Category Archives: Application Tips

Applicants Should Connect with Alumni, Says UCLA Anderson Dean

One of the most valuable aspects of attending a top-ranked MBA program is the amazing network you cultivate during those two years. The MBA Insiders Blog at UCLA Anderson School of Management has just published a …

UCLA Anderson application tips

One of the most valuable aspects of attending a top-ranked MBA program is the amazing network you cultivate during those two years. The MBA Insiders Blog at UCLA Anderson School of Management has just published a helpful article noting how your interactions with the alumni of your target MBA programs can help you determine whether the school is a good fit for your personality and career goals.

Alumni can usually provide the most honest opinion on which courses will translate into future job opportunities, and point out which social opportunities allow you to really connect with other students outside of the classroom to help build that network foundation.

Alex Lawrence, Assistant Dean & Director of Admissions for the Full-Time MBA Program, writes this latest post in Anderson’s From the Dean’s Desk series, and below are his top 5 reasons why you should connect with alumni during your application process.

  1. Experience the school culture. Each school has its own culture and climate. Speaking with alumni allows you to experience that culture first hand. You can also ask what type of people attend the school (bankers, consultants, marketers, teachers). Ask if it is a competitive environment, do people support each other, is diversity and inclusion valued at the school, etc.
  2. Get advice on best way to visit campus /see program in full action. Alumni can provide great advice on how to structure your visit, how to contact
    faculty, meet with students, possibly sit in on a class, etc.
  3. Gain insights into career options and opportunities. One of the top reasons you are going to business school is to advance your career. Alumni are great resources to understand the impact of the school’s career management center on his/her career, what companies recruit/hire students at that school, learn about the career outcomes of other alumni.
  4. Provide a window into specific experiences. Business school is not just about taking classes. It is a wonderful way to test your limits and get out of your comfort zone. Alumni can provide a “window” into specific experiences for consideration – favorite courses, school faculty, classmates, global experiences, signature conferences, academic internships, community service, etc.
  5. Get answers to the “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” questions. Alumni can provide information that’s otherwise hard to find, such as answers to questions about financing your MBA and learning about pre-MBA internship opportunities.

The best way to reach out to alumni is through friends, family and colleagues, since that connection will incentivize them to give you a really honest insider’s perspective. If you can’t get in touch with anyone directly, reach out to the schools themselves and they’ll be able to put you in touch with someone willing to talk to you.

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.

It truly is the people, not the brochure bullet points, that bring a school to life, so the more person-to-person contact you have, the more informed you will be when it comes time to apply – and when you finally set foot on campus.

 

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Guidance for International MBA Applicants

Recent changes to immigration procedures have caused some confusion and concern among international MBA candidates applying to business schools in the United States. To help clarify matters, the Graduate Management Admission Council has created a page …

international MBA applicantsRecent changes to immigration procedures have caused some confusion and concern among international MBA candidates applying to business schools in the United States. To help clarify matters, the Graduate Management Admission Council has created a page on its website mba.com to help alleviate some of these concerns.

Here you’ll find resources and information that apply to international students, including an overview on applying for a visa to study in the U.S., and information from leading GMAT-using schools for students navigating U.S. travel and immigration policies.

If you’re looking for how to convert your grades to the GPA scale, want to hear from others who have chosen to go abroad for their MBA, or simply interested in general tips for successful international study, bookmark this resource today.

You may also be interested in:

3 Common Hurdles for International MBA Applicants
Show International Experience When Applying to Business School
Advice for Business School Applicants from Asia

Image credit: Flickr user Fedecomite (CC BY 2.0) 

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Ace Your Harvard Business School Interview

Harvard Business School interviews just 25% of applicants each season. On the bright side, HBS admits about half of interviewed candidates, so if you can successfully pass this hurdle in the application process, your chances …

HBS interview tips

Harvard Business School interviews just 25% of applicants each season. On the bright side, HBS admits about half of interviewed candidates, so if you can successfully pass this hurdle in the application process, your chances of admission skyrocket.

As I explained in my recent article published in Business Insider, the admissions team seeks applicants who can demonstrate that they share the values central to HBS culture: passion, self-awareness, maturity, integrity, focus on solutions, high-impact leadership, and case-method compatibility.

