Chad Troutwine in Today's Wall Street Journal on the Value of an MBA for Entrepreneurs

Business School AdmissionsToday on the “Hire Education” blog on the Wall Street Journal, Veritas Prep co-founder and CEO Chad Troutwine questioned the conventional wisdom that business school is no place for aspiring entrepreneurs. Some would-be entrepreneurs see business school as an unnecessary (and costly) pit stop on their way to to startup success, while others actually think that sitting in a classroom and dissecting case studies could actually hurt them in their quest to start a successful company.

Is this true? Could two years in the classroom effectively neuter the world’s next Bill Gates or Steve Jobs?

Not so. While it’s true that the most successful entrepreneurs contain drive and ambition that can’t be picked up in an eight-week business course, those important traits are only modestly useful if one doesn’t supplement them with the harder business skills needed to navigate a startup’s delicate early years. Managing cash flow, securing investors, identifying target markets to profitably go after… These are the things that even the most ambitious entrepreneur needs to be able to do at some level.

While business schools were slow to embrace the teaching of skills that can benefit entrepreneurs and their early-stage startups, that started to change in the 1990s (partly driven by the tech and dot-com booms). Nowadays its common to find a second-year MBA student whose time is spent almost exclusively in entrepreneurship-related classes, business plan competitions, and pro bono consulting work for local startups. Some of those students even stick around after they graduate, taking advantage of the school’s business incubator and related resources.

And, while you’re sketching out your business plan, your future leadership team might draw heavily from the people sitting around you in the business school classroom. According to Chad’s article:

Graduate business schools offer an unrivaled professional network. Top M.B.A. programs admit between 200 and 900 students each year. Members of the same class, particular those in the same smaller cohort, develop a close bond, one that can last for a career. M.B.A. graduates are privy to the shared experiences of an extraordinary group of professionals. A typical class includes former investment bankers and future venture capitalists (your source of capital), marketers (your brand guru), accountants (your CFO), management consultants (your chief strategist) and other types of industry insiders. Most business schools are also part of a larger university network, further expanding your business relationships. Alumni connections can also provide a source of evangelists for your product or service.

Entrepreneurship will always be a tough game. It’s not for everyone. But, by arming yourself with the skills and connections that come with an MBA, you will only increase your likelihood of success.

If you’re considering applying to business school, be sure to download our free Annual Reports, 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Financial Times MBA Rankings for 2010

Financial Times
The Financial Times has just released its 2010 business school rankings, with London Business School remaining in the #1 spot. This comes after LBS and Wharton actually shared the #1 position in last year’s rankings.

Accompanying the rankings, FT release an article called How to Choose a Programme, in which our own Director of MBA Admissions Research, Scott Shrum, is quoted. As is always the case, we strongly advise applicants to focus on many other things besides just the rankings when selecting a business school”

“Begin with the end in mind,” advises Scott Shrum, director of MBA admissions research at Veritas Prep in California. “Where have other students landed jobs? Call the careers office to find out which companies recruit at the school. If you’re an international student, find out how many of the recruiters are generally willing to sponsor work visas.”

As you whittle down your list of prospective schools, be sure to leave time for campus visits. Take a tour, sit in on a class, eat lunch in the dining hall, meet the professors and talk to students and alumni. “The best way to figure out whether a school is a good fit is to visit it,” says Shrum. “Most people know within the first hour whether they love a school or whether it’s just not clicking for them. The culture of the school is going to dictate how happy you are.”

The FT’s top ten programs in 2010 are:

  1. London Business School
  2. Wharton
  3. Harvard Business School
  4. Stanford GSB
  6. Columbia Business School
  7. IE Business School
  8. MIT Sloan
  9. Chicago Booth
  10. Hong Kong UST

Big gainers vs. last year include Booth (which cracked the top ten), HKUST, Indian School of Business, and HEC Paris. Meanwhile, CEIBS, NYU Stern (which dropped out of the top ten), and Cambridge saw the biggest declines among the top MBA programs.

To get a feel for your chances of admission to a top MBA program, try Veritas Prep’s Business School Selector, an absolutely free resource for all MBA applicants. If you’re ready to start planning your candidacy, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert. And, as always, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Veritas Prep on Law School Podcaster

If you are interested in applying to law school and are not already listening to the Law School Podcaster, we definitely recommend that you subscribe and tune in. Law School Podcaster has done a great job of assembling top admissions experts to weigh in on all of the key aspects of the admissions process and the JD experience as a whole. For someone considering law school or in the midst of the application process, it can be an invaluable resource.

