Tag Archives: MBA application

Make the Most of Each Application Component

As you pull together your MBA application materials, try to think of each component as an opportunity to tell the AdCom something new about yourself. What we mean is, don’t simply copy and paste bullet …

As you pull together your MBA application materials, try to think of each component as an opportunity to tell the AdCom something new about yourself.

What we mean is, don’t simply copy and paste bullet points from your resume into your data forms. Offer up new details when you supply responses for fields such as “role responsibilities,” “key accomplishments” or “biggest challenge.”

Similarly, if you focused on your volunteer work in one of your essays, highlight a different extracurricular activity in your data forms or resume. And don’t have your recommenders tout the exact same “significant achievement” in their letters that you already covered elsewhere.

Certain aspects of your package, such as your GMAT/GRE score and your undergraduate GPA, are truly data points in the most literal sense of the word. But everything else should be viewed as complementary chapters of an interesting story—a story about you. After the AdCom is finished reviewing all of your materials, they should have an understanding of your personality, what you’ve achieved, what your goals are, and what you could offer their program.

Your test scores, transcripts and GPA will tell them something about your capacity to handle their curriculum. Your resume shows your career progression, increased responsibilities and demonstrated results. Depending on the school, some data forms offer a chance to add color to personal and professional achievements. Your recommendation letters can offer even more proof of your leadership potential. And your essays can give them a sense of your “voice,” as well as provide insight into what makes you tick or what you’re passionate about.

It’s a good thing that the AdCom will be judging you on your entire package, though, right? We’re all so much more than just our jobs, our grades, or our volunteer experience.

Think of it this way:

WholeGreaterThanSum

 

 

 

 

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USC Marshall Fall 2015 MBA Essay Question

The USC Marshall School of Business has a streamlined application process, like many programs this season, and requires one essay of Fall 2015 applicants. Essay: What are your short-term and long term personal and/or professional …

The USC Marshall School of Business has a streamlined application process, like many programs this season, and requires one essay of Fall 2015 applicants.

Essay: What are your short-term and long term personal and/or professional goals following graduation from USC Marshall? How will USC Marshall enable you to develop or improve your skills in order to reach your goals? (500-700 words)

Optional Essay: Please provide any additional information you believe is important and/or will address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application. (250 words)

Re-Application Essay: Please describe any significant professional, personal, or academic growth since your last application to the USC Marshall School of Business. Discuss your specific professional goals and how the USC Marshall MBA Program will help you achieve those goals. (500-700 words)

You may also be interested in:

USC Marshall 2014-2015 MBA Application  Deadlines

USC Marshall Offers New Degree in Entrepreneurship

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Tuesday Tips: NYU Stern MBA Essay Tips

As the NYU Stern MBA website states, “Stern develops leaders who have an impact on business and beyond.” Evolving from a pure finance school into one that focuses on areas like entertainment and technology, Stern …

As the NYU Stern MBA website states, “Stern develops leaders who have an impact on business and beyond.” Evolving from a pure finance school into one that focuses on areas like entertainment and technology, Stern takes advantage of the vibrant and changing business opportunities in New York City.

The individual components of your application will be academic ability, professional achievements and career aspirations, and personal characteristics. Stern provides podcasts to describe each component on the admissions website, and it’s worth starting your research there. While your academics will be evaluated mainly through your GMAT and GPA, the essays are a crucial part of your application strategy.

Essay 1: Professional Aspirations
(750 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
• Why pursue an MBA (or dual degree) at this point in your life?
• What actions have you taken to determine that Stern is the best fit for your MBA experience?
• What do you see yourself doing professionally upon graduation?

Why MBA, why now, is an important question to answer. While many people seek an MBA degree, NYU wants to invest in those who can use it most effectively. Perhaps you’re seeking an MBA for networking or professional credibility, or maybe you want an MBA to learn specific skills to change careers. Whatever your own personal reasons may be, make sure you can point to specific aspects of the MBA education both generally and specifically at Stern that are necessary to achieve your goals.

Note that this question specifically asks about your interest in pursuing an MBA at this point in your life. Why is now the right time for you, both personally and professionally? What will an MBA add to your already successful career trajectory to get you to the next level? If you are an older applicant you will need to spend time carefully communicating that you realize what an MBA can and can’t do for you at your professional level, and that you have a plan to leverage the MBA professionally in your next job.

