Insights from the 2020 US News & World Report Business Schools Rankings: Wharton is #1

The 2020 US News & World Report Business Schools Rankings were published today. Most of the schools that are perennially in the top 10 are there again, however there were some changes in position. Wharton holds the top spot, alone, this year up two spots from #3 last year. Also, Harvard and Booth fell from tied for #1 last year to tied for #3 this year. MIT Sloan is also tied for 3rd. Yale’s back in the top 10, as is Duke.

2020 US News & World Report Business Schools Rankings


  • #1 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  • #2 Stanford University
  • #3 Harvard University (tie)
  • #3 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) (tie)
  • #3 University of Chicago (Booth) (tie)
  • #6 Columbia University (tie)
  • #6 Northwestern University (Kellogg) (tie)
  • #6 University of California — Berkeley (Haas) (tie)
  • #9 Yale University
  • #10 Duke University (Fuqua) (tie)
  • #10 University of Michigan — Ann Arbor (Ross) (tie)

Observations of note

Out of the schools in the top 10 this year, all of them, except for Duke, had an average GMAT of 720 or higher. Scanning the rankings, it wasn’t until you got to #15 Cornell University (Johnson) that the average GMAT score dipped below 700. The average GMAT score at 5 of the top 6 schools was 730+. Similar to rankings, we don’t want to place too much emphasis on the average GMAT score, but it’s worth noting that the average scores remain high and are continuing to go up for schools in the top 25.  You’re probably wondering, what you can do about it. Check out these articles on the Veritas Prep blog or contact us so we can give you some free advice.  

Acceptance rates at the top schools range from 6.1% (Stanford) to 27.1% (University of Michigan Ross). A school’s acceptance rate doesn’t tell you your chances of being accepted. The strength of your profile and application determine that, but we point out acceptance rates because it’s worth noting how competitive getting into a top business school can be and what the chances are and how much they vary, even among schools ranked in the top 10.

As we’ve stated before: for those of you hyper focused on attending a school in the top 10, we hope you remember that the top 10 varies from year to year and you should keep an open mind about applying to schools outside of the top 10.

The difference between a school being ranked in the top 10 and not is pretty small.  One year they may be in the top 10, the next year they may be out. Did the school change that much in 1 year?  Probably not. Is the school still a great school? Most likely yes. There can be so much focus on a school being ranked in the top 10, but there are a number of excellent schools which hover right around the top 10 and even crack the top 10 (as they say) some years that as an applicant, you should make sure you don’t overlook them.  So, while Tuck, Stern and Darden aren’t in the top 10 this year, as you consider which schools to apply to, take a look at these schools as they are perennially near the top 10 and sometimes included, if that’s important to you.

We constantly remind applicants, rankings are only one factor to consider when selecting which schools to apply to.  Regardless of which schools you decide are right for you, you’ll want to make sure you submit the strongest application you’re capable of.  Contact us today to discuss your chances of admission to your target programs, to get answers to your questions, and to find out how we can help you get accepted to the school of your dreams.

Do you have what it takes to get into one of these schools? Speak with an admissions expert at Veritas Prep. At Veritas Prep, we’ve helped over 300,000 people take the GMAT, apply to their dream schools, and get admitted. Interested in learning more about how Veritas Prep can help you? Give us a call at (800) 962-2069 to speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or fill out this quick form to schedule a free MBA consultation, where we’ll review your applicant profile and give you actionable advice for your unique situation:

MBA Admissions Interviews – What to Expect

At this time of year we tend to get a lot of questions about the MBA admissions interview process. If you have been invited to interview with one of your target business schools (congratulations!), then here are the main types of questions you can expect to hear:

  • High-level questions about you

Just like in a typical job interview, your interviewer will often start things off with “Walk me through your resume” or “Tell me about yourself.” This is your chance to take control of the admissions interview and explicitly state the two or three core messages that you want to get across. Practice is critical here — you will want to develop and rehearse a two-three minute “elevator pitch” that describes your background, highlights your strengths, and provides a story beyond the plain facts stated on your resume.

  • Questions about why you want to go to business school and your career goals

A good elevator pitch will likely cover these questions some, but expect the interviewer to probe more deeply here. These questions also give you the chance to answer why you want to specifically go to the school in question, and the research that you do on the school will pay off here. You don’t want to go overboard, but citing a few specifics about the program will show the interviewer that you’ve done your research and are sincerely interested in the school.

  • Questions about specific experiences in your background

Some schools will spend a majority of the interview in this area in order to better understand your background. These are the questions that famously start with, “Tell me about a time when…” Your job here is to call on specific examples from your past, not to talk in hypothetical generalities. Use the “SAR” method: Situation (what the challenge or opportunity was), Action (what YOU specifically did), and Result (what you achieved through your action).

Good luck in your interview! If you want more hands-on help, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA interview preparation services. We offer a standalone service and it’s part of our all-inclusive MBA admissions consulting packages. Give us a call at 800-925-7737 to see how we can help you nail your admissions interviews. And, as always, be sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter to stay on top of the latest news and trends in MBA admissions!

Insights from the 2019 US News Ranking of Top Business Schools: Booth Climbs to #1

US News College RankingsWe don’t like to overemphasize the importance of rankings, but we know that applicants are extremely interested in them.  As such, let’s take a look at the US News and World Report Best Business Schools rankings for 2019 (ranked in 2018) today.

What’s new?  


Booth went from #3 last year to #1 this year, tied with Harvard.  

This is the first time Booth has been ranked #1 by US News and World Report.  Comparing Harvard and Booth, the acceptance rate jumps out at you.  Booth accepted 23.5% of applicants and Harvard 9.9%. The percentage of graduates employed at the time of graduation also stands out.  Booth has one of the highest at 88%. The only school in the top 25 with a higher percentage is Ross-more on them later-with 89.7%.  Side note: We don’t want to get too deep into employment statistics, but if having a job at the time of graduation, or getting one shortly thereafter is really important to you, check out the numbers reported for graduates employed 3 months after graduation.  The highest percentage you’ll see in the top 25 is Foster at 98.1%-pretty impressive. For those of you who’d been solely focused on applying to and getting in to H/S/W, we hope this helps you open your mind to the value of applying to and the possibility of attending a school other than those 3.  

Ross went from #11 last year to #7 tied this year, tied with Berkeley Haas.  

Ross achieved a noteworthy rise in the rankings, cracking the coveted Top 10.  Similar to my comment above, for those of you hyper focused on attending a school in the top 10, we hope this 1) helps you realize that the top 10 varies from year to year and 2) opens your mind to applying to schools outside of the top 10.      The difference between a school being ranked in the top 10 and not is pretty small.  One year they may be in the top 10, the next year they may be out. Did the school change that much in 1 year?  Probably not. Is the school still a great school? Most likely yes. There can be so much focus on a school being ranked in the top 10, but there are a number of excellent schools which hover right around the top 10 and even crack the top 10 (as they say) some years that as an applicant, you should make sure you don’t overlook them.  So, while Fuqua, Yale, Stern and Darden aren’t in the top 10 this year, as you consider which schools to apply to, take a look at these schools as they are perennially near the top 10 and sometimes included, if that’s important to you.

What do you need to know?  

One thing we noticed when we looked at the rankings was the average GMAT score.  Scanning the rankings, it wasn’t until you got to #17 Tepper that the average GMAT score dipped below 700.  Yikes! The average GMAT score at 5 of the top 6 schools (including the top 4 schools) was 730+. Wowza! Similar to rankings, we don’t want to place too much emphasis on the average GMAT score, but it’s worth noting that the average scores remain high and are continuing to go up for schools in the top 25.  You’re probably wondering, what you can do about it? Check out these articles on the Veritas Prep blog or contact us so we can give you some free advice.   It’s pretty common knowledge that the top 7 schools are pretty consistent–thus the term M7.  And everyone wants to go to Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton – thus the term H/S/W – even though Booth, Kellogg, or Sloan may be tied or ranked higher any given year.  Outside of the top 7, though, call it 8 through 12, there can be movement and as such, one school may be in the top 10 one year and out the next. We constantly remind applicants, rankings are only one factor to consider when selecting which schools to apply to.  Regardless of which schools you decide are right for you, you’ll want to make sure you submit the strongest application you’re capable of.  Contact us today to discuss your chances of admission to your target programs, to get answers to your questions, and to find out how we can help you get accepted to the school of your dreams.

