Tag Archives: School Selection
December 15, 2016
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. It’s mid-December – a time when people around the world make travel plans, exchange gifts, feast with friends and family and enjoy the …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.
It’s mid-December – a time when people around the world make travel plans, exchange gifts, feast with friends and family and enjoy the magic of the coming holidays and new year. However, for those applying to business school in round two, the merriment can get tamped down by the last-minute hustle required to pull together a polished application for the first week of January.
If you’re submitting your MBA application next month, here are four things you need to do right now to make the process as smooth as possible and still enjoy all the upcoming year-end festivities.
1. Manage your recommenders: By now, each person writing a letter of recommendation on your behalf should have all the necessary forms and prep materials. Gently remind them of the upcoming deadline, which you should target a few days in advance of the actual deadline to reduce your stress. And make sure they have everything they need to create a strong letter in support of your candidacy.
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.
Many programs also ask recommenders to address a weakness, so make sure to remind them of a growth area and give examples of how you have already begun working to improve this weakness. A recent performance evaluation can provide a jumping-off point for this type of question.
Remember to show your gratitude for their help, especially if your recommenders will need to take time away from their families to work on your letters over the holidays. They’ll appreciate your assistance and thoroughness and produce a better recommendation on your behalf.
2. Continue getting to know your top-choice schools: It may have been love at first sight when you visited campus and sat in on a class, but as with any relationship, a deeper dive into programs will solidify your feelings and confirm whether your top-choice schools really are the best fit. Contact the student clubs that interest you, become a devoted reader of the MBA student blogs many programs have and, if possible, reach out to alumni.
During the winter break, many students return home and host informal coffee chats with prospective students – these offer a golden opportunity to get answers to any questions you have about applying, student life, academics and more. The feeling you walk away with after having personal contact with students past and present will speak volumes about whether the choice will provide the best learning environment for you.
3. Seek feedback from a trusted source: Don’t forget to proofread, spellcheck and then proofread your application essays more. Grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes reflect poorly on your candidacy and can overshadow other impressive qualities like a high GMAT score or interesting work experience.
At some point, though, you’ll have read your responses so many times that errors will no longer jump out at you. This is where outside assistance becomes invaluable.
If you haven’t yet sought feedback on your essays, go ahead and enlist a family member, colleague or trusted friend to look them over. Their primary focus should be on your spelling and grammar and not making you second-guess your strategy.
However, they can provide feedback as to whether you come across as an interesting person who has a lot to share with others and would be a great addition to any MBA program. A fresh pair of eyes can also see how well you have conveyed your goals, experiences and strengths to an audience outside of your industry.
• Pull back for a holistic review: Over the next few weeks, take time to reflect on your essay responses to ensure that they hit all the crucial points.
Have you conveyed the passion that makes you leap out of bed every morning? Have you laid out your career goals in a sensible way, showing that you understand the industry in which you hope to work and how an MBA from X school will help you achieve that goal? Make sure you have shared the things in life that inspire you, what matters to you or what moved you to make the decisions you have made.
Every component of the MBA application is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes time for the admissions committee to evaluate your candidacy. 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. Your recommendation letters can offer even more proof of your leadership potential. And your essays can give the committee a sense of your voice, as well as provide insight into what makes you tick.
Ideally, these pieces come together to create an intriguing, layered and thoughtful representation of the student you will be if admitted to the program. So, take this time in the home stretch to make sure your application will make a memorable impression and spark greater curiosity in whomever reads it. Once you’ve done that, it’s time to get back to celebrating the end of another year and toasting to the prospects that 2017 will bring.
October 14, 2016
Today’s business school applicants feel the call to reinvent themselves to become more well-rounded and employable, and the invaluable personal and professional connections forged during an executive MBA continue to be the primary draw for most …
Today’s business school applicants feel the call to reinvent themselves to become more well-rounded and employable, and the invaluable personal and professional connections forged during an executive MBA continue to be the primary draw for most applicants.
However, the need to maintain some semblance of work/life balance is especially crucial for EMBA candidates, who often already shoulder work and family responsibilities before adding school back into the mix. An EMBA student needs to keep up in the classroom; maintain high performance levels at the office; and dedicate time to spouse and family on a regular basis.
