Category Archives: Application Tips

Stacy’s #WOW Campaign Inspires Thousands in Social Media

Have you been keeping an eye out for the Words of Wisdom (WOW) campaign on our social media streams?  For the past few weeks, we’ve been motivating potential MBA candidates with inspirational quotes from the …

2.1 Forte

Have you been keeping an eye out for the Words of Wisdom (WOW) campaign on our social media streams?  For the past few weeks, we’ve been motivating potential MBA candidates with inspirational quotes from the top business schools and our educational partners. Awesome is the only way to describe the massive online response!

More than 12 elite MBA programs, organizations such as Forté Foundation and The MBA Tour, and our test prep partners have chimed in with their advice. Every Friday during the campaign, we’ve provided a roundup of these motivational messages here on the blog, but you can see them right away on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Use the following hashtags:  #WOW #WordsofWisdom #SBCWOW #MBAinspiration and #BeInspired to check it out each day until the campaign ends on February 10th.

We hope these motivational messages inspire you to make 2016 your best year ever!

  • “Tuck offers feedback sessions to many candidates who are denied admission or placed on the waiting list. We encourage applicants to take advantage of the opportunity to hear feedback and make every effort to act on the advice that is given, should you decide to reapply next year,” says Dawna Clarke, Director of Admissions at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
  • “You have incredibly valuable skills that can add a great deal to the civic and philanthropic community. Engaging with community leadership will expand your network, challenge you to think about a different perspective and allow you to give back in a very important way,” says Kellogg School of Management Professor Liz Livingston Howard.
  • “Quick breaks help you rejuvenate. Healthy snacks, stretching, and deep breaths can do wonders.” GMAT Genius
  • “When the process challenges you (as it surely will), remind yourself that this was your goal, and why you wanted to do it. View each challenge as a learning opportunity to handle the next challenge more effectively,” advises Zachary Talmadge, MBA candidate ’16 and president of the Graduate Business Association at the Tepper School of Business.
  • “Make sure to devote yourself and all resources at your disposal not just to good or productive things, but to the very best option available,” urges Kellogg School of Management Professor Leemore Dafny.
  • “The key [to doing well on the GMAT] is to manage your time properly and remember that if you just don’t know how to answer a question, it may be best to skip it, rather than devote too much time to it.” The Economist Test Prep
  • “In making the admissions decision, the admissions committee will consider a bundle of factors including your undergraduate performance, the quality and amount of your work experience, your global exposure, work references, GMAT score, IELTS/TOFEL result (if applicable), etc. There is no single factor that dominates the admissions decision,” explains Crystal Wong, Director of Admissions and Marketing at HKUST Business School.
  • “To get a top score, you need to be in the optimal state of mind: positive, calm and focused,” says Bara Sapir, CEO and Founder of Test Prep NY/SF.

You may also be interested in:

Stacy Blackman’s Words of Wisdom Campaign
Stacy Blackman’s Words of Wisdom Campaign Continues
Stacy Blackman’s Words of Wisdom Campaign Heats Up
Stacy Blackman’s #WOW Campaign Continues to Inspire

Posted in Application Tips | Tagged , ,

Avoid These 10 Pitfalls in MBA Application Essays

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com The essay component of the MBA application is a chance to really wow the admissions committee and stand out from potentially thousands of …

taking notes2

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

The essay component of the MBA application is a chance to really wow the admissions committee and stand out from potentially thousands of other candidates with similar GMAT scores or GPAs.

There are many ways to craft a stellar essay that will give the reader a better sense of who you are, but there are also several mistakes to avoid as you’re answering these required prompts. Make sure you sidestep the following pitfalls at all costs.

1. Neglecting to answer the question: Applicants often become so determined to drive home a particular point, or worse, drift off into a tangent, that they fail to succinctly answer the question. Don’t answer with “what” when the question asks “how?” or “why?” Business schools create their essays with the goal of finding out how you fit their program, and not answering the question immediately indicates poor fit.

2. Using industry jargon or pretentious language: Never assume the admissions committee member reviewing your application is intimately familiar with your particular industry. Write for a lay audience, and avoid flowery or stuffy language – use familiar words instead.