Which Type of Business Degree is Right for You?

scottbloomdecisionsSome students who apply to business school know exactly what type of degree they want to earn. Others know they want to pursue a career in business but may not be sure about a specific degree. Fortunately, there are many types of business degrees that may appeal to students who are still undecided. Consider the following descriptions of different types of business degrees that can help students learn a little about the options available to them:

A degree in Accounting involves courses that teach students fundamental accounting principles, and how to interpret financial documents and keep them organized. Students also learn how to find discrepancies in financial documents and determine the reasons for them. Successful professionals in this field are logical thinkers, detail-oriented, consistent, and organized. Some examples of jobs for individuals with Accounting degrees include public accountant, financial reporting manager, compliance professional, and tax accountant.

At Veritas Prep, we provide a variety of services to students who are considering a degree in Accounting, or any of the other different graduate business degrees. For instance, our online instructors prep students for the GMAT, the GRE, or both. We use practice tests and other top-quality study resources to boost a student’s confidence for test day. In short, we have years of experience helping students who are on the path to earning different business degrees.

Business Administration
There are many types of business degrees that teach students how to take on a leadership role within a company – a degree in Business Administration is an ideal example. While earning this degree, students gain knowledge of how to assign tasks to the members of a team to ensure that a project is completed on time. Also, students learn how to communicate effectively with team members, clients, and other project leaders.

A professional working in the field of Business Administration has to know how to effectively manage a project and improve a company’s bottom line. Office administrator, general manager, and administrative services manager are just a few of the job options for students with a degree in business administration.

Business Technology
Students researching different types of business degrees that relate to technology should take a closer look at this area of study. A student earning a Business Technology degree learns about the latest business software used by companies and corporations. Also, students garner knowledge about web marketing, managing an office with today’s technology, and using electronic communication tools in a business setting. Some examples of jobs held by individuals with a Business Technology degree include business software specialist, web marketing specialist, and database user specialist.

Finance is one of the more well-known types of business degree programs. Students earning this degree learn about portfolio management, financial analysis, and interpreting statistics. Individuals with a degree in finance have many career paths available to them. For example, a person who wants to integrate sales into a career plan may want to look into becoming a financial services sales agent. The position of personal financial adviser is an example of a career where a person uses their financial education to help people plan for retirement or balance their investments. Some other potential job titles include financial analyst, financial manager, and investment banker.

Many students who are pursuing a business degree want to get into the field of Marketing. This is a degree for someone interested in learning about consumer research, marketing strategies, and product research. Today’s companies need professionals who know how to introduce a new product based on solid market research. Plus, companies want to know how to attract new customers while retaining loyal ones. Advertising managers, sales managers, commercial directors, and market research specialists are all examples of jobs available for individuals with a Marketing degree.

Students looking at the different types of business degree programs can count on Veritas Prep for tips and guidance. Our knowledgeable team members teach students strategies to use on business school exams and assist in preparing admissions paperwork. We can add an element of organization to the complicated process of applying to schools. Contact our team today and ask about our valuable services.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or 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.

3 Practical Life Lessons I Learned From My MBA

ProfessorDuring the last day of any MBA course, your professor will most likely say something along the lines of, “Years from now, if you can use one thing from my class, it would be…” Now I won’t be able to enumerate every single lesson I learned over my time at business school, but these lessons have become part of my mental toolkit, and always come to mind when I evaluate business odds or manage ambiguous human factors.

Here are three of the most useful life lessons that I became very aware of during my time in business school:

1) Build a buffer of time into your day
From my Operations Management course, I learned that in the manufacturing process, buffer zones or “slack time” are critical in ensuring that a delay in one part of production cannot easily cripple the whole chain. This concept has proven to be helpful now in managing day-to-day activities – rather than filling every hour of the day with minute tasks, it is more productive to identify key priorities and create some free time around them. This time can then be used to absorb tasks that unexpectedly take longer than you thought they would, or to spend as additional time for personal interests. Planning out the day like this can greatly reduce your stress and allow new ideas to ferment, making for a more productive and fulfilling life, long-term.

2) You can negotiate for more than you think
From my Negotiations course, I recall that I learned the most common error people make in their dealings is to take too many points as given or fixed and not even bother to try and negotiate them. Thus, they miss out on the potential to further benefit their own organization as well as the party they are negotiating with.

Being more aware of this tendency will encourage you to try negotiating for things you may not have tried for before, which will help open up more business opportunities and deepen your relationships with the people you work with. In addition, it is important to understand that the motivation of the person you are negotiating with is not always exactly the same as that of the unit he is representing, as this will help in the way you approach the conversation.

3) The creative process cannot be forced
In one of my Strategy classes, we discussed the creative process of Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Suzanne Vega, best known for her 1987 hit “Luka,” which raised awareness for domestic violence. In this case study, the singer was encountering writer’s block as she was creating her new album and found that to do her best work, she couldn’t be forced to grind it out in the recording studio as many musical artists do – living life and drawing inspiration and stimulation from everyday encounters was the best way to go.

I have found this lesson to be very applicable as I help guide MBA candidates through their business school applications. Applicants tend to maintain their better balance in their lives by continuing with their exercise, hobbies, and vacations, even as they prepare for the GMAT and the business school application process as a whole. Living full, normal lives will keep you refreshed and inspired to work at your peak performance level, and to deliver your best work possible.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or 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.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD.

HBS Names Nitin Nohria New Dean

Yesterday Harvard Business School announced that Nitin Nohria, the Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration at HBS, will become the School’s 10th dean, replacing current Dean Jay Light on July 1, 2010.

Nohria, currently the co-chair of the school’s Leadership Initiative, gained notoriety last year when he co-authored a Harvard Business Review article that ultimately led to the creation of the MBA Oath. His reputation for being willing to ask tough questions about ethics and the social of managers that makes him an attractive choice to lead HBS in the post-financial-meltdown world.

Nohria has been at HBS for the past 22 years, joining the faculty as an assistant professor in 1988 after earning his PhD at MIT Sloan, with an emphasis in behavioral sciences. He earned tenure in 1997, and was named to the Chapman Professorship in 1999. Most recently he has served as the Harvard’s senior associate dean for faculty development and chair of its organizational behavior unit.

As expected, the HBS community has been very supportive of Nohria’s announcement, all the way up to Light, who had this to say in written statement:

Nitin Nohria will be a wonderful dean of Harvard Business School. He is widely respected within our extended community as a perceptive scholar of leadership and as a thoughtful and able academic leader. He believes deeply in the distinctive mission of the School and its role in the world. He will effectively carry forward the objectives and the strategies that make this institution a very special place.

In a statement accepting the role, Nohria set the tone for his new role:

I feel a profound sense of responsibility for continuing Harvard Business School’s proud legacy of groundbreaking ideas and transformational educational experiences. With business education at an inflection point, we must strive to equip future leaders with the competence and character to address emerging global business and social challenges. As we enter our second century, I look forward to working with the School’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni to forge a vision for Harvard Business School that will enable it to remain a beacon for business education for the next 100 years.

Every year we help many applicants get into Harvard Business School. For more advice on getting into HBS, download our HBS Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own candidacy for Harvard or another top MBA program, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

MBA Peer School Forum Kicks off at Wharton

MBA Peer School ForumRecently The Wharton School hosted a summit that brought together the outgoing and incoming student government leaders at seven of the United States’ top business schools. Called the MBA Peer School Forum, the summit brought together representatives from Chicago Booth, Columbia, Kellogg, Harvard, MIT Sloan, Stanford and Wharton, and is dedicated to fostering cooperation among the student bodies of these elite programs.

While the event is not completely new (it follows in the footsteps of the Seven School Forum, hosted by Kellogg last year), the MBA Peer School Forum marks the beginning of more formal collaboration between the student government at these schools. Over three days, the Forum representatives discussed a wide variety of topics, including academics, alumni relations, career prospects for grads, alumni relations, and diversity issues in management training.

Its good to see that the administrations at these schools are also showing support for this effort. According to The Wharton Journal, Wharton Dean Thomas Robertson had this to say about the renewed effort to collaborate:

The best ideas are most effective when they are shared widely, and that is why this Forum is such a worthy development. In collaborating across student bodies you are building a mission for MBA students nationwide and an important professional community for the next generation of business leaders and innovators. This is an endeavor I will be following with great interest, as I know all my fellow deans will.

