Category Archives: General

Ask the AdCom: Reading Recommendations

Hey everybody! We’re back with our second installment of our new weekly column “Ask the AdCom.” We know MBA applicants love to get information straight from the source, and in this space we’ll be sharing tips and …

Hey everybody! We’re back with our second installment of our new weekly column “Ask the AdCom.” We know MBA applicants love to get information straight from the source, and in this space we’ll be sharing tips and advice from admissions team members from a dozen top business schools.

Since AdCom members are human, too, we thought our readers might enjoy seeing  a different side of what makes these guys tick. This fun space is not really about the application process but more about real-life topics, like where’s the best place on campus to eat or study, what are the can’t-miss courses, and all the fun stuff that happens at b-school that makes lifelong memories for students.

We hope you enjoy their insights!

Today’s question is: What’s a good book for b-school student or an aspirant (not a text book)?

Morgan Bernstein, Executive Director of Full-Time MBA Admissions  at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, recommends:

Life is Good – The Book: How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride, by Bert and John Jacobs, co-founders of the socially conscious lifestyle company/brand Life is Good. The book celebrates the power of optimism, sharing stories and advice for living simpler, happier, and more fulfilling lives. Given the fast-paced (and oftentimes stressful) lives of MBA students, this book provides a welcome and refreshing retreat from the chaos.

John Roeder, Assistant Dean Graduate Admissions  at SMU Cox School of Business, recommends:

Texas Got It Right by Sam and Andrew Wyly.  While most states are floundering over the last decade, this is an interesting look into Texas history, traits, and policies that have made Texas successful, prosperous and an entrepreneurial powerhouse. After reading this book, aspiring MBAs will have a good idea of why business is booming in the state of Texas and why so many companies are re-locating their corporate Headquarters from the east and west coast.

Texas should be on the radar of any aspiring MBA whether they are choosing to ultimately live in the state or just do business there.

 Rodrigo Malta, Director of Admissions at UT McCombs School of Business, says: Crossing the Chasm is a perennial favorite amongst students and professors.

Kelly R. Wilson, Executive Director of Admissions  at the CMU Tepper School of Business, recommends: Professor Allan Meltzer’s Why Capitalism?

Melissa Fogerty, Director of Admissions at Yale School of Management and obviously an avid reader, recommends:  Prospective MBA students should check out our Yale SOM faculty’s Summer Reading List. This list includes our faculty’s favorite business books, as well as works of fiction, history, and more.

I’ll point out in particular Professor Will Goetzmann’s new book, Money Changes Everything: How Finance Made Civilization Possible, published in 2016 by Princeton University Press, which explores how the development of finance has made the growth of civilizations possible.

As someone who loves to read, I’m looking forward to exploring Goetzmann’s idea of finance as a time machine, which Felix Martin (New York Times Book Review) notes “is a fascinating thesis, brilliantly illuminated by scores of vivid examples, generously illustrated with a wealth of pictures, comprehensive in its geographical and temporal scope, and in my view almost entirely convincing.”

In fiction, I’ll also recommend M.L. Stedman’s New York Times bestselling novel The Light Between Oceans, which I recently read for my book club. I’m looking forward to comparing it to the Derek Cianfrance film starring Rachel Weisz, Alicia Vikander, and Michael Fassbender, which will be out in theaters in September.

Shari Hubert, Associate Dean, MBA Admissions  at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business, also has a long list of recommendations:

The Start Up of You –by Reid Hoffman

Banker to the Poor –by Muhammad Yunus

How to Change the World – by David Bornstein

Zero to One –by Peter Thiel

Conscious Capitalism – by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia

The 10-Day MBA – by Steven Silbiger

The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of Them (by Meg Jay – there’s also a Ted Talk on this) – This book helps to put into context why individuals pursue their MBA and helps to prepare students for the most transformative and defining period of their lives.


Look out for the #AskAdCom in our social media channels, and we’ll see you again next week when we check in to Ask the AdCom to name a great restaurant around campus!

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GMAC Releases 2016 Application Trends Survey

Nearly half (49 percent) of all graduate business programs received more applications in 2016 compared with 2015, according to a global survey report released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). European programs across …

Nearly half (49 percent) of all graduate business programs received more applications in 2016 compared with 2015, according to a global survey report released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC).

European programs across the board, plus full-time one-year MBA, executive MBA, and online MBA programs appear to be experiencing stronger application growth, whereas full-time two-year, part-time, and flexible MBA programs worldwide are indicating declines this year.

