. The pressure to work in the big legal markets like New York or L.A. force students to search for an accessible path that will also pay the costs of relocating and then living in those cities. There are also simple (and often perverse) economic incentives, career-building considerations, and personal preference factors to consider. But the simple truth is that the number of actual public interest lawyers is so much lower than the number of hypothetical public interest lawyers because – pay attention now – people have no idea what they want to do when they are applying for law school! In fact, it is safe to say that the “actual” number for any subset of the legal profession is substantially lower than the suggested numbers generated by surveys of law school applicants.

It is human nature to change one’s mind, especially after being exposed to hundreds of hours of logical reasoning and critical analysis.

So this takes us back to our initial question, framed in a new way: if students think they might want to do public interest law, but know they probably won

Who Loves PowerPoint?

The University of Chicago does! In fact, they now require it as part of their business school admissions process.

There are a few potential benefits to this new change. First and foremost, it shows that prospective students are technologically savvy enough to create four pages of PowerPoint slides. Because such presentations are so ubiquitous in the business world, this is crucial knowledge for any prospective business student to have.

Secondly, this provides a more “free-form” aspect to the application. This provides applicants a way to compensate for less-than-ideal test scores by showing off their creativity. Rose Martinelli, Chicago

Business Ethics – Not an Oxymoron

Business schools are working hard to instill a sense of ethics into their students, especially in the wake of recent corporate scandals. Many programs have some kind of business ethics class as a requirement for MBA students, though they admit that teaching ethics is the easy part; it’s much more difficult to ensure that students will actually practice these values once they venture into the business world. Still, schools are taking this requirement very seriously. The University of Chicago even has their “Guide to Business Ethics” course taught by a Nobel laureate (Robert Fogel).

Let’s hope all their efforts can ward off any Enron repeats.

Source: Money Scandals focus minds on need for ethics