We love the idea, and we hope it sticks. It will be interesting to see see if it has staying power as student bodies (and governments) turn over, job hunting and classes take over, etc. We think it will, but it will take some effort on the part of the incoming leaders to make that happen. Also, the impulse for many of these student leaders will be to put their own stamp on the event year after year… For their sake, we hope they can keep things fairly consistent in the name of getting things done. If they do, the potential for cross-pollination of ideas (and actual implementation of those ideas) is terrific.

If you would like to see photos from the event, you can see some on Flickr.

Want to attend one of these schools? For your own personalized MBA admissions advice, give us a call at (800) 925-7737 and speak with an admissions expert today. And, be sure to subscribe to this blog and follow us on Twitter!

Dean Robert J. Dolan to Step Down at Ross

Robert J. DolanLast week Robert Dolan, Dean of the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, announced that he will step down at the end of his second term, due to end in summer 2011. His announcement signals the end of what has to be one of the most successful runs by a dean at a graduate business school over the past decade.

Perhaps the most obvious sign of Dolan’s impact on the school is its name: In 2004 the U. of Michigan Business School received a $100 million gift from Stephen M. Ross, founder of The Related Companies and majority owner of the Miami Dolphins. Ross’s gift helped transform the school, literally — in January, 2009, Ross opened its new state-of-the-art building, fondly referred to as Big Orange or The Big Orange House by some students and alumni.The building’s opening signaled a great deal of achievement for the MBA program under Dolan’s tenure.

More Than a Fancy New Building
Academically, Dolan also oversaw a significant evolution of the school’s program. Ross is one of the leading proponents of a teaching method known as “Action-Based Learning,” which is similar to experiential learning in that it fuses traditional classroom instructional models with myriad real-world scenarios and opportunities for hands-on learning. This, along with a renowned multidisciplinary projects approach, has given Ross a reputation for being a cutting-edge business school.

Under Dolan the school also launched and expanded its Ross Leadership Initiative (RLI), which puts students into situations where leadership strengths are fostered and weaknesses are exposed (and addressed). If the description or mission of the program sounds vague, know that Ross has a very detailed roadmap for how RLI develops students. It begins with what is called a “foundation session,” which is a six-day orientation process (mandatory for all students) that starts with theory, ideas, and self-analysis.

What’s Next for Dolan and for Ross?
While it’s too early to start speculating who will replace Dolan at Ross, he did have this to say about the upcoming search process in an email to the Ross community:

I am proud of what we have accomplished together since the summer of 2001 and how we have worked together–through a historic naming gift, an ambitious facilities project, and several economic cycles–to strengthen the School and maintain its tradition of excellence.

More information about the process for determining a new Dean will be forthcoming. In the meantime, there is important work to be done, and I very much look forward to pursuing it together during the remainder of my term.

We don’t yet know where Dolan will go next (or whether he even knows), but with so many other high-profile dean positions open or soon opening at other top business schools, one would have to think that Dolan’s next stop could be another top-ten MBA program.

If you want to learn more about Ross, download our Ross Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools, available on our site. If you’re ready to start building your own application for Ross or other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

HBS 2+2 Program Application Essays for 2010

HBS 2+2 ProgramRecently Harvard Business School announced the 2010 deadline for its HBS 2+2 Program. While the deadline has changed quite a bit since last year (it’s several weeks earlier than before), but the program’s admissions essays actually remain the same.

So, our comments and advice mostly remain the same, but it’s still worth sharing them again. Note that there are a few subtle nuances in our advice that are new this year, based on feedback we’ve heard directly from successful HBS 2+2 Program applicants this past year:

HBS 2+2 Program Application Essays
  1. What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600 words)

    This is exactly the same question on the traditional HBS application. While you are obviously younger than the typical HBS applicant, the school still expects to see several separate, concrete examples of how you made a positive impact on the organization, community, or people around you. Having a hard time coming up with many? That may be the first sign that you’re not yet ready to apply to HBS (or to any top MBA program). If that’s the case, don’t despair… You just may want to consider the more traditional route of working for several years before applying to business school.

  2. What would you like us to know about your undergraduate academic experience? (400 words)

    Being that you probably don’t yet have any full-time work experience, the admissions office needs to dig a little deeper into your undergraduate experience to learn more about you. Don’t simply recount your transcript here. Why did you choose your major in college? What motivated you to choose certain course? Were there any instances when you really pushed yourself out of your comfort zone? Focus on just one or two themes here, ideally showing how you have grown academically over the past three years. Harvard loves the idea of being able to transform you from young raw ingredients into a polished, finished product. Showing glimpses of such a transformation in the first three years of college can help the HBS admissions office picture you thriving at HBS.

  3. What have you learned from a mistake? (400 words)

    This is also taken directly from the standard HBS application. Just like with all mistake essays, you want to show introspection (What did you learn?) and a motivation for self-improvement (How did you use what you learned to better yourself and avoid that mistake again?). While you won’t have the same experiences as a twenty-five-year-old applicant to draw upon here, look for experiences in all aspects of your life where you learned a valuable lesson. There’s a good chance that your richest story will come from outside of your academics.

  4. Optional Essays (choose one)

    – Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization. (400 words)

    – What area of the world are you most curious about and why? (400 words)

    – What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? (400 words)

    All three of these are also taken from the standard HBS application. We always recommend that applicants err on the side of discussing themselves, the decisions they’ve made, and the impact they’ve made on those around them — not on a person or an idea that they hold dear. The former is really the only way the admissions office will get to you YOU, and without knowing you, how can Harvard admit you?

    These specific examples of your initiative and leadership are extremely valuable, especially if you are relatively inexperienced. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t answer one of the other questions, but be careful to avoid discussing big-picture generalities that don’t let the admissions committee get to know the real you.

Every year we work with many applicants to the HBS 2+2 Program, and many of them get in! For more advice on getting into Harvard Business School, download our HBS Annual Report, one of 15 completely free guides to the world’s top business schools. If you’re ready to start building your own HBS 2+2 Program candidacy, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

Six Terrific Professors at Michigan (Ross)

Business School GuidesContinuing 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 look at six of the Ross School of Business’ most popular professors. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Ross research.)

The Ross faculty is populated with many prominent business leaders, researchers, and teachers. Among Ross students, there are a handful of professors who are considered a “must” to have for a class, due to their reputation both as educators and as experts. This list isn

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!

GMAT Prep Classes Start Worldwide Tonight!

Today is one of those extra exciting days at Veritas Prep HQ, when GMAT prep classes start in dozens of cities worldwide (and in a few other cities, where they start tomorrow night).

We try to only sparingly use this space for blatant promotion of our products and services. However, for some of our newer readers who plan to apply to business school this coming fall, now is the ideal time to start preparing for the GMAT. Taking a class now enables you to take the GMAT before summer, so that you can get that stressful part of the application out of the way. Or, you can retake our class for free, if needed, and take the text again over the summer, still giving yourself plenty of time to purely focus on your apps before the Round 1 admissions deadlines come in October.

As you may have seen on our sweet new Veritas Prep web site, we have courses starting in these cities tonight and tomorrow night:

If you don’t live near one of the cities, or if you just prefer to do your studying online, we also offer multiple online GMAT preparation options: a live online format and a self-paced “on demand” class.

If the time for you to start preparing for the GMAT is now, give us a call (800) 925-7737 and speak with a Veritas Prep admissions expert today. And, as always, be sure to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter!

Four Important Characteristics of the Duke MBA Program

Business School Application Guides
Continuing 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 MBA programs, this week we investigate a few things that make Duke’s approach to graduate management education unique. (Our Annual reports are absolutely free with registration, but we thought we’d share some snippets here to help get you started in your Fuqua School of Business research.)

Like most elite business schools, Duke is focused on providing hands-on learning opportunities, global perspective, and a flexible curriculum. What makes Duke somewhat different is that the school is focused most of all on collaborative leadership. Other than Kellogg and perhaps UCLA Anderson, few business schools can cite that as the program’s most distinguishing feature to the degree that Fuqua can.

