Tag Archives: Wharton School

Look Beyond the Top Business Schools for Your MBA

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.com People typically pursue an MBA because they are looking to improve their career opportunities and increase their future income. What some applicants don’t …

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

People typically pursue an MBA because they are looking to improve their career opportunities and increase their future income. What some applicants don’t consider is that you can achieve both of those objectives even if you don’t make it into the business programs at Harvard, Wharton or Stanford.

While rankings are a valuable piece of the puzzle when you’re narrowing down your school list, don’t get hung up on the top few programs. It’s more important to be pragmatic and align your expectations with the MBA programs that match your particular profile, particularly if your GMAT score isn’t through the roof or your career trajectory has stalled out.

MBA programs update their career or recruiting reports annually and post them online, so a good strategy is to think about the company or industry you want to work in, and find out whether they recruit at your target schools.

[Research b-schools that match your learning style and personality.]

For example, top MBA employers including McKinsey & Co., Goldman Sachs, Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Co. and Deloitte Consulting recruit heavily at the most elite schools. But they also recruit other schools, such as at UCLA Anderson School of Management, Emory’s Goizueta Business School and Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. These graduate business schools all placed in the Top 25 of the 2014 U.S. News Best Graduate Schools rankings.

While most schools don’t disclose the number of hires per company, MBA applicants can extrapolate that you might not need to get into a top school in order to land at the company of your dreams.

A few years ago, our client Priya had her sights set on attending one of the top three ranked schools in the U.S. However, as her consultant worked with her on her applications, it became apparent that her chances of admission were less than ideal.

Priya had taken a few swings at the GMAT, but test-taking was a significant weakness for her and her scores topped out at 640. She had a few years of work experience, but promotion freezes had left her stuck at her initial position without advancement.

[Find out how to fix a low GMAT score.]

Priya was starting to wonder if she should apply to business school at all. Before letting her quit, Priya’s consultant asked why she wanted to apply to those top three schools.

Priya wanted to work in corporate finance at a specific Fortune 500 firm after graduating, and had chosen the top schools where that company heavily recruited. With her career goal in mind, Priya and her consultant decided to change strategies.

Since an MBA was the key to achieving her career goals, Priya cast a wider net to include schools ranked in the top 50. She also retooled her application to emphasize her specific, concrete career plan, which helped shift focus away from her weaknesses.

Priya found a great fit in the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Though not as competitive for admission as the very top schools, it ranks No. 20 in the U.S. News rankings and in the top twenty of several other lists, and offers a concentration in corporate finance that Priya found appealing.

She maximized her academic and networking opportunities while on campus and found a job with her chosen finance firm after graduating using the skills and contacts she gained, rather than relying solely on recruiting. Priya is now moving up the ranks and is encouraged by the fact that her firm’s CEO obtained his MBA from a school that rarely even appears on a business school ranking list.

[Get MBA admissions tips for applicants with a finance background.]

Location is often overlooked by candidates choosing a b-school, but is extremely important. Recruiters give priority to candidates who have already lived or worked in the same region where the position is located, and graduates tend to gain employment near the geographic location of their MBA program.

While an MBA from Harvard opens doors anywhere, if you’re interested in working in the energy sector, you might have a better shot going where the energy industry thrives. Examples in the oil and gas industry include the University of Texas—Austin McCombs School of Business or Rice University’s Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business offers an MBA concentration in energy & environment, as well as a new concentration in energy finance.

The point is, if you’re not going into finance or consulting, you have greater flexibility in finding a niche program that’s the right fit for you.

While a degree from an elite business school is a goal and dream for many, several factors – such as test scores, undergraduate academic performance and tuition costs – influence whether it’s a viable option. If you believe the degree is critical to your career goals, consider expanding your school options while still getting a great return on investment.

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Wharton School on the Radio

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has announced the creation of “Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School,” an exclusive, 24/7 channel on Sirius XM Radio featuring easily accessible information on a wide …

The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania has announced the creation of “Business Radio Powered by the Wharton School,” an exclusive, 24/7 channel on Sirius XM Radio featuring easily accessible information on a wide range of business topics.

From hiring and motivating staff to creating a business plan to raising capital and financing businesses, the channel  will be delivered directly by the world’s top business experts and leading minds in business education at The Wharton School.

With an expected launch in early 2014, Business Radio will air via satellite on SiriusXM channel 111, and through the SiriusXM Internet Radio App on smartphones and other connected devices, as well as online at siriusxm.com. The channel will feature world-renowned and distinguished professors and alumni as regular weekly hosts, plus executives, entrepreneurs, