Tag Archives: MBA admissions

Do’s and Don’ts of Convincing MBA Programs You’re a Good Fit

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com Focusing on fit is one of the most important elements of finding the right business school. This can seem like an abstract thing to determine …

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

Focusing on fit is one of the most important elements of finding the right business school. This can seem like an abstract thing to determine at first glance. After all, many students assume they’d be just as happy at Harvard Business School as they would at University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business or MIT Sloan School of Management.

This might be true, but these top business schools really aren’t one-size-fits-all.

Your job, then, is to find out what is unique about each program, determine what about the program will most benefit your career goals, and persuade the admissions committee to take a chance that you will be a vibrant addition to its community. Many schools ask a version of the essay question, “Why Us?” – so here are some do’s and don’ts for addressing that prompt either in your application essay, or later on during the admissions interview.

Don’t: Regurgitate the well-known characteristics of the program as a way of explaining your interest. I’ve read countless first drafts of essays that cite the “unmatched student body, world-class faculty, and committed alumni network” as the reasons the applicant has chosen a certain MBA program. The admissions committee knows what the program’s strengths are and doesn’t want to read essay after essay of its own marketing messages.

Do: Show what you’ve learned about the program, beyond what you’ve read in the brochures and website, that makes it stand out for you. Your first point of entry will often be by participating in information sessions online or in your area, but the best way to really get to know the school is by visiting the campus and sitting in on a class. There’s no replacement for spending time in that environment to soak up the energy and get an authentic feel for the student experience.

Other ways to obtain a deeper understanding of the program include contacting the student clubs you are interested in, becoming a regular reader of the MBA student blogs many programs have and speaking to alumni. The feeling you walk away with after having personal contact with students past and present will speak volumes about whether the choice is a good fit for you.

[Follow these exercises to help MBA applicants develop a personal brand.]

If you can you already see yourself learning alongside the students at the MBA program you’re considering, or if your coffee chat with an alum gave you a great impression about the strength of the alumni network, make sure you say so in your application.

Don’t: Make the common mistake of extolling the superiority of the program you’re targeting over all other schools. The admissions committee isn’t interested in declarations of eternal love and will likely suspect that you’re professing the same adoration for every school to which you’re applying.

Do: Focus on how your career goals, interests and educational needs are a good match for the program. Whether the school is known for its emphasis on the case method, experiential learning or lecture-based learning, explain why you too favor that format. Discuss which specific courses would help you develop some of the skills that are missing from your toolbox.

Applicants usually have a clear picture of where they want to work after graduation, so let the admissions committee know if you think the program’s geographic location is an ideal place to launch your post-MBA career.

If you love the fact that the program provides ample opportunities for working and studying abroad, explain how having that experience ties in to your plans. Also, if you discover there is a club on campus dedicated to one of your hobbies or passions, show how you would participate and contribute to that side of the student experience.

[Learn how to stand out in a competitive business school application pool.]

Don’t: Assume the admissions committee will immediately understand why you want to do an MBA based on your previous career experience.

Do: Explain in great detail why the degree is the next logical step in your career trajectory, and provide concrete examples of how a particular program will help you reach those goals. Perhaps the program is known for its strengths in an area you wish to specialize in, or offers an intriguing dual degree program.

If there’s a particular industry you want to break into, or a company you really want to work for, research placement stats through the career services office to find out if they recruit heavily at your target program. After all, the school wants to make sure they can help you find work after you graduate.

As you can see, there are many ways to determine a genuine interest in a program that goes far beyond the latest MBA rankings. Going to business school is an expensive yet rewarding experience, and arming yourself with as much information as possible will go a long way toward making an informed decision.

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UCLA Anderson 2014-2015 Application Deadlines

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has announced the deadlines for the upcoming MBA admissions cycle. The three deadlines are: Round 1 Deadline: October 22, 2014 Notification: January 28, 2015 Round 2 Deadline: January 7, 2015 Notification: April 2, …

The UCLA Anderson School of Management has announced the deadlines for the upcoming MBA admissions cycle. The three deadlines are:

Round 1

Deadline: October 22, 2014
Notification: January 28, 2015

Round 2

Deadline: January 7, 2015
Notification: April 2, 2015

Round 3

Deadline: April 15, 2015
Notification: June 3, 2015

Completed applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. PST on the day of the deadline to be considered in a particular round.  UCLA Anderson notes that earlier admits enjoy greater availability of fellowships, housing and networking events, so you should apply as soon as your candidacy looks strong.