With hundreds of applications on their desks, the admissions staff has only a few minutes to review each essay. It should be immediately digestible.

3. Basing essays on what you think the admissions committee is looking for: Even if you have a pretty good idea of what a particular business school looks for in MBA candidates, this isn’t the time to remake yourself into what you think their ideal student would be.

This is a major pet peeve of the admissions committee, which is why they have gone to great lengths recently to come up with creative essay prompts. Stay true to yourself and your professional goals.

4. Using a negative tone, or sounding whiny or complaining: As you come up with those great anecdotes to illustrate your leadership, problem-solving or team-building skills, make sure the examples in your essay don’t include criticizing a co-worker or complaints about your supervisor, even in a subtle way. Always keep the tone positive, or it will end up reflecting poorly on you.

5. Lying or exaggerating about your experience: For some applicants, it can be tempting to fudge a few details or embellish a bit in the hopes of making a memorable impression. Just ask news anchor Brian Williams.

But aside from being bad form, the admissions committee has various ways to fact-check a candidate’s claims, and discovering fabricated information would trigger an automatic rejection, even if the mistake was innocent. Be accurate in how you represent yourself.

6. Failing to demonstrate passion: Most MBA applicants aren’t professional writers, and sometimes make the mistake of writing essays that are informative, logical, well-organized and, inadvertently, a snooze fest. This is not the time to repeat your resume in prose form.

You must connect with the person evaluating your application on an emotional level if you hope to stand out. As the University of Texas—Austin McCombs School of Business‘ MBA program recently noted on its admissions blog, “Convince us that you are not only capable, but that you are special and that we will be lacking something without your presence.”

7. Discussing inappropriate topics: While you do want to open up and allow the admissions committee to get to know the person behind the paper, certain subjects do not belong in an essay for business school.

Leave out any mention of religious or political views; avoid the subject of money and how you want to make loads of it after you get your MBA; and steer clear of overt humor in general, unless you are a comedian by profession.

8. Disregarding word count: In almost all instances, the admissions committee has specified a word limit to the essays. With thousands of applications to read each round, they don’t have time to review essays that read like epic tomes.

You can sometimes go over the limit a smidge, but flagrant disregard for the prescribed word count is a red flag that you either have trouble following directions or cannot express yourself concisely.

9. Referencing high school experiences: Unless you did something amazing in your teenage years – started a business, raised an insane amount of money for a fundraiser, built houses for Habitat for Humanity in Kyrgyzstan – stick to anecdotes from your career from the past three years.

Candidates applying straight out of college or with only one year of work experience can mention university accomplishments. But for those with more than two years in the workforce, focus on current career developments instead. Recent examples give the admissions committee a better sense of where you are today, both personally and professionally.

10. Making apologies or excuses: Whether the issue is poor academic performance in the past, being fired from a job or even having a criminal record, applicants feel terrified they will be rejected out of hand if they admit to these kinds of mistakes.

Address the matter directly, take ownership and explain what you learned or how you improved. No excuses or apologies needed – or desired.

MBA essays are a wonderful opportunity to share what makes you a dynamic, multidimensional person. If you can avoid inadvertently committing these mistakes, you’ll stand an excellent chance of creating a positive impression on the admissions committee.

Image credit: Daniel Foster (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Posted in Application Tips, General | Tagged , , , , ,

Stacy Blackman’s #WOW Campaign Continues to Inspire

We’re wrapping up the fourth week of the Words of Wisdom (WOW) campaign on our social media streams, and the online response has been nothing short of incredible! The goal is to motivate potential MBA …

Words of Wisdom campaign

We’re wrapping up the fourth week of the Words of Wisdom (WOW) campaign on our social media streams, and the online response has been nothing short of incredible! The goal is to motivate potential MBA candidates with inspirational quotes from the top business schools and our educational partners.

More than 12 elite MBA programs, organizations such as Forté Foundation and The MBA Tour, and our test prep partners have chimed in over the past few weeks. Every Friday during the campaign, we’ve provided a roundup of these motivational messages here on the blog, but you can see them right away on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

Use the following hashtags:  #WOW #WordsofWisdom #SBCWOW #MBAinspiration and #BeInspired to check it out each day until the campaign ends on February 9th.

