Category Archives: General

Is an MD/MBA Degree Right for You?

Earlier this week, The Atlantic published an in-depth piece exploring the rise of the M.D./MBA degree. It seems there’s been an explosion of joint MD/MBA programs in the United States, growing from six to 65 in …

Earlier this week, The Atlantic published an in-depth piece exploring the rise of the M.D./MBA degree. It seems there’s been an explosion of joint MD/MBA programs in the United States, growing from six to 65 in 20 years, The Atlantic reports, noting that from 2011 and 2012 alone, the number increased by 25%.

In its characteristic exhaustive fashion, The Atlantic looks at the numerous advantages for hospital administrators that have both degrees, because, as one MD/MBA graduate quoted in the piece says, “Many of the greatest challenges in healthcare today are business problems.”

An interesting cultural point mentioned in the article is how differently these two disciplines operate. In medicine, there’s a rigid hierarchy with absolute respect for attending physicians, while in business school, students are taught that the next great idea can come from anyone, no matter their age or professional experience.

It’s a great read, and chock-full of ideas on how merging these two disciplines can greatly benefit today’s complex healthcare industry. I urge anyone considering this dual degree option to check out the article by following the link above.

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Applications Rising for Two-Year MBA Programs

For a third straight year, applications to full-time, two-year MBA programs showed marked growth, according to the 2014 Application Trends Survey, released by the Graduate Management Admission Council. By comparison, the survey reported a flattening …

For a third straight year, applications to full-time, two-year MBA programs showed marked growth, according to the 2014 Application Trends Survey, released by the Graduate Management Admission Council. By comparison, the survey reported a flattening or decrease in applications to other graduate management program types.

The survey also highlighted trends observed in GMAT testing that show a growing number of students seeking to study outside their country of citizenship. These candidates make up a significant portion of the talent pool for many MBA and non-MBA master’s programs and are driving changes in year-on-year application volume globally.

The increasingly global talent pool has been emerging for more than a decade, and has shaped the development of management education — both in where it is growing, as well as the in the mix of programs types offered to meet the needs of global students.

“Viewed in tandem, there is good news for both students and schools in this survey, as well as in our recent Corporate Recruiters Survey [released in May 2014], where 4 out of 5 companies said they planned to hire MBA graduates in 2014,” says Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO.

The 2014 Applications Trend Survey found that 61 percent of global full-time two-year MBA programs participating in the survey reported application growth — up from 50 percent of programs in 2013.

Among other findings of the 2014 survey are:

  • The percentage of professional MBA programs (part-time, flexible, online, and executive MBA) reporting increased application volume was higher this year than in 2013, however, the majority of programs is not yet experiencing growth.
  • Results for 2014 are mixed for the specialized business master’s (non-MBA) programs. Growth in application volume is seen among Master in Marketing and Communications, Master in Information Technology, Master in Management, and Master of Accounting programs. Master of Finance programs are experiencing declining volume for the third year in a row.
  • In the United States, 65 percent of full-time two-year MBA programs report receiving more applications from foreign candidates, while demand also continues to improve among domestic candidates (up for 48% of programs in 2014 compared with 22% in 2012).
  • The following programs reported a majority of foreign candidates in their applicant pools:
    • Master of Finance (82% of applicants)
    • Master in Management (73%)
    • Master in Marketing and Communications (69%)
    • Full-time one-year MBA (56%)
    • Full-time two-year MBA (52%)
  • Citizens of countries in East and Southeast Asia and Central and South Asia make up the majority of foreign candidates applying to programs in Asia-Pacific, Canada, India, and the United States.
  • Programs located in Europe received their largest share of foreign candidates from East and Southeast Asia and from other European countries.

“For schools, the rise over the last three years in two-year applications is welcome. This echoes other research that tells us how highly students value their two-year MBA degrees for the personal, professional and financial advantages it conveys,” says Chofla. “For students, GMAC’s Corporate Recruiters Survey may very well signal a change in hiring from a cost-driven, recession-driven organizational focus, to a growth-driven focus utilizing the skills that MBA programs are designed to develop.”

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Know Parents’ Role in the MBA Admissions Process

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com If Mom and Dad are actively involved in your MBA application process, then it might be time to rethink their role at this critical …

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

If Mom and Dad are actively involved in your MBA application process, then it might be time to rethink their role at this critical career crossroads. The admissions committee wants to see applicants with demonstrated leadership and maturity, which is hard to convey with parents chiming in at every step along the way.