With that in mind, the following are the key elements of the Duke Approach:
  • Collaborative Leadership. Teamwork and leadership are common in every aspect of the Duke MBA experience from inside the classroom to clubs and activities. Each class includes group projects as a learning tool, so the ability to lead and work in a group environment is essential for success at Fuqua. Outside of the classroom, students are encouraged and almost expected to assume a leadership role in a club, activity, or Fuqua-related event. Fuqua is truly a student run program, which generates numerous opportunities to lead projects or even create new ones.
  • Global Perspective. “Global” is a major MBA buzzword in this day and age, but few schools boast an international emphasis and flavor that rivals that of Fuqua. Each incoming MBA class begins with “Global Institute,” a one-of-a-kind program that runs for three weeks prior to the first term and introduces students to the global business environment and the world economy structure. Students discuss current global business issues and are exposed to diverse backgrounds and perspectives while also gaining exposure to more traditional “orientation” concepts such as leadership and team building. Fuqua also offers study abroad programs and the increasingly popular “Global Academic Travel Experience,” a course where students study international business trends from select regions and then travel to designated locations for hands-on experience.
  • Diversity of Instruction. As has become increasingly common among innovative business schools, Duke’s courses feature a blended teaching approach that includes an almost equal distribution of case studies, lectures, and team projects. Each class is typically two hours and fifteen minutes long, allowing ample time for a highly interactive case discussion, followed by a course lecture. Duke professors conduct leading research and are adept at integrating relevant and topical business issues into every class. Team projects are absolutely an integral part of each course, and select groups are called upon to present insights and strategic recommendations as a way to launch a class discussion. Class participation is expected and is a prominent grading criterion.
  • Experiential Learning. While Duke does not boast of an experiential learning program as robust as that of Ross or Tuck, Fuqua does offer numerous courses which help students convert theory into application. These classes provide knowledge and experience by assisting real-world businesses in such areas as consulting, strategic planning, marketing strategy and business plan development. Faculty members guide and participate in strategy sessions with the students to reinforce the translation of academic concepts to real world solutions.

Today’s installment was clipped from our Duke (Fuqua) 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 Fuqua or other top MBA programs, call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today!

More Debate on Whether Business Schools Are to Blame

We started to get a little antsy when more than a few days went by since the last “Blame the business schools for the economic meltdown!” article had appeared in the popular press. Thankfully, Forbes provided some salve by asking whether we should blame the business schools, the graduates themselves, or the companies that hire the graduates.

Much of the article is the normal chatter about how the typical business school curriculum places too much emphasis on shareholder value and not enough on improving the community around the enterprise. While we don’t disagree, it’s hard to argue that this trend in management education alone contributed to the problems our economy now faces. It is one ingredient of the problem, for certain, but we’re wary of anyone who believes that the few hundred hours a young professional spends in some some finance courses in business are enough to steer that person towards world-class leadership or financial self-destruction.

We like what Michael Ervolini stated, which nicely sums up a point that we’ve made previously:

B-schools serve a purpose to provide talented employees that have received some minimum training for their career. You can not expect too much from a two-year stint, however, even at the most prestigious of programs. This is particularly the case with an average of only 18 months actually on campus.

While business schools certainly need to take responsibility for the quality of the business leaders they’re putting out in the market, the hiring companies’ jobs have only just begun once they hire these grads. That’s why companies such as General Electric and Procter & Gamble are so successful so consistently — because of the value that they place on training and personal development in their future leaders. This won’t change no matter what new curriculum changes the world’s top business school implement in the coming years.

If you’re just now thinking about getting an MBA, take a look at Veritas Prep’s GMAT prep and MBA admissions consulting offerings. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Five Questions You Need to Ask When Choosing an MBA Program

As we mentioned last week, the Bay Area’s Contra Costa Times turned to Veritas Prep for insights on what the value of an MBA is in the current economic climate. In the article, we provided some advice for applicants as they choose which business schools they want to attend. As we always do, we stressed that an applicant must look at so many things beyond just rankings when choosing an MBA program.

Adapted from that Contra Costa Times article, here are five questions you should ask when evaluating how well a certain business school meets your needs:

  • What employers recruit from the school? If you want to switch careers and get a job in banking, but no investment firms recruit at the school, then don’t expect your post-MBA job search to be easy.
  • How far do the school’s reputation and alumni network reach? Many schools provide an excellent education, but only have a regionally strong brand. If you want to get a new job in another part of the world after school, this may make it harder to do.
  • What type of programs does it offer? Most business schools offer a full-time, two-year program. If this may not fit your schedule or you don’t want to quit your job, see if they offer part-time programs that allow you to work and study at the same time.
  • What are its academic specialties? Is the school strongest in one specialty, such as finance or marketing? Or is it a more general management-oriented program? Make sure this strength matches what you want to focus on in school.
  • How much will the school cost you? Obviously, half of the return on investment equation is the size of investment itself. If a school offers you a significant grant or your employer will cover the cost of the program, that may tip the scales in that school’s favor.

This list only begins to scratch the surface, but these are all important questions you need to be able to answer for every school to which you plan to apply.

For more advice on choosing a business school, talk to our MBA admissions experts, and follow us on Twitter!

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!

More Americans Target European MBA Programs

Given the turmoil on Wall Street and the overall soft job market in the U.S., it’s not surprising that many international applicants have decided not to come to the U.S. to pursue an MBA this year. Even more interesting, however, is that apparently many Americans also also now considering earning their MBAs abroad.

An article in last week’s Wall Street Journal describes the trend of more and more Americans deciding to go abroad for their MBA programs. Not only do schools such as INSEAD and IMD provide Americans with an opportunity to broaden their international exposure, but they also offer a nice sort of career diversification in that they tend to attract a more diverse array of corporate recruiters than do American business schools.

According to the article, at some top European schools, only about 20% of the graduating class lands in finance, compared with up to 60% at some U.S. schools. While this has traditionally been a weakness for European schools in attracting top talent that wants to pursue high-paying jobs, in today’s climate it’s one reason why more American than ever have sought out these programs.

Another advantage that many European schools offer is that their programs are shorter than most American schools’ programs, which, among other things, means that they can be significantly less expensive. While we tend to discourage applicants from choosing based on costs alone, this often significant difference can be hard for someone to ignore when they’re still paying off old student loans and are about to leave their job to take on even more debt.

The European programs aren’t content to just let Americans beat a path to their doors — they’ve made a point of aggressively reaching out to U.S. students in order to capitalize on this trend. As a result of the macro trend and these recruiting efforts, schools such as Oxford’s Sa

In Defense of the MBA

Yesterday the Financial Times’ Stefan Stern wrote an interesting piece titled Why MBA Bashing is Unfair. In it he argues that, while graduate business programs aren’t perfect and need to evolve, they are not churning out the sharp-elbowed, non-consequence-caring sharks that some in the media have accused them of producing. If anything, they are guilty of producing leaders who only manage by the numbers, and, because of their lack of true management experience, are unable to step back at times and think about an organization as more than just a pile of balance sheets and income statements.

The stereotype of the cocky (and guilty) MBA is surely somewhat deserved. Heck, recently one of Harvard’s own MBAs put out a book describing HBS as the “cauldron of capitalism” in his own unflattering words. But to say that “arrogance and greed” are solely responsible for our current economic troubles misses the larger point about the value that an MBA can provide.

Argues Stern:

The content of the course, while not exactly incidental, is really not the most important thing. It is the process itself: applying for a place, being admitted, meeting and working with faculty and contemporaries, and forming a new network, that matters.

This is what you find when you talk to sceptical MBA graduates who may not remember a great deal about the different modules they studied. Even they will describe their time at business school as a transformative experience. They went in one end as a fairly ordinary, apprentice businessperson. They came out the other ready to operate at a higher level.

This is what we at Veritas Prep always tell our admissions consulting and GMAT prep clients: The hardest part of business school may seem to be getting in, but once you’re in, what value you get out of the program is entirely up to you. There’s at least as much value in the chance to make new friends, get exposed to new viewpoints, and build an incredible new network, as there is in learning about the capital asset pricing model.

And, as McGill University professor Henry Mintzberg argues in the FT article, the real learning about how to manage still needs to occur on the job, after you graduate. That inevitably means that at some point a fresh MBA will be promoted into a role that he’s not yet fulled qualified for, but management must be learned in context. Today’s business leaders are at least as responsible for educating tomorrow’s leaders as any MBA program is. This kind of mentorship has always been how people and organizations grow, and this will never change.

