Category Archives: Application Tips

What Does it Take to Get Into America’s Best B-Schools?

This is the age-old question in MBA admissions, and one every applicant wishes they had the inside scoop on. BusinessInsider recently ran two articles attempting to answer multiple facets of this very question, and I shared …

why business school

This is the age-old question in MBA admissions, and one every applicant wishes they had the inside scoop on. BusinessInsider recently ran two articles attempting to answer multiple facets of this very question, and I shared my thoughts with them based on SBC’s more than 15 years of experience in MBA admissions.

For instance, one often overlooked way for candidates to improve their application is by paying much closer attention to how they manage their MBA recommenders. A lot of people think they can just hand off their recommendations and off you go, but you really need to manage that process – that’s part of management, which is the type of school they’re applying to.

Educating your recommender and letting them know your strategy and reminding them accomplishments and things you’ve done that back up your branding themes of your application is really important!

Don’t expect your recommenders to remember every great thing you’ve done, and definitely don’t leave this process to chance. If you haven’t yet done so explicitly, remind them of the strengths you would like the letter to vouch for – such as leadership skills, teamwork, passion – as well as anecdotes that support those characteristics.

In fact, proven leadership is another non-negotiable when it comes to applying at the top business schools. Candidates need to show how they went a step farther than the expected to actively lead and attract other members to their groups.

At Stacy Blackman Consulting, we do a lot of thinking about leadership – what is leadership, how best to showcase it, why it matters, and more. After all these schools are grooming overall leaders, not just number-crunchers, marketers or statisticians.

The admissions team also wants to see a wide array of experiences, so that means applicants should demonstrate their leadership qualities in whatever drives their passions, whether that be in their friendships, in the classroom, or in their athletic endeavors.

If you’d like to learn more, just follow the links above to read the articles in BusinessInsider.

You may also be interested in:

Ace Your Harvard Business School Interview
Six Steps to Acing Your Stanford GSB Interview
7 Qualities of the Ideal Wharton MBA

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Applicants Should Connect with Alumni, Says UCLA Anderson Dean

One of the most valuable aspects of attending a top-ranked MBA program is the amazing network you cultivate during those two years. The MBA Insiders Blog at UCLA Anderson School of Management has just published a …

UCLA Anderson application tips

One of the most valuable aspects of attending a top-ranked MBA program is the amazing network you cultivate during those two years. The MBA Insiders Blog at UCLA Anderson School of Management has just published a helpful article noting how your interactions with the alumni of your target MBA programs can help you determine whether the school is a good fit for your personality and career goals.

Alumni can usually provide the most honest opinion on which courses will translate into future job opportunities, and point out which social opportunities allow you to really connect with other students outside of the classroom to help build that network foundation.

Alex Lawrence, Assistant Dean & Director of Admissions for the Full-Time MBA Program, writes this latest post in Anderson’s From the Dean’s Desk series, and below are his top 5 reasons why you should connect with alumni during your application process.

  1. Experience the school culture. Each school has its own culture and climate. Speaking with alumni allows you to experience that culture first hand. You can also ask what type of people attend the school (bankers, consultants, marketers, teachers). Ask if it is a competitive environment, do people support each other, is diversity and inclusion valued at the school, etc.
  2. Get advice on best way to visit campus /see program in full action. Alumni can provide great advice on how to structure your visit, how to contact
    faculty, meet with students, possibly sit in on a class, etc.
  3. Gain insights into career options and opportunities. One of the top reasons you are going to business school is to advance your career. Alumni are great resources to understand the impact of the school’s career management center on his/her career, what companies recruit/hire students at that school, learn about the career outcomes of other alumni.
  4. Provide a window into specific experiences. Business school is not just about taking classes. It is a wonderful way to test your limits and get out of your comfort zone. Alumni can provide a “window” into specific experiences for consideration – favorite courses, school faculty, classmates, global experiences, signature conferences, academic internships, community service, etc.
  5. Get answers to the “I didn’t know what I didn’t know” questions. Alumni can provide information that’s otherwise hard to find, such as answers to questions about financing your MBA and learning about pre-MBA internship opportunities.

The best way to reach out to alumni is through friends, family and colleagues, since that connection will incentivize them to give you a really honest insider’s perspective. If you can’t get in touch with anyone directly, reach out to the schools themselves and they’ll be able to put you in touch with someone willing to talk to you.

Nothing compares with hearing firsthand accounts that offer a realistic view of the business school experience that go beyond the brand messages of school websites and admissions events. Have conversations about why they decided to go to business school, why they chose the program they did, what were the highlights or surprises of their experience, and what they wish they had known when starting this process.

It truly is the people, not the brochure bullet points, that bring a school to life, so the more person-to-person contact you have, the more informed you will be when it comes time to apply – and when you finally set foot on campus.

 

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Guidance for International MBA Applicants

Recent changes to immigration procedures have caused some confusion and concern among international MBA candidates applying to business schools in the United States. To help clarify matters, the Graduate Management Admission Council has created a page …

international MBA applicantsRecent changes to immigration procedures have caused some confusion and concern among international MBA candidates applying to business schools in the United States. To help clarify matters, the Graduate Management Admission Council has created a page on its website mba.com to help alleviate some of these concerns.

Here you’ll find resources and information that apply to international students, including an overview on applying for a visa to study in the U.S., and information from leading GMAT-using schools for students navigating U.S. travel and immigration policies.

If you’re looking for how to convert your grades to the GPA scale, want to hear from others who have chosen to go abroad for their MBA, or simply interested in general tips for successful international study, bookmark this resource today.

You may also be interested in:

3 Common Hurdles for International MBA Applicants
Show International Experience When Applying to Business School
Advice for Business School Applicants from Asia

Image credit: Flickr user Fedecomite (CC BY 2.0) 

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Ace Your Harvard Business School Interview

Harvard Business School interviews just 25% of applicants each season. On the bright side, HBS admits about half of interviewed candidates, so if you can successfully pass this hurdle in the application process, your chances …

HBS interview tips

Harvard Business School interviews just 25% of applicants each season. On the bright side, HBS admits about half of interviewed candidates, so if you can successfully pass this hurdle in the application process, your chances of admission skyrocket.

As I explained in my recent article published in Business Insider, the admissions team seeks applicants who can demonstrate that they share the values central to HBS culture: passion, self-awareness, maturity, integrity, focus on solutions, high-impact leadership, and case-method compatibility.

While you can’t predict which specific questions will come up during your interview, you can expect the types of questions to fall into three broad categories representing your past, present, and future. The interviewer will probe in great depth about your career goals, professional choices, and interest in the MBA program. He or she will be very familiar with your essays — so familiar, in fact, that your interviewer will seem determined to find a “hole” in your story.

The anecdotes you share about your past experiences — both successes and failures — will give the interviewer some insight into your self-awareness and maturity. Your story should reveal how you confront life choices, the values and principles that help you negotiate complex situations, your beliefs, and your worldview.

Expect to receive a number of questions that will help interviewers gauge how life has tested you, and how you responded to that test.

As you prepare for the interview, focus on the experiences, anecdotes, and answers that will showcase your strengths. To learn exactly how to successfully wow your interviewer for a shot of admission at this ultra-elite school, click on over to Business Insider to continue reading my article with the best HBS interview tips.

You may also be interested in:

5 Tips for Harvard Business School Applicants
Advice for the Harvard Business School Admissions Essay

Image credit: Flickr user Florian Pilz (CC BY 2.0)

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