Category Archives: Application Tips

3 Ways to Show Business Schools You’ll Make an Impact

 This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on Most candidates approach the MBA application process by putting their own needs first. Perhaps you have decided to pursue an MBA because you want to …

 female executiveThis post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on

Most candidates approach the MBA application process by putting their own needs first. Perhaps you have decided to pursue an MBA because you want to achieve something new, change careers or advance more than you would otherwise.

However, what can set you apart from many candidates is thinking about what you can add to the business schools you are targeting. While everyone benefits from a diverse alumni network, what specifically do you want to give and receive from your classmates?

Applicants should frame their essays and interviews with the goal of convincing the admissions committee that they will enhance the student experience once on campus and will continue to make a positive impact as an alumnus down the road. Here are three ways to accomplish this.

1. Show how your skills and interests will benefit the program: Business schools strive to assemble a cohort filled with impressive individuals who will use their unique characteristics to enrich the learning environment. This is the perfect opportunity to distinguish yourself from those who may have a similar educational or work profile.

It’s effective to start with what you bring to the table. Think about what your points of differentiation are from other MBA candidates. Perhaps you have a distinctive leadership style or knowledge you can share with the class. Share with the admissions committee how you will contribute to the organizations that already exist, or mention your ideas for creating new ones.

Consider how you can add knowledge to a classroom. Maybe you have contacts in your industry that can help other students obtain jobs. Think about whether you can you provide connections to interesting speakers or if you will bring special skills to a club or classroom.

Remember, if your answers can be easily replicated by other applicants, they will add little to your candidacy.

2. Connect your past and present experiences to the future: You should be aware of the major academic, extracurricular and social components of the MBA programs you apply to and think about how you will enhance the mix. Perhaps your professional experience will further a case discussion in your strategy class, or it may also help your classmates with a panel on the industry they are putting together as part of a professional club.

Maybe you want to start a club or a conference based on your specialized industry knowledge. Perhaps you aspire to help a professor with her research because of a special interest you have. Or, you might be planning to return to the school as an alumnus to be a panelist or mentor once you develop your individual professional pursuits.

Since fit is so important, this is also an opportunity to reveal your depth of knowledge of the school’s culture. To be most effective, you will want to be both specific and logical in what you choose to highlight, focusing on the activities that make the most sense in the overall context of your career and industry interests.

3. Make the case for why each program is the best place to achieve your goals: Whatever your own personal reasons for seeking an MBA may be, make sure you can point out specific aspects of the skill set required for your future career that will be augmented by attending that school.

The admissions committee wants to know why your particular aspirations will be uniquely satisfied by their program, so use the essays and interview to show you have done your research. You should know everything about the aspects of the program that most appeal to you.

Know the classes you want to take, the professors you hope to work for, and how any specialized programs will be an asset in your future career. Make sure to reach out to current students and alumni, as those conversations will give you crucial insights that will provide a personal perspective on the culture of the school.

As you can see, business schools today seek a symbiotic relationship with their students. The highly competitive state of MBA admissions now requires applicants to show not only that they are qualified to attend the program, but that they will raise the bar by positively impacting the experience of everyone around them.

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Tuesday Tips: UCLA Anderson Fall 2016 MBA Essay Tips

UCLA Anderson is a small and close-knit school with particular focus on entrepreneurship, entertainment, real estate and other major industries in Southern California. While UCLA has a dominant position in the region it is also …

UCLA Anderson essay tipsUCLA Anderson is a small and close-knit school with particular focus on entrepreneurship, entertainment, real estate and other major industries in Southern California. While UCLA has a dominant position in the region it is also a nationally known program that will position you well in whatever career you pursue.

Anderson can be selective about the composition of each MBA class, therefore your fit with the values and principles of the school is of primary importance. When approaching this set of essays make sure you understand what Anderson will do for you and what you plan to bring to the community.

We have helped countless applicants achieve their UCLA Anderson dreams. Contact us to learn how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help you.

