Category Archives: Application Tips

Planning for Your MBA Expenses

Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how to pay for it, even if you are not thinking of applying until a year or two from now. Fortunately, …

Paying for your mba

Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how to pay for it, even if you are not thinking of applying until a year or two from now. Fortunately, schools want to work with students to find a solution to financing school through a combination of loans and scholarships.

The MBA admissions blog at the Chicago Booth School of Business recently posted a great article with tips from the Financial Aid Office that will help orient potential b-school applicants no matter where they ultimately plan to apply. The first step is knowing what expenses to expect.

Begin by checking out the tuition rate at your target schools online, and take note also of the typical cost of attendance on top of tuition, which includes housing, textbooks, health insurance, living expenses, etc. that all students need to pay for.

While the school’s published cost of attendance is a clear starting point that factors in tuition as well as cost of living estimates, you may need to cover additional costs before, during and after your program.

To address the before costs, you’ll want to assess your personal financial situation carefully to see what your cost of attendance really entails. For example, it might cost you money to relocate to a new city or commute to campus.

You also might still have recurring bills that can’t be changed, such as an installment loan on a large purchase. Even updating your business wardrobe to prepare for interview season can amount to several hundred dollars if you’re not planning carefully.

Prior to even starting their MBA, many students create a savings goal for how much money they want to set aside by the time school begins. The rationale being that every extra dollar you save now is one you won’t have to borrow.

“Your MBA costs, however, won’t be limited to tuition and the necessities mentioned above,” the article notes, since “Many programs also offer endless travel opportunities – academic, career-related, and purely social.”

In fact, the travel and networking experiences that MBA students have at their fingertips is just one of the many amazing benefits of business school. Whether the motive is a tech trek to Silicon Valley, an finance industry conference in New York, or a trip bonding with peers in Belize, these adventures can make quite a dent in a student’s wallet.

And don’t forget that “You will also likely get involved with several student groups, which generally have fees to join,” the Financial Aid Office adds.

While it can be daunting to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to earn an MBA, most business school graduates experience a substantial salary increase. The vast majority report having greater job satisfaction and the ability to advance quickly and, therefore, earn more in shorter time.

“Your lifestyle during your time as an MBA student can vary wildly based on your choices and, ultimately, you can control how far your money will take you,” the Booth financial aid team notes. “Be mindful in choosing the right balance for you and plan to be strategic with your spending. “

The article concludes with advice on other funding options for MBA hopefuls, so click over for more information that’s Booth-specific.

If you have any financing questions at all, you should contact your prospective school’s financial aid office. You can also get advice through admissions events. Financial aid officers are an amazing resource; they’ve seen it all before, and they want to ensure qualified candidates can pay for a degree.

Starting early – about three months before applying – is also really helpful if you’re pursuing scholarships, fellowships or grants. Since scholarships are free money, competition can be fierce, and you’ll benefit from having the extra time to create strong scholarship applications and from knowing the key deadlines so that opportunities don’t pass you by.

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The Gamble of Applying in Round Three

It probably comes as no surprise, but round three is the most competitive one at most business schools, since the vast majority of acceptances happen in the first two rounds. If you weren’t able to …

Round 3 MBA deadlineIt probably comes as no surprise, but round three is the most competitive one at most business schools, since the vast majority of acceptances happen in the first two rounds. If you weren’t able to apply earlier because you were busy studying for the GMAT, dealing with a family crisis or completing an all-consuming work project, you’ve got to bring your A-game if you hope to land a seat at the end of the admissions cycle.

With fewer slots available, fine-tune your focus on schools where you’ll be a compelling candidate. A strong, well-thought-out application is critical. Make sure your academic profile aligns with the school’s median GMAT and average GPA and that you add something special to the class that the admissions committee didn’t see earlier in the season.

Special means unusual work experience, substantial community service, a diverse background, compelling leadership examples, unique or uncommon interests outside of business or entrepreneurial success of some sort.

You should definitely use the required or optional MBA admission essays to explain to the admissions committee your reasons for waiting until the third – or final – round to apply. You don’t want anyone to jump to the conclusion that you are using round three as a last-ditch effort to get into business school in the fall after receiving rejections from other schools in earlier rounds.

