Category Archives: Application Tips

Negotiating Merit Scholarships

Being accepted into an MBA program is a major accomplishment that makes the months of application preparation (and worrying) all worth it. Icing on the cake is learning that you’ve also been awarded a merit …

Being accepted into an MBA program is a major accomplishment that makes the months of application preparation (and worrying) all worth it. Icing on the cake is learning that you’ve also been awarded a merit scholarship.

If you suddenly find yourself with a financial incentive to attend a certain school, you’ll be understandably honored and overjoyed at your good fortune. However, if you’ve been accepted into more than one program, this unexpected twist can often make your ultimate decision that much harder.

Here’s something such lucky future students often forget: you can try to negotiate merit scholarships. This is one of those rare situations in life where—if handled professionally, of course—you really have nothing to lose.

If you received drastically different scholarship amounts for two or more programs—or were given a financial award for one school but nothing for another—why not contact the AdCom and explain your situation?

This is probably obvious, but we wouldn’t recommend naming the competing institution, sharing your offer letter or making demands. Rather, simply reach out to the admissions office, reiterate your deep interest in attending their program, and then ask if it’s possible to be considered for a higher scholarship amount (or any scholarship amount) because you now have another offer of acceptance and financial incentive on the table.

Good luck!

And remember:

dare to ask the question

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Should You Retake the GMAT?

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com While I occasionally hear tales of MBA applicants offered admission in a top business school with a 640 GMAT score, the truth is that  accepting students …

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

While I occasionally hear tales of MBA applicants offered admission in a top business school with a 640 GMAT score, the truth is that  accepting students with stellar scores of 700 or higher is more the norm at the most competitive programs.

Before you start to panic and become hung up on achieving the highest score possible, or fixate on the average GMAT score reported by the schools, I urge test-challenged clients to focus instead on aligning their scores within the 80 percent range, which schools usually list within their admitted class profile.

Many experts in the test prep industry advise all students to plan on taking the test twice. If your score after the first attempt is already at or above your goal, you can always cancel the second sitting. Remember, top schools want to see scores in the 80th percentile in the quantitative section. So if you score 100 percent in verbal and low in quantitative, you would want to retake the exam, especially if you don’t have a strong quantitative background outside of the GMAT.

[Learn about ways to fix a low GMAT score.]

There is absolutely no reason to retake the GMAT when you score over 700, test prep company Magoosh says emphatically. You’ve already proven you can handle the quantitative component of the curriculum, so turn your focus toward ensuring all of the other parts of your application are as strong as possible.

Keep in mind that this high number is primarily for those targeting a top-tier MBA program. If you scored a 680, the decision to retake should be carefully considered, as you may be better off focusing on your essays or coaching recommenders instead. Applicants looking at programs in the top 20 or 50 should check the average scores of admitted students to determine their personal target GMAT score.

If illness, nerves, exhaustion, or simply a lack of adequate preparation resulted in a low score, then a second attempt becomes a necessity. Repeat test-taking, with additional preparation, typically results in a higher score as students become familiar with the experience, and therefore, less stressed out.

[Learn to dodge your fear of failure when applying to business school.]

Although the Graduate Management Admission Council allows you to take the test as many times as you like, you must wait 31 calendar days before retaking the exam. Make sure to check your target schools’ application deadlines in order to allow enough time to send in your final scores.

Applicants self-report their highest score, and it’s worth noting that the admissions committee doesn’t have an issue with students taking the exam more than once. In fact, committees may look positively on the dedication you’ve shown to improve upon your prior performance. Mind you, I’m talking about a score report with two or three scores, max – not one that shows you’ve sat for the GMAT seven times.

After your first test, it’s time to go over your entire GMAT performance to determine your weaknesses and double-down in those areas as you resume your studies. Don’t completely ignore the sections you did well on, however. You wouldn’t want to improve in one area but do worse in another the next time.

If you studied alone or took a class for your initial preparation, you might consider studying one on one with a GMAT tutor for the second go-round. A test prep expert can work around your schedule and tailor the curriculum to your needs.

Finally, some people aren’t natural test-takers and have a less-than-optimal performance no matter how well they know the material. One of the primary causes is stress under pressure, and it may help to watch this video tour of the GMAT Test Center and detailed explanation of all procedures to increase your comfort levels about what to expect.

If that familiarity still isn’t enough to calm your nerves come test day, consider using relaxation techniques such as meditation and visualization to reduce test anxiety. Also, taking the GMAT in the same center will help you feel more comfortable with the test-taking process and any logistics that may have thrown you off the first time.

Business school hopefuls can be incredibly hard on themselves when they make mistakes on the GMAT, but each error is a learning opportunity and a chance to improve. So don’t become discouraged if your first score isn’t where you’d hoped. Relax, and think of it as a dress rehearsal for a stellar performance to come.

Posted in Application Tips, General, Test Prep Advice | Tagged , , , ,

Boothie’s Advice to Early Career Candidates

If you haven’t already checked out the recently re-launched Booth Experience blog, run by students at Chicago Booth School of Business, you’re missing out! For the uninitiated, this blog covers the entire gamut of the …

If you haven’t already checked out the recently re-launched Booth Experience blog, run by students at Chicago Booth School of Business, you’re missing out! For the uninitiated, this blog covers the entire gamut of the Booth community, from daily student life to academics; to recruiting, career services and internships; to student clubs and travel stories, and everything in between.

Even if Chicago Booth isn’t on your short list, there’s a series on the blog that many of our visitors can benefit from reading. The first installment came in early November, when Alex Simon broached the topic, “How do you know when it’s time for an MBA?” Simon was 24 when he started at Booth, and with just two years of work experience, he worried he would be at a serious disadvantage with classmates five to 10 years older than he.

Does that sound familiar to anyone? If so, ask yourself the three questions he raises: Do I have enough experience to succeed and contribute? What benefit will I get out of one or more years of work experience? What’s my career progression with an MBA?  “You’ll avoid a lot of undue recruiting stress if you get a good handle on your options before applying to or starting your MBA,” Simon writes.

Whereas the first post in the series required introspection, the next installment, published last week, turns the tables and brings up some of the key questions MBA applicants should be asking about their target programs.

Simon believes early career candidates need to focus on these three issues: How strong are the career opportunities for early career candidates? How can I contribute to the school? Does the school offer enough diversity to explore multiple interests?

“The way I feel today may not be how I feel ten or twenty years from now, and you can only get an MBA once. As an early career candidate, you should make sure the program you select lets you understand everything that’s out there,” he advises.

Simon’s advice is spot-on, so we’re looking forward to reading his thoughts in the final post of the series, coming soon. In that entry, he promises to share some tips to early career candidates who are considering applying to an MBA program in Round 3 or next season.

You may also be interested in:

How to Determine When the Time is Right for an MBA

Timing Your MBA: Work Five First or Dive Right In?

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