GMAC 2016 application trends

“Business degrees continue to be one of the most sought-after educational credentials,” said Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC. “With the creation of more tailored business programs such as the Master in Data Analytics, the demand for entrance into business school is spreading across a growing supply of programs. With the competitive landscape changing, applicants have more options from which to choose, creating a mixed picture for business schools today.”

GMAC conducted its 17th annual Application Trends Survey from early June to mid-July 2016. The survey findings are based on a record number of responses from 335 business schools and faculties worldwide representing 872 graduate management programs, including MBA, non-MBA business master’s, and doctoral-level programs.

Participating programs received a combined total of 440,000 applications during the 2016 application cycle. Ninety-three percent of all participating programs report that the applicants this year are similarly or more academically qualified than candidates last year.

Key Findings: Program Application Growth

A key finding within the report reveals that European business programs — which have seen stagnant volumes for several years — are experiencing an influx in applications this year. Sixty-five percent of European programs (across all program types combined) grew their application volumes. Forty-six percent of U.S. programs and 41 percent of programs in East and Southeast Asia grew their application volumes as well.

European business schools

Further, European full-time one-year MBA programs stand out in this year’s findings — nearly 3 in 4 (74 percent) programs report year-on-year increases. Nearly half of U.S.-based programs (43 percent) and programs in East and Southeast Asia (45 percent) report volume growth in the full-time one-year MBA market.

Additional program types experiencing application gains include the full-time one-year MBA, executive MBA, online MBA, Master of Finance and the Master in Data Analytics.

  • A majority of all full-time one-year MBA programs (57 percent) report growing application volumes this year, building on the momentum of last year’s results when 51 percent reported growth.
  • For the first time since 2008, a majority (51 percent) of executive MBA programs report growing volumes, 8 percentage points higher than programs that reported growing volumes in 2015.
  • For the second consecutive year, a majority (57 percent) of online MBA programs report growing application volumes, up from 50 percent of programs that reported volume growth last year. Survey responses also show that 9 percent of online programs are new in 2017, signaling schools are implementing programs that are of high interest to prospective students.
  • Also for the second year in a row, a majority of Master of Finance programs report growing volumes. More than half of the European (65 percent) and U.S.-based programs (55 percent) report growth this year.
  • One of the newest programs in the graduate management education space — Master in Data Analytics — continues to see growing demand. Nearly all (94 percent) of the 16 data analytics programs that submitted data comparing 2015 with this year report application volume growth in 2016. The survey also shows program growth in this area as nine new programs will be seating their first classes this year.
  • After three years of slowing growth, the Master in Management program holds steady in 2016 with a majority (51 percent) of programs reporting growing application volumes. More European programs (58 percent) report growth compared with half (50 percent) of U.S.-based programs.

Key Findings: Decreasing Volumes for Some Flagship Programs

A select number of program types realized fewer application submissions or held steady with last year.

  • For the first time since 2012, fewer than half of full-time two-year MBA programs (43 percent) experienced year-on-year application growth this year. This is the second straight year that the share of programs reporting growth is down from a high of 61 percent in 2014.
  • Part-time MBA and flexible MBA programs continue to exhibit the same application volume patterns seen over the past seven years since the end of the Great Recession. This year, just 43 percent of part-time MBA programs and 44 percent of flexible MBA programs report application volume growth.
  • Master of Accounting programs continue a trend of declining growth. Less than half (44 percent) of programs experienced rising application volumes in 2016.

Other Points of Interest: Candidate Diversification and Tuition Assistance

Business schools continue to diversify their outreach and recruitment efforts to broaden their appeal to targeted candidate segments. Seventy percent of full-time two-year MBA programs recruit international candidates. These candidates, especially those from China, India and the U.S., also are a priority for outreach and recruitment by a majority of full-time one-year MBA programs and master’s programs in management and finance.

The most common form of tuition assistance that graduate management programs offer is merit scholarships. The majority of all program types offer financial aid, including 78 percent of full-time MBA programs. Two-thirds of programs (68 percent) report that the percentage of their incoming students receiving employer-based tuition reimbursement this year will be similar to 2015.

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Cornell University Launches Dual MBA/MS

Cornell University’s Samuel Johnson Graduate School of Management and the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences have announced a new dual-degree program that will provide the next generation of health care leaders with a broad set …

Cornells Dual MBA/MS degreeCornell University’s Samuel Johnson Graduate School of Management and the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences have announced a new dual-degree program that will provide the next generation of health care leaders with a broad set of skills for success in a rapidly changing environment.