New MBA Admissions Survey

We pride ourselves on making the Veritas Prep Blog a source of reliable information and valuable advice on the MBA admissions process. To that end, as a member of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), we are conducting a survey to help us better understand our readers’ goals and needs. We would like to invite all of our readers to share their school selection priorities and views on the MBA application process.

This online survey should take just 10 minutes to complete. We would love to receive as many responses as possible before the closing date of Friday, March 20th. That end, AIGAC will will give away an iPod Touch and two iPod Shuffles as a token of gratitude.

Thanks in advance for your help! Please click here to participate. The survey is now complete. Thanks to everyone who participated!

Announcing The Laid-Off Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions

In response to the ever-worsening economy, we have just released a guide to help recently laid-off business school applicants overcome their career setbacks and gain admissions to the world’s most competitive MBA programsThe Laid-Off Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions gives you specific, step-by-step instructions for how you can overcome the setback of a job loss and still shine in MBA admissions eyes.

The key themes that you will want to emphasize in your application include:

  1. Now is the right time. You should explain that the decision to apply is the result of a well-conceived plan, not the knee-reaction of someone who fears a period of unemployment underemployment. If admissions officers sense that you’re in the latter camp, they will likely pass over your application and move on to candidates with more compelling reasons for wanting to earn an MBA.
  2. You are a star, not a victim. Essays, letters of recommendation and admission interviews will allow you to highlight multiple professional success stories. Pointing to career achievements paints the picture of a perennial winner who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time when jobs had to be cut.
  3. You made lemonade out of lemons. Did you use your new-found free time to volunteer or take a night class to hone skill areas? While reporting on these accomplishments may seem less attractive than boasting about a position on the corporate ladder, admissions officers appreciate it when applicants demonstrate productivity during any extended period of time off between jobs.

This white paper is the first installment of The Veritas Prep Recovery Series, a collection of white papers devoted to helping business school applicants who need to overcome certain weaknesses or blemished in their backgrounds.

The The Laid-Off Professional’s Guide to MBA Admissions is available for free download here. If you have recently lost your job, or are afraid you will, don’t worry… We’re here to help!

MBA Admissions: Waitlist Advice

Being waitlisted by your target business school can feel a lot like flipping a coin and seeing it end up on its edge; this lack of a final answer after months of anticipation can almost feel more frustrating than receiving a firm “yes” or “no.” But take heart in the fact that you’re still in the MBA admissions game, and there may be more that you can do to ultimately get accepted.

First of all, know that a waitlist decision is much more similar to an acceptance than a rejection. The admissions office clearly saw something in your application that it liked, but for some reason — perhaps you have a weaker undergrad transcript than they’d like to see, or there are simply too many other applicants who look just like you — just couldn’t pull the trigger and offer you a seat. While this can be very frustrating, in many cases (depending on the school) you have at least one more chance to show that you have what your target school looks for in its candidates.

Before you do anything, you will need to determine your school’s policy for handling waitlisted candidates. Some schools readily welcome updates and additional correspondence, while others will allow only certain kinds of contact, such as messages sent to a specific email address. Some business schools, however, explicitly forbid you from contacting the admissions office under any circumstances. If this describes your target school, do yourself a favor and obey this policy — not doing so makes admissions officers’ jobs easy (i.e., it’s easy for them to remove you from further consideration). It’s frustrating, we know, but you won’t help your cause by ignoring the rules.

Assuming that your target MBA program does allow you to contact the admissions office, then think about what potential weaknesses in your candidacy you may be able to bolster. Ask yourself:

  • Did I clearly define my career goals?
  • Was it clear how earning an MBA will help me achieve these goals?
  • In what ways did I demonstrate fit with my target school?
  • How did I showcase my leadership, intellect, maturity, and teamwork abilities?
  • Did my GMAT score, undergraduate transcript, and professional experience prove my ability to succeed in the business school classroom?
  • What about my application made me stand out vs. applicants with a similar profile?
  • Did I do enough to demonstrate my enthusiasm for the school, including visiting the school and speaking with current students?

Once you have identified some potential weaknesses, draft a letter (paper is better, although email may be required) highlighting new information that offsets these weaknesses. Outside of these weaknesses, any big news in your life — such as a job promotion, a significant achievement at work, or a notable new contribution to your community — also makes for a good reason to contact the admissions office.

Once you do this, your job is not done. Assuming the MBA admissions office welcomes this contact, plan on making contact with a short and professional note every few weeks to remind them that you still exist and to reiterate your interest. If you can manage a trip to campus, great, but don’t expect an admissions officer to officially meet with you. Still, short and relevant notes like these can be the difference between getting lost in the waitlist and getting into your target business school.

Visit Veritas Prep for more information on navigating the waitlist and for help in crafting your own waitlist letter.

Our First Annual MBA Admissions Officer Survey Results

Last week we released the results of Veritas Prep’s first annual survey of MBA admissions officers, to uncover what’s happening in the field today and to help business school applicants anticipate future trends.

We enlisted the help of an independent third party to survey admissions officers at the top 30 business schools in the U.S. (as defined by BusinessWeek’s ranking system). The survey ran in October and November, and covered more than half of the admissions officers at these MBA programs.

Some findings were surprising, while others confirmed what we have been telling our clients for years. Among the most interesting results:

  • The biggest challenges institutions face are attracting more, better-qualified candidates, and supporting cultural diversity in their student bodies. Among desired changes that admissions officers would like to see in their applicant pool, diversity ranks first (87%), while 57 percent of respondents would like to see a larger applicant pool at their institutions.
  • The number of international applicants to leading U.S. business schools has increased over the past five years. Ninety-four percent of responding admissions officers report a moderate to significant increase in international applicants during the last five admissions cycles.
  • The number of admits straight out of undergraduate studies is on the rise. Despite the fact that 63 percent of respondents say professional experience is the most important factor in student selection, almost half (47%) report that the number of admits straight out of college has significantly or moderately increased compared to five years ago.
  • Careless errors ranked as the top faux pas committed by students during the application process. Inconsistency between institutional choice and students’ educational objectives and ambitions ranked second, and the inclusion of unrequested items and inappropriate interview conduct tie for the third most commonly witnessed application blunder.
  • Admissions officers view students that enlist the assistance of admissions consultants neutrally. While seven percent of respondents said that they view applicants who use admissions consultants positively, 80 percent view such students neutrally. In general, most admissions officers feel that admissions consultants help students identify the programs with which they fit best and clarify their career goals.
  • Admissions officers anticipate changes in the student application process in coming years. Most respondents believe the student application process will include more face-to-face or telephone interviews in the next five years (60%). While over half of admissions officers foresee the application process becoming less complex (53%), another forty percent predict the application process will become increasingly intricate in the coming years.

We especially found the learnings around diversity and the trend toward younger applicants to be most interesting. And while we were glad to see that nearly all MBA admissions officers view applicants who use admissions consultants neutrally or positively, we will continue to work to ensure that our clients get a great deal of value from their relationship with us — but only in a 100% ethical way. As always, we will never write our applicants’ essays or tell them what to say.

Visit Veritas Prep to learn more about how we can help you in the MBA admissions process.

Top Ten Common MBA Application Mistakes from Stanford GSB

Last week LaNeika Ward, Acting Assistant Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford GSB, posted the top ten most common mistakes that the admissions committee finds in applications.

Some of them are pretty amazing (e.g., “Enter your name correctly”), but smart people do indeed make mistakes! Other mistakes are very important things that can be easily forgotten while cramming to complete your applications, such as failing to provide a good reason for leaving any of your previous jobs.

Other than these standout mistakes, several interesting things emerge from this list:

  • When discussing experiences, Stanford wants you to only focus on the past three years. In other words, it’s great if you were president of your fraternity in college, but the Stanford admissions committee puts much more emphasis on what you’ve done more recently.
  • The admissions committee asks that you explain any period of four months or more when you were not in school or working. I actually find it interesting that they’re not interested in ALL such periods. Perhaps they understand that some fresh college graduates may take some time to land on their feet and get their first job.
  • Ward makes a point of making sure that your letter of recommendation from a peer truly comes from a peer, not a supervisor whom you consider to be a friend.
  • Note the reference to the “application verification process over the summer,” which should serve as a clear warning against pulling any shenanigans in your application. Stick to the truth!

All in all, some good advice that applies to any MBA application. But the above points are interesting because they especially shed light on what Stanford GSB looks for in its business school applicants.

For more advice on applying to business school, read about the MBA application process at Veritas Prep.