Required Essay
We believe that the best results are achieved when you share success, think fearlessly and drive change. With this in mind, what are your goals at UCLA Anderson and in your short-term and long-term career? (750 words maximum)

UCLA Anderson’s values are embodied by “share success, think fearlessly and drive change” and by demonstrating that you possess those qualities you will be demonstrating your fit with UCLA Anderson. Thorough school research will provide examples you can use to describe why these values and principles drive your goals while attending UCLA Anderson. Your career goals should be examined through the filter of Anderson’s values and how you plan to use those values in your post-Anderson life.

When structuring this essay consider telling one or two pivotal stories to illuminate who you are. UCLA is looking for personal expression in this essay, and to understand how you are different from other applicants. Consider the turning points or moments that triggered reflection for you. Have you experienced a significant personal setback? What is your family background? Have you lived outside your home country? When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments? What moments have called upon your need to collaborate, lead or innovate?

For the second part of the essay briefly explain what you plan to do immediately after graduation, and then what you want to accomplish over the long-term with your career. A career path that focuses on demonstrated passions and interests throughout your life is going to be most compelling as you write this essay and each section should bridge seamlessly into the next.

For the part of the essay focusing on UCLA Anderson’s part in your plans, UCLA specifically requests citing specific classes, professors and programs. To express a bit more on the personal side it will be helpful to include the social and extracurricular aspects that attract you to the small and close-knit experience at Anderson. Be specific as you discuss the clubs and conferences that are unique to the UCLA MBA.

Optional Essay
Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words maximum)

It is important to focus on explanations rather than excuses in this essay. Potential extenuating circumstances may be a very low GPA, academic probation or using a recommender other than your current supervisor. Clearly explain the situation, and if it is a situation from the past, explain why you have changed. Providing evidence that you will not repeat the actions in question will help to solidify your answer.

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Paying for Your MBA with Fellowships, Scholarships

As MBA applicants look to funding their MBA education, finding and applying for fellowships is an important next step.

paying for MBA

Business school is an expensive investment, and it’s never too early to start figuring out how you will pay for it. An MBA must be seen as a long-term investment, and fortunately, schools are committed to working with students to find a solution to financing school through a combination of loans and scholarships.

As you create your plan to pay for business school, 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 important if you’re pursuing scholarships, fellowships or grants. Since scholarships are free money, competition can be fierce, and you’ll benefit from having the time to create strong scholarship applications and from knowing the key deadlines so that opportunities don’t pass you by.

You may also need to submit a different application for each fellowship or scholarship. Don’t lose out because of a missed deadline. Look beyond your business school, too, to organizations like the Forte Foundation or Consortium for Graduate Study in Management that offer highly valuable scholarships for MBA students.

You may be considered for merit fellowships based on your academic credentials, accomplishments and experience that has already been communicated in your application. Some schools may also offer additional fellowships that you can apply for directly through the program.

Applying for the Money
There are many different application processes for financial aid, from demonstrating need to demonstrating merit. Organize the deadlines and submission guidelines to make sure you have a plan to complete the applications, and carefully follow the directions of each scholarship, fellowship or loan you are applying for.

If you are required to submit an essay, answer the question thoroughly and succinctly as you would any other MBA essay. Questions may vary, though this question is representative of the type of question you may receive:

Describe what you see as the value of fellowships/scholarships to students. Why should you receive one? What impact will it have on you and/or your Wharton experience? (500 words)

The value of fellowships/scholarships should be fairly straightforward, though you may emphasize either need or merit in your response, depending upon the direction you plan to take in the argument for your own application.

The need based direction may be difficult to prove without serious financial hardship. If you did have difficulties with finances throughout your life and would not be able to attend business school without such assistance, you may have a good argument. If not, you should pursue the merit-based direction.

Providing evidence for the need-based direction of the argument should be fairly straightforward. Describe your situation and why you would have difficulty paying for your MBA education. Avoid any complaining or blame, and instead focus on what you have been able to accomplish in your life with little resources and how you would be able to continue to accomplish as you benefit from greater resources.

If you are going with a merit-based argument you should outline your accomplishments, both academic and professional. Sell yourself as you would in a job interview, and provide solid evidence for your accomplishments as you did in your application essays.

The impact of financial assistance may allow you to pursue activities such as travel and leadership opportunities. In addition, your receipt of aid may benefit the people around you. If you have been involved in your community or with charity, you can certainly describe the impact you have made on the lives of others thus far and how that impact will be even greater with a business education.

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