This essay also offers an opportunity to demonstrate your fit with NYU Stern and describe why NYU Stern is the right place for you to spend the next two years of your life. Certainly personal experience of the campus through visits or student touch points would be ideal, but even if you are halfway around the world you can illustrate the many ways in which you learned about the NYU Stern experience.

The activities that most excite you academically should be logically related to your career goals explained in essay 1. The activities you are involved with might be professional, or could be personal hobbies or interests. This essay is your opportunity to describe who you are outside of work. Discussing the hobbies and extracurricular interests you have pursued thus far will be an important data point.

Your post MBA goal should be both achievable and demonstrate the need for an MBA. An MBA from NYU Stern will open professional doors for you, and you should demonstrate that you are ready to take advantage of those opportunities. Think about a logical sequence that starts with your past work experience, then your MBA education and ends with your immediate post MBA goal. Ideally your goal pulls from both your current work experience and the skills you will gain in the NYU MBA program.

Essay 2: Choose Option A or Option B
Option A: Your Two Paths
(500 word maximum, double-spaced, 12-point font)
The mission of the Stern School of Business is to develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society. Given today’s ever-changing global landscape, Stern seeks and develops leaders who thrive in ambiguity, embrace a broad perspective and think creatively about the range of ways they can have impact.
• Describe two different and distinct paths you could see your career taking long term. How do you see your two paths unfolding?
• What factors will most determine which path you will take?
• How do your paths tie to the mission of NYU Stern?

Option A asks you to exercise a thought exercise about your future career goals. After identifying your immediate post-MBA career goal in Essay 1, where can you see your long-term career evolving? Again, both trajectories should be logical. For example, if you worked as an analyst in finance prior to your MBA, and plan to work in private equity post MBA, perhaps you see yourself as a partner in your PE firm as your first path, or operating a company as your second path. Each could unfold depending upon the choices you make or opportunities you see as you engage actively with your career.

The second part of this question asks you to tie both paths to the NYU Stern mission, which is to “develop people and ideas that transform the challenges of the 21st century into opportunities to create value for business and society.” Almost any career goal can reflect this mission, though infusing an element of leadership into your plans can help maximize your impact beyond the career of one individual. Developing people who also have an impact on the world of business can multiply your impact and create tremendous value.

In the third section of the question you should consider all of the factors you might use as criteria to evaluate future career goals. This is a great time to consider what has motivated you in the past – do you thrive on achievement? Relish accomplishment of a difficult goal? Desire to help others? This question is one that demonstrates your ability to evaluate your own decision-making process, as well as revealing the values you hold most closely. Answer this question strategically to ensure you are intentionally revealing personal attributes that are most representative of your values and potential.

Option B: Personal Expression
Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

Open-ended essays like this one can be intimidating. You are allowed any method to introduce yourself to your classmates, and you’re probably wondering what the best medium for your message is.
However, your content is king in this essay. The best first step is to brainstorm the information you want to convey. Reflect upon your unique personal qualities and what is valued most by your friends and family. How would you want your classmates to see you? What are some of the personal stories you would share with a new friend?

Once you have established the content you want to use for the NYU Stern essay 3, it’s time to consider the medium. If you are a visual person you may chose a drawing, painting or photo series. If you are a creative writer perhaps it’s a poem or short story. If none of the “creative” approaches feel right to you, feel free to write a standard essay where you explain who you are and introduce yourself to your classmates. The medium is not the most important aspect of this essay. What is most important is the message and content of your composition to demonstrate your motivations and who you are to the admissions committee.

Essay 3. Additional Information (optional)
Please provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include current or past gaps in employment, further explanation of your undergraduate record or self-reported academic transcript(s), plans to retake the GMAT, GRE and/or TOEFL or any other relevant information.
If you are unable to submit a recommendation from your current supervisor, you must explain your reason, even if you are a re-applicant.
If you are a re-applicant from last year, please explain how your candidacy has improved since your last application.

NYU Stern provides the optional essay as an opportunity for you to explain a low GPA, GMAT or TOEFL. If you are in that situation, avoid excuses. Focus on the facts, and explain why this performance is not indicative of your future performance at NYU Stern.