It’s worth noting that being admitted to some schools is not as challenging in round three as others. Elite European business school INSEAD has four rounds, and provides options for a January start date in addition to the traditional September intake. This allows later applicants who don’t mind waiting to start school to have a stronger chance at admission.

The University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School has five rounds, and Columbia Business School also offers a January intake for candidates who don’t need an internship between the first and second year.

Finally, it’s important to have a Plan B in case things don’t go your way. You can always apply to a set of schools in round three knowing there is a good chance you will need to reapply to them and add in some new ones next season.

Though the initial rejection may sting, you’ll be in a great position for round one in the fall with your essays, recommendation letters and transcripts already in hand. Or, you may find that the soul searching required for an MBA application sets you on a different path altogether. Perhaps you will decide to make a career switch now and pursue higher education later.

Round three is certainly a gamble, but you just might be that missing element the admissions committee is looking for to spice up the mix.

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5 Signs You’re Ready to Apply to an MBA Program

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Many prospective business school students confront whether now is the right time to get an MBA, particularly when they become bored or frustrated …

ready for an MBA

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

Many prospective business school students confront whether now is the right time to get an MBA, particularly when they become bored or frustrated with their current professional trajectory. But how do you know whether you’re really ready to tackle the intense demands of a full-time MBA program?

There’s often a tendency to rush into it, but the decision to pursue an MBA requires serious thought. Before you start preparing to apply, take a critical look at your reasons for pursuing the degree and make sure it’s the right decision for you.

Motivations for earning an MBA vary by person, but prospective students who decide to embark on the journey should first make sure they’ve identified gaps in their professional development, have clear career goals and feel ready to contribute to the MBA experience.

Review these five signs to determine whether you’re ready to apply to business school.

1. You’ve maxed out professional development: Do you feel like your current position isn’t allowing you to maximize your skills or that your supervisors don’t value your contributions?

If you find yourself stagnating in your present role or that you’ve plateaued in your job and there’s no room for upward mobility, an MBA can help you navigate and leverage your next career step. The business school experience will show you how to integrate your skills, passions and goals against the backdrop of current global market conditions.

2. You want pursue a new professional goal: If you’re looking for the fast track to gain skills and build a network to launch your career in a new direction, an MBA will definitely expand your options.

Once you’re in business school, you have the opportunity to see how you fit in that new industry through coursework, student groups, internships or networking with alumni. Self-reflection and exploration are key components of the MBA experience, giving students a chance to sample various fields and functions without making any firm commitments.

3. You need an MBA to move ahead in your current job: Unlike career switchers, career enhancers can use the MBA as a way to move up the proverbial ladder in their current company or industry.

Earning an MBA can reassure supervisors who seem reluctant about promoting you because of your age or limited years of work experience. It shows that you’re a go-getter who will do whatever it takes to continue growing and developing personally and professionally.

In some industries – such as finance, marketing, IT or international business – employers often require an MBA for an individual to advance to certain upper management positions.

4. You want to gain specific skills that are taught in business school: In an MBA program, you’ll learn how to think strategically, analyze problems and broaden your leadership skills.

Business school provides a safe space to experiment and hone those skills in a variety of situations. For applicants with strong technical expertise but who are light on general management skills or anyone looking to bridge the gap between the liberal arts and business, an MBA will catapult you to the next level.

5. You feel you have a lot to contribute to a diverse MBA class: If you’ve been in the job for a few years, tackled multiple real-world business problems and been tested and challenged professionally and personally, you’re already equipped to bring a unique and valuable perspective to an MBA class of equally driven and talented peers.

When students from diverse backgrounds and industries come together and share their experiences and skills, all participants learn valuable lessons they would have never otherwise encountered. Remember, the admissions team wants to see how much you’ll contribute to the class in addition to finding out what you’ll gain from the MBA.

As we’ve seen countless times, business school enables students to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities that can help organizations launch new products, improve the lives of consumers and help society as a whole. But only you can determine when the time is right to take that next step.

