Tag Archives: HBS

Weigh Trying a MOOC Before an MBA

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com 2013 may well become known as the year of the massive open online course, commonly abbreviated MOOC, as more and more prestigious business …

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

2013 may well become known as the year of the massive open online course, commonly abbreviated MOOC, as more and more prestigious business schools began offering their courses for free to anyone in the world with an Internet connection.

Stanford Graduate School of Business, University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, Michigan’s Ross School of Business and Spain’s IE Business School are just a few of the top MBA programs bringing their courses to the people, and it seems more are joining the party every month.

Most elite schools use the Palo Alto-based education company Coursera to host their MOOC content. While universities don’t offer official credit for their MOOCs, some offer participants a certificate – either free or for a fee – confirming completion of the course and a demonstrated understanding of the material.

In the fall, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Harvard Business School and HEC Paris announced they will offer numerous MOOCs as a way to enhance the academic experience and allow teaching to go beyond the confines of the classroom. HEC Paris is the first business school in France to launch a MOOC and will offer two courses, European law and corporate finance, in early spring 2014.

When announcing the news, HEC Dean Bernard Ramanantsoa said, “This partnership with Coursera offers HEC an opportunity to open up our courses to people who might not usually have access to higher education, whether for practical or economic considerations. Sharing our faculty’s expertise with the general public at no cost is a truly exciting and meaningful challenge.”

Meanwhile, with the Wharton MBA Foundation Series, faculty teach four core classes in financial accounting, operations management, marketing and corporate finance, allowing students all over the world to learn the same material a first-year Wharton MBA student would.

“This is the first time that a business school has bundled a collection of MOOCs together in this fashion,” Don Huesman, managing director of the innovation group at Wharton, told Bloomberg Businessweek in September. “We’re taking our core required classes in the MBA program, with the same instructors, to provide those same core concepts.”

Harvard Business School is playing it close to the vest with its initial foray into online education, perhaps because it must consider how to impart its knowledge to the masses without tarnishing the school’s venerable brand.

Brian C. Kenny, chief marketing and communications officer for HBS, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the school needs to figure out how to translate its signature pedagogical technique, the case method, to an online educational experience.

“Whether or not the case method can work online,” said Kenny, “is a question that we haven’t answered yet.”

For its part, Darden has upcoming courses in foundations of business strategy, smart growth for private businesses, design thinking for business innovation and new models of business in society. Darden’s Dean Bob Bruner remarked in an interview that the school is proud to be one of the most active schools in online learning.

“Everyone says ‘you’re a business school, why are you giving it away for free,'” Bruner said, but he explains that “MOOCs are consistent with our mission and we’re learning a great deal about digital instruction with practice.”

These online courses may also be one of the best marketing tools the schools have at their fingertips. As Bruner noted, MOOCs are “helping a part of the world to learn about Darden, a population that was pretty much oblivious to the existence of the school beforehand.”

For MBA applicants wondering whether to enroll in a MOOC at one of their target schools, I say go for it. There’s no harm in getting an early taste of the course work to come, and the experience might actually help inform your decision to apply or allow you to reference something concrete about the curriculum in your essays.

The courses typically require a high level of motivation to complete, and doing so shows a commitment to self-improvement the admissions committee would find laudable.

Just don’t make the mistake of thinking that completing a set of MOOCs from Wharton will put you in the same league as a student on campus. The conversations that occur in class and out, and the networking opportunities business school provides, remain the most valuable aspects of the MBA experience.

No one is exactly sure yet how free online courses factor into the world of students, nonstudents and applicants. Does it merely offer a taste of the school, or will it one day replace live classes? Right now, this kind of online learning is still in its infancy, but it is a very real part of the education world and good to experiment with rather than ignore.

