Category Archives: Application Tips
October 12, 2015
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2015 Application Trends Survey report, China and India are the top countries where MBA and business school master’s …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2015 Application Trends Survey report, China and India are the top countries where MBA and business school master’s programs recruit international candidates. The interest is mutual, with Indian and Chinese applicants showing an overwhelming preference for studying in the U.S.
There is, however, a very diverse marketplace across Asia, and these two countries in particular couldn’t be more different. The two major divergences are the number of men versus women sitting for the GMAT exam and the type of program to which citizens of these countries most often apply.
The GMAC, which administers the GMAT and produces surveys on various management education topics annually, reports that for the 2014 testing year, there were 28,325 exams taken in India, of which 7,771 test-takers were women. Contrast that with China, where GMAC administered 57,783 exams last year – 37,631 of which were taken by women.
In fact, China is the second-largest source country after the U.S. for women interested in going to business school. According to GMAC’s 2014 Data-to-Go report on regional testing trends, GMAT testing in China has seen an annual growth rate of 22 percent over the past five years, and this explosive increase is coming exclusively from increasingly younger test-takers.
In 2014, 79 percent of them were under 25, up from 63 percent just five years ago. Chinese citizens send three-quarters of their scores to programs in the U.S., and six out of 10 Chinese women say developing general business skills and increasing job opportunities are their main reasons for pursuing graduate management education.
Indian citizens say the top motivators for pursuing business school are a desire to develop leadership, managerial and general business skills, as well as career acceleration, the report states. A significant motivation expressed by female applicants in India, according to the survey, is to help make a bigger difference in their field of interest, cited by 46 percent of women, versus 39 percent of male applicants.
The difference in the types of management programs that attract Indian and Chinese applicants is also dramatic. In China, the majority of test scores are sent to master’s programs, and just 28.7 percent of scores go to MBA programs, both in the U.S. and otherwise.
Meanwhile in India, 86.4 percent of scores went to MBA programs both in and out of the U.S., and a mere 11.6 percent were sent to non-MBA master’s programs. According to the GMAC survey, applicants who seek master of finance programs are often unsure of the economy or job prospects and are seeking international opportunities rather than a career change, which is often the motive for MBA hopefuls.
Challenges for Chinese and Indian MBA Applicants
Business school admissions committees often cite insufficient English proficiency as a roadblock for international students applying to U.S. schools. But even more problematic is the overwhelming number of applicants who have an engineering background, particularly among Indian applicants, which makes standing out from the masses much more difficult.
Even though U.S. schools receive more international applications from this part of the world than any other, proportionally speaking, more candidates are denied admission from this region than any other as well.
The reason for this level of rejection of highly qualified applicants is twofold. Business schools in the U.S. want to create a rich learning environment through a diverse class of individuals representing various professional industries and walks of life.
Secondly, the career services office must make sure these students will be able to land a job when they graduate. International students hoping to stay in the U.S. face stiff competition from similarly prepared American graduates as well as serious hurdles obtaining work visas.
Application Advice for Indian and Chinese Candidates
An increasing number of programs have incorporated video interviews and video essay questions into their admissions requirements, allowing schools to better observe how applicants express themselves and think on their feet.
Active class participation and communication skills are a vital component of the MBA experience, so making sure international candidates possess English fluency levels that are competitive with native speakers is an absolute must for any applicant to a top MBA program in the U.S.
While the odds may be tougher, even applicants in over-represented groups can prevail and land a seat at an elite business school. It happens many times during every single admissions season. The key is finding a way to differentiate themselves from their peers, and the best place to do so is in the MBA essays.
By showing that they have real leadership and managerial experience, have made a significant, quantifiable impact on the job or in their extracurricular activities, have ambitious career goals and can paint a vivid picture of their dreams and passions that go beyond a stellar GMAT score, these applicants will absolutely have a shot at admission at their dream MBA program.
October 1, 2015
The Round 1 deadline at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business is just days away on October 5th, and Soojin Kwon, director of MBA admissions and financial aid, has a few tips for candidates doing that final polish on their application, as well as for those preparing their package for Round 2.
Whether you’re applying this week or in January, make sure you follow these tips to ensure your application is Ross-ready.
Tip One: Only apply when your application is at its strongest. While many applicants are leaning toward submitting in the first round, if your GMAT score isn’t where you’d like it to be and you think you can improve it in time for Round 2, then don’t rush for Round 1.
Says Soojin: “The best choice is to apply in the round when your application is the best it can be, including the GMAT score.”
Tip Two: The best way to approach the “What are you most proud of?” essay is by presenting an authentic story—not one you think is most impressive. Actually, the Why is more important than the What.