So-called “helicopter parents” may have the best intentions, but their interfering actions could unwittingly jeopardize their child’s chances of admission to a top business school. Millennials, defined roughly as anyone born between 1980 and 2002, have an upbringing rooted in play dates, involved parents and constant feedback and praise for their accomplishments.

[See how authenticity can support an MBA application.]

Millennials typically enjoy a cozier parent-child relationship than any previous generation, but it’s important for parents to strike the appropriate balance between taking an active interest in their adult child’s education and career choices and hijacking the responsibilities those choices entail. This is true even if parents are fully or partially footing the bill, which is more and more often the case, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s latest Prospective Students Survey Report.

Business schools certainly welcome parents when they come to visit their enrolled students, and tolerate those who join their children on a general admissions tour. But unlike undergraduate admissions, where parents are assumed to be heavily involved, the expectation in MBA admissions is that students are independent, fully formed professionals. When parental involvement becomes intrusive, it raises a serious red flag about the candidate’s ability to be successful in the program.

[Find out how a personal brand can help an MBA application.]

So what level of parental involvement is appropriate when it comes to the b-school admissions process? In my view as an MBA consultant, it’s perfectly all right for parents to get in touch with my company for information about how admissions consulting works, to chip in or cover the costs of consulting, or to provide helpful insight or act as a sounding board for their children’s essays – if they request it.

Parents should not attempt to guide the process themselves, however. I’ve had parents ask for conference calls to discuss their child’s issues without the applicant on the phone. Getting on a call without my actual client on the line makes no sense.

We’ve also known cases of parents impersonating their child when contacting the school admissions office with questions about financial aid, application status and more. If discovered, this deception will cause irreparable damage to the applicant’s candidacy.

The truth is, parents may know their children very well in a certain light, but they don’t necessarily know how to reveal the aspects of their child that will be most appealing to business schools. In some cases, their opinions are slanted in completely the wrong way and can actually be harmful.

[Learn how to stand out among b-school applicants.]

We have had many incidents of parents nearly derailing the process when they critique and tear apart the applicant’s MBA essays that my consultants have already determined are pretty much good to go. When that happens, we’re left wondering why they paid for expert consulting in the first place.

The urge to insert themselves into the admissions process likely stems from a desire to protect their children from failure or disappointment, but parents can serve their children’s needs better by cheering from the sidelines and offering moral support if a setback or ding does occur.

Even if they still rely on Mom and Dad for advice and financial support, graduate-level students are adults who are expected to be capable of making independent, adult decisions. If you’re the student in this scenario, make sure you set limits with your parents’ involvement so as not to jeopardize your candidacy by creating a poor impression of your decision-making capacities.

And parents: Trust that you’ve done a great job and that your child is responsible enough to make the right decisions for his or her future.

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Avoid 3 Mistakes When Building Your MBA Budget

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com The MBA admissions process requires determination, dedication and hard work. But don’t let the effort required to gain admission stop you from tackling …

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

The MBA admissions process requires determination, dedication and hard work. But don’t let the effort required to gain admission stop you from tackling another important aspect of business school success: your budget.

Given the rising cost of a top business degree, even a small budgeting mistake can cost you a fair amount. Here are three mistakes to avoid as you create your plan to pay for business school.

1. Not starting early enough: Ideally, you would have considered the cost of an MBA when deciding whether to attend business school or in the first place. This includes thinking about tuition along with external costs such as wages lost by leaving your job.

Either way, as soon as you have any financing questions at all, you should contact your prospective school’s financial aid office. You can also get advice through admissions events. Financial aid officers are an amazing resource. They’ve seen it all before, and they want to ensure qualified candidates can pay for a degree.

[Check out 10 ways to make the most of business school.]

Starting early – about three months before applying – is also important if you’re pursuing scholarships, fellowships or grants. Since scholarships are free money, competition can be fierce, and you’ll benefit from having the time to create strong scholarship applications and from knowing the key deadlines so that opportunities don’t pass you by.

2. Not thinking beyond your cost of attendance: The advantage you’ll get from early budgeting is only as good as the numbers you’re starting with. While the school’s published cost of attendance is a clear starting point that factors in tuition as well as cost of living estimates, you may need to cover additional costs before, during and after your program.

To address the before costs, you’ll want to assess your personal financial situation carefully to see what your cost of attendance really entails. For example, it might cost you money to relocate to a new city or commute to campus.

You also might still have recurring bills that can’t be changed, such as an installment loan on a large purchase. Even updating your business wardrobe to prepare for interview season can amount to several hundred dollars if you’re not planning carefully.

