Category Archives: Application Tips

Stacy Blackman’s Words of Wisdom Campaign Heats Up

We’re wrapping up the third week of the Words of Wisdom (WOW) campaign on our social media streams, and the online response has been nothing short of incredible! Have you checked it out yet?  The …

motivation for MBA applicants

We’re wrapping up the third week of the Words of Wisdom (WOW) campaign on our social media streams, and the online response has been nothing short of incredible! Have you checked it out yet?  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, and organizations such as Forté Foundation and the MBA Tour, have chimed in with their thoughts on reapplying, reminders about how to take advantage of every opportunity, reality checks regarding the GMAT, and views on how to create value and sense of purpose in all that you do.

Every Friday during the campaign, we’ll provide 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.

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

  • “Approximately 15 percent of Tuck applicants are reapplicants. We look favorably upon reapplicants and work closely with them. If Tuck remains your top choice, reach out to us to help you determine if and what reapplicant strategy might work best for you,” says Dawna Clarke, Director of Admissions at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth.
  • “Training yourself to be sure of the outcome of the GMAT, to imagine conquering business school and even looking ahead to your future career will help you create a game plan for success,” advises Bara Sapir, CEO/Founder of Test Prep New York/Test Prep San Francisco.
  • Kellogg School of Management Professor David Chen counsels MBA students to “Figure out how your values can create value.”
  • “Students ask me how to find their purpose.  My advice is simple: stop looking for a purpose and start noticing when you get excited by what you are doing.  When you enjoy your work, your purpose usually finds you,” says Professor Richard Shell at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School.
  • “Don’t put too much emphasis on the GMAT. People overemphasize the GMAT because it’s the most “concrete” element of the application. It’s easy to understand that a higher score means a somewhat higher change of being accepted. However, the real difference between a 710 and even a 740, or a 650 and a 690, is probably way smaller than you think.  In a way, it’s “easy” to put your head down and focus on improving your GMAT score for two hours. But it’s “hard” to figure out which schools are really a great fit for you, your core reasons for going to business school, and your personal narrative around what you’d bring to a program. Once you get the GMAT score that falls in the range of your target schools, move on and focus on the application,” advises My Guru‘s Mark Skoskiewicz.
  • Amanda Soule Shaw, Assistant Dean for Student Services at Cornell’s Johnson School of Management, says, “Commit to doing new things and expanding your network of contacts. It’s great to be completely sure of your post-MBA goal, but don’t let that goal define the choices you make in terms of classes, clubs, teams and friends. Your time in school will provide limitless opportunities to gain exposure to diverse topics and perspectives, so make sure to take full advantage of that once in a lifetime experience.”
  • “We all make mistakes. The key is to learn from your mistakes so you don’t repeat them.” GMAT Genius
  • “Embrace the transformative opportunity that an MBA program offers.  The network is invaluable, but maximizing its value first requires openness to change and effort to develop who you are and what you can do,” says Professor Scott B. Smart at Indiana University Kelley School of Business 
  • Professor Harry Kraemer at the Kellogg School of Management advises, “Don’t forget to take the time to self-reflect and ask yourself, ‘What are my values? What really matters?'”

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

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4 Things Wharton Looks For in MBA Applicants

Do you wonder just exactly what the top business schools look for when deciding whom to admit to their MBA programs? Well, after more than 15 years of helping our clients receive highly coveted admissions …

What Wharton looks for in MBA applicants

Do you wonder just exactly what the top business schools look for when deciding whom to admit to their MBA programs? Well, after more than 15 years of helping our clients receive highly coveted admissions letters to the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, I’ve pulled together some key characteristics that, together, paint a unique picture of what Wharton is looking for in MBA students.

Keep in mind though, knowing what a particular business school is looking for isn’t an opportunity to re-make yourself into what you think their “ideal” student would be. Rather, it’s a chance to find a learning community that values your strengths and where you can make a positive contribution with the unique skills, experiences, and perspectives you bring to the table.

To discover which four characteristics Wharton looks for in MBA candidates, I invite you to follow the link to read my latest article published on Business Insider.

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Image credit: Jack Duval (CC BY 2.0)

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Considering a Second MBA Degree?

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com The idea of pursuing a second MBA degree may sound strange, but it happens with a small number of applicants during every admissions …

get a second MBA

Applicants who received an MBA abroad can use a second MBA to strengthen job prospects.

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

The idea of pursuing a second MBA degree may sound strange, but it happens with a small number of applicants during every admissions season and can make sense under the right, very specific, circumstances.

Some applicants consider a second degree after earning an MBA from a for-profit university or an unaccredited program. They may find they have hit a ceiling with their employment prospects as they vie for positions against candidates from better-known schools.