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7 Common Mistakes International MBA Applicants Make

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. Creating a robust and dynamic classroom experience through diversity is a primary focus of the top business schools in the United States, offering …

advice for international applicant

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

Creating a robust and dynamic classroom experience through diversity is a primary focus of the top business schools in the United States, offering students the chance to interact with peers from an array of countries and professional backgrounds.

In fact, international candidates made up a significant percentage of the 2016 incoming class: 32 percent at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, 35 percent at Harvard Business School and 40 percent at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

However, sometimes cultural differences or a simple lack of awareness regarding what a strong MBA application should include can unwittingly derail even the most stellar applicants. With that in mind, international students should avoid these seven common hurdles when targeting top-ranked U.S. business schools.

1. Choosing business schools solely with rankings: Many international students are unable to visit each prospective school in person due to financial or time constraints, so poring over published rankings is an obvious method to create a short list of schools.

But don’t let this be your only method. While brand and cache carry a lot of weight worldwide, you need to look beyond rankings to find the programs that best serve yourr individual needs.

2. Omitting unique personal experiences in essays: In many cultures, sharing personal stories with strangers is taboo. International applicants may be strongly tempted to keep the focus solely on previous education and professional experience.

But to stand out from the masses of similarly qualified applicants, you must focus your essays on aspects other than your quantitative or technical background.

The key to a successful MBA application is showing exactly what you – and nobody else but you – can bring to the program. Don’t be afraid to let your originality and true personality come through in your application materials.

3. Focusing too much on MBA message boards: It’s unsettling to be so far away geographically, and the instinct is to seek out all news and information possible about your dream programs in the U.S.

But local MBA websites and message boards can be rife with rumors and inaccurate information that can steer you in the wrong direction as you consider application strategies.

Remember that no one except the admissions committee knows what’s going on with interview invites, acceptance rates, waitlists or anything else of importance for prospective students.

4. Failing to correctly translate or explain GPA and undergrad transcript: This is a common yet complicated issue, since there’s no universal standard to convert an international GPA to the American 4.0 system. Once you’ve translated your home country’s GPA using an online grade conversion calculator, assess whether it accurately reflects the rigor of your undergrad institution.

Variations in course difficulty can lead to confusion – for some transcripts, a 75 percent would be equivalent to an American A-plus, and at other, more difficult programs, a percentage as low as 60 would translate to an A grade.

If you feel there is some ambiguity in this metric of your transcript, briefly explain to the admissions committee any relevant information that would clarify its understanding of your academic performance.

5. Appearing uncomfortable with a new culture and language: Feeling comfortable working across cultures is crucial in today’s global business landscape. Make sure to highlight any previous study or work abroad experiences, and include examples within your application of times where you have worked with people from other cultural or language backgrounds.

The ability to communicate effectively and fluently in English is also nonnegotiable at top MBA programs. This is one reason some schools have introduced a video interview question in their applications to verify candidate’s comfort with the language. Enroll in conversation courses if needed and continue to read business publications in English to bolster your vocabulary and increase fluency.

6. Failing to manage recommenders, especially nonnative English speakers: You have to convey to your recommenders the criteria for a successful letter of recommendation to a top business school. Otherwise, you’re left with well-intentioned but generic platitudes that provide little insight into exactly what makes you a strong leader, team player or an asset to the program.

Determine exactly what your recommenders should highlight and guide them by providing anecdotes or themes you’d like them to mention.

If your recommenders are not native English speakers, you need to make sure the letter is well-written or, if needed, translated into English.

7. Applying in round three: Round three is difficult to pull off successfully for any applicant, but international candidates should avoid this application cycle for practical reasons. This can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, so applying in one of the earlier rounds reduces the stress of managing this process once you’re already received an offer of admission and can apply for a student visa.

Also, the earlier you apply, the more time you have to secure and provide proof of funding, whether through work, loans, family or other means. At some schools, scholarship offers go out at the same time as admissions offers, so more award funding is generally available the earlier you apply.

Planning, planning and more planning are key to a smooth application process no matter where you are applying, but the logistics are even more critical for international students.

You may also be interested in:

Guidance for International MBA Applicants
Advice for Business School Applicants from Asia

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