Veritas Prep Featured in BusinessWeek

The folks at BusinessWeek are working on an interesting and valuable series: If someone could start planning their business school application five years in advance, what should they plan and do each year leading up to submitting their application? For the first story in this series, called Five Years to B-School: The First Year, she turned to Veritas Prep’s own Scott Shrum for advice for future MBA applicants.

While there’s no one-size-fits all plan for a future applicant, and not many people necessarily know five years out that they’ll one day apply to business school, Francesca Di Meglio nicely sums up what a future business school applicant should have done by the end of year one. According to the article, by this time you should have:

  • Begun developing your skill set
  • Found a few mentors who have given you a better idea about the jobs you might like to do in the future
  • Found a way to translate your passions into a couple of activities in which you’d really liked to get involved
  • Decided how you can make an impact at the office and in those extracurricular activities and start implementing a plan of action to do just that
  • Kept your mind on business by reading relevant books and articles
  • Made a decision about when you’d like to take the GMAT
  • Started building a satisfying, well-rounded life and career

You can read the entire article at BusinessWeek. If you would like more advice on the MBA application process and you live in the New York area, there’s just one week left to register for MBA Admissions Blueprint and meet one-on-one with a Veritas Prep admissions expert on Dec. 6 and 7!

Veritas Prep Featured in The Wall Street Journal

An article in today’s Wall Street Journal (“Escape Route: Seeking Refuge in an M.B.A. Program”) looked more deeply into the trend of people turning to graduate school as the economy slows. Veritas Prep was mentioned as one of the GMAT prep and admissions consulting firms that has recently seen tremendous growth because of the softening economy and Wall Street turmoil.

While this trend has been covered a great deal lately, this piece raises an interesting question: If more people pursue their MBAs now but the Wall Street landscape looks dramatically different in three years, where will those grads go? According to the article:

But the severity of the financial crisis and the demise and consolidation of financial powerhouses that in previous years have nabbed top talent at schools across the country make this year’s flight to business school different. When this year’s M.B.A. applicants graduate, they will enter a dramatically different Wall Street and potentially smaller job market that has been altered by the ripple effects of the credit crunch.

“The demand for managing money and the demand for banking skills, that’s going to be here,” says Stacey Kole, deputy dean for the full-time M.B.A. program at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. But “it may migrate to different firms.” Ms. Kole says the school is seeing more boutique firms recruit on campus, as well as employers in other sectors recruiting for finance jobs. “People who may have gone to Wall Street will go to Main Street in a finance role,” she says.

Business schools aren’t the only ones that may see an increase in application because of the economy. According to the Law School Admission Council, this past June there were 28,939 LSATs administered in June, representing a 15.3% increase from a year ago.

Perhaps most concerning is the effect that the current market may have on student loans. Some lenders (such as Citi) have already suspended loan programs, while others are tightening their lending standards. It remains to be seen how much of an impact this trend will have on the overall graduate school admissions landscape.

If you’re just now thinking about applying to business school or law school this year, take a look at Veritas Prep’s industry-leading admissions consulting team.

What the Bailout Means for Clients of Veritas Prep

Obviously, the hottest topic in the United States at this time is the proposed $700 billion financial market bailout, forwarded by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and the Bush administration on September 18. According to CNN, Congress is currently closing in on an agreed structure for the bailout and may in fact finalize the terms by the time you read this post. Obviously, the names have been huge and have transcended the interest level of Wall Streeters and market insiders to become the critical issue of the day. To date, bailouts have been engineered for Bear Stearns, mortgage holders, AIG, Fannie Mac, and Freddie Mac. This doesn’t even account for the $153 billion spent on the economic stimulus package or the nearly $300 billion in farm subsidies from earlier in the year. Next up – the entire financial industry. Click on any political or news website or blog, flip a channel, grab a newspaper and you can read and hear all about it.

But what does it all mean for the clients of Veritas Prep and of other “business school preparation” companies? The short answer is: it means a lot. The long answer is that you have to break it down into a series of key issues. Some of the issues are relatively obvious, short-term in nature, and warrant high priority consideration given the type of investment one makes when pursuing a graduate degree. Other issues are less obvious at this time and tend to have big picture implications.

Issue #1 – The recession push goes into hyperdrive. For companies specializing in preparation for MBA programs, there is almost always going to be an increase in demand in a downturn. Most businesses slow down in a recession, but education firms typically see an acceleration under such market conditions. For GMAT prep and MBA admissions consulting companies everywhere, 2008 was probably already a busy year given the recession and the likely application spike that typically accompanies such an economic climate. One simplified reason for this is that when the market takes a downturn, an advanced degree becomes a more attractive option to young professionals. Not only is there an opportunity to “ride out” a bad market, but the business school graduate almost certainly comes out on the other side with advanced skills, an improved network, and increased earning potential.

When key financial firms recently started collapsing and bailouts became commonplace, a recession climate escalated into the current financial crisis. What happens next? More than likely, the increased application activity at business schools and business school companies will spike even further. In addition to the draw, or “pull” of an MBA during a bad market cycle, now there is a “push” in the form of all the suddenly unemployed and displaced young professionals in the finance industries (and other affected industries). For many people, the MBA has gone from being merely an attractive option to an absolute necessity.

Issue #2 – The end game expectations must shift. The byproduct of this increased activity is that business school applicants must analyze eventual career prospects through a new lens. Those being “pushed” into the MBA arena surely must understand that the career path of former, enviable colleagues is likely to be unavailable. The financial sector – the same quadrant of the business school job market that is driving estimates of accelerated admissions numbers – will not look the same in two, three, or four years as it did even just a few weeks ago. This means that a significant MBA cycle (business major, analyst job on Wall Street, MBA from high profile program, banking job on Wall Street) has been disrupted if not broken altogether. This has an impact on everything from applications (how to explain short and long term goals when the goal just disappeared?) to summer jobs to recruiting to possible overcrowding in other job markets. And it isn’t just finance professionals who will be impacted. MBAs seeking careers in industries such as management consulting, health care, tech, media, product marketing, and operations will now likely face increased competition from peers who otherwise would have pursued employment at investment banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. And if we are to make a further leap and presume (as many do) that those financial job seekers are comprised of an uncommonly high percentage of top business school students, then competition is increased all the more by the additional quality, as well as quantity, introduced into these other markets. This leads directly into the next issue.

Issue #3 – New avenues should be considered. When analyzing the impact of the bailout on MBA applicants, most of the focus is centered on the two issues above. Less prominent is the discussion of how other programs are impacted, or how they might impact young professionals. In particular, law school becomes an almost necessary consideration for a young professional previously considering applying only to business school. Not so long ago, a law degree – and the earning potential, social prestige, and community standing that came with it – was the most desirable higher education program available to a young, ambitious, business-minded professional. In recent years, the law degree has lost some of its luster as a crown jewel of the financial markets, replaced by the speed, efficiency, and more lucrative career pipelines of business school. This is not to say that a J.D. suddenly became an irrelevant degree. On the contrary, elite law schools continued to produce top-flight entrants into financial careers, and prominent CEOs continued to boast a law degree as part of (if not the centerpiece of) impressive educational resumes. Additionally, the perceptions regarding the intellectual rigor of law school, the social value of legal work, and the job security of working at a large law firm all remained largely unchanged. But let it be said that despite escalating associate salaries, “white shoe” law firms and elite law schools were losing young talent at a fairly alarming rate to their MBA counterparts.

One outcome of this change is that the JD/MBA saw an increase in popularity. Many law students with an interest in finance and the desire for increasingly lucrative careers began to see the more generous returns attached to an MBA and pursued joint degrees to gain entree into lofty markets and firms. Now, that pendulum may swing the other way. The JD/MBA continues to grow in popularity – evidenced by the addition of a three-year Penn Law/Wharton program at the University of Pennsylvania – as students desire to gain more flexibility with regards to their job prospects. However, whereas previously the MBA was primarily added to bolster career prospects and open doors for the JD, now the JD may bolster career prospects and provide job security for the MBA. Attorneys fees will always be the last budget item to be cut and therefore provides more stable career prospects for elite applicants. Pairing a law degree to a high profile MBA is likely to be the most surefire way to safeguard one’s educational investment.

