Tag Archives: MBA admissions

Executives Weigh in on the Value of an MBA

Are you thinking about pursuing an MBA for career advancement, personal development, or a career switch? While the degree can be a transformational experience changing everything about your life, it’s more typically a tool to …

value of the MBAAre you thinking about pursuing an MBA for career advancement, personal development, or a career switch? While the degree can be a transformational experience changing everything about your life, it’s more typically a tool to polish existing skills, build your network or expose you to new industries.

Now then, what b-school hopeful doesn’t love to hear advice from those who have walked the MBA path before them? In case you need more convincing, US News and World Report, for which I write a bi-weekly post on the MBA admissions process, recently published a great story with tips for prospective applicants delivered straight from executives who also possess the degree.

Here are some key excerpts of their advice:

Les Williams, Chief revenue officer at Risk Cooperative, an insurance brokerage firm: “[business school] gives you a really big network so whatever you are interested in down the road, it will take you there,” Williams says, adding that the network he developed at Harvard Business School has helped him get jobs and clients.

Dave Wright,  Managing director in the private banking and investment group at Merrill Lynch: Although MBA degrees are an expensive investment, Wright is “a huge proponent” of the degree, he says. “It broadens your skill set and and surrounds you with like-minded people who will push you further and higher, but it definitely requires some sacrifice.”

Peter Faricy, Vice president of Amazon Marketplace, an e-commerce platform owned by Amazon: Aspiring executives ought to get an MBA, Faricy says. “If you enjoy business roles and you want to do this for the long haul, I put the MBA in the no-brainer category.”

Nicole Sahin, CEO of Globalization Partners, an employment services firm: Sahin urges prospective MBA students to get significant work experience before starting an MBA program so they can use the wisdom that comes from work to thrive in their courses.

As we’ve witnessed many times, business school enables students to develop the necessary knowledge, skills and abilities that can help organizations launch new products, improve the lives of consumers, and help society as a whole.

To read more about the featured executives, where they studied, and their own takeaways from the MBA experience, please click over to the original article on U.S. News.

You may also be interested in:

Why Do You Want to Go to B-School?
GMAC Survey Predicts Robust Job Market for MBA Grads

Image credit: Flickr user Penn State (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 

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6 Ways to Play the MBA Waiting Game

After months of planning, studying for the admissions exam, writing essays, and wrangling recommenders, once you hit the submit button for your business school applications you’ve probably been wondering what to do with yourself during the MBA waiting game. Here …

MBA wait listAfter months of planning, studying for the admissions exam, writing essays, and wrangling recommenders, once you hit the submit button for your business school applications you’ve probably been wondering what to do with yourself during the MBA waiting game. Here are six tips to make the most of this period.

1. Be happy: What did you enjoy before essays and GMAT scores became the focal point of your life? Take this opportunity to relax a bit, read a book, or go for a run.

It’s likely your social life has languished on the back burner for the past few months, so spend some time reconnecting with your family and friends before every waking minute is spent job hunting and networking with your fellow MBA classmates. While accomplishing a huge goal such as gaining admission to an MBA program will feel good, friends, exercise, and relationships are the path to longer-lasting happiness.

2. Fantasize about your plan B: It’s tempting to start planning out your first few weeks on campus—the clubs you plan to join and the apartment you will hunt for—but reminding yourself that you have alternatives is healthy. You’re young, intelligent, and accomplished. If you didn’t go to business school in the fall, what career shift or huge dream might you fulfill?

Maybe you would flee to Paris and take art lessons, learn Mandarin (in China), or hike the Appalachian Trail. Fantasizing about plan B is more practical than you think; when you start receiving those acceptance letters, you’ll have a head start on your summer plans!

3. Avoid discussion boards: While commiserating with strangers over the Internet may seem like an attractive outlet for your anxiety, focusing on an outcome you can no longer control will only add to stress in your life. While it’s certainly positive to network with your potential future classmates, make sure you approach any rumors or myths with a balanced perspective.