[Uncover the hidden costs of paying for an MBA program.]

To understand what added costs you might incur during and after school, brainstorm all the opportunities you’re interested in that require extra spending: dues for your target clubs, study abroad expenses, and attendance fees for conferences are three great starting points. (One student lending company, CommonBond, has a calculator that allows you to factor “once in a lifetime” trips into your business school budget.) If you’re planning to intern in a new city during the summer, you’ll need to budget for the upfront cost of moving in as well.

If you’re planning to intern in a new city during the summer, you’ll need to budget for the upfront cost of moving as well.

3. Not investigating all your options: Once you’ve gotten a head start and pinned down the amount you’ll need to budget, make sure you don’t leave any funding options on the table. It might seem daunting to call up student loan companies and interview these potential lenders, but finding the best student loan option out there will save you thousands of dollars and avoid hours of logistical headaches.

Don’t be afraid to get creative either or even to ask for money. If you know your post-MBA plans, you may be able to negotiate with your employer for sponsorship during your MBA. Finally, review your existing assets and whether you’ll benefit from tapping into retirement accounts or other investments to fund your MBA.

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UV Darden School Class Profile, Admissions Updates

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business, which was ranked no. 7 in the recent HispanicBusiness 2014 ranking of best business schools for Hispanics, has posted a snapshot on its website of the full-time MBA …

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business, which was ranked no. 7 in the recent HispanicBusiness 2014 ranking of best business schools for Hispanics, has posted a snapshot on its website of the full-time MBA Class of 2016.

This new cohort is 32 percent women, has more Hispanic students than any previous class, and includes pilots, painters, rock climbers, a professional musician and a number of professional athletes (one was a National Football League player), the school reveals.

Here are a few of the key data points:

  • Total Class Size: 324
  • Countries Represented: 36
  • Average Age at Entry: 27
  • International (born outside the U.S.): 36%
  • Domestic Minorities: 16%
  • Average GMAT Score: 705

On the admissions front, the team at Darden will hit the road to meet with candidates in Miami, Charlotte and Atlanta next week; and London, Paris and Madrid at the end of the month. Southest Asian candidates will soon have the opportunity to meet with admissions in Taipei, Ho Chi Minh, Singapore, and Jakarta. Visit the Events & Receptions page to learn more.

Darden will also host a Military Open House on October 13th. Active duty military and veteran applicants are highly encouraged to attend.

Finally, be sure to check out the Darden admissions webinars, held every other Wednesday. These live exchanges with admissions representatives cover a variety of topics to help you discover what sets Darden apart from other top programs.

Career development at Darden is the topic of the next webinar coming up on September 24th, from 12:30–1:15 p.m. There will be a 15-minute presentation, followed by a 30-minute Q&A session. Register now and be ready to learn all about Darden’s integrated career curriculum.

You may also be interested in:

2014 University of Virginia Darden School of Business MBA essay tips

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Tuesday Tips: INSEAD MBA essay tips

Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart. When you approach this set of essays, make sure you are ready to explain your career plans in detail, and highlight …

Two campuses, multiple degree options and a diverse and international class set INSEAD apart. When you approach this set of essays, make sure you are ready to explain your career plans in detail, and highlight any International experiences in your background.

INSEAD focuses separately on the job and personal portion of your MBA application essays, seeking to understand candidate’s current career position in detail before delving into the personal aspect. Though career is covered in several essays rather than one, you should make sure that all of the essays work coherently together. As INSEAD states on the website: “We evaluate each applicant against four central criteria: leadership potential and work experience; academic capacity; international motivation; and ability to contribute to the INSEAD experience.”

Stumped by the INSEAD application? Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting to see how we can help.

Job Description Essays
Essay 1. Briefly summarise your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved.

This question should focus entirely on your current (or most recent) work situation. Though you will want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the essay to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

When you are composing this essay make sure you focus on what you uniquely have contributed to the role, rather than reciting the job description. What have you done that is above and beyond?

Essay 2. Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position?

This is essentially a walk-through of your resume using the essay format to allow you to provide a unifying thread through the narrative. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set. If you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position. The second part of the question also needs to be answered. Think about the next step at your job, and where you might land if you did not leave to pursue an MBA. While this is a straightforward question, you may need to demonstrate that you can’t get where you want to go from here ”“ and that you will need an MBA to achieve your goals.