Furthermore, we are excited to be a regular contributor to Law School Podcaster! Our Director of Admissions Consulting, Adam Hoff, was recently featured as an expert guest for the second time, weighing in on Personal Statements and Letters of Recommendation.

Give it a listen before tackling your own personal statements. If you would like to speak to Adam or one of our other law school admissions experts about your personal statements and letters of recommendation, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 to set up a free consultation.

Veritas Prep Co-Founders Named Two of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Trailblazers and Trendsetters of 2009

After calling them the “Titans of Testing” in a cover story last year, Entrepreneur Magazine recently named Veritas Prep co-founders Markus Moberg and Chad Troutwine two of its Trailblazers and Trendsetters of 2009, alongside the founders of other hot young companies such as New Belgium Brewing, CollegeHumor, Rockcorps, and Freshbooks.

It’s one more tribute to all of the hard work that the entire Veritas Prep team has done, from Chad and Markus to everyone here at Veritas Prep HQ to all of our GMAT instructors and admissions consultants who helped tens of thousands of business school applicants since the company’s founding in 2002.

According to Entrepreneur’s “20 Trailblazers and Trendsetters of 2009” feature:

Veritas Prep started off as a project for an entrepreneurship class by two students attending the Yale School of Management. In 2008 the test prep company raked in about $10 million in sales in 2008. At $1,500 for a GMAT course, their price point rivals their largest competitors Kaplan and Princeton Review (Veritas Prep ranks second in GMAT prep, behind Kaplan and ahead of Princeton Review).

The twist? Veritas Prep offers about 50 percent more class time. With the advanced-degree market hitting 50-year record highs, co-founder Chad Troutwine’s outlook on Prep’s future is bright. “We’re just a rare business that will continue to do well in this economy.”

If you’re new to Veritas Prep and want to learn more about how we can help you, take a look at our industry-leading GMAT prep and admissions consulting services. Or, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an expert today!

Veritas Prep Weighs in on the GMAT vs. GRE Debate on BusinessWeek

GMAT Preparation
In an article on yesterday, BW’s Francesca Di Meglio dug deeper into the “GMAT or GRE?” question. She interviewed several leading experts on the subject, including our own co-founder and CEO, Chad Troutwine.

Di Meglio referred to the battle between the two tests as a “Coke-or-Pepsi debate,” an appropriate comparison given that they are two tests that seem similar (at least on the surface), and that each one has its ardent backers. However, everyone interviewed for the story (including Chad) had a very clear take: If you’re serious about getting into business school, don’t over-think it. Doing well on the GMAT is still the best way to prove that you have the aptitude to excel in business school.

According to Chad (via the article):

In general, Troutwine says, the GRE is not taken as seriously as the GMAT in the B-school world. He tells clients to take the GMAT unless they are applying to other graduate programs that require the GRE. “If you can take on the challenge of what may be a slightly more demanding exam, the score will have more value,” says Troutwine.

If you’re dead set on getting into a top business school, keep in mind the schools’ rationale for starting to accept the GRE — to attract applicants who might not otherwise have considered applying to business school. MBA admissions officers’ image of the typical (or even ideal) GRE-taking applicant is the one who has an impressive background but maybe an unclear career path. Maybe he just took the GRE to prepare to apply for a graduate program in public policy, but now he learns about the HBS 2+2 Program or a similar program designed for younger or somewhat unusual applicants. Since he can apply with his existing GRE score, he says “What the heck,” and applies, helping Harvard sprinkle some more diversity into its MBA class.

Not all GRE-taking applicants must look like this, but contrast this with the more “typical” business school applicant, who goes to a top-20 university, works for a prominent New York bank for two years, and is now ready to apply to business school. He has a great undergraduate transcript, impressive work history at a blue chip firm, essays that convincingly describe why an MBA has been in his plans for the last four years, and… a great GRE score? Why would someone like this not take the GMAT if he’s so serious about getting into a top MBA program? Is he hiding a bad GMAT score? Is he trying to “game the system” and take the GRE since he thins he can do better on it than on the GMAT?

Admissions officers’ minds are not quite swimming with so many conspiracy theories, but remember that your entire application does need to hang together as a whole. If anything jumps out as a big inconsistency vs. the rest of your business school application, that’s a chink in the armor as you try to get accepted ahead of literally thousands of other great applicants. If you’re serious about getting into a top-ten MBA program, stick with the GMAT, at least until the GRE is better proven in the graduate business educations space.