While you can’t predict which specific questions will come up during your interview, you can expect the types of questions to fall into three broad categories representing your past, present, and future. The interviewer will probe in great depth about your career goals, professional choices, and interest in the MBA program. He or she will be very familiar with your essays — so familiar, in fact, that your interviewer will seem determined to find a “hole” in your story.

The anecdotes you share about your past experiences — both successes and failures — will give the interviewer some insight into your self-awareness and maturity. Your story should reveal how you confront life choices, the values and principles that help you negotiate complex situations, your beliefs, and your worldview.

Expect to receive a number of questions that will help interviewers gauge how life has tested you, and how you responded to that test.

As you prepare for the interview, focus on the experiences, anecdotes, and answers that will showcase your strengths. To learn exactly how to successfully wow your interviewer for a shot of admission at this ultra-elite school, click on over to Business Insider to continue reading my article with the best HBS interview tips.

You may also be interested in:

5 Tips for Harvard Business School Applicants
Advice for the Harvard Business School Admissions Essay

Image credit: Flickr user Florian Pilz (CC BY 2.0)

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Challenges and Opportunities for Female MBA Applicants

Today is International Women’s Day—a perfect opportunity to discuss targeted strategies for female MBA applicants. As an MBA, entrepreneur and businessperson, I know that women can more than handle business school and the application process just …

Today is International Women’s Day—a perfect opportunity to discuss targeted strategies for female MBA applicants. As an MBA, entrepreneur and businessperson, I know that women can more than handle business school and the application process just as well or better than anyone.  Stereotypes do persist, however, and the reality is that women pursuing graduate management education are still an underrepresented demographic on campus.

Enrollment Outlook in 2017

Thankfully, the outlook has improved over the past decade. Women now make up 43% of Harvard Business School’s Class of 2018; they represent 44% of the incoming class at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; and Stanford Graduate School of Business reported female enrollment at 41% for the Class of 2018.

Business schools have really ramped up their efforts to recruit and groom future women leaders, so if you’re a woman planning on pursuing an MBA, make sure to take advantage of every available opportunity. During the school research phase, a great place to start is at a workshop event for women hosted by the program you’re considering.

While you’ll also want to attend general information sessions, these diversity events allow you to meet and network with other prospective students, current students, alumni, and faculty, as well as provide a chance to listen and ask questions about the specific opportunities for woman in the MBA program.

Self-Confidence is Key

When putting their application together, female candidates have to make sure that they exude confidence. The admissions committee shouldn’t have any doubt about whether the applicant will raise her hand and contribute to the classroom discussions that form a crucial part of the MBA learning experience. Essays, interviews and recommendation letters should indicate a high comfort level with speaking out, defending points of view, and collaborating with all types of people.

Another area of potential weakness, particularly for women who majored in the liberal arts for undergrad, is demonstrating strong quantitative skills. The admissions committee wants to make sure you can handle the MBA course load, so a solid GMAT score, supplemented by additional finance, calculus, or statistics classes taken at the local community college, will go a long way toward proving you have the bona fides to succeed.

Try not to become intimidated by all of the amazing things your fellow applicants have accomplished and second-guess the value of your own strengths and experiences. Focus instead on what makes you unique, and how you plan on contributing to the MBA community once admitted.

During the MBA interview, female candidates frequently begin their answers with a disclaimer that reveals their insecurities and detracts from any positive information that follows. Don’t downplay achievements for fear of coming across as bragging. There’s a difference between boasting and conveying your skills and accomplishments with pride. Confidence without attitude is what you’re aiming for.

Don’t Let the Expense Scare You Off

Finally, women shouldn’t let the financial expense of business school be a barrier to pursuing an MBA degree. Look into all of the resources—loans, scholarships, employee sponsorships, fellowships, work-study options—that can offset the high cost of an MBA, and take a long view of the return on investment your target schools provide.Many candidates find they can pay off their student debt within five years of graduating, so with the right financial aid package, it’s possible to attend almost any business school.

Despite some barriers, real or perceived, women considering business school should know the MBA degree truly is the one of the best ways to transform their career by giving them the skills and knowledge necessary to be successful.

Image credit: WOCinTech Chat (CC BY 2.0)

You may also be interested in:

NYU Stern Launches New Scholarship Dedicated to Advancing Women in Business
MBA Debt Hurts Women More than Men, Bloomberg Study Finds
Flexibility is Key for Women Pursuing MBAs

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