Category Archives: General

Rethinking MBA Rankings

MBA rankings are a tricky subject. Most applicants put an enormous amount of credence in them when making their school selections, but the results aren’t always as clear-cut as they seem. The various media outlets …

MBA rankings are a tricky subject. Most applicants put an enormous amount of credence in them when making their school selections, but the results aren’t always as clear-cut as they seem. The various media outlets that publish this information each have a specific focal point, which often differs from their competitors, and at times, it can feel more like an “apples and oranges” comparison.

For example, whereas Forbes focuses on ROI five years after graduation, Businessweek looks closely at the satisfaction levels of students and recruiters. U.S. News meanwhile takes the pulse of b-school deans and takes GMAT and GRE scores into account, and the Economist wants to find out how effective the MBA degree is at opening up new professional opportunities.

In other words, the rankings are not all the same.

When the Financial Times published its annual MBA rankings at the beginning of the year, Conrad Chua, head of admissions at Cambridge Judge Business School, blogged about the low-key reaction he received internally about the program’s strong showing at no. 16 after prior years spent in the mid-twenties.

“…While rankings are important and gives us valuable benchmarking information in certain metrics, there are a lot of areas that we feel strongly about that are not captured by rankings,” Chua writes. “For example, the quality of the academic experience, the learning environment, the networks that our students and alums can tap into.”

Last week, Poets & Quants published a fascinating piece on the “love-hate relationship” b-schools have with rankings. Using the rankings see-saw experienced by the Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business over the past four years, the article points out some very real perils of taking this particular data point at face value.

Idalene “Idie” Kesner, dean of Indiana University’s Kelley School, tells P&Q, “You love them when they go in your direction, and you are frustrated when they don’t. For a long time, we said that if you do good things, the rankings will follow. We have woken up to the fact that we need to focus on the rankings in and of themselves.”

The article is a must-read, and I encourage prospective applicants to think hard about the data points that are important to your own career path when determining the value of a particular ranking. You don’t have to go to the best business school of all. Just figure out which MBA program is the best one for you.

You may also be interested in:
The Truth Behind 3 Common MBA Rankings Myths

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MBA Hiring Up in 2014, Says New GMAC Survey

More companies plan to hire MBAs and other business school graduates in 2014, according to a recently published global survey of employers. Some 80% of business school recruiters plan to hire MBAs in 2014, up …

More companies plan to hire MBAs and other business school graduates in 2014, according to a recently published global survey of employers. Some 80% of business school recruiters plan to hire MBAs in 2014, up seven percentage points from last year and 30% points higher than 2009, in the heart of the economic crisis, when just half of employers hired MBAs.

For the 13th annual Corporate Recruiters Survey, the Graduate Management Admission Council polled 565 employers from 44 countries during February and March. GMAC partnered with EFMD and the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance to conduct the survey, which included 32 of the top 100 companies in the FT 500 and 36 of the Fortune 100.

The optimistic hiring outlook for MBAs and other master’s-level business graduates comes as companies shift focus away from overcoming economic challenges and look toward growth and expansion.

The percentage of companies reporting a focus on overcoming economic challenges dropped from 58% in 2009 to 25% this year, as well as reducing costs, from 66% in 2009 to 45% this year. At the same time, the percentage of employers planning to hire new bachelor’s degree graduates is holding steady, down one percentage point from the 75% that hired bachelor’s graduates in 2012 and 2013.

“More companies in all sectors and across the world plan to hire business school graduates, with projected hiring rates the highest for all degree types since the Great Recession started in 2009,” says Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC CEO and president. “MBAs have always been valued by employers, but this survey shows that as the economy improves, employers see MBAs as a good investment into their future.”

Here are some of the survey’s key findings:

  • Some 83% of employers in Asia-Pacific, 61 percent of European employers, and 86% of US employers plan to hire MBAs this year, all increases from 2013.
  • When considering communication, managerial, teamwork, leadership and technical skills, employers say communication skills are the most important ones they seek in new hires, on average twice as important as managerial skills.
  • Median base salaries employers expect to offer MBAs are $95,000 in the US and $69,000 in Europe. Projected median MBA base salary in Asia-Pacific is $21,340, reflecting much lower per-capita income in the region.