If you’re ready to get started with your own GMAT prep, take a look at the free resources available at Veritas Prep, including our free practice GMAT. Or, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with a GMAT expert today!

Getting Into Wharton: Veritas Prep on MBA PodTV

MBA Podcaster’s MBA PodTV team has just launched a new video titled “Getting Into The Wharton School,” featuring our own Director of MBA Admissions, Scott Shrum. In addition to some great advice from Scott, the episode also features admissions insights from Wharton admissions officers, current students, and recent alumni:

(You can watch the video in a larger size on YouTube.)

A few key points that Scott makes:

  • Although Wharton is best known as a finance school, its marketing department is incredibly strong. In fact, Wharton has the largest marketing faculty of any business school.
  • Although Wharton doesn’t emphasize it as much as some other top schools do, Wharton really wants to see that you’re someone who’s ready and willing to get involved on campus. In fact, no school relies on its students in the admissions process more than Wharton does.
  • Hirability is key, especially in this market. What drives this? Your maturity and having a realistic grasp of your post-MBA goals (vs. your abilities) are two key ingredients here.
  • What one thing in your application should you focus on the most? It’s career progression — Wharton wants to see a track record if success. Naturally, this isn’t something you can “polish up” or quickly improve like an essay or a GMAT score.
  • One interesting new Wharton essay question is, “Tell us about something significant that you have don to improve yourself.” While brushing up on a hard skill is a reasonable answer, a richer response tell a story about how you overcame weaknesses or fears to make yourself a better person. For example, maybe you overcame a fear of public speaking to lead a company meeting, even thought you couldn’t sleep the night before the big event. That’s always going to be a more interesting response to an admissions officer.

For more advice on getting into Wharton and other top business schools, take a look at Veritas Prep’s Annual Reports, in-depth guides to 15 of the world’s top business schools. They’re absolutely FREE to anyone who registers. And, of course, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Veritas Prep in the Wall Street Journal

Last week the Wall Street Journal’s Diana Middleton wrote a great piece about things to think about while juggling a full-time job and the MBA application process. (Hopefully, in this economy, you still have a job to juggle along with your applications!) In “Getting Back to School,” she covers six important things applicants should do.

The article outlines six important steps you need to take in the process, from strategically planning the timing of your applications to gracefully departing from your job once you leave for business school. When Diana spoke with us, we emphasized one thing that many applicants don’t do enough: keep working on their candidacies even after they’ve submitted their applications.

“Wait,” you’re saying, “Once I send in my applications, I’m done! I can finally relax and stop hounding my supervisor for letters of recommendation and quit asking my friends to read my essays over and over.” You’re right that the deadline-driven stress of the application process is then over, but there’s still plenty that you can do. Two things you should do (and think about) were covered in the article:

  • Work harder in the office. If you keep working hard and seeking out new challenges and growth opportunities, then you’ll have more to talk about if you are invited to interview with your target schools. If you’re waitlisted, achieving something new in the workplace will give you a good reason to update the admissions office and boost your candidacy. And, if you’re rejected, then you’re already on your way to building an even stronger application next year. When it comes to your career, you should never let up on the gas pedal, but you especially don’t want to do it at such an important juncture in your young career.
  • Prepare for the interview.By the time you’re invited to interview (and hopefully that happens!), you should know your application inside and out. Some schools conduct their interviews “blind,” with the interviewer only knowing your resume, while other schools’ interviewers will know your entire application. In either case, anything that you put on your resume or in your application is fair game, and you should expect to be questioned about any of it. Also, it’s your job to know what the school’s interviewers tend to ask — you have enough time to prepare that nothing should catch you off guard.

Taking these steps will help to maximize your success this year, or — if you’re not successful now — they will give you a head start for next year.

If you’re still researching schools and deciding to apply, or are getting ready for your own admissions interviews, download our 15 free Veritas Prep Annual Reports. If you’re ready to craft your own winning application, call us at 800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

Veritas Prep Gives Wall Street Journal Readers Some Tips for Thriving in Business School

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal ran an article titled “Return to the Classroom,” highlighting some things that new MBA students should do to make the most of their time in business school. For the article, WSJ reporter Diana Middleton turned to our own Scott Shrum for advice on how students should organize their priorities in the hectic business school environment:

“You haven’t even unpacked yet and you’ll already have another calendar

Veritas Prep’s Own Adam Hoff Interviewed by Law School Podcaster

Prospective law students will be pleased to learn that a new resource has become available that will help them navigate the difficult path to a legal education. The folks at the highly successful MBA Podcaster have expanded into the law school world with the appropriately named Law School Podcaster.