If you are not submitting a recommendation from your current employer, this is the place to explain the situation. A few valid reasons may include a brief tenure working for your current boss, that you are not sharing your MBA plans with your supervisor, or that you work more closely with other members of the team.

Additionally, re-applicants have the opportunity to highlight the updates and changes to your candidacy this year. If you have quantitative improvements like a GMAT or alternative transcript those are excellent to highlight. Any qualitative improvements like clarified goals, new leadership experiences and any expansions to your job responsibilities are equally useful and this is the ideal place to highlight them.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has helped countless aspiring NYU Stern MBA students to showcase personal and professional stories that cut through the clutter. Contact us to learn more.

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Tuesday Tips: 2014 UCLA Anderson Essay Tips

Last year UCLA Anderson reduced the required essays to only one, following the trend started by Harvard. UCLA’s essays were previously focused on career goals and last year’s single essay only asked about short- and …

Last year UCLA Anderson reduced the required essays to only one, following the trend started by Harvard. UCLA’s essays were previously focused on career goals and last year’s single essay only asked about short- and long-term goals. This year the one required question adds an additional element to the question by asking a more open-ended question to get at applicants’ personal lives and values.

With over a decade of experience helping applicants just like you, contact us to learn how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help you define your best essay content.

Required Essay
UCLA Anderson is distinguished by three defining principles: Share Success, Think Fearlessly, Drive Change. What principles have defined your life and pre-MBA career? How do you believe that UCLA Anderson’s principles, and the environment they create, will help you attain your post-MBA career goals? (750 words maximum)

This single required essay is actually three essays in one. First you will need to think about the principles, or values, that have influenced your life and career. Second your post MBA career goals need to be defined to answer the final part of the question. Third, you will need to explain why an MBA, specifically an Anderson MBA, will help you achieve your goals.

When you reflect upon the principles that have defined your life consider telling one or two key stories to illuminate who you are. UCLA is looking for personal expression in this essay, and to understand how you are different from other applicants. Consider the turning points or moments that triggered reflection for you. Have you experienced a significant personal setback? What is your family background? Have you lived outside your home country? When did you face a turning point or make a big decision about your career? What were some of your proudest accomplishments? What moments have called upon your need to collaborate, lead or innovate?

For the second part of the essay briefly explain what you plan to do immediately after graduation, and then what you want to accomplish over the long-term with your career. A career path that focuses on demonstrated passions and interests throughout your life is going to be most compelling as you write this essay and each section should bridge seamlessly into the next.

For the part of the essay focusing on UCLA Anderson’s part in your plans, UCLA specifically requests citing specific classes, professors and programs. To express a bit more on the personal side it will be helpful to include the social and extracurricular aspects that attract you to the small and close-knit experience at Anderson. Be specific as you discuss the clubs and conferences that are unique to the UCLA MBA.

Optional Essay
Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words maximum)

It is important to focus on explanations rather than excuses in this essay. Potential extenuating circumstances may be a very low GPA, academic probation or using a recommender other than your current supervisor. Clearly explain the situation, and if it is a situation from the past, explain why you have changed. Providing evidence that you will not repeat the actions in question will be very important.

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UCLA Anderson Fall 2015 Essay Questions

UCLA Anderson School of Management has announced the essay questions for the 2014-2015 MBA admissions season. They are: First-Time Applicants: One Required Essay UCLA Anderson is distinguished by three defining principles: Share Success, Think Fearlessly, …

UCLA Anderson School of Management has announced the essay questions for the 2014-2015 MBA admissions season. They are:

First-Time Applicants: One Required Essay

  • UCLA Anderson is distinguished by three defining principles: Share Success, Think Fearlessly, Drive Change. What principles have defined your life and pre-MBA career? How do you believe that UCLA Anderson’s principles, and the environment they create, will help you attain your post-MBA career goals? (750 words maximum)

Optional Essay

The following essay is optional. No preference is given in the evaluation process to applicants who submit an optional essay. Please note that we only accept written essays.