Says Soojin: “It should be the answer you’d share with a close friend, not with an ‘admissions committee’.”
Tip Three: Just because other schools ask for two letters of recommendation doesn’t mean you should go ahead an submit an extra one to Ross as well. When the school asks for one recommendation letter, that’s how many they want to see.
Says Soojin: “We only want one letter…preferably from your current direct supervisor. If you can’t ask your current supervisor, ask the one just prior to the current one, and be sure to briefly explain why you didn’t ask your current supervisor.”
Tip Four: The Team Exercise may be optional, but not doing it would be a mistake. Not only will the experience help you decide whether Ross is a good fit for you; it also provides the admissions team with crucial information about your communication and interpersonal skills, the soft skills recruiters want to see in their MBA hires.
Says Soojin: “If you come to campus for your interview…You’ll meet potential classmates (even potential roommates), attend a class or conference with current MBAs, meet folks affiliated with our Centers and Institutes, and engage in an optional post-interview Q&A session with the AdComm and students.”
Tip Five: Applicants need to spend more time on their resumes. The essays aren’t the only part you have control over, and your MBA resume is an important indicator of how you present yourself.
Says Soojin: “It’s the first thing we look at when we open an app, so it’s the ‘first-impression-maker.’ It’s your opportunity to tell us where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished, how you’ve made an impact and what you’re interested in.”
Best of luck to all Round 1 applicants to Michigan Ross!
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September 29, 2015
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com While everyone agrees the network you build during business school is one of the top benefits of earning an MBA degree, the best …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
While everyone agrees the network you build during business school is one of the top benefits of earning an MBA degree, the best time to start networking is long before you apply.
Keep in mind that your ideal network should include a mix of mentors, colleagues and people who can connect you to an array of professional opportunities. If you’ve laid the groundwork and have already cultivated meaningful relationships with current students and alumni, these connections can grease the wheels for your successful MBA application.
First, get in contact with current students and alumni in your MBA network and enlist their help in researching programs. Nothing compares with hearing firsthand accounts that offer a realistic view of the business school experience that go beyond the brand messages of school websites and admissions events. Have conversations about why they decided to go to business school, why they chose the program they did, what were the highlights or surprises of their experience, and what they wish they had known when starting this process.
Sometimes, these conversations will prove enlightening by steering you in a different direction from your initial top-choice school. Talking to as many students and alumni as you can will not only help you narrow down your choices of where to apply, but will provide insight you can parlay into more convincing MBA essays and use to improve your admissions interviews, especially if conducted with second-year students or alums.
When you complete your essays, it can be very helpful to have a student or alumnus give them a thorough review, as these individuals have an intimate understanding of the application process and probably answered the same questions themselves just a few years ago. Make sure they are not just reassuring you that all is well, but are actually giving you some quality feedback.
Do be aware of the danger of having too many cooks in the kitchen. Two or three people doing the reviewing is usually the right amount.
Some schools welcome informal recommendations from students. If you are friends with a student or alumnus from one of your target schools, by all means let them put in a good word for you. Just don’t overdo it.
This type of endorsement works best if it is expressed directly to someone in admissions in a very casual way, where it seems like you had no hand in it. However, if the person can truly comment on your abilities, it’s perfectly appropriate – and beneficial – to ask an alumnus from your desired school to write your required letter of recommendation.
Visiting the campus in person is one of the best ways to get a true feeling of what attending the program would be like. After going on the official tour, crash with a student friend for the weekend and really live the business school life. Going to the local pub can be just as helpful as sitting in on a class to get a flavor for the people and culture of the school, with the added benefit of giving you experiences that will help you better articulate your fit with the program in your essays and interviews.
Business schools will often say the MBA admissions process is more art than science, and the more inside information you can leverage from students and alumni, the better your chances of acceptance at the business school of your dreams.
Image credit: Flickr user Andrés García (CC BY-NC 2.0)
September 9, 2015
Today’s the Round 1 deadline at Harvard Business School, but if you’re still planning on applying in Rounds 2 or 3, you’ll want to take a look at some of the essay advice I shared in a recent Business Insider article.
Unlike last season, when the essay question was completely open-ended—and optional—this year the school has taken a different tack to see if they can really get to know their applicants.
It now asks:
It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your “section.” This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting. Introduce yourself.
The goal of this essay is to know yourself, know HBS, and know how to match the two to demonstrate your fit for the school as you introduce yourself to your classmates. I invite you to read the rest on the article on the Business Insider site for several more important tips on how to successfully market your candidacy for this ultra-elite school.