USC Marshall Fall 2015 MBA Essay Question

The USC Marshall School of Business has a streamlined application process, like many programs this season, and requires one essay of Fall 2015 applicants. Essay: What are your short-term and long term personal and/or professional …

The USC Marshall School of Business has a streamlined application process, like many programs this season, and requires one essay of Fall 2015 applicants.

Essay: What are your short-term and long term personal and/or professional goals following graduation from USC Marshall? How will USC Marshall enable you to develop or improve your skills in order to reach your goals? (500-700 words)

Optional Essay: Please provide any additional information you believe is important and/or will address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application. (250 words)

Re-Application Essay: Please describe any significant professional, personal, or academic growth since your last application to the USC Marshall School of Business. Discuss your specific professional goals and how the USC Marshall MBA Program will help you achieve those goals. (500-700 words)

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Choose Safety Schools for Your MBA Applications Carefully

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Landing a seat at a top MBA program isn’t a slam-dunk for anybody. It’s getting increasingly competitive to get into the highest-ranked schools. …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

Landing a seat at a top MBA program isn’t a slam-dunk for anybody. It’s getting increasingly competitive to get into the highest-ranked schools.

The term safety school gets thrown around quite a bit in MBA admissions, and it’s important for applicants to have a clear understanding of what that term means before they start the school selection process.

The rule when coming up with a list of business schools is that you must feel genuine enthusiasm about attending each and every one of them, regardless of whether they are dream schools or programs you might consider a safer bet. If you would feel disappointed rather than ecstatic about advancing your career by attending a school, then do not apply. That’s a waste of everyone’s time and your money.

[Consider the benefits of looking beyond the top-ranked business schools.]

A good way to determine whether your list should include one or more safety schools is by asking yourself how important it is for you to go to business school next year. If the need is immediate, then definitely include a range of schools of varying degrees of competitiveness. The application pool fluctuates each year, and all you need is one admit, so spread some risk around.

However, if you’ve zeroed in on a handful of highly competitive programs that you strongly feel are the best choices for advancing your professional goals, and you have some flexibility with the timing, it would be better to focus your energies on the GMAT and elevating your profile in line with your target programs’ characteristics.

If you don’t get in the first time, you can learn from your weak points and reapply in the next application cycle.

A safety school doesn’t mean you’d be guaranteed an offer of admission, though. It merely means your chances are far greater than at a program with an acceptance rate of 15 percent or lower.

[Here are some tips to narrow down your b-school application list.]

So, in order to decide what qualifies as a safety school for you, start with the hard data points. As a general guideline, take a look at programs you like where your profile falls within the top 10 percent of admitted students.

Compare your undergraduate GPA, GMAT score, years of work experience and particular industry with those of accepted applicants reported by the school in their class profile page. If your industry is underrepresented, consider that an advantage for your application.

Everyone has different reasons for applying to business school. Your main focus may be on networking prospects, the educational experience, geographic location, culture, special programming or even family tradition. If you’re excited about any of those elements at a school and would be happy to attend for any of those reasons, then consider it, even if it’s a safe choice.

I had a client who applied to both University of California—Los Angeles Anderson School of Management and Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business. Of the two, Stanford is obviously the more competitive “reach” school, but my client was from Los Angeles and would have been happy to go to Anderson, thus making it a great selection for a safety school.

[Fight the fear of failure when applying to MBA programs.]

Ultimately, he did get into Stanford and chose that school over the full scholarship offer he received from UCLA.

Another client faced the difficult decision of remaining on the waitlist at the University of California—Berkeley Haas School of Business, his dream choice, or accepting an offer of admission from the University of Texas—Austin McCombs School of Business, his safety school and one he would be thrilled to attend.

When the waitlist purgatory continued into summer, even after he’d submitted a deposit to hold his place at McCombs, he finally decided to withdraw from the Haas wait list and commit to a sure thing. He was increasingly happy with McCombs as he met his future classmates and weighed the significant financial benefits of in-state tuition.

If you do apply to a range of schools, make sure each is a good fit and that your excitement, level of research and passion for the program comes through in your application regardless of whether it’s a safety school or not. The folks in the admissions committee have typically been at it long enough and can tell when an applicant has lukewarm feelings for them – and that’s the surest way your safe bet will become a bust.

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B-Schools Still Lukewarm on GMAT IR Section…For Now

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of admissions officers at over 200 business schools across the United States,  60% say that an applicant’s score on the GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning section (launched in June 2012) …

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2014 survey of admissions officers at over 200 business schools across the United States,  60% say that an applicant’s score on the GMAT’s Integrated Reasoning section (launched in June 2012) is not currently an important part of their evaluation of a prospective student’s overall GMAT score.

This represents a slight uptick from Kaplan’s 2013 survey, when 57% said an applicant’s Integrated Reasoning score was not important.  Despite that finding, Kaplan’s survey also finds that 50% of business schools pinpoint a low GMAT score as “the biggest application killer,” confirming that applicants still need to submit a strong score overall.

And because GMAT takers receive a separate score for the Integrated Reasoning section, poor performance on this section cannot be masked by stronger performance on the Quantitative, Verbal or Analytical Writing Assessment sections of the exam.

Brian Carlidge, executive director of pre-business and pre-graduate programs at Kaplan Test Prep, says the current lack of emphasis on the IR section may be due to the fact that applicants in 2012, 2013, and 2014 probably submitted scores from the old GMAT, since scores are good for five years.