  • Are there any extenuating circumstances in your profile about which the Admissions Committee should be aware? (250 words maximum)

Re-Applicants: One Required Essay

Reapplicants who applied for the class entering in fall 2013 or 2014 are required to complete the following essay:

  • Please describe your career progress since you last applied and ways in which you have enhanced your candidacy. Include updates on short-term and long-term career goals, as well as your continued interest in UCLA Anderson. (750 words maximum)

You may also be interested in:

UCLA Anderson 2014-2015 MBA Application Deadlines

UCLA Anderson Goes Private

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Tuesday Tips: MIT Sloan School of Management MBA Essay Tips

On its website, MIT Sloan highlights programs from Entrepreneurship to the Digital Economy. Innovation is key for MIT Sloan and the program seeks interesting students to build a class that can learn from each other …

On its website, MIT Sloan highlights programs from Entrepreneurship to the Digital Economy. Innovation is key for MIT Sloan and the program seeks interesting students to build a class that can learn from each other and continue the tradition of innovation.

When approaching this set of essays, your task is to remain focused on your overall application strategy and choose the key stories that can showcase your achievements at school, work and extracurricular activities while demonstrating that you will contribute to MIT Sloan’s mission.

Essay 1
The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and generate ideas that advance management practice. Discuss how you will contribute toward advancing the mission based on examples of past work and activities. (500 words or fewer, limited to one page)

The MIT Sloan application relied heavily on “behavioral essays” in the past. This year there is only one essay of this style, that requires you to describe your past accomplishments and experience on a specific level. These questions have typically focused on understanding how you work, think and act in a variety of situations. As you provide examples of past work and activities ideally you are highly specific about your thoughts and actions in the situation.

This question is seeking to understand how you develop and execute on ideas. A work or extracurricular example where you demonstrated the ability to generate strategy and execute upon it would be ideal here. How did you identify your idea? What did you do to develop it? What did you ultimately accomplish? This essay will demonstrate your intellectual capacity and curiosity, which are crucial attributes MIT Sloan is looking for in MBA admits.

Essay 2
Write a professional letter of recommendation on behalf of yourself. Answer the following questions as if you were your most recent supervisor recommending yourself for admission to the MIT Sloan MBA Program: (750 words or fewer)

• How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?
• How does the applicant stand out from others in a similar capacity?
• Please give an example of the applicant’s impact on a person, group, or organization.
• Please give a representative example of how the applicant interacts with other people.
• Which of the applicant’s personal or professional characteristics would you change?
• Please tell us anything else you think we should know about this applicant.

MIT Sloan asked candidates to submit a cover letter for their MBA application for several years. This iconic essay challenged candidates every year to encompass career goals, reasons for an MBA and interest in MIT Sloan in a short professional style cover letter.

This year MIT Sloan returns to a typically professional format with a requirement to draft a letter of recommendation for yourself. You are placed in the role of your most recent supervisor and asked a series of questions that MBA programs typically ask of your professional recommenders. The wrinkle to this question is that your most recent supervisor may also be writing an actual letter of recommendation for you. MIT Sloan is one of the few MBA programs without a preference for your current supervisor as a primary recommender, so you could also avoid that scenario. Regardless, this “recommendation letter” should both reflect similar feedback as your actual recommendation letters and provide new information.

The key challenge in answering this question is the tone to take. Ideally you are measured about both your strengths and weaknesses, while showing confidence that you are accomplished and also that you are able to improve when you need to. The ideal tone is mature and logical, without overt bragging. Your actual supervisor may get away with more glowing terms when describing your work, but you will want to keep in mind that self-awareness and interest in improvement are assets to an MBA applicant.

Take note that several elements of this question focus on interpersonal skills. This is your opportunity to showcase leadership and teamwork. Self-awareness about your impact on others will come through here and demonstrates you know yourself and how you come across to your team, managers and peers.

The Admissions Committee invites you to share anything else you would like us to know about you, in any format. If you choose to use a multimedia format, please host the information on a website and provide us the URL.

MIT Sloan’s entirely open-ended optional essay invites applicants to respond to the essay in any format desired. This allows you to do anything you need to with this space, including clarifying any concerns or highlighting interesting aspects of your background or profile.

This essay is an ideal opportunity to provide any information that you were unable to work into the other two essays and provide a new angle on your candidacy. If you have an unusual background, hobby or extracurricular experience, this may be an opportunity to provide that information to the admissions committee. With similar questions asked by other MBA programs in the past Stacy Blackman Consulting has advised candidates on everything from photo journalism projects to customized multimedia presentations. The format is far less important than the content, but it’s also true that images or presentations can provide a new perspective on your application.

Stumped by your MIT Sloan MBA application? Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn how we can help.

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