Essay 3. If you are currently not working, what are you doing and what do you plan to do until you start the MBA programme if applicable? (250 words maximum)

If you are not employed at the moment, you will want to answer this question to show how you are utilizing your time without full time employment. Ideally you are currently involved in an activity that is going to further your career or personal goals at this time. The best answer is one that shows you are self-motivated and do not need paid work to continue developing yourself. Perhaps you are volunteering in a non-profit that is related to your career goals. Maybe you are working with a friend on a start-up. Or you are consulting and building contacts in your industry. If you are out of work only briefly, it’s also perfectly reasonable to be pursuing travel or other activities that develop your international awareness and perspective. However, make sure that your activities can tie back to your long-term goals or other key aspects of your application strategy.

Essays
Essay 1. Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (600 words max.)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications. This is a great opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities that will drive your future career success. Demonstrating self-awareness and the ability to assess your own performance will be impressive. While examples aren’t required, consider that adcomm is reading a vast number of essays and that concrete examples are both easy to understand, and may help you stand out from the crowd.

When describing weaknesses you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths. Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

Essay 2. Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. (400 words max.)

This essay is an opportunity to showcase one of your most important achievements. Impressive achievements that stand on their own are great, but you will want to pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment. If you don’t have an achievement that you think is incredibly impressive on your own focus mainly on what is important to you and an example that shows the activities you value.

The flip side of achievement is failure, and INSEAD wants to understand how you view both. When approaching any failure essay it’s important to use a real failure that has emotional resonance for you. An accomplishment framed as a failure will be easy to see through and will not demonstrate anything about your maturity or ability to grow. Your failure should be real, and also something that led you to grow or learn. If you can describe how you have changed your approach as a result of the failure that is an excellent outcome.

The third part of the essay deals with how these experiences impacted the others around you and what you learned. Whether you were part of a team or the main impact was on a loved one, this part of the essay encourages you to step outside your own narrative of success and failure and think about how you have impacted other people through your actions. Most obviously a success led to happiness from a team or a manager, while a failure was disappointing to those around you. However, your particular achievement or failure could have led to a learning experience for your team, an opportunity for someone else, or a chance for you to be closer to another person through a team challenge. Think creatively about this aspect.

Note that your application to INSEAD ideally covers both the personal and professional. This essay could be an opportunity in this essay set to bring in a new angle on your profile through describing one of your most substantial accomplishments outside of work.

Essay 3. Tell us about an experience where you were significantly impacted by cultural diversity, in a positive or negative way. (300 words max.)

This essay should demonstrate your awareness of the world outside your own ethnic or cultural identity. INSEAD is a highly international program and seeks candidates that both demonstrate and value diversity. This could be an opportunity to highlight any international or cross culture exposure you have had such as traveling outside your home country, or when experiencing diversity within your home country.

When you describe the experience and judge it to be either positive or negative it will be important to provide some individual context. Every applicant from INSEAD is coming from a unique background and from many different countries. Your perception of positive or negative cultural diversity will be a view into how you interact with the world. For example, you could view the lack of diversity in a workplace or school environment as a significant negative, or perhaps you had an experience of being the only “diverse” person in a work or personal situation. On the positive side perhaps you learned more about others through a new cultural experience or through team building with a group of people different from yourself. Where you are coming from will be the deciding factor in terms of what experiences are ultimately positive or negative.

At all times consider the environment at INSEAD and what your essay is saying about your ability to fit in among a highly diverse group of people.

Essay 4. Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (300 words max.)

Nothing is more personal than what you choose to do outside of school or work. What are the most meaningful pursuits you have spent your time on? You should both describe the main interests you have outside of your professional pursuits and explain why they are meaningful to you and why you spend time on them.

Ideally you can also explain how you will continue your involvement while at INSEAD and cite some specific clubs or groups where you see your interests contributing to the community.

Optional Essay: Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the admissions committee? (300 words max.)

This essay is 350 words you can use for anything you would like to showcase and that you were unable to work into the rest of your application. Because INSEAD’s questions are quite thorough you may have covered all aspects of your candidacy and personal qualities in the other five essay questions, in which case you can feel comfortable skipping this question (it IS optional). If you did not have a place for an interesting hobby, new aspect of your background to describe, or key accomplishment, it may be appropriate to use this space to tell that story.

It is far better to fully explain any issues in your application than to leave the admissions committee to guess what happened. If you have any challenging aspects to your candidacy like a low GPA or a failing grade in college, this is the correct place to address those concerns. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue. For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since rather than focusing on the negative. Avoid blaming anyone else for your issue, and relentlessly show why this one incident is in your past and will stay there.

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