Tag Archives: MBA admissions

Stanford GSB Announces Fall 2018 MBA Application Deadlines

The Stanford Graduate School of Business has published the following MBA application deadlines for the 2017-2018 admissions season. Round 1 Application Deadline: September 19, 2017 Notification Date: December 14, 2017 Round 2 Application Deadline: January 10, …

Stanford GSB application deadlinesThe Stanford Graduate School of Business has published the following MBA application deadlines for the 2017-2018 admissions season.

Round 1
Application Deadline: September 19, 2017
Notification Date: December 14, 2017

Round 2
Application Deadline: January 10, 2018
Notification Date: March 29, 2018

Round 3
Application Deadline: April 4, 2018
Notification Date: Mid May 2018

Candidates should note that all materials must be submitted by 1 p.m. Pacific Time on the day of the deadline to be considered for that round. The application will go live in June. For more information, please visit the Stanford GSB admissions website.

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The Gamble of Applying in Round Three

It probably comes as no surprise, but round three is the most competitive one at most business schools, since the vast majority of acceptances happen in the first two rounds. If you weren’t able to …

Round 3 MBA deadlineIt probably comes as no surprise, but round three is the most competitive one at most business schools, since the vast majority of acceptances happen in the first two rounds. If you weren’t able to apply earlier because you were busy studying for the GMAT, dealing with a family crisis or completing an all-consuming work project, you’ve got to bring your A-game if you hope to land a seat at the end of the admissions cycle.

With fewer slots available, fine-tune your focus on schools where you’ll be a compelling candidate. A strong, well-thought-out application is critical. Make sure your academic profile aligns with the school’s median GMAT and average GPA and that you add something special to the class that the admissions committee didn’t see earlier in the season.

Special means unusual work experience, substantial community service, a diverse background, compelling leadership examples, unique or uncommon interests outside of business or entrepreneurial success of some sort.

You should definitely use the required or optional MBA admission essays to explain to the admissions committee your reasons for waiting until the third – or final – round to apply. You don’t want anyone to jump to the conclusion that you are using round three as a last-ditch effort to get into business school in the fall after receiving rejections from other schools in earlier rounds.

It’s worth noting that being admitted to some schools is not as challenging in round three as others. Elite European business school INSEAD has four rounds, and provides options for a January start date in addition to the traditional September intake. This allows later applicants who don’t mind waiting to start school to have a stronger chance at admission.

The University of Cambridge’s Judge Business School has five rounds, and Columbia Business School also offers a January intake for candidates who don’t need an internship between the first and second year.

Finally, it’s important to have a Plan B in case things don’t go your way. You can always apply to a set of schools in round three knowing there is a good chance you will need to reapply to them and add in some new ones next season.

Though the initial rejection may sting, you’ll be in a great position for round one in the fall with your essays, recommendation letters and transcripts already in hand. Or, you may find that the soul searching required for an MBA application sets you on a different path altogether. Perhaps you will decide to make a career switch now and pursue higher education later.

Round three is certainly a gamble, but you just might be that missing element the admissions committee is looking for to spice up the mix.

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Consider the 3 C’s of Fit When Choosing a Business School

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. One piece of advice you’ll hear often as an MBA applicant is to consider fit when deciding which business schools to target. Many …

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

One piece of advice you’ll hear often as an MBA applicant is to consider fit when deciding which business schools to target. Many factors go into determining fit, and many candidates focus too heavily on rankings and brand over finding the business school where they will truly thrive.

But what exactly is this elusive fit? Basically, fit means feeling like you belong as soon as you set foot on campus, feeling comfortable in the learning environment when you sit in on a class, and knowing this is the program that is going to help you reach your career goals.

Whether you’re a prospective applicant starting to pull together a list of programs or you’re in the enviable position of choosing between two or more admissions offers, start determining the best fit for you by considering the three C’s – curriculum, communication and culture.

Curriculum: Business schools periodically revamp their course offerings to keep up with trends in management education, leadership research and innovations in the business world at large. Lately, common additions or changes include more required and elective experiential courses, as well as new opportunities for students to customize their learning experience.

All general management MBA programs will provide you with the fundamentals of core management skills. The next step to determining fit requires you to find out just how well the programs align with your post-MBA career goals.

Top business schools are often known for their strengths in specific fields – finance, entrepreneurship, marketing, health care, real estate development, etc. – so start by narrowing your list based on how well the program meets your needs and can prepare you for that industry.

If you have laser-focused career goals, you may want to consider business schools that offer a concentration in your area of interest. Also, you might prefer a school with a more versatile curriculum from the beginning that you can really tailor to your needs.

For example, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business offers a flexible curriculum that allows students to choose which courses to take and when based on their experience and career goals.

Students at Harvard Business School meanwhile spend the entire first year in core classes and have the second year to customize their learning focus. Choose a program with a curriculum that suits you and your learning style best.

Communication: MBA hopefuls spend a lot of time creating an application that allows the admissions committee to get a feel for who they are beyond test scores, a resume and transcripts.

You may also want to consider whether the admissions team seems genuinely interested in getting to know applicants, too. A great way to gauge this – in addition to evaluating your own communications with the school – is by seeing how often and how much engagement the admissions committee offers you.

Take, for example, the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor’s Ross School of Business, where the director of MBA admissions and financial aid Soojin Kwon updates her blog every few weeks, offering application tips, deadline and interview news, school events and other thoughts. She or someone in her department also answer each post’s comments. It may just be that famous Midwestern hospitality, but Ross candidates seem to feel a genuine connection that starts during their admissions experience.