It is natural to search for certainty in an uncertain process. With admission rates hovering at 10 percent for the most competitive programs, many candidates feel anxiety about the final decisions. However, if you have put together the strongest possible application you can and worked to impact every factor under your control, it’s time to relax and wait for the results.

4. Prepare for interviews: If you absolutely must remain focused on your MBA plans, starting your interview prep is a good outlet for your energy. Working on your communication and presentation skills can be an ongoing challenge.

Practicing common interview questions with friends and family will both make you more prepared when the interview invitation arrives and minimize your anxiety.

5. Become a local, even if only for a few days: MBA candidates should remember that they will be choosing not just a school but a city or town as well. Therefore, now is an ideal time to plan that campus visit, and to explore the region you may soon call home for the next two years.

6. Stay connected: Demonstrating continued and genuine interest in your MBA program of choice is one of the best ways to show the admissions committee that you are strongly committed to attending their program. How to do this? Reach out to alumni for an insider view of the program, and perhaps some interview pointers as well.

If the school plans to hold an information session online or in a city nearby, sign up or show up. You can never have too much information about your target school. The more opportunities you create to connect with the program, the better you’ll be able to judge its culture and community to determine if it’s the right fit for you.

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5 Tips for Harvard Business School Applicants

Harvard Business School is famously difficult to get into, but don’t let low acceptance rates keep you from applying if this is truly your dream MBA program. In a recent post to the school’s MBA Voices …

HBS application tipsHarvard Business School is famously difficult to get into, but don’t let low acceptance rates keep you from applying if this is truly your dream MBA program. In a recent post to the school’s MBA Voices Blog, six recent or soon-to-be graduates offer their advice for future applicants eager to learn all they can about the HBS admissions process.

Tip 1: Be your authentic self

“Be honest and genuine. I spent time reflecting on what really motivates me and what is most important to me. It may sound straight-forward, but I think it’s really important to have clear direction on what you want to do and how the HBS experience will help you get there. Then make sure that your application really shows your personality and conveys this message of who you are and where you want to go.” Stephanie Marr, MBA 2016

We say: The admissions committee wants to get to know you as a person beyond the resume—don’t write anything just because it seems like something an admissions committee would want to hear.

The trick to fleshing out your human side in the application is to take just a couple of experiences, activities, or themes and expand upon them in a much more detailed and nuanced way. Don’t shy away from your true interests; illustrate how they have helped shape the incredibly dynamic and fascinating person that you are.

Tip 2: Pick your recommenders carefully

“Select recommenders who know you well enough to tell a story that covers your accomplishments and the obstacles you overcame to achieve them. I chose recommenders who had seen me take on responsibility, struggle at times, and adapt to reach my goals. I think this matters much more than having recommenders with a particular job title or connection with HBS.” Sam Travers, MBA 2016

We say: When considering potential references, ask yourself whether the person has worked closely with you, thinks favorably of you, and will put in the time to write a thoughtful, detailed endorsement of your candidacy. If you can’t answer yes to these three requirements, move on until you find the person who fits the bill perfectly. Your chances of admission to the school of your dreams may well depend on it.

Tip 3: Learn more about the generous financial aid options HBS offers

“Trying to figure out how you’re going to afford your Harvard MBA can feel very scary – I definitely remember the sticker shock I felt when I read the expected student budget for the first time. Luckily, there are a lot of ways for you to get support as you decide how you want to finance your time at HBS. Many students, myself included, aren’t able to pay for business school out of their savings and instead utilize a combination of financial aid, scholarships, and loans to get themselves through the program. 

HBS has an incredible need-based financial aid program; over $36 million dollars is awarded to students each year. The administration firmly believes that funding should not be a barrier for anyone to attend business school and they ensure that no student is required to take on too much debt. HBS wants everyone who is admitted to be able to come and therefore the aid is awarded solely based on financial need. Nearly 50% of the class receives HBS Fellowships with the majority of Fellowships in the $30,000-$50,000 range per year.