For more information, visit UCLA Anderson’s admissions website.

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How Does Social Media Fit Into Your MBA Application Strategy?

In the era of social media saturation, business school hopefuls have to think about more than just drafting memorable essays, nailing interviews and marketing themselves effectively during the MBA application process. Today’s applicants must scrutinize their …

In the era of social media saturation, business school hopefuls have to think about more than just drafting memorable essays, nailing interviews and marketing themselves effectively during the MBA application process. Today’s applicants must scrutinize their public persona on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and elsewhere to make sure it matches the version they wish to present to the b-school admissions committee.

In an online survey we conducted in April, I discovered to my surprise that 20% of applicants plan to create a new online presence to enhance their application and their online brand. It makes perfect sense though. At a time when essay word counts are shrinking, you can see how it might be more compelling if you can back up your noted interest in photography by pointing to your Instagram account.

As I mention in Poets & Quants’s recent story on social media in the b-school application, many applicants are just beginning to realize that everyone has an online brand now and so the focus at first is on clean up. Review your online persona to ensure that there aren’t any inappropriate pictures or posts. Basically, put it to the grandma test: if you wouldn’t want granny to see it, just get rid of it.

To meet the growing need for guidance in this area, Stacy Blackman Consulting has launched a new service this season called the social media strategy review to help applicants professionalize their existing profile and set them up for a lifetime of online social success.

With competition as stiff as it is at the ultra-elite schools, I would err on being a little more conservative and think about removing overly political or religious posts, and of course anything remotely sexy or related to partying. You don’t need to scrub your profile of all personality, however. Leave the travel pics and anything that supports the outside interests you’ve highlighted in your application. It’s good for the AdCom to see your informal side.

I shared a few more tips on social media and admissions strategies with editor John Byrne, so click on over to Poets & Quants to read the entire article.

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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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B-School AdComs Still Iffy on GMAT IR

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of business school admissions officers*, 57% of MBA programs say that an applicant’s score on the GMAT’s recently launched Integrated Reasoning section is not currently an important part …

According to Kaplan Test Prep’s 2013 survey of business school admissions officers*, 57% of MBA programs say that an applicant’s score on the GMAT’s recently launched Integrated Reasoning section is not currently an important part of their evaluation of a prospective student’s overall GMAT score.

Despite that finding, Kaplan’s survey also finds that 51% of business school admissions list a low GMAT score as “the biggest application killer,” confirming that applicants still need to submit a competitive score overall.

In Kaplan’s 2012 survey, business schools were largely undecided about Integrated Reasoning’s importance, with 54% saying they were unsure how important an applicant’s score would be; 22% said it would be important and 24% said it would not be important.

Because test takers receive a separate score for the Integrated Reasoning section, poor performance on this section cannot be masked by stronger performance on other sections of the GMAT.

“It’s not surprising that a majority of business schools are not currently placing too much importance on the Integrated Reasoning section, since it makes sense they’d want to gather performance data on a new section before fully incorporating it into their evaluation process,” said Lee Weiss, Kaplan Test Prep’s executive director of pre-business programs. Weiss also noted that because test scores are good for five years, some applicants in 2012 and 2013 submitted scores from the old GMAT.

“Moving forward, business schools may decide that Integrated Reasoning should play a more critical role. In the meantime, prospective MBA students should not take Integrated Reasoning any less seriously than the Quantitative or Verbal sections. It still matters,” Weiss said.

* For the 2013 survey, 152 admissions officers from business schools across the United States were surveyed by telephone between July and September. Among those 152 are five of the top ten MBA programs, as compiled by U.S. News & World Report.

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Know Your Buyer to Sell Yourself in MBA Admissions

Many applicants tell me crafting their application would be so much easier if they knew exactly what business schools were looking for in a candidate. But if you ask any MBA admissions officer, the likely …

Many applicants tell me crafting their application would be so much easier if they knew exactly what business schools were looking for in a candidate. But if you ask any MBA admissions officer, the likely answer is that all-too-elusive “fit” with his or her program. Schools have to determine if your experiences, both personal and professional, make you an intriguing addition to the class they are forming, and they also need to be convinced that your career goals and their program are a good match.

Since my background is in marketing, I often explain it in marketing terms: the admissions committee is the buyer and you’re the seller. As a marketing strategist, you want to get to know as much about your buyer as you possibly can…

(continue reading this post on Stacy’s US News MBA Admissions: Strictly Business Blog)

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