Category Archives: Application Tips
November 25, 2015
Many business schools call their MBA admissions process holistic, and the University of Michigan Ross School of Business is no exception. We think admissions director Soojin Kwon‘s latest blog post really helps clarify that point …
Many business schools call their MBA admissions process holistic, and the University of Michigan Ross School of Business is no exception. We think admissions director Soojin Kwon‘s latest blog post really helps clarify that point for applicants who may be wondering what, exactly, does a holistic review mean?
In a nutshell, a holistic review means taking into account several different factors when making admissions decisions: test scores, professional achievements, essays, and fit. This provides some comfort to applicants worried their chances will get torpedoed by a low-ish GMAT, or a lack of job titles that indicate an obvious leadership position. But, Kwon cautions, holistic review doesn’t mean all of those elements are weighted equally.
“For applicants who are agonizing over the essays, let me put it into perspective,” the director writes. “Spectacular essays won’t outweigh weak competitive academics or work experience. That said, a high GMAT isn’t everything. Last year, we denied hundreds of applicants with GMAT scores higher than 700. Rest assured, we read and evaluate all pieces of your application as we’re getting to know you.”
With the Round 2 deadline just after the New Year, applicants still have time to polish their essays, have one more go at the GMAT or GRE, or tweak their MBA resumes. Kwon is known for placing heavy emphasis on the candidate’s resume, and she reiterates that fact in this post.
Go over your resume carefully and banish any industry-specific acronyms or jargon that a lay person wouldn’t recognize, and make sure to highlight the achievements that identify results and impact, Kwon advises. As for the essays, she says make sure they are clear, sound like you, and fully answer the question, leaving no doubts in the reader’s mind.
Michigan Ross plans to hold an application webinar with last-minute tips for Round 2 on Monday, December 14th at 12:30 pm EST. If you need guidance—or reassurance—mark your calendars for that valuable info session.
Round 1 decisions come out on December 18th, so good luck to those applicants still interviewing and awaiting their outcome.
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November 12, 2015
The Chicago Booth School of Business made a dramatic departure this application season with its innovative essay question based on a series of photographs—applicants must select one picture and explain how it resonates with their …
The Chicago Booth School of Business made a dramatic departure this application season with its innovative essay question based on a series of photographs—applicants must select one picture and explain how it resonates with their own viewpoint on why the Booth community is the right fit for them.
As Round 1 interviews get underway, associate dean of admissions Kurt Ahlm shares some insight on the Booth Insider blog about how applicants have approached the photo essay.
“The intent of the essay is to get a better feel for who you are, how you think, and the unique impact you bring to the Booth community,” Ahlm explains. “We’ve been really impressed and have seen applicants take a very personal approach with their chosen image, as well as give profound reasons for wanting to be a part of this community.”
The photo is simply a way to contextualize and personalize the response, says Ahlm.
Michael Scichili, a Booth applicant featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article about the trend of unusual MBA essay prompts, said he thought the concept was “a little weird” at first.
He ultimately chose to write about a picture of Cloud Gate, the bean-shaped sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park. Scichili told the WSJ his essay focused on how the sculpture “distorts reality a little bit and makes things seem as though they’re not the way they are,” a reminder that in solving business problems, “you have to make sure you’re cognizant of your own bias.”
We’ve advised clients to think strategically about this question and chose a photo which resonates most specifically with them. You have the freedom to express who you are in words, images, graphics or some combination.
If you decide to write an essay response, you have enough space to tell a story that describes something new about yourself. If you decide to prepare a PowerPoint in response to this essay question, refine your story to its key elements.
To keep a visual essay interesting and high-impact, consider how you will format. Can you use photos? Drawings? If you use words, keep them clear and focused. Take every point up a level, so you are communicating a vision rather than a thesis.
The Booth admissions dean says that, “At the end of the day, we are looking for you to bring a new element about yourself into the essay, something that you haven’t already shared in other sections of the application.”
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November 11, 2015
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Although some armed forces veterans might not immediately see the correlation between their skills and experiences from the military and those needed to lead …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com
Although some armed forces veterans might not immediately see the correlation between their skills and experiences from the military and those needed to lead a Fortune 500 company, the truth is that business schools admire the leadership skills, grit and mental agility these applicants typically possess.
Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria once wrote an editorial in the Washington Post about how MBA programs should target more veterans, saying, “Business school can be a pathway for integrating our service members back into civilian life, and for finding new ways to engage their intellect, integrity and leadership at home.”
If you are planning a transition from active military service to business school, begin your research by finding out how each of the programs measures up in the following three areas.
1. Explore culture and fit: Every applicant should consider whether the business schools that interest them are good fits as far as class size, teaching method, location and general culture are concerned. A good fit is even more important for veterans, however, since their background is quite different from the majority of candidates. The adjustment from active service to a classroom can be challenging, and having strong outlets of support from the school makes a world of difference.
Once on campus, find out how many students are in the MBA program. Veterans at top-tier business schools typically make up about 5 percent of each incoming class, and too few fellow service men and women may leave students wishing for more peers they can relate to.
Find out what kinds of special programs for veterans exist, and whether the business school has student clubs or organizations created specifically for veterans. Also, look into what kind of personalized academic and career support is available to veterans to help translate their military skills into civilian life.
Reach out to current students for their honest feedback about daily life in the program with details that go beyond what you discover on the school website or by chatting with admissions officers.
2. Consider recruiting efforts: Another telltale sign of a highly military-friendly school is whether it hosts MBA admissions events exclusively to recruit veterans. Examples include the Veteran Prospective Student Day at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School; the Veteran’s Ambassadors event at MIT Sloan School of Management; and Military Visit Day at Tuck School of Business. Coming up next week on November 13th, Columbia Business School will host its own Spotlight on: Military in Business Association.
Even if the school you’re thinking about doesn’t host an admissions event specifically for military applicants, you can still get a fair assessment of how eager the program is to recruit veterans by looking at whether it provides support services starting during the application phase – not only once you’re admitted. Also, find out if the school offers deferment flexibility to candidates whose needs may change at the last minute if still on active duty.
3. Look into financial aid: The high cost of business school often deters veteran applicants. Many already have families of their own, and the concern over lost wages while they study cannot be overstated.
However, there are so many financial incentives specifically designed for this group that one’s actual out-of-pocket expense goes down dramatically once you factor in Veterans Affairs benefits, dedicated veterans scholarships, waived application fees and the Yellow Ribbon Program.
Under this program, the federal government matches, dollar for dollar, any financial aid that participating schools commit, essentially providing eligible student veterans with free or reduced-cost tuition. It’s designed to make out-of-state public colleges, private institutions and graduate programs more affordable for veterans.
Schools offer varying levels of support under the Yellow Ribbon Program, so visit the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website to learn whether the business school has limits on the number of recipients eligible annually – some are unlimited – and to see the exact dollar amount of the maximum school contribution per student, per year.
Stanford Graduate School of Business, for example, has no limits on the number of eligible veterans and contributes $16,500 per student, per year. The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University caps the number at 40 participants and offers $18,000 annually. Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, meanwhile, accepts 50 students under the Yellow Ribbon Program and contributes up to $15,000 a year.
“The Yellow Ribbon Program is the best indicator of how much a school truly supports veterans and when you apply it really should be part of your research,” wrote Dave Dauphinais, a Navy veteran who served in special operations for 10 years and is currently enrolled in the joint MBA and MPA program between Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, on Tuck’s website.
“The program is voluntary for schools in the amount of money offered by the school and in the number of veterans they will support so it serves as a telling indicator,” he wrote.