Tag Archives: MBA application

Plan Ahead and Positively Impact your MBA Application

Many b-school aspirants see the spring and summer solely as a time to take a GMAT prep course. They often wait until they are neck deep in the process of writing their essays and compiling …

Where to Start

Many b-school aspirants see the spring and summer solely as a time to take a GMAT prep course. They often wait until they are neck deep in the process of writing their essays and compiling all of their other application materials to identify the elements of their candidacy they wish to improve.

But, with a little advanced planning and a commitment of just a few hours a week, applicants can do a great deal to bolster their overall candidacy starting in the spring before they apply.

Community Service

Business schools pride themselves in training future leaders, and look for individuals who are concerned about doing great work and improving the world around them. If you feel that your commitment over the last several years to outside causes does not reflect the balance you want to establish in your life…well, put your money where your mouth is and get involved.

If you have been involved with outside activities over the last couple of years, consider stepping your activities up a notch. One of our clients had helped out for a few hours a month for two years at a local Ronald McDonald House. In the spring, he upped his involvement by organizing some fundraising/recruiting events for young professionals.

It’s true that young professionals work long hours and often have demanding travel schedules, which sometimes rules out activities such as Big Brothers/Sisters or tutoring. But the next person who says he or she cannot spend two hours on a weekend to help clean up a park or paint a school or talk with seniors at a nursing home will be the first.

Reading

Getting in the habit of reading again will pay huge dividends for your candidacy and your application process. You are about to engage in quite possibly the most demanding writing process of your adult life. And you’ve probably forgotten half of the vocabulary words you learned for your SATs.

Reading outside of work will immerse your brain in the English language again, expanding your active/accessible vocabulary, reacquainting you with interesting sentence structures and illustrating great organizational techniques for your essays. Your apps and your GMAT scores will both benefit.

But beyond that, you’ll probably become a more interesting person. You’ll show that you take time to get to know more about topics that are important to you. You’ll have more to talk about with interviewers. You may even gain some material for essays.

Research Schools

You have a better chance of being admitted to any school if it is the right school for you. Many candidates look at rankings and decide to apply to the top few schools. You will be far better off if you do your own research, talk to students and alums and, if possible, visit campuses.

Doing this type of research early on will help you to better understand the schools, and quite possibly change your mind about where you want to apply. You also will be better qualified to answer the question, “Why do you want to go here?” Demonstrating an understanding of what makes a school unique and showing that you are truly passionate about attending will take you far.

If you get a little bit of a jump start on prepping for your GMAT and application-writing process now, you’ll find your fall and winter a much more productive and enjoyable time.

Image credit: Sophiadphotography (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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HBS Admissions Director on Applying in Round 3

To apply or not to apply in the final round, that is the perennial question. Harvard Business School‘s Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid, Dee Leopold, recently gave a crystal-clear answer…for college seniors, at …

applying in round 3

To apply or not to apply in the final round, that is the perennial question. Harvard Business School‘s Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid, Dee Leopold, recently gave a crystal-clear answer…for college seniors, at least.

“If you are a college senior who has the bandwidth to complete an application, I think that you should,” Leopold says, noting that there’s really no downside risk other than missing out on the last weeks of college life to prep for the GMAT or GRE.

“The worst that can happen is that you get turned down to the very small 2+2 Program. Many current students at HBS found themselves in that situation, went out and joined the work world, and reapplied successfully,” she adds.

As for candidates with a few years of work experience under their belts, Leopold acknowledges the third round is more complicated since most of the seats in the Class of 2018 have already been taken and it may be difficult to get a visa.

Despite those potential challenges, the director clears up a few myths that may be keeping qualified candidates from considering Round 3. Contrary to popular wisdom, needs-based financial aid is just as available for last-round applicants as it is for Round 1 admits.

If you do apply and are not successful, rest assured you can reapply in the future with absolutely no negative repercussions.

One plus of Round Three is the quick turnaround time between interview invitations going out and final decisions coming down. Invites will be sent by April 20th at noon, and your fate will be revealed on May 11th.

As always, we at SBC suggest candidates submit only once they feel their application is as strong as possible. If you apply in the final round, do make use of the optional essay to explain why you waited so that the admissions committee doesn’t come to the conclusion that this is just a last-ditch effort after failing to receive an admit at another MBA program in an earlier round.

“We ALWAYS admit people from Round 3,” Leopold says. “And they are always very wonderful.”

You may also be interested in:

What are My Round 3 Chances?
Should You Consider Applying in Round 3?
Face the Challenge of Round 3 Business School Applications

Image credit: Visionello (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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Tips to Maximize Your MBA Application Feedback Session

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com All MBA hopefuls fear getting denied, but if there’s any silver lining to rejection, it’s that many business schools now offer feedback sessions …

feedback

These brief sessions with schools can provide valuable insight into why you were rejected.

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

All MBA hopefuls fear getting denied, but if there’s any silver lining to rejection, it’s that many business schools now offer feedback sessions to help unsuccessful candidates figure out where they might have gone wrong.

This availability of application feedback confirms that the schools really do welcome and encourage re-applicants, who often find success the second time around. In fact, in the past, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has shared with us anecdotally that applicants who reapplied often have a slight edge in the applicant pool.

Find out the policy of your school of choice and get in touch with the admissions office right away, making it clear that you will use the feedback to reapply next year, if that’s the case. These meetings usually take place on a first-come, first-served basis in the spring, at the end of the admissions season.