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MBA as Great Equalizer for Women

Although US Labor statistics still report women’s wages lag behind their male counterparts at 81 cents on the dollar, Forté Foundation‘s Elissa Ellis Sangster believes the gap could well shrink as more women enter the upper …

Although US Labor statistics still report women’s wages lag behind their male counterparts at 81 cents on the dollar, Forté Foundation‘s Elissa Ellis Sangster believes the gap could well shrink as more women enter the upper echelons of business management upon earning an MBA degree.

In addition to opening up new career opportunities for women, who are more likely than men to switch careers, an MBA could boost a woman’s lifetime earning potential by $3 million, Forté Foundation has found.

While this is encouraging news, Sangster’s recent editorial in the Financial Times notes that the problem continues to be lower enrollment levels for women at the world’s elite business schools.

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School sets the record among top programs with a 42 percent female Class of 2015, while 41 percent are women at Harvard Business School. At Stanford Graduate School of Business, women represent 36 percent of the entering class, and at Chicago Booth School of Business, women make up just 35 percent of the Class of 2015.

To encourage more women to pursue an MBA, Sangster believes the key, among other efforts, is early exposure to business careers, and getting more women to major in business at the undergraduate level.

Also, business needs to become more responsive to the needs of both women and men for flexibility that helps balance employee’s personal and professional lives.

“Statistic after statistic show that women are good for business, but business is lagging behind in returning the favour,” Sangster writes. “While not a magic bullet, an MBA can boost earning potential and open up a broad range of opportunities for women. We just need to make sure that they get the memo.”

You can read Sangster’s editorial in its entirety at the Financial Times.

 

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Match Your Personality With B-School Teaching Style

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA blog on U.S.News.com Many MBA applicants make the same wrong assumption: No matter which top business school you attend, its teaching style will be more or …

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

Many MBA applicants make the same wrong assumption: No matter which top business school you attend, its teaching style will be more or less the same.

While there are similarities across the top-tier programs, each school has a different teaching style. There’s the case method approach; lecture-based instruction; and the experiential learning and team-based focus approach. Some schools concentrate almost entirely on one style, while others employ a mixture.

Finding a fit in teaching style is important, and I advise clients to seek out a program where they can thrive and feel comfortable. However, I find that this piece of the puzzle is often pushed aside, with more weight placed on factors like rankings, career center offerings, location and culture.

In fact, teaching style is often one of the last things applicants focus on. Although there are many different aspects of a program to consider as you select your target schools, I believe this one should have more weight, as it not only directly affects your enjoyment of your two-year investment, but the quality of knowledge that you walk away with.

• Case method: The case method approach was established by Harvard Business School more than a century ago and is still widely used at top MBA programs worldwide. With this method, students analyze and debate authentic management scenarios to create recommendations that the firm in question should employ in the future.

Harvard relies on case studies for approximately 80 percent of its instruction, and students at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business are exposed to more than 500 cases in a variety of industries and functions during their two-year program.

Considered by many to be the gold standard in management education, the case method relies on lively class discussions with myriad points of view. A good case analysis requires a lot of preparation from students, who must feel at ease sharing their ideas in front of large groups.

Gregarious personalities will thrive in this environment, while shy individuals may cringe at the thought of showing up to class. This is not the learning environment for those uncomfortable speaking in front of strangers or those who fear they might say something embarrassing.

“Ask yourself if you find this method of learning intriguing and exciting,” Harvard Business School’s Director of MBA Admissions Dee Leopold advised applicants last fall. “If it’s not for you, choose another school now vs. later.”

• Lecture: All top MBA programs include courses taught using a lecture format, though some schools stand out for their significant use of this traditional pedagogic technique. According to the MBA-focused website Poets & Quants, Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business tops the list with approximately 50 percent lecture-based instruction, while the lecture format at University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business comes in as a close second at 48 percent.

The Anderson School of Management at UCLA, Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management and Said Business School at the University of Oxford use lectures about 40 percent of the time.

[Follow these steps to make the most of your b-school campus visit.]

Fans of the lecture method believe this is the best way to concretely teach students the business concepts and theories they will need once they’re back in the work force. This environment may also be more comfortable for introverted students, as well as those who enjoy absorbing the wisdom of a seasoned professor.