We hope these motivational messages inspire you to make 2016 your best year ever!

  • “An MBA education is intended to prepare you for a career, not a job. Never lose sight of what’s best for you in the long run,” advises Robert Dammon, Professor of Financial Economics and Dean of the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University.
  • “Sleep is essential for peak performance.  You cannot thrive if your body is deprived.”  GMAT Genius
  • “It’s important that applicants realize that not gaining admission to a school is not a reflection of you as a person or your ability to be successful in your career. One of the biggest challenges for the admissions committee is having too many great candidates to choose from among a competitive pool,” says Dawna Clarke, Director of Admissions at Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business.
  • “Be ready to raise your hand for new opportunities even when you don’t have the full complement of capabilities,” urges Linda Darragh, Clinical Professor of Entrepreneurial Practice at the Kellogg School of Management.
  • Bara Sapir, CEO and Founder of Test Prep NY/SF, says, “For a goal to be effective, you need to clearly articulate for yourself what you want to do, believe you can do it, and then set in motion the tips necessary to make it happen.”
  • “Be unabashedly honest with yourself throughout the process. Why do you want an MBA? Which program culture feels right to you? Why? Go with your heart and not with your head when you make this decision,” suggests Eric Johnson, Executive Director of Graduate Career Services at the IU Kelley School of Business.
  • “When deciding which exam to take—the GMAT or GRE—for your MBA applications, think about your personal strengths.” The Economist Test Prep
  • Allison Jamison, Director of Recruitment at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, says, “Take the opportunity to send a note to your recommenders. Thank them for taking the time to submit on your behalf, and remind them of any deadlines that require their action.  If you have been in contact with admissions officers, students, and/or alumni at your target schools, send them a quick note as well and let them know you are submitting your application.  If appropriate, remind them where and when you met!”

You may also be interested in:

Stacy Blackman’s Words of Wisdom Campaign Heats Up
Stacy Blackman’s Words of Wisdom Campaign Continues
Stacy Blackman’s Words of Wisdom Campaign

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Texas MBA’s Perspective on the “Non-Numeric” You

A recent post on the Texas MBA Insider blog at the UT McCombs School of Business drives home a message that we stress with clients on a daily basis: the admissions committee wants to get …

UT McCombs School of Business

A recent post on the Texas MBA Insider blog at the UT McCombs School of Business drives home a message that we stress with clients on a daily basis: the admissions committee wants to get to know the person behind the data points.

Now, this isn’t to say that a strong GMAT score or undergrad academic performance isn’t important…it’s very important to get those components right. In The Non-Numeric You: You Are Not Your GPA, the Texas MBA admissions team simply wants applicants to realize that their numbers do not define them when it comes to applying for a seat in their program.

Convince us that you are not only capable, but that you are special and that we will be lacking something without your presence.–The Texas MBA Program

“Even if you do have a 780 GMAT, this does not, in itself, indicate to us that you will succeed, make good grades, find an internship, thrive in your study groups, or find a good job after graduation,” the post notes.

The truth is, a lot of people have a 700 GMAT and 3.8 GPA. What is critical for applicants is conveying their own unique story in a compelling way.  “This story can go a long way in convincing us that a so-so GMAT or GPA is nothing to worry about in the long run, because you have a clear sense of who you are and what you are capable of,” the admissions team adds.

In our work here at Stacy Blackman Consulting, we find that countless applicants undervalue their uniqueness. Prospective students often shy away from sharing small but important details about themselves that can help them stand out from the crowd. They think, “Admissions committees don’t want to hear about that side of me,” or “Business schools don’t want people who are interested in that.” Or, “If I talk about this, it will sound like I’m boasting.”

It’s time to get over all of that. If you want to do well in the admissions process, you have to communicate who you are, not just what you do. Click on over to the original post for tips on how you can stand out and land a spot at McCombs over an applicant with the exact same numbers.

You may also be interested in:

 3 Ways to Stand Out in a Competitive B-School Applicant Pool

Posted in Application Tips, UT Austin McCombs Advice | Tagged , , , , , , ,