Another excellent source of communication comes from the school-sponsored student blogs. You can read first- or second-year students’ blogs that cover everything from their social environment and career musings to travel highlights and student life for international MBA students. These blogs a great way to connect with current students and learn more about the daily experience at your target schools.

Culture: Getting a feel for the prevailing culture at a school is an important part of deciding whether the program is a good fit for your personality. You can begin your assessment by determining whether the culture is predominantly competitive or collaborative.

Size and location often play an important role in this regard – larger programs in urban centers, such as Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Chicago Booth typically feel much more competitive and intense.

Smaller business schools and those located in rural settings usually foster a close-knit community feeling, with many students living on campus and socializing with fellow students and faculty on a regular basis. MBA programs with smaller cohorts, such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, Stanford Graduate School of Business and Yale School of Management take pride in their down-to-earth, collaborative cultures.

There’s no right or wrong when it comes to a school’s culture – it’s simply a matter of choosing the environment where you think you’ll thrive.

Choosing where to pursue an MBA is a huge decision, so do your homework and understand the strengths and potential drawbacks of each option. Knowing yourself and how a particular school suits your professional goals and needs is the essence of making the right choice about fit.

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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

Image credit: inertia NC (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Should You Take the GMAT or GRE?

Now that most of the top business schools in the United States accept both the GMAT and GRE exam for admission, how do you decide which test you should take? Many elite schools hope to diversify their applicant …

MBA application

Now that most of the top business schools in the United States accept both the GMAT and GRE exam for admission, how do you decide which test you should take? Many elite schools hope to diversify their applicant pool by accepting the GRE as an alternative in the admissions process. Another favorable aspect for business schools: it creates a more competitive enrollment rate; the number of available spots stays the same but the volume of applications goes up.

Prospective grad students of the arts and sciences have typically submitted GRE scores, so applicants deciding between business school and other graduate programs appreciate having one less test to study and pay for. Meanwhile the GMAT, long considered the gold standard for the specific academic skills needed in graduate business school, is more expensive and offered in fewer locations worldwide.

One essential difference between the tests is that the GRE requires you to do the arguing, whereas in the GMAT you analyze what has been argued. The style expected from GRE test readers is more abstract and draws from various sources and disciplines for examples or references, whereas it is more concrete and analytical for the GMAT. This supports the suitability of the GRE for the more academically-minded student.

A recent US News and World Report article weighs in with the following five factors MBA applicants should consider when choosing between the GMAT and GRE:

  1. Does the school have a strong preference for the GMAT?
  2. Are your math skills especially strong? The GMAT is generally more difficult in the quant section
  3. Are you a wordsmith at heart? The GRE is more challenging in verbal, particularly for non-native English speakers.
  4. Consider your post-MBA career goals. Some firms require applicants to submit GMAT scores.
  5. Test anxiety is generally lower with the GRE, which allows you to save and return to questions to check your work.

In general, top business schools will be looking for fairly high percentile scores on the GRE, especially on the quantitative section. I had one client who, while phenomenal in many ways, could not achieve a GMAT score above 600. Her quantitative percentile came in around 40—half of the target score.

Although I’ve seen applicants admitted with very low GMAT scores in the past, we decided to take advantage of this new option and submit her application to Harvard Business School with the GRE instead. Despite a lower overall performance, her GRE results boasted a much higher quant score, and in the end, she was admitted to HBS.

Ultimately though, the GMAT remains the “tried and true” entrance exam for business schools—the admissions team will have no questions about why you chose it. If you are a great test-taker and it’s all the same to you, I would stick with the GMAT.

You may also be interested in:

Texas MBA Gives Admissions Perspective on GMAT vs GRE

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Etiquette Tips for MBA Thank You Notes

Our clients often ask us if they should write thank-you notes to their interviewers. While handwritten messages of appreciation will always be a classy move—and we certainly encourage applicants to write such notes if they’re …

thanking MBA interviewer

Our clients often ask us if they should write thank-you notes to their interviewers. While handwritten messages of appreciation will always be a classy move—and we certainly encourage applicants to write such notes if they’re so inclined—an email message is just as acceptable in this day and age.

The most important thing is to ensure you have your interviewer’s contact information. This is especially critical if your discussion is taking place on campus and you won’t know who your interviewer is going to be until you arrive. Don’t forget to ask for that person’s business card when you’re wrapping up!

If you’re interviewing with a local alum, then you’ll have already been supplied with their email address.

As for the content of the message, you shouldn’t feel the need to go on and on. There are only two must-includes: 1) thank the interviewer for their time and 2) reiterate your interest in the program. If you can throw in a sentence or two that references something you talked about, all the better. But a thank-you note is not the place to try and sell yourself any further. The point is to show that you’re excited about and thankful for the opportunity to be considered for a spot in Program X.

Some AdComs need to make accept and denial decisions very quickly, so you shouldn’t let more than 24 hours go by before you send your message. If you interviewed in the morning, send it before the business day is over. If your talk was in the late afternoon or evening, get your e-mail out first thing in the morning.

If you have to type out a quick message from your phone because you’ll be traveling back home after the interview, please don’t forget to read things over carefully to ensure spellcheck or autocorrect didn’t do you wrong. You don’t want the last impression you leave to be a negative one!

Have MBA hopefuls been accepted to their dream programs without writing any sort of thank-you note? Yes, of course. But showing that you have manners and are aware of the proper etiquette is never a bad move—it’s just the right thing to do.

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