Of course, traditional MBA applicants may decide to forgo business school altogether and instead pursue a JD as a sole professional degree. A law degree – particularly from an elite program – can provide young professionals with exposure to any conceivable financial instrument and remains a proven and reliable method for securing high paying positions with great job security and encouraging executive prospects. (Once you are an executive, you won’t have to worry either way – there will always be a bailout if things go wrong!)

For all of these reasons and more, Veritas Prep decided early in 2008 to add law school admissions consulting and JD/MBA admissions consulting to the Veritas Prep slate of
offerings. Given the popularity of joint degree programs and the natural convergence of law school and business school as mutually beneficial and similarly attractive options for elite young professionals, it is imperative that business school companies afford traditional MBA clients with all of the advice, tools, and services – including law school advice, tools, and services – that are necessary to succeed. This is true now more than ever.

Issue #4 – Knowledge is power. The first three issues in this post have focused on the primary concerns facing business school (and, yes, law school) applicants: how the bailout impacts a client’s application process, job prospects, and educational choices. These issues have been posited in order of most to least pressing, but they all belong to the family of “concepts that effect the bottom line.” Issue #4 is more esoteric, but no less important. Because if this bailout means anything, it means that young people need to be more informed. When this $700 billion allocation is rubber stamped and doled out, it will bring the grand total of bailout money, subsidies, stimulus packages, and war spending to a total of nearly $1.6 trillion dollars … in 2008 alone. Few can deny that much of this has been necessary, but the fact that it has occurred with so little debate, so little oversight, and so little care is, frankly, outrageous. And what has been lacking – even more than common sense – is the outrage. Outrage from young people, who are standing by as the old guard spends tomorrow’s money to bail out bad investments, business practices, and regulation. Politically connected insiders breathe a sigh of relief as they receive taxpayer subsidized bonuses, subject to none of the “claw back” provisions required by even the most rudimentary of phantom bankruptcy schemes (or corporate reorganizations, or workouts, or whatever phrase you prefer) that should always accompany a financial rescue effort of this magnitude.

Part of the reason that so few are outraged is that they lack knowledge. Absorbing what is reported is only so helpful without a toolkit to understand the underlying principals – both the unavoidable principals that necessitate our government’s choices (the U.S. economy does need this latest bailout, for instance), as well as the principals that are being violated by the United States government’s methods of implementation. Such a toolkit is available in business school and in law school. Now, more than ever, attending an elite professional program is about receiving an advanced graduate school education, not just an advanced graduate school degree. For a long time, the analysis of whether to attend an MBA program, or go to law school, or attend med school, or any other grad program, has started and concluded with an examination of the career prospects and rate of return embedded in each pursuit. This bailout signifies a sea change on that front. Getting an MBA or a JD is about more than a degree and an eventual job. It is about building a knowledge base and a skill set to understand a rapidly changing world … and then being equipped to do something about it.

MBA Admissions Tips from Haas

The Haas admissions team just released a great new podcast detailing what they look for when evaluating MBA applicants. Peter Johnson (Director of Admissions) and Stephanie Fujii (Associate Director of Admissions) shared a few important insights into how Haas evaluates every Haas applicant.

According to Johnson and Fujii, the three key areas that Haas looks at when evaluating applicants are: academic aptitude, professional accomplishments and leadership, and personal qualities.

Academic Aptitude
When assessing your academic aptitude, the admissions committee especially looks at your undergraduate transcript and your GMAT score. Haas will also will take into consideration your coursework in other graduate programs, if applicable. According to Fujii, “Basically, we’re trying to evaluate your ability to succeed academically in our program.” Johnson made note that they pay attention to the caliber of your undergraduate institution, the rigor in your undergraduate classes, and the overall trend in your GPA from your freshman year to your senior year. The school does not have a hard GMAT score cutoff, but Johnson urges applicants to aim to at least be in the school’s middle-80% GMAT range (currently 650-750).

Professional Accomplishments and Leadership
Work experience is very important to Haas. Most incoming students at Haas have between three and seven years of work experience after college. The school rarely admits applicants with less than two years of work experience. But it’s about more than just quantity of experience. According to Johnson, “We really need to understand your career progression. Why have you transitioned from one job to another? How has your role progressed within each organization? Have your responsibilities increased? Have you had the opportunity to develop leadership skills?” Johnson went on to add that it’s impressive to see that a candidate has earned a series of promotions and increases in responsibility, rather than someone who “started out at the top.” Finally, the Haas admissions team looks closely for signs of how you’ve impacted your organization, which is a key yardstick of your leadership ability, regardless of your job title.

Personal Qualities
Like all other top business schools, Haas puts a lot of emphasis on who you are, not just what you’ve accomplished. As Johnson says, “We’re interested in understanding our applicants as individuals. In other words, what’s important to you? What are you passionate about?” They go on to emphasize that you really need to be your self in your MBA application. Says Johnson, “The number one mistake that applicants make in their essays is that they spend too much time trying to write what they think the admissions committee wants to read.” Finally, they give another important piece of advice that we often give our clients: Don’t underestimate how much time and effort it will take to create truly great, personal MBA essays. Finally, they explain Haas’s interview policy: The school typically invites 25%-30% of its applicants to interview (usually conducted by alumni or students), and Haas rarely admits an applicant without an interview.

These are just a few of the tips that Haas includes in their podcast. We definitely recommend that you give it a listen if you’re interested in Haas, but give it a listen even if you don’t plan on applying to Haas this year.

For more advice on applying to Haas, visit the Veritas Prep UC Berkeley (Haas) information page and let us help you develop your own MBA Game Plan for Haas.

“Safety” Business Schools Are Getting More Selective

Last week BusinessWeek added to the chatter about the slowing economy driving another big increase in business school applications. Nothing new there, although the article included one interesting point regarding lower-ranked MBA programs:

While applications are up across the board, the middle-tier business schools are reporting some of the sharpest increases, ranging from 25% to nearly 40% in the number of applications in some instances. At least some of the students are heading to business schools because they have lost their jobs or are worried about the future. Admissions officers said that they expect more of those students, including those who may have waited to see how the economy fares, to apply during the coming cycle.

The upshot is that applicants who have assumed they can get into a top-30 school for sure — as a backup if they can’t get into a top-10 school — may need to rethink that assumption. If you expect that your credentials will make you far from a shoo-in at a top school, and you plan on casting a wide net and applying to some lower-ranked business schools, be ready to work hard to get into those “safety” schools.

Want to get a better feel for how high you should aim when applying to business school? Veritas Prep’s MBA admissions consultants will give you an objective look at your candidacy. And if you need to boost your GMAT score, Veritas Prep offers a variety of GMAT course options to help you break 700 on the exam.

Veritas Prep Provides MBA Admissions Tips for Forbes

Earlier this week Tara Weiss at Forbes interviewed me for a piece she was doing called Tips For Getting Into A Top Business School. It was the third time Tara has interviewed me on the subject of MBA admissions, and I really enjoyed our talk once again.

In the interview I told her about how many of our admissions consulting clients are afraid to discuss past failures or weaknesses in their applications. If you don’t have any weaknesses or failures to discuss, then what makes you interesting?

I know one applicant who pursued a pro sports career, only to have to give it up and go on to a successful “normal” career and then apply to business school. Pretty interesting, but she was extremely reluctant to talk about her whole sports experience. “But I don’t want them to think I’m a loser who didn’t accomplish my goals,” she argued.

Do you think that everyone at Harvard or Wharton has achieved every one of his or her goals? Do you think that the admissions office at those schools believes that’s the case? Of course not! An applicant without any failures or faults or like a movie plot with no conflict — not very interesting or believable.

For more MBA application advice, see an interview that Tara did with me and Omari Bouknight earlier this year.

More on the Uptick in MBA Applications

In what has become a common theme in the media, The Economist recently wrote a piece showing further evidence of an upwsing in MBA applications in the face of a slowing economy. The piece takes a look at business school applications as a predictor of future economic performance, saying, “Worryingly for those betting on a swift economic recovery, business schools reckon that next year could yield an even bigger crop of applicants.”

According to a chart cited in the article, three-quarters of MBA programs are expected to reprt an increase in applications this year — approaching the record levels seen in 2001-2002, right after the dot-com bubble. Adding on to the effect of a slowing economy is the continuing surge in applicants from India and other developing markets.

As far as the GMAT is concerned, the Graduate Management Admission Council expects at least a couple more years of strong growth for the exam. Registrations are expected to rise to 249,000 this year, yet another record.