The program will focus on health care throughout the United States, in particular health care systems that are experiencing vast changes in structure, payment and regulatory requirements.

Designed to satisfy the evolving professional needs of the U.S. health care industry, the program will educate leaders of academic medical centers, community hospitals, large group multi-specialty or single-specialty practices, health insurers, health care consultants, pharmaceutical professionals and health care innovators, among others.

“Succeeding in today’s rapidly changing health care market requires an advanced understanding of business management, health care economics and health care policy,” says Johnson Dean Mark Nelson. “We’ve developed this program to meet these critical needs.”

Students participating in the two-year Executive MBA/M.S. Healthcare Leadership program will receive a Master of Science degree from the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences and an MBA from Johnson.

The program will begin accepting applications in October for fall of 2017.  Applicants will be evaluated on their academic record, communication and leadership skills, management experience, career progression, health care area of expertise, experience in research or evaluation, and ethical values in health care.

Strong candidates for the program should be able to clearly articulate their career goals, add a unique perspective to the classroom environment, be willing and able to work effectively in teams and show a demonstrated ability to master quantitative material.

Enrolled students will take all core courses required for each of the degrees and have an opportunity to take specialized electives. Courses will cover such topics as managing and leading organizations, managerial finance, health policy, health informatics and business strategy.

Students will meet in Weill Cornell Medicine facilities in New York City and will participate in two weeklong residential sessions during each of the program’s two years – one in the spring in the New York City area and one on Cornell’s Ithaca campus in the summer.

Students will be required to complete a capstone project intended to help them manage and work with stakeholders in the health care sector. The capstone project is a six-month intensive team engagement with a health care organization facing specific management challenges. At the conclusion of the engagement, the student teams will provide the organizations with a detailed plan recommending strategies for resolving their challenges.

“As our health care landscape continues to evolve, it is increasingly important that we cultivate leaders in the field who can drive national dialogue and spearhead new initiatives in health care policy and delivery,” said Dr. Gary Koretzky, dean of the Weill Cornell Graduate School of Medical Sciences.

“Our unique collaboration with Johnson will equip aspiring health care leaders with a keen grasp of health policy and informatics – specialized skills that will lead to further innovation and ensure that patients receive the finest care at the greatest value.”

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Military MBA Applicants: It’s Not About You…Until Now

In the second of our new series of guest posts directed at military applicants, army veteran and Cornell MBA Peter Sukits shares candid, actionable advice for military veterans considering a transition to a full-time MBA program. …

In the second of our new series of guest posts directed at military applicants, army veteran and Cornell MBA Peter Sukits shares candid, actionable advice for military veterans considering a transition to a full-time MBA program.
Pete is an aspiring career coach, author and finance professional living in Cincinnati, Ohio. He served for five years as a commissioned officer in the United States Army, and deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. After separating from active duty, he earned an MBA from the Johnson Graduate School of Management at Cornell University.
Through the process of transitioning, he learned many valuable lessons in the areas of expectations, mindset and preparation when undertaking the shift from military to academic and civilian life. We look forward to sharing his advice with you here.

With service in any branch of the military comes several unwritten rules. Many of us former commissioned and noncommissioned officers especially, know this – it’s just part of the culture.

  • On a training exercise, you don’t eat until all your soldiers have eaten.
  • You give credit to your soldiers at all opportunity when you are praised for doing a good job.
  • You don’t talk about money. You don’t talk about medals. Period.

All of these rules have a common theme – it’s not about you and your accomplishments. It’s about the unit. It’s about the mission. It’s about your soldiers. In your evaluation reports, your main successes are predicated upon how your team accomplishes its mission. If the team fails, you fail.

Former Army officer and Rhodes Scholar, Craig Mullaney put it very succinctly in his book The Unforgiving Minute about his experience in Ranger School. It was stressed to him that he wasn’t there for an award or a career booster. The skills he was learning, and the experience he was going through was for the benefit of his future soldiers.

In the military realm, you’re rewarded for selflessness and ostracized for self-promotion.

advice for military mba applicants

Sukits in Afghanistan

In my humble opinion, this is one of the single most difficult concepts with which newly separated veterans must come to grips. Once you have made the decision to enter an MBA program, you’ve shed the weight of your subordinate unit off of your shoulders, and are focused on improving yourself and beginning a new career. To do that, it’s going to take a lot more than great academic performance and experiences to achieve your new goals.