In some instances, the lecture approach is simply the most expeditious way to get the information across. Columbia Business School devotes about 40 percent of class time to lecture and 40 percent to case studies.

Vice Dean Amir Ziv tells MBA Channel, “If you teach something really simple, cases are much too time-consuming. In the same time frame you can either cover two cases or six other things when lecturing.”

Experiential approach: In recent years, more and more schools have expanded the experiential components in their curricula, adding in more team challenges, simulations, field work and extracurricular activities. Poets & Quants reports that Vanderbilt’s Owen tops the list at 30 percent of courses using experiential instruction. At Owen, students have access to industry-focused immersion experiences, conferences, career treks, case competitions, entrepreneurial opportunities and more.

[Don't forget to join extracurriculars during b-school.]

Another leader in this area of action-based learning is the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor’s Ross School of Business, which has a seven-week, full-time consulting project known as the Multi-disciplinary Action Project. Ross connects first-year MBA students with corporate, entrepreneurial and nonprofit projects both in the U.S. and abroad that require thoughtful recommendations on organizational challenges.

Even Harvard got into the act in fall 2011, launching the yearlong Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development course for first-year students, which offers small-group learning experiences that are experiential, immersive and field-based.

This hands-on approach to learning benefits those with an entrepreneurial spirit, as well as generalists who enjoy working in groups and want to learn how to get things done. Unlike the lecture and case methods, which focus on theory, experiential learning encourages students to learn by doing.

As you can see, there is significant variation in how material is presented in an MBA program. Take a close look at your personal preferences and learning style to find the business school that’s best for you.

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Harvard Business School MBA Application Essay Tips 2013

This year Harvard Business School has streamlined the essay process even further by limiting the usual batch of essays to one question. While one question for HBS makes coming up with topics somewhat easier (in …

This year Harvard Business School has streamlined the essay process even further by limiting the usual batch of essays to one question. While one question for HBS makes coming up with topics somewhat easier (in prior years Harvard often asked applicants for three accomplishments) the open ended nature of the question and the no-limit word count will make this one question potentially quite challenging.

There is one question for the Class of 2016:

You’re applying to Harvard Business School. We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you. What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?

HBS adds this tip to the essay prompt:
There is no word limit for this question. We think you know what guidance we’re going to give here. Don’t overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don’t know your world can understand.

The goal of this essay is to know yourself, know HBS, and know how to match the two to demonstrate your fit for the school. Your first task should be to evaluate all of the other aspects of your candidacy – what is the story your resume tells? What do you think recommenders will say? How does your transcript communicate your skills, accomplishments and interests? Then you need to evaluate how to fill the gaps with the essay.

While comparisons with Stanford’s “What Matters Most” open-ended question may come immediately to mind, HBS is very different and it will be important to know the program.

As you consider possible stories to tell in this essay keep in mind that HBS has always been highly focused on leadership and wants to accept candidates who have a track record of leadership impact and a success trajectory that indicates upper management potential. Accomplishments have traditionally been a strong focus of HBS essays, and outlining one or two leadership oriented accomplishments as examples of who you are would likely be a strong approach. Other ideas are to reflect upon your future goals, explain an important formative experience, and reflect upon your growth as you enter an MBA program.

We see many applicants tempted to include “why HBS” type information in HBS essays. This has never been part of an HBS application essay question and we don’t recommend including that sort of angle here. HBS is quite clear on why applicants are interested in the school, and they would rather see you use the space to provide more information about yourself and your candidacy.

A note on word count: HBS traditionally has limited essays to around 400 words each. Do not be tempted to go overboard with a 2,000 word essay this year, rather focus on concise and clear writing and consider keeping this essay to 600 words or less.