The tide will likely change though as more applicants submit scores from the current iteration of the GMAT with the IR section. For that reason, Kaplan advises MBA applicants to continue preparing for and doing well on the IR section.

“Similar to how not scoring well on Integrated Reasoning cannot be masked  by good performance on other sections because it receives its own separate score, doing well on Integrated Reasoning can set you apart from other applicants in a positive way,” says Carlidge. “Use it to your advantage.”

For the 2014 Kaplan survey, admissions officers from 204 business schools from across the United States – including 11 of the top 30 MBA programs, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between August and September 2014.

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Harvard Business School Round 1 Interview News

Earlier this week, Harvard Business School‘s Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold announced that the first wave of interview invites to Round 1 applicants were heading out to roughly 800 lucky inboxes, …

Earlier this week, Harvard Business School‘s Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Dee Leopold announced that the first wave of interview invites to Round 1 applicants were heading out to roughly 800 lucky inboxes, with another batch of 150 to come on October 15th.

On that date, HBS will also inform about 200 applicants via email that the admissions team would like to “further consider” their applications in Round 2. Applicants to the 2+2 program will be invited to interview on the October 15th wave as well.

October 15th is also the date HBS will “release” candidates who are not moving forward. “We hope that by doing this early, we are enabling this group to pursue other options sooner vs. later,” the director explains.

Finally, Leopold requests that applicants refrain from sending in any additional supporting documents. “We’ve designed an evaluation process that we believe is as thorough and fair as we can make it,” she says. “It’s not perfect, but it certainly is a process to which we dedicate a tremendous amount of care and concern.”

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Harvard Business School 2014-2015 MBA Essay Tips

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Application Insights from UCLA Anderson

Most MBA admissions teams stress that the application process is holistic, meaning they take into account all elements of the candidate’s application and don’t assign overwhelming weight to any one aspect. In a recent update …

ucla anderson application advice

Most MBA admissions teams stress that the application process is holistic, meaning they take into account all elements of the candidate’s application and don’t assign overwhelming weight to any one aspect.

In a recent update to UCLA Anderson School of Management‘s MBA Insider’s Blog, Associate Director of MBA Admissions Jessica Chung provides some answers for applicants who have expressed concern over how UCLA Anderson weighs test scores and undergraduate academic performance.

Like several elite business schools, Anderson now accepts either the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) or the GMAT for admission. Chung is more candid than most in MBA admissions when she advises, “If you have not taken either test and are unsure which one to study for, I would lean towards the GMAT since it was designed specifically for business school admissions and we have more familiarity with it.”

Ultimately applicants should choose whichever exam they feel comfortable with that would best highlight their abilities, but from Chung’s comment we come away feeling that the GMAT is still the “gold standard” in MBA admissions simply because it’s a more more known entity.

A diverse class leads to a robust and lively educational experience, which is why UCLA Anderson encourages applicants from all majors to apply. For that reason, applicants with little quantitative experience in undergrad should strive to do exceptionally well on the GMAT or GRE. On the flip side, candidates with a strong quantitative track record in an academic or employment setting might alleviate any concerns admissions might have over a less-than-stellar test score.

Interestingly, Chung explains that the admissions team looks beyond the grades or GPA of your undergraduate transcript and considers factors such as the rigor of your school and course load trends over time.

All of the puzzle pieces—test scores, GPA, essay, recommendation letter, interview, work experience—are considered when it comes to making admissions decisions, and, says Chung, “It’s this holistic approach that leads us to an incredible class each year!”

*  *  *

The Round 1 deadline is coming up on October 22, 2014. Please check out our Fall 2015 UCLA Anderson MBA essay tips for advice on how to approach this year’s streamlined essay prompt.

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Admissions Updates from Michigan Ross

Yesterday, October 7th, marked the Round 1 deadline at Michigan Ross School of Business, and Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Soojin Kwon posted some information on her blog today that will be helpful …

admissions updates at Michigan Ross

Yesterday, October 7th, marked the Round 1 deadline at Michigan Ross School of Business, and Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Soojin Kwon posted some information on her blog today that will be helpful for R1 as well as future applicants.

Perhaps the biggest news is for international candidates, who applied in greater numbers this year and will be able to take advantage of a new non-cosigner international student loan by Prodigy Finance, available to Ross students as well as admits to 15 other top business schools in the pilot U.S. program.

In a departure from many business schools, Kwon notes that this year’s required essay questions don’t touch upon the most common queries of all: What are your career goals? Why an MBA? Why Ross? It isn’t because the program isn’t interested in hearing about these subjects. Rather, the questions will be addressed during the MBA interview instead.

“This more closely replicates the experience you’re going to have as an MBA student going through the recruiting process,” Kwon explains. “And, asking those questions in an interview enables us to ask follow-up questions.”

The admissions director also highlights upcoming events this week at Ross, including UpClose, a diversity preview event October 10-11th for more than one hundred prospective students and alumni. Ross will also host a Social Innovation Summit this Friday, featuring speakers working in social entrepreneurship, impact investing, food security and urban farming, and workforce development.

Finally, Kwon encourages applicants to connect with the Ross Student Ambassadors, who can provide the inside scoop on what student life at Ross is like. This may be especially helpful for those unable to come to campus and attend an admissions event in person.

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Michigan Ross MBA Essay Tips

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