These expectations can be difficult to meet, so it’s important to figure out a way to keep your job, family, and sanity during an executive program. A new article in the Financial Times takes a look at how students juggle the demands of an EMBA, grimly noting that some people refer to EMBAs as the ‘divorce course.”
Many will have to adjust expectations of what they can achieve. Learning to manage time is also vital.
It’s critical to have everyone on the same page—including affected family members and employer—before contemplating a return to graduate school. Married applicants should make sure they’ll have total support from their spouse before applying, and research which programs have a strong support network for students’ partners during the course.
“Those who cope well in the programme are not necessarily the ones that do best academically,” notes the FT, “but those who have resilience, are good communicators and able to ask for help.”
Check out the original article to learn from several students who have encountered and dealt with the particular stresses inherent to those pursuing an executive MBA degree. Silvia McCallister-Castillo, EMBA programme director at London Business School, tells the FT, “We select people that we are sure will be 100 per cent successful in the programme. We stretch them to beyond what they thought was possible. But we knew definitely it was possible.”
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September 27, 2016
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News. A decade ago, business school applications commonly included up to six essay questions for applicants to fret and labor over. For at least …
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.
A decade ago, business school applications commonly included up to six essay questions for applicants to fret and labor over. For at least the past three application seasons, however, many top-ranked MBA programs have abbreviated their required essays. Several now ask candidates to answer just a single prompt.
My immediate reaction to these changing requirements has been, “I love it!” It makes sense to test applicants in this way. After all, the world’s best b-schools want students who are future leaders – those who can act quickly and decisively, with little to no direction, under stressful circumstances.
Client feedback in recent cycles has ranged from confusion to outright panic, so applicants may benefit from plenty of guidance as they grapple with how to present themselves and thoughtfully tell their story.
Prospective MBA applicants should know there are pros and cons to the streamlining trend.
Pro: Having to write just one essay eases the burden on applicants applying to multiple programs. Our 2016 SBC Survey of Prospective Applicants revealed that almost 38 percent of applicants plan to apply to five or more schools this year, and fewer and shorter essay requirements are precisely what motivated nearly 52 percent of respondents to apply to more schools.
As a bonus, admissions teams are betting that requiring a single essay means applicants will be less able to recycle essays for other schools.
Con: This increase in applications skews the overall application, acceptance, and yield numbers as the volume of the applicant pool increases but the quality declines. Schools need to adjust to these new figures, as they may influence a prospective applicant’s decision not to target a specific school if the program is perceived as less competitive and therefore, less desirable.
Pro: They say high self-awareness is the strongest predictor of overall success. The single prompt forces you to be very clear about who you are and what you want to communicate. In fact, many admissions committee members believe serious self-reflection prior to applying lays the foundation for compelling essays. A lot of thought will have to go into distilling your messages, which is hard work, but will ultimately benefit you.
Con: It’s much harder to mold your agenda with fewer words and only one question.But whether you have multiple essays, or a single prompt, 1,500 words or 500, the process of coming up with your personal brand is the same. You need to have a strategy for your application process that includes a lot of brainstorming up front to help you come up with the highlights of your candidacy that you want to convey, regardless of what is being asked.
Pro: From the photo commentary essay at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, to the “cover letter in lieu of essay” requested by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management, to the “meet-and-greet at the airport layover” scenario posed by Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business, these single essays provide an exciting opportunity for more creativity and meaningful content, rather than multiple, potentially more rambling essays of what applicants think the committee wants to see.
Con: Having a lot to say is overwhelming and can be stressful, but then having to stuff all an applicant wants to say into limited words only compounds that feeling. With so many accomplishments to highlight and leadership examples to share, the critical task of editing leaves many applicants incredibly anxious since it’s their one shining moment to share their story.
As communication in general seems to have condensed on many fronts thanks to social media, the single-essay trend appears here to stay. Ultimately, I see these types of questions as an invigorating exercise in presenting oneself, knowing what needs to be told and what can be left out. Just remember that having a well-thought-out strategy will be the key to making this lean essay format work for you.