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SBC Scoop: HBS 2+2 Success for Economics Major

Anita was a college senior at Northwestern and was weighing her postgraduate options. She thought Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program was perfect for her, as she would get two years of real-world work experience before …

Anita was a college senior at Northwestern and was weighing her postgraduate options. She thought Harvard Business School’s 2+2 program was perfect for her, as she would get two years of real-world work experience before returning for a two year program. Anita worked with her Stacy Blackman consultant to make sure she presented herself in the best light, as she thought she might not look like the best fit for this relatively new program on paper.

What worried Anita the most was that she was actually a natural fit for an MBA program. With a strong academic resume, a good GMAT score and a soon-to-be-complete degree in economics, she would be a strong candidate for any traditional MBA program after gaining a few years of work experience. However, Anita was concerned that the HBS 2+2 program was focused on attracting non-traditional MBA students, such as science and mathematics majors, or students who would normally pursue other types of postgraduate degrees. Anita’s consultant directed her to look at some of the program’s recent admission statistics: while the current class was nearly two-thirds students with a STEM background, almost twenty percent came from more traditional economics and business backgrounds. The program’s website also specifically mentioned that students from all undergraduate majors were now encouraged to apply.

Anita knew that she would be competing with other students with great numbers as well, so she and her consultant chose to emphasize her leadership experiences. Anita enjoyed long-distance running, and in college had gathered a casual group that would work out on weekends. Anita had convinced them to raise money for charity by entering various events, and after several successful runs joined up as a local chapter of a national charity running organization. In addition, Anita and her consultant found a narrative through her background of “leading younger people” that ran from Anita’s time as a Girl Scout leader, through her Big Sister mentorship, to her Resident Advisor and Orientation Leader positions as a junior and senior. While they emphasized the “business” qualities of Anita’s charitable marathon group, including fundraising and organization, her other leadership experiences testified to her character as well.

By combining Anita’s leadership qualities with her more traditionally MBA-style background, and touching on how the HBS 2+2 program would help shape Anita’s future in the business world, she and her consultant felt confident in her application. Anita is working for a tech startup now and looking forward to the second half of her 2+2.

Are you applying to the HBS 2+2 program? We have experience positioning applicants like you for success ”“ contact us to discuss further.

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What’s So Special About Harvard Business School?

Quite a bit, according to an open letter published last week by Ryan Allis ’14 as he reflected on his first semester for the Harvard Business School Class of 2015 pre-matriculation blog.  Like any top-tier …

HBSQuite a bit, according to an open letter published last week by Ryan Allis ’14 as he reflected on his first semester for the Harvard Business School Class of 2015 pre-matriculation blog.  Like any top-tier MBA program, HBS students learn finance, marketing, operations and the like. But Allis says he’s taken away much more than that over the last four months.

For example, Harvard Business School:

  • Teaches you a deeply analytical thinking process critical to making high quality decisions and becoming a transformational leader.
  • Enables you to build a team or find a team of superstars to go after any big world challenge that you wish.
  • Gives you constant psychological reinforcement and mentors that enable you to refine and then actually execute on your dreams to make a difference.

In just one semester, Allis says his thinking process and decision-making ability has been refined, because “HBS teaches you to see one problem from ninety angles”“equal to the number of classmates in your first year section with whom you’ll take each class and form meaningful lifelong bonds.”

Also, HBS changes the caliber of the people in your life as you build lifelong ties with highly competent people who want to make a big difference in the world. Allis adds that this greatly expands the frontier of opportunities available to you and your ability to find leverage points to influence the world.

Thirdly, Allis believes Harvard Business School can help you use your life to make a bigger difference in the world. “Whether or not you already have your life dreams mapped out,” Allis says, “HBS provides the landscape for wide-ranging exploration and reflection and the support to go in any direction you wish.”

Finally, this first-year student is amazed at the psychological value and self-fulfilling prophecy of being around people who assume you’re going to do something special in the world.  “If you crave the combination of an inspiring environment with access to the people who can help you do anything you set your mind to,” says Allis, “You’ll love your time at HBS.”

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