Due to the brevity of these sessions, it’s important to prepare in advance. Write down a few pointed questions that will help you make the most of your meeting. If you questioned anything during the application process, you now have the opportunity to clear things up. In order to gather actionable information, your questions should sound something like this:

• Was there any concern about my quantitative abilities? If so, what can I do to demonstrate my capabilities?
• Were my career goals clear?
• Are my reasons for wanting an MBA sound?
• What were some of the biggest weaknesses in my application? Do you have any suggestions for how I can ease your concerns in those areas?

Have a plan to make sure the session stays on pace, because you’ll usually have a maximum of 15 minutes. Keep track of the time and strive to end the conversation gracefully.

It’s unlikely that members of the admissions committee will tell you flat out that you don’t have the stats, background or qualifications to attend their MBA program, even if that is the case. Nor will they tell you to change your life plans just for the sake of the application. There’s an art to extracting information, but don’t expect to receive the secret key to success during this brief conversation. Take what you can get.

Ultimately, the feedback session may or may not provide helpful insight. You might receive a very actionable comment, such as “you need more work experience” or “you should raise your GMAT score at least 30 points.” But with more qualified applicants than available seats in the program, the advice is often quite general and you’ll have to work hard to pin down specific takeaways.

Think of this as one additional opportunity to build upon your relationship with the school, so maintain a pleasant, engaging and polite tone. The admissions committee also takes notes during the exchange that will go into your file and form a part of the evaluation you when you reapply next year, so make sure you don’t get defensive about their feedback.

Treat this as an extension of your interview: Jot down the name and email address of the person you speak with, and remember to follow up with a thank-you note.

Finally, don’t spend a lot of time or energy fretting about elements of your application that you cannot change in less than 12 months. Instead, use the feedback from the admissions committee and your own honest self-analysis to determine where you can improve in order to better position your application for the next admissions cycle.

Image by Flickr user Giulia Forsythe (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

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Develop a Smart Social Media Strategy for MBA Applications

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com When applying to business school, your MBA essays and interviews are the primary way to market yourself and generate positive attention from the …

working woman with phone and laptop

Being active on LinkedIn is especially critical to anyone embarking on an MBA career.

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

When applying to business school, your MBA essays and interviews are the primary way to market yourself and generate positive attention from the admissions committee. But the way you present your personal brand on social media should also be a part of the equation. Your social profile needs to match the persona you will present to the admissions team, so start thinking of it as an opportunity to better tell the story of you.

Every applicant should have a baseline social presence to reinforce and enhance their candidacy. Some admissions committee members proactively search for information about applicants online, so you’ll want to link to your social profiles within the application to make it easy for them to have another touch point by which to assess you.

Define Your Shareable Story

This application strategy involves fine-tuning a story that you can leverage through social media. This is a clear and purposeful narrative of how you want people to talk about you. The articles and thoughts you share, the comments you make and the professional affiliations you display will provide schools with a multidimensional view of who you are, as well as support your expertise and passion for a particular industry or activity.

Some examples of shareable stories might be:

• “I am a driven finance professional with a passion for improving education systems. Through lobbying, recruiting and fundraising, I have affected thousands of children by improving their educational experience.”

• “My passion for people extends beyond U.S. borders. My love of travel has connected me with individuals around the world. I nurture and maintain these relationships and learn and grow through these connections.”

• “In my free time I eat. And cook. And entertain. I love bringing people together over a great meal. Exploring unusual recipes, experimenting in the kitchen and sharing my culinary successes is an important hobby of mine.”

Weave Your Story Into Social Media Platforms 

I recommend students initially focus on three key platforms. Most of us are on Facebook, so this is one area to clean up, make sure your privacy settings are in order  and develop a content strategy that positively reflects your personal interests. LinkedIn is also a must-have, as it is the professional social network. Twitter is a great option to start if you haven’t already since you can use it to expand and build your brand.

For Facebook, choose a cover photo that represents your shareable story. For example, the avid traveler would highlight a photo from a recent trip. A candidate who is passionate about mentoring disadvantaged children should select a photo that highlights those efforts. Then, make sure the things you like reflect the personal and professional interests you have shared in your essays.

LinkedIn is critical as you embark on your MBA career and is an excellent place to network, gather information and build your brand by communicating details that support your shareable story. Follow influencers who interest you and share their content, too. What you update on LinkedIn helps to reinforce your brand, and actively developing a strategy now can help tell your story now and later.

Twitter is a great platform to stay up to date and engage with people who share similar interests. Make sure your bio is filled in with information that reflects your shareable story. A profile photo is a must, and the background photo should also support some element of your story.

Follow relevant users, publications or brands on Twitter based on how you want to present yourself. Look at their followers to discover more people with similar interests. You can express your story through original and curated content by sharing articles, adding commentary and tweeting your thoughts on the topics that appeal to you. Make sure to follow the business schools you are interested in as well.

Social media is a time investment. You can blog, tweet and post all day long, but you will get lost in the jungle of the Internet if you do not reach out and link and connect with others. Make sure that you work to forge connections, on and offline.

Build your content and your audience based on your passions and you will attract an audience of like-minded people. They will inspire you with questions and theories and unique points of view that will spawn completely new thoughts of your own. This in turn becomes the idea factory that will help you consistently generate lots of great, share-worthy content.

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