Professor Eric Cornuel, CEO & director general of EFMD, says,”This year’s survey paints a very positive picture for the business education sector and clearly shows how companies and recruiters value the whole portfolio of business degrees. Despite all of the doom and gloom, the clear message from the market is that business schools are providing the talented, bright individuals that companies need.”

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Columbia Business School 2014-2015 MBA Essays

The Columbia Business School Class of 2016 MBA application is now live, and here is a preview of the essay questions for the 2014-2015 admissions season. Applicants must complete one short answer question and three …

columbia MBA deadlines

The Columbia Business School Class of 2016 MBA application is now live, and here is a preview of the essay questions for the 2014-2015 admissions season.

Applicants must complete one short answer question and three essays.

Short Answer Question:

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (75 characters maximum)

Examples of possible responses:
“Work in business development for a media company.”
“Join a consulting firm specializing in renewable energy.”
“Work for an investment firm that focuses on real estate.”

Essay 1:

Given your individual background and goals, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (Maximum 500 words)

Essay 2:

Please view the video below:
The Center
How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (Maximum 250 words)

Essay 3:

What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)

Optional Essay:

An optional fourth essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.

For further details, please visit the Columbia Business School  admissions website.

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Trips and Treks: a Critical Part of the MBA Experience?

In case you missed it, the New York Times had an interesting article over the weekend exploring the role travel plays during one’s MBA experience. Some travel opportunities during b-school are curricular and offer course …

In case you missed it, the New York Times had an interesting article over the weekend exploring the role travel plays during one’s MBA experience.

Some travel opportunities during b-school are curricular and offer course credit as part of a class. Other trips are student-organized and career-focused but don’t include academic credit, such as the so-called “tech treks” to Silicon Valley. Finally, MBA students can find multiple opportunities for leisure travel across the globe during holiday breaks and long weekends.

Each of these experiences provides valuable networking settings where students can bond with their classmates, and the Times notes that the array of travel possibilities in b-school has grown dramatically of late.

Stanford Graduate School of Business professor Jeffrey Pfeffer has taught for 35 years at the GSB, and tells the Times, “The social aspects of business school have become more prominent over the last decade — there is no doubt about that. Students go to Vegas and take over a Southwest Airlines plane, they go to the Sundance movie festival, and some of them rent houses on Lake Tahoe.”

So what’s the potential down side to all the camaraderie-building that group travel provides? Well, it comes at significant financial cost, and estimates quoted in the Times are all over the map. The article notes travel budgets range anywhere from $5,000 to $30K during a two-year program.

Students of modest means who don’t want to miss out on these networking excursions pay for them with credit cards, banking on the belief that it will pay off down the line with a high-paying job. Still others take on jobs to pay their way.

Despite the sometimes exorbitant cost, the overwhelming majority of the MBA students and graduates interviewed by the Times seems to find significant value in these travel experiences.  Some point to employment offers and internships that came about thanks to a school-sponsored trip.

MIT Sloan School of Management alumna Samantha Joseph (MBA ’09) worked as a teaching assistant to pay for her travel expenses, which included trips to nine countries during her two years at MIT Sloan. Though she didn’t receive course credit for most of these experiences, she tells the Times they were an important part of her education.

“If you want to be a global leader in any industry, it’s important to see how the business world works and runs in other countries,” says Joseph, now director of corporate responsibility and sustainability at Iron Mountain, a data and records management company.

Ultimately, students must decide for themselves what is financially feasible when faced with the dizzying array of travel options that come up during an MBA program. Personally, I believe there’s so much to be gained from making strong connections with your classmates, and there’s almost no better place to do so then outside the classroom—and possibly outside the country.

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Target U.S. Business Schools as a Latin American MBA Hopeful

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com International students typically make up 25 percent to 40 percent of MBA cohorts at top U.S. business schools. It’s not surprising that the overwhelming …

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

International students typically make up 25 percent to 40 percent of MBA cohorts at top U.S. business schools.

It’s not surprising that the overwhelming majority of applicants from Latin America want to pursue an MBA degree in the U.S. According to data from the most recent QS Top MBA Applicant Survey, more than 70 percent say the U.S. is their destination of choice, followed by Canada at 30.3 percent.