Three episodes are already available for download and feature topics such as planning for the admissions process, piecing together a great application, and choosing the right schools. Veritas Prep is pleased to have been a guest on the premiere episode, as Adam Hoff, Director of Admissions Consulting and Research, was featured on the initial panel of experts.

Students can access the podcasts through either the Law School Podcaster website or by subscribing through iTunes.

To learn more about what we do, take a look at Veritas Prep’s law school admissions consulting offerings, including our very popular JD/MBA admissions consulting practice.

Veritas Prep Gives Forbes Readers Some Waitlist Advice

Earlier this month, Forbes reporter Tara Weiss wrote a piece about how applicants can navigate the business school waitlist. For advice she turned to Veritas Prep’s own Scott Shrum for what applicants can do — and what they shouldn’t do — to maximize their chances of success.

As the article states, being on the waitlist is not a comfortable experience. The lack of knowing a firm outcome can be very unsettling, especially when you’re waiting on making big decisions such as leaving your current job, moving to a new place, and selling your home. However, you can take solace in the fact that the school must want you if it’s waitlisted you — the admissions office just can’t find room for you in the class, at least not yet.

Your time on the waitlist also gives you an opportunity to address an weaknesses in your application. Writes Weiss:

There are several reasons candidates get relegated to the wait list. If you can find out which reason applies to you, you can try to address the problem. Among the most common: a low score on the Graduate Management Admission Test; insufficient community service or leadership experience; low grades in college math classes; unclear career goals. However, “They won’t wait list anybody unless they’re willing to admit them,” says Scott Shrum, director of M.B.A. admissions research at Veritas Prep, an M.B.A. application consulting firm in Los Angeles.

Shrum suggests that you show your application to someone who knows about the process and together figure out what your weaknesses are. At some schools, including Northwestern, they say it’s acceptable to reach out to the admissions office and ask if there’s anything about your candidacy they found wanting.

The article also makes an important point about demonstrating enthusiasm for the program in question: It helps your chances, but only so much. If the school that has waitlisted you is your #1 choice, then you’re missing an opportunity to improve your chances if you don’t let the school know. After all, what school wants to admit a waitlisted candidate who only might attend? However, that is only one piece of the puzzle:

“Some people believe that convincing us they’re really, really interested will get them off the wait list. That’s just not true,” says Peter Johnson, executive director of admissions for the full-time M.B.A. program at the Haas School. “What gets them off the wait list is strengthening one of these weaknesses.”

Finally, Weiss writes that a policy of “pester early and often” will NOT get you in! Communicating with the school per its guidelines, and showing both enthusiasm and restraint, will help you the most.

At the end of the day, to some extent you can control how attractive you are as a waitlisted candidate. What you can’t control, however, if how many applicants the school will take from the waitlist. You might do everything right, but if the school doesn’t need anyone from the waitlist (or, doesn’t need anyone from your particular background), then unfortunately you won’t get in. Being smart about how to approach the waitlist and maximize your candidacy is all you can do, but it’s better than being rejected!

For more help on getting off of a business school’s waitlist, take a look at Veritas Prep’s Waitlist Assistance package.

Veritas Prep Admissions Survey Cited in Hispanic Outlook for Higher Education

The April 6 issue of Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education included an in-depth look at Veritas Prep’s first annual admissions officer survey. In the article, reporter A. Francesca Jenkins dug into the results and interviewed Veritas Prep’s Scott Shrum about the implications of the study.

As Jenkins notes, the biggest challenges facing business school admissions officers are the need to attract more, better-qualified students, and the need to support cultural diversity on campus. We expect both of these needs to remain top priorities for admissions officers in the coming years.

Another survey finding that the article focuses on is the fact that MBA admissions officers were almost evenly split on whether the admissions process will become more or less complicated over time. This reflects the challenges that admissions officers face in managing an ever-growing pool of applicants, while also dealing with an increasingly competitive applicant pool. The former pushes the admissions process in the direction of more simplicity — the more streamlined the process is, the easier it theoretically is to sort through applications — while the latter pushes the process in the direction of more complication — as applicants become savvier and savvier, admissions officers need more creative ways to separate the great applicants from the merely good ones.

One outgrowth of this trend has been that some top business schools, such as Chicago Booth and UCLA Anderson, have begun to get more creative with their essay questions. Essay questions in the format of PowerPoint presentations (in Booth’s case) and audio answers (for Anderson) are likely to become more common over time.