More often, people who seek a second degree are international candidates who have discovered that their professional dreams cannot be fulfilled with their current degree alone.

In India, for example, it’s common for a student to jump into an MBA program straight out of university, which makes for a very theoretical learning experience rather than a practical one in which to contextualize management problems. Once these MBA grads get into the workforce, they discover they must further develop various skills to become strong business leaders.

For professionals working in international firms who aspire to relocate abroad, a degree earned in-country will not open doors the way a highly ranked MBA from a name-brand university will. A second MBA is seen as an efficient way to move out of a stagnant career and enhance their competitiveness, allowing the degree holder to shift into a new function, industry or geography after completing their studies.

Creating a rich classroom experience through diversity is a huge focus of the top business schools, offering students the opportunity to interact with peers from an array of countries and professional backgrounds. While the educational component of the degree in South Asian business schools, for example, may sometimes rival their international counterparts, the ability to create networking ties across the globe is nowhere near as strong. For career switchers looking to break into competitive industries such as finance or consulting, earning an MBA from a globally recognized brand becomes paramount.

As with any blip or oddity in candidates’ background, they need to think through their story as they prepare application essays.

What did you not get from a prior MBA that you can get this time around? How is the target program different, or a better fit? Or maybe it’s a matter of timing, and the first one was a mistake you need to acknowledge. What skills are you looking to gain, and why couldn’t you acquire them with your first degree? An applicant needs to show why it would make sense to repeat the same degree from a different school. It can be a hard narrative to flesh out and tell in a compelling way, but it’s not impossible.

When I first read through the profile for our client Vijay, I saw strong academic numbers, volunteer involvement, an interesting entrepreneurial venture – and that he already had an MBA from one of the Indian Institutes of Management. My first question was the same any admissions committee member would ask him: “Why do you need a second MBA?”

Vijay entered an IIM program when he was a university student to supplement his engineering coursework. While he had received an MBA credential, he considered the degree as an addendum to his undergraduate diploma. Also, his degree did not provide the same career advantages he would get from one of his target schools in the U.S., which were the MIT Sloan School of Management, the Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania and University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business.

For his career goals essay, we discussed exactly what this second MBA degree would do for Vijay’s career. We also used the optional essay to clearly outline how specific coursework in entrepreneurship, international experience and networking opportunities at each program made a second MBA absolutely necessary. His hard work and compelling argument paid off, and Vijay pursued his second MBA at Sloan, where he made some great contacts for future entrepreneurial ventures.

Many top business schools in the U.S. and Europe welcome applicants who already hold an MBA degree. If your first MBA is from a smaller international school, the elite programs are well aware of their advantages over the initial degree. Fortunately, your prior MBA degree won’t be a problem for on-campus recruiting, though you should be able to explain why you needed the two degrees. Assuming you have a solid story, the emphasis will be on your work experience and skills. If you are admitted to a strong program, the degree — combined with your skills — will enable you to land a great job come graduation.

Contact the admissions department at the programs you are interested in to find out the specifics for each school, and be ready to make a rock-solid case for why a second MBA is the next logical step for you.

Image credit: KMo Foto (CC BY 2.0)

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Wharton MBA Interview Tips

Are you targeting the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School? Whether you’re looking forward to an interview in Round 2 or 3, or perhaps have your sights set a bit farther out for next application season, …

Wharton interview tips

Are you targeting the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School? Whether you’re looking forward to an interview in Round 2 or 3, or perhaps have your sights set a bit farther out for next application season, you’ll want to take a look at these three tips I recently shared with Business Insider on how to ace your Wharton interview.

  1. Prepare for the Team-Based Discussion: observers want to see candidates contributing without dominating the discussion; the idea is to see how you might engage in a productive conversation with a group of future classmates. To make a positive impression, be sure to share your point of view, but also listen thoughtfully; respect differing points of view; and bring others into the conversation.
  2.  Emphasis your experience as an innovator: To emphasize this aspect of your personality or experience, think of ways you’ve acted as a “change agent” in your workplace or community. Wharton wants students who are dynamic and energized about looking to change industries, economies, and even their countries.
  3.  Show you’re globally savvy: Showing global awareness isn’t necessarily about the number of stamps on your passport. Rather, it’s about showing that you thrive in new and unfamiliar environments, and can successfully navigate the challenges of competing in a global marketplace.

Click over to the full story on Business Insider and you’ll learn how to show the admissions team at Wharton that you’re prepared to work well with a team, emphasize innovation in your approach, and share your global perspective. You may just find yourself on the positive side of Wharton’s competitive interview and application process.

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