You need to make sure people know about your great academic performance and experiences.

Maybe it’s because a career path in the military is structured and almost preset, or maybe it’s because everybody wears their “resume” on their uniform. For better or for worse, there is no need to sell yourself while serving. So naturally, this will be an area where at best you will need some practice, and at worst…an area that will make you cringe in your desert boots.

As I found out very quickly, the art form, or “soft skill”, of selling myself, which flies in the face of the environment I had just left, is essential for success in business school and the business world. You need to be able to communicate your experiences to your classmates, your recruiters, your interviewers, your mentors etc. Anyone that has a vested interest in seeing you succeed needs to know what makes you, you.

No, it’s not what your team did. It’s what you brought to the table personally that ensured mission success. For the first time in a long time, it’s about you.

Your opportunities to practice and implement this skill will come in many forms. Primarily, job and admissions interviews will require to literally trace your career for the past several years – that famous “walk me through your resume” question, among others. These will often be the “make or break” events that will secure you admission or the position.

Likewise, networking is key in your MBA journey (more specifics on that topic later). Often times, the people you are looking to connect with at a career event, at a cocktail reception or at a company visit, won’t know you at all and they will not have seen your resume. This is not to say that you need to blow your horn so loudly that security needs to escort you out. But they need to get a picture of what you’ve done and what your intentions are.

Where to start? It’s going to be uncomfortable at first. One of the best things that my colleagues and I have done is literally write down what you are going to say to someone. Write down your answers to interview questions. Write down how you’ll introduce yourself to a recruiter. Write down the words you will say to a 2nd year you’re looking to meet. Then, say it. Then, say it again. Practice with people. It’s going to sound awkward at first, but eventually you’ll get used to it. By the time the real thing comes around, you should be in a position where you’re able to effectively market yourself without coming across as rehearsed, and without feeling arrogant.

Tasks to Prospective Students:

  • Take every opportunity to interact with potential classmates. If you know any veterans that are already in business school or have gone, reach out to them for mentorship. They can help you navigate this challenge and coach you along.
  • Immerse yourself as much as you can in the culture of the school you’ll be attending (if you’ve decided on it). What is the reputation of the student body among companies? Learn how you can position yourself for success among your future classmates.
  • Take your Officer Evaluation Report (OER), or NCOER and rewrite out all the things you accomplished in your most recent rating period. You can also do this with your academic record. Even if it is just a simply list of statements. Frame the statements entirely in terms of what you have done, nobody else. Practice getting used to telling folks about this. The idea is to get comfortable in this frame of mind.

It’s about you now, and that’s a great thing, because you have a lot to bring to the table. All you need to do is embrace the new challenge.

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Tuesday Tips: Kelley School of Business at Indiana University 2017 Essay Tips

Kelley School of Business at Indiana University is a top-tier business school with an innovative program. From the moment you decide to attend Kelley you will be focusing on your career and leadership development. You’ll …

Kelley School MBA essay tipsKelley School of Business at Indiana University is a top-tier business school with an innovative program. From the moment you decide to attend Kelley you will be focusing on your career and leadership development.

You’ll receive personalized coaching, leadership training, and real-world industry projects within the first year of your MBA. Kelley’s program is unique and close-knit, so your fit with the program and your desire to participate fully will be important to the admissions committee.

Essay 1
Please discuss your immediate post-MBA professional goals. How will your professional experience, when combined with a Kelley MBA degree, allow you to achieve these goals? Should the short-term goals you have identified not materialize, what alternate career paths might you consider? (500 words)

Entering Kelley with a crystallized career vision and an idea of how you will accomplish your goals will help you take full advantage of the program. Kelley’s curriculum is tailored to help you reach your career goals.

For example, students can specialize almost immediately by choosing one of the first-year Academies in your industry area of focus. Think about these opportunities at Kelley when you answer this career goals question, and specifically how you see yourself using the tools available.

The second half of this question deals with your flexibility around your career goal and your ability to handle change. The business world changes constantly and your ability to recognize opportunity, even outside your anticipated career goals, will be crucial to success. Think about the core elements that are important to you in forming your career goals.

Perhaps you are passionate about a specific industry, but you could imagine pursing either a strategy role or a finance role in that industry. Or perhaps you love marketing and are more flexible about the industry where you practice your craft. Showing that you can capitalize on change and opportunity while staying true to your core values and interests will position you well in this set of essays.