The average starting salary at graduation is $135,000. Most alums are able to pay back loans in considerably less time than the terms provided. HBS also offers a variety loan forgiveness programs available at graduation for those students plan to pursue a career path in a less lucrative field—for example, there are financing options for graduates heading into social enterprise or pursuing entrepreneurial ventures.” Leslie Moser, MBA 2015

We say: People will tell you that you will find the money you need to go, but we know that thinking about all those zeros can get overwhelming and intimidating. Just know that most students use multiple sources; it’s never too soon to start researching your options; don’t underestimate your costs; and rest assured that schools want you to find funding and will do everything they possibly can to help accepted applicants.

Tip 4: Keep in mind HBS is reapplicant-friendly 

I had been dinged from HBS once and wondered if it was worth applying a second time.  Although uncertain of whether or not I’d be accepted to the program, I wanted to give it another shot.  Fortunately, and likely due to some divine intervention, I was accepted to the program.  I was absolutely elated when I received the good news.” Ryan Hansen, MBA 2017

We say: Many people in b-school right now were dinged the first time they applied. Reapplying shows you are serious about your interest in the MBA program. Make sure your letters of recommendation and your GMAT or GRE scores are rock-solid, and don’t recycle essays from the first time around.

Use the additional essay question to explain what’s changed in your situation to make you a stronger candidate this time around. Make sure to address both professional and personal advancements, but show that you are realistic and self-aware. Revealing your humanity in the form of quirks, weaknesses and flaws can often help the admissions committee to like you.

Tip 5: Don’t self-select out

“When you’re lifting your finger to hit the submit button, or when you’re walking into your interview, stop thinking about your imperfections and deficiencies. In fact, stop thinking about yourself as an individual. Rather, think of yourself as a piece of something bigger – your potential HBS class. What you do have to offer? What characteristics you bring to the table that will make your section that much better? I bet there are several things about you that no one else can claim, and that’s the good stuff. Tell admissions about them.” Peter Nolan, MBA 2017

“To those thinking about applying to HBS, I encourage you to go for it. Don’t let your own self-doubt sabotage what could be one of the best experiences of your life.”   Terrance Rogers (MBA 2017)

We say: It’s hard not to feel intimidated when you read the admitted student profiles at many of the elite MBA programs, which might include Olympians, successful entrepreneurs, decorated military officers and candidates with outstanding public service experience. However, don’t get psyched out of applying just because you can’t list anything similarly noteworthy on your application.

To stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee, you just need to provide hard proof that you made a difference. Remember, it’s not about the scale of your achievements – rather, it’s the fact that you left indelible footprints.

Image credit: Flickr user Chris Han (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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The Pros, Cons of Retaking the GMAT or GRE

This guest post is provided by our friends at LA Tutors 123 After working through a grueling standardized admissions test, the moment of judgement arrives when you get your scores. If you got the score you …

GMAT test prepThis guest post is provided by our friends at LA Tutors 123

After working through a grueling standardized admissions test, the moment of judgement arrives when you get your scores. If you got the score you were hoping for, congratulations! You can now focus your time and energy on the rest of the MBA admissions process. If your score is much lower than you’d hoped, however, you have to decide about whether or not to retake the test.

My biggest advice is: Don’t retake the test if you haven’t done any additional preparation!

As a tutor, I’ve encountered student after student who has taken the test two or more times before seeking a tutor or doing additional practice, hoping to somehow “get lucky” on the retake. This rarely works because these tests are not lottery tickets; the only way to substantially raise your score is to master the skills and test taking strategies they require.

A well-planned retake, however, can give you the boost you need to improve your application and clear the path to the business school of your dreams.

It’s a good idea to retake the test if:

You’re willing to put in the time and effort necessary to prepare for the retake.

Use the score report from your first test to map out how much time you’ll need to improve your skills. For low-scoring students, this might require several months, or an intense effort if you have limited time. You might consider finding a tutor (or purchasing additional hours, if you had one before) to help. Then, take at least one more practice test, preferably more, before the next real test to make sure you’re making progress.