We believe that whether a school keeps or drops an essay question is a terrific indicator of how well that question works for them — and by “works” we mean how well it helps admissions officers tell one applicant from the next. The fact that some school have moved away from the traditional essay questions suggests that those questions have lost some of their effectiveness, as applicants have perhaps become savvier about answering them well.

If you’re an applicant are are faced with answering a PowerPoint or audio question, the same rules still apply: Make sure that your real voice comes through, be sure to answer the question asked, and by all means, make sure that your answer is consistent with the overall themes you’ve built into your business school application.

You can read more about Veritas Prep’s first annual admissions officer study here. To learn more about Veritas Prep, take a look at our MBA admissions consulting offerings.

Veritas Prep Profiled in Yale Daily News

Last week Yale student Vivian Yee interviewed Veritas Prep co-founder Chad Troutwine about how the company got its start as part of a business plan competition while Chad and Markus Moberg were students at Yale SOM. The brief article provides a nice snapshot of what the test prep and admissions landscape looked like back in 2002, and Chad provides some thoughts on what has changed since then.

You can read the full article here, but below is an especially useful snippet, taken from Chad’s answer to a question about advice for people who are applying to grad school now:

Anyone who wants to go to grad school should build a balanced background of comprehensive excellence. For law school, it

Veritas Prep Quoted in the Contra Costa Times

Last week the Bay Area’s Contra Costa Times ran an article titled “Value of an MBA Put to the Test,” focusing on the evolving return-on-investment equation for prospective business school students. In the article, David Morrill turned to Veritas Prep for advice to give to prospective business school applicants.

The interview gave us the chance to reiterate some of what we always tell our applicants about how important fit is when selecting an MBA program. Taken from the article:

Scott Shrum, director of MBA admissions research at Veritas Prep, advises and prepares students for the process. He says that if a student goes into a graduate school without a plan and the right mindset, they could have a rude awakening.

“If you measure the value of an MBA as a ticket to a six-figure job, then a lot of those people might be disappointed when they graduate,” Shrum said. “It’s those that realize an MBA is a transformative experience and much more than the paycheck who is going to reap the benefits.”

The article also explored the importance of investing in one’s own education, especially when times are tough:

“In good times it matters less because there are more are more jobs to be had,” Shrum said. “But in a down economy you need to be much choosier, because now companies tend to retreat to the schools they are familiar with and give them good talent.”

However, the lesser-known schools shouldn’t be entirely thrown aside in consideration. Some offer more flexible hours, online options, and niche affiliations such as the hotel and recreation industry.

Also, if a person doesn’t really want to work for a big firm, and is a self-starter that just needs to learn how to read an income statement and pick up the business basics to be an entrepreneur, then there’s no reason to spend a bunch of money on a branded school, Shrum said.

The main takeaway is what we’ve always said: There’s no one-size-fits-all MBA program, and there’s rarely a single answer when someone asks, “What’s the perfect business school for me?” There are a lot of variables to consider, way beyond the rankings, and you owe it to yourself to consider all of them before you make one of the biggest decisions of your young professional career.

For more advice on MBA admissions, visit Veritas Prep. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Veritas Prep on the Cover of Entrepreneur Magazine

Veritas Prep has hit your local newsstand! This month’s issue of Entrepreneur Magazine features a cover story about Veritas Prep and its two co-founders, Markus Moberg and Chad Troutwine. The story describes how Veritas Prep evolved from an idea for how to build a better test prep company to a winning business plan entry to a startup run out of their dining room to the fastest-growing GMAT prep and admissions consulting company in the world.

We’ve enjoyed seeing the company get so much publicity for its success, and it was really flattering when the article compared Veritas Prep to other companies that have taken on industry leaders and won, such as Apple, Netflix, and Google. We are also glad that the article emphasizes how obsessed we are with keeping our curriculum on the leading edge and maintaining a team of instructors of the highest quality. This is exactly how we have become so successful, and will always be the case, no matter how large Veritas Prep grows.

Most importantly, the story validates all of the hard work that the entire team has done, starting with Chad and Markus back in 2002, to the first employee they hired to help answer phones, to the whole team that we have today. We have a really dedicated hard-working team, from everyone at Veritas Prep HQ to every GMAT instructor and admissions consultant who works every day to help someone get into the grad school of their choice. This article is a celebration of everyone’s hard work and success!

Click here to read the Entrepreneur article. If you’re new to Veritas Prep and want to learn more about how we can help you, take a look at the GMAT prep and admissions consulting services that we offer.