If you’re already planning on applying, don’t depair. Stay the course, do your best to ace the GMAT, and then focus all your energy on perfecting your mba application. Don’t worry about timing the market… Just focus on making your application as strong as it can be.

Applying to B-School in a Few Years? Maximize Your Candidacy Today.

A significant portion of my MBA admissions consulting applicants come to be with little to no extracurricular experience since their undergraduate days. While this is a problem that can be addressed, it can show a lack of proper planning over the long term. A lot of applicants don

UT Dallas Offers Two New Master’s Degrees

Earlier today, the University of Texas at Dallas announced the addition of two new master’s degrees – one in finance, and one in supply chain management. These new degree options will begin in August of this year.

The finance degree requires students to choose one of four concentrations:

  • Financial Analysis
  • Financial Management
  • Financial Risk Management
  • Financial Engineering

The degree is designed to clearly identify these students as masters in finance, a distinction that wasn’t always clear under the old degree.

The supply chain management degree was “driven by the industry and tailored by people high up in surrounding corporations,” and is designed to teach students the intricacies of finding optimal ways of producing parts and supplies.

You can read the full release on their site.

Wharton Application Essays and Deadlines for 2008-2009

Wharton has released its application deadlines and admissions essays for the 2008-2009 season. Here they are, taken from Wharton’s site. Our comments are in italics:

Wharton Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 9, 2008
Round 2: January 8, 2009
Round 3: March 5, 2009

(No big changes from last year… All deadlines are within a week of the 2007-2008 season’s respective deadlines.)

Wharton Application Essays

First-Time Applicant Questions:

  1. Describe your career progress to date and your future short-term and long-term career goals. How do you expect an MBA from Wharton to help you achieve these goals, and why is now the best time for you to join our program? (1,000 words)

  2. Describe a setback or a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself? (500 words)
  3. Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity and/or potential? (500 words)
  4. (Question #3 isn’t new, but it’s new that it’s a mandatory one. Interesting question… It doesn’t get much more explicit than this that they’re looking for leadership.)

  5. Please respond to one (1) of the following questions:

    a. Describe an experience you have had innovating or initiating, your lessons learned, the results and impact of your efforts. (500 words)

    (Question 4a is new.)

    b. Is there anything about your background or experience that you feel you have not had the opportunity to share with the Admissions Committee in your application? If yes, please explain. (500 words)

  6. OPTIONAL: If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, TOEFL waiver request, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words, maximum)

Reapplicant Questions:

  1. Describe your career progress to date and your future short-term and long-term career goals. How do you expect an MBA from Wharton to help you achieve these goals, and why is now the best time for you to join our program? How has your candidacy improved since the last time you applied? (1,000 words)
  2. Describe an experience you have had innovating or initiating, your lessons learned, the results and impact of your efforts. (500 words)
  3. (As it is for new applicants, Question 2 is new. Clearly more emphasis on innovation from Wharton this year.)

  4. Please respond to one (1) of the following questions:

    a. Where in your background would we find evidence of your leadership capacity and/or potential? (500 words)

    b. Is there anything about your background or experience that you feel you have not had the opportunity to share with the Admissions Committee in your application? If yes, please explain. (500 words)

  5. OPTIONAL: If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, TOEFL waiver request, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words, maximum)

For more information about Wharton, visit our Wharton MBA information page.And for more information on business school application deadlines, visit our MBA admissions deadlines page.

Wharton Director of Admissions Steps Down

On Monday Wharton announced on its blog that Thomas Caleel has vacated his role as Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, effective June 30. Anjani Jain, Wharton’s Vice Dean and Director of the school’s Graduate Division, will temporarily fill the role until a permanent placement is announced.

Reads the announcement: “In his role as Director, Thomas has been a passionate ambassador of the School and the MBA Program, and Wharton faculty, staff and students alike are enormously grateful to have had Thomas serve the School in this important role.”

Under Caleel’s leadership, the school opened up to the community even more through such initiatives as the student2student online forum (a longstanding Wharton initiative) and the Wharton Admissions Blog. Hopefully his successor will carry on with this philosophy.

From reading the announcement, Vice Dean Jain certainly seems to have enough on his plate already. With the 2008-2009 admissions season just around the corner, here’s hoping that Wharton finds a suitable replacement for Caleel as soon as possible!

Fore more information about applying to Wharton, visit our Wharton information page.

Lowest Price on The Official Guide for GMAT Review

Today Veritas Prep introduces an offer that just might change the landscape of GMAT preparation — a brand new copy of The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 11 Edition, for just $10 plus shipping. This isn’t a used copy or an older edition. This is the real deal that some stores sell for over $30. (Since this is such a low price, we’re limiting this offer to one per person, while supplies last.)

We believe that success favors the prepared, especially when it comes to test preparation. We feels so strongly about this that we want The Official Guide to be affordable anyone who is preparing to take the exam. While you may decide to purchase other materials and services to prepare for the exam, this book can be a great starting point as you begin your GMAT preparation journey.

If you want additional preparation for the exam, Veritas Prep offers the most comprehensive GMAT prep courses in the industry. We urge you to buy a copy of The Official Guide, get familiar with the test and gauge how much help you may need, and then take a closer look at what Veritas Prep has to offer, including our full 42-hour course, private tutoring, and online training.

Best of luck. We hope you crush the GMAT!

Recruiter Demand for MBA Grads Remains Strong

This month the Graduate Management Admission Council released a report showing that demand for business school graduate remains strong even as the economy shows signs of weakness.

The report, produced by GMAC in partnership with the MBA Career Services Council and European Foundation for Management Development, shows 6% growth in the percentage of employers making offers to MBA grads, and an 11% increase in the average number of hires by each hiring company.

The results for compensation growth also looked encouraging. Three-quarters of employers reported that they expect to increase the annual base salary of 2008 grads vs. last year’s hiring class. The projected starting base salary for all business school graduates is $89,621, about 4% more than last year. Not surprisingly, consulting (over $111,000) and finance (over $110,000) offer the highest average total compensation.

What does this mean for you? Most of all, it suggests you should stay the course. No radical changes to the hiring outlook suggest that you, if you’ve been planning to apply for business school, don’t stop now. If you haven’t been planning on doing so, then these numbers probably won’t change your mind.

It will be interesting to see what next year’s numbers look like, and what impact the overall economy has to the number of people applying to business school in 2008-2009.

HBS Releases Application Essays & Deadlines for Class of 2011

If anything marks the official beginning of the 2008-2009 application season, this is it: Harvard Business School just released its deadlines and application essays for the Class of 2011.

For those of you who are planning ahead, the application deadlines are mostly the same as last year, except for the Round 1 deadline, which is almost two weeks later than last year’s. The deadlines are as follows:

  • Round 1: Oct. 15, 2008
  • Round 2: Jan. 6, 2009
  • Round 3: Mar. 11, 2009

Remember that you want to aim for Round 1 or Round 2. Applying after Round 2 means competing for very few open seats, so you want to do everything you can to apply no later than Jan. 6, 2009. Since the Round 1 deadline is just five months away, it’s not too early to start preparing! That especially goes for the GMAT. Study until it hurts, take a GMAT prep course if you want some extra help, and then nail the GMAT and get it off of your plate. The last thing you want to do is have to cram for the GMAT while you’re also trying to perfect your essays and chase after the people writing your letters of recommendation!

Looking at the HBS application essays, there are now just four required this year, compared to five last year. Two are required, and two can be chosen from a list of four questions.

Required Essays

  1. What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)
  2. What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit)

Optional Essays (choose two)

  1. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience? (400-word limit)
  2. Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization. (400-word limit)
  3. What area of the world are you most curious about and why? (400-word limit)
  4. What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you? (400-word limit)

Of the optional essays, many applicants will assume #1 is only meant as a “Let me explain why my undergrad GPA is low”-type essay, but also consider using this as a chance to discuss a time when you pushed yourself out of your intellectual comfort zone. Looking at #4, the “why is this choice meaningful to you” part is what is most interesting. HBS isn’t looking for you to just rattle off your five-step plan for world domination. Explore why you want to do it, and why you’re passionate about it. This kind of introspection is key to setting yourself apart in HBS admissions officers’ eyes.

If you would like more information about applying to HBS, visit our Harvard Business School profile page. And for more information on business school application deadlines, visit our MBA admissions deadlines page.