You had extenuating circumstances on your test day.

One of the only exceptions to the additional preparation rule would be extreme circumstances, such as if you became violently ill halfway through the test, accidentally deleted your entire essay ten seconds before your time was up, or your test center was invaded by aliens.

In these cases, you might score substantially higher without additional preparation. Hopefully you’ve already cancelled your scores, because it’s better to not to have a score show up on your score report if it doesn’t reflect your true abilities. Most of the time, however, the biggest factor in how you score is preparation.

You scored substantially higher on your practice tests than the real test.

If your official test performance was much lower than your practice tests, test anxiety may have been a factor, as practice can’t fully mimic the stress of the real test. There’s a chance that once you’ve had the real test-taking experience, you’ll be calmer and more clear-minded the second time around.

That said, you should still to evaluate the reason your real test scores were lower and try to address the problem. For example, did you only complete the practice test in sections instead of all at once? If that’s the case, you should complete a few full-length practice tests in one sitting before your retake. Did the questions on the test seem harder than those on the practice tests? If so, you should seek out a different brand of practice tests and work through those.

Your score is just shy of a posted requirement.

If the school to which you’re applying has posted minimum or expected scores and you are just short of those requirements, a retake might get you over the top. You should still do additional preparation, however, otherwise you’re just as likely to score lower the second time around.

You probably shouldn’t retake the test if:

You haven’t done enough additional preparation and aren’t scoring better on practice tests.

The best way to tell if you’ve improved is to take at least one more practice test and see if your score has gone up. If it hasn’t, the retake might be a waste of time and money.

You scored higher than you did on any of your practice tests and don’t have more time to prepare.

In this case, there’s a good chance you’ll score lower if you take the test again, so don’t tempt fate.

You’ve already retaken the test several times.

While one or two retakes is common, retaking the test over and over again can weaken your application, especially if your scores don’t go up. A single retake with substantial gains, however, can show the admissions committee that you worked hard to improve, or that maybe the first test didn’t reflect your true abilities.

If you do choose to retake your admissions test, make it your goal to retake it only once and get the score you need. If you didn’t seek professional help in preparing the first time around, a class or tutor might be what you need to get you over the top. A private tutor can help you evaluate your weaknesses, keep your studying on-track, and come up with the best plan to make sure you do the retake right.

Image credit: Flickr user Steven S. (CC BY 2.0)

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The Economist Hosts Virtual MBA Fair

Business school is a hefty investment in both time and dollars, so you need to arm yourself with all the information you can about the programs that interest you. After all, you can never know …

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Business school is a hefty investment in both time and dollars, so you need to arm yourself with all the information you can about the programs that interest you. After all, you can never know too much!

A great way to learn about several schools in one shot is through MBA fairs, and as luck would have it, today’s the first day of The Economist’s autumnal Virtual MBA Fair. For all of you planning to attend (you should…It’s free and online), try these three strategies for making the most of your time:

  1. Maximize your chances of winning MBA scholarships (and other prizes like subscriptions to The Economist and gift cards) by attending the fair’s webinars and exhibitors’ booths. Prizes are awarded based on points accumulated from participating in the fair, and webinars and booth-visiting will get you 30 and 10 points each, respectively.
  1. Make the most of your access to expert advice. The fair’s webinars and one-on-one chats are the most popular aspect of this fair for a reason. Favorite topics include “Common Myths about the GMAT” presented by the Graduate Management Admission Council (a.k.a. the creators of the GMAT), “How to Create a Successful MBA Application” by the head of MBA recruitment at Henley, and “How to use MBA rankings” by Economist editor Bill Ridgers. View the full agenda here.
  1. Chat with admissions representatives in the exhibitors’ booths. Why? Because these are the very people who review MBA admissions applications for a living. Head over to the fair now to ask them your personal application questions (just make sure you’re registered)!

See you at the fair!

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