The poll also confirms that Latin American applicants place a high value on specializations – higher than any other world region – in order to meet their individual needs. While all b-school hopefuls should tailor their school selections to those that will enhance their career, this is particularly important for students who plan to return to their home countries after graduation. Latin American applicants should research the strength of each potential school’s international placement records and alumni network before applying.

[Overcome three common hurdles of international MBA applicants.]

Travel expenses can make campus visits difficult, so applicants from Latin America should not miss the opportunity to participate in local “coffee chats,” which are typically organized and led by current students while visiting their home countries during winter break.

In an April post to the Daytime MBA Student Blog of the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, Joaquin Brahm of Chile calls coffee chats “a must” in the application process.? These informal events, often held in homes, are a great resource for applicants to hear firsthand? about all aspects of the MBA experience, including personal questions about everyday student life.

“We received only good feedback about coffee chats in Latin America,”? says Yonathan Lapchik, admissions cabinet member of the Latin American Student Association at Fuqua. “Prospective students found it a very useful step in their application process. Our idea is to continue developing these kinds of events in the future and establish them as another resource for applicants in their pathway to Fuqua.”

Many MBA programs offer incentives and scholarships to applicants from Latin America, and some schools are introducing efforts to attract potential candidates. Last year, the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School launched a Latin American Visitor Program ?designed to encourage prospective full-time MBA students from Latin America to visit the campus.

The program provides a travel subsidy of $600 and waives the $145 admissions application fee for up to 20 sponsored students. Kenan-Flagler also offers up to 10 full-tuition fellowships to applicants from Latin America each year as part of the new Fellowship for the Americas award.

As I often write on this blog, the admissions committee wants to get to know each applicant beyond their resume, and the MBA essays are the perfect opportunity to share unique personal or family background information that would allow the reader to understand your core values and motivations.

One of my clients discussed being the first from his family to go to college, and the intensity of breaking family tradition and moving away. This made for a much more interesting essay than merely naming the school that he went to. In other words, that back story – the discussion of the decision – was the most interesting part.

Another client also wove family into her application by addressing a brother’s serious illness and how it affected family relations, events and her personal and professional goals. Don’t be afraid to open up with details of experiences that set you apart and have shaped the person you are today.

Since English likely isn’t your first language, it’s important to demonstrate a high level of fluency that will allow you to contribute actively to class discussions. This you can do during your MBA interview.

Whether you interview over the phone, by video chat or in-person, make sure you practice beforehand with a native English speaker or someone who has lived in the U.S. for a long time and who can provide feedback on American business etiquette or your English language usage.

Once on campus, you’ll gain access to a network stretching across the U.S. and around the globe. Try to network with Latino alumni who hold leadership positions in the U.S. and are often looking to groom the next generation.

During recruiting, keep in mind U.S. companies may not want to hire someone if it involves helping them obtain an H-1B visa, since the employer must prove it has searched extensively for a qualified U.S. citizen or permanent resident and that the international candidate is the best option.

However, if the company is an international firm and you’re willing to relocate elsewhere in Latin America or to a region where visa sponsorship won’t be an issue, ask about hiring options outside of the U.S. Your American MBA will put you leagues ahead of local applicants.

As business relationships across the Americas continue to expand, MBA applicants from Latin America can rest assured they have much to contribute to the U.S. business school classroom, particularly where cultural differences, language issues and differing business practices come into play.

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Stanford GSB 2014-2015 MBA Application Deadlines

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has released the MBA application deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions cycle. The deadlines are: Round 1 Deadline: October 1, 2014 Notification: December 10, 2014 Round 2 Deadline: January 7, …

Stanford MBA ranking

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has released the MBA application deadlines for the 2014-2015 admissions cycle. The deadlines are:

Round 1

Deadline: October 1, 2014
Notification: December 10, 2014

Round 2

Deadline: January 7, 2015
Notification: March 25, 2015

Round 3

Deadline: April 1, 2015
Notification: May 6, 2015

All application materials are due by 5 p.m. PST on the day of the deadline. For more details, visit Stanford GSB’s admissions website.

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