Essay 2
Please respond to one of the following short essay prompts. (300 words)
a. My greatest memory is…
b. I’m most afraid of…
c. My greatest challenge has been…
d. I’m most proud of…

This essay seeks to understand your core personal motivations. Beyond career, what have been formative moments in your life? The story you choose to tell in this essay will be revealing to the admissions committee and will show your personality and values.

Think about the moments in your life when you have changed or matured. Was there an experience that led you to learn more about yourself? Perhaps you interacted with someone who challenged you, or inspired you. Or you may have traveled outside your comfort zone, either literally outside your home country, or in a transition like leaving home for college.

Option b, “I’m most afraid of…” is the one prompt that does not specifically call on a past experience. However, it’s likely that your fear has its roots in a formative moment in your life.

Once you have a story to tell, make sure you are explaining why this moment is important to you. You can either narrate your thoughts, reactions and opinions as you retell the story, or take time at the end of the essay to reflect upon what you learned and why it was important to you.

Essay 3
Please share with the admissions committee an interesting or surprising fact about you. (25 words)

The admissions committee has read your career goals, read about a pivotal experience and likely has reviewed your resume and application fact sheet. This fact is one that didn’t come up in any of those demographic or background data sheets in your application.

Perhaps you were a competitive swimmer in high school, but didn’t pursue it in college. Or your grandmother was from Sweden and taught you traditional cooking techniques that no one else in your life knows.

If you are struggling to come up with an interesting or surprising fact, this is a great question to poll friends and family about. You will want to use something that is unique about you, and that most other applicants would not be able to say.

Your friends and family likely know the elements of your background and personality that go far deeper than your resume or application fact sheet.

Optional Essay:
Is there anything else that you think we should know as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you shouldn’t feel obligated to answer this question. (300 words)

Kelley’s optional question is open-ended, allowing you to add almost any story or additional background data you would like. Before you take full advantage of the extra space, make sure you are truly adding to your application. If you have done the work on a comprehensive resume, excellent recommendations and finely honed essays you likely don’t need this space.

If there is anything to explain in your application, definitely use this space to do so. That may be a poor grade in a quantitative course in college, academic probation, or the lack of a recommendation from a current supervisor. Whatever you need to discuss, make sure you are focused on explanations rather than excuses, and you provide solid, recent evidence that you have done better since the event.

Struggling with the Kelley MBA application? Stacy Blackman Consulting can help. Contact us to learn more.

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Alumni Gift Launches NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program

New York University Stern School of Business has announced the establishment of The NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program with a $1 million gift from technology executive and alumnus David Ko and his wife Jennifer Ko. With …

NYU Stern entrepreneurshipNew York University Stern School of Business has announced the establishment of The NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program with a $1 million gift from technology executive and alumnus David Ko and his wife Jennifer Ko.

With this gift, Stern MBAs will have the opportunity to apply to this new immersion program in lieu of a traditional summer internship and benefit from financial support, mentorship, workshops and access to NYC and Silicon Valley tech companies.

The launch of this program coincides with David’s appointment to Stern’s Board of Overseers and extends the commitment to education that he and his wife initiated in 2012 with the establishment of the Jennifer and David Y. Ko Family Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship at NYU Stern.

“We are grateful to the Ko family for their generosity and to David for his decision to get more deeply engaged with his alma mater and help us continue creating innovative new student experiences,” said Peter Henry, dean of NYU Stern.

“The NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program is an extraordinary opportunity for MBA students who come to Stern to set their entrepreneurial ambitions and dreams in motion.”

Incoming full-time MBA students will apply in Fall 2016 for consideration to become the first NYU Stern Venture Fellows. The program will start in Summer 2017 under the administration of Stern’s W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab and Office of Student Engagement.

It will provide each Fellow with a $10,000 stipend, a prototyping fee, workspace and access to a multi-week summer program featuring a “Silicon Valley Immersion Week” that includes company visits and access to VCs, mentors and Stern alumni.  Fellows will continue to receive mentorship support in their second year at Stern and can opt to earn course credit through a faculty-supervised independent study in which they can focus on their start up.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help Stern MBAs transform their ideas into viable businesses through the resources that will be available to them from the NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program,” said Ko.  “My goal is to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with early, firsthand access to leaders in the Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley tech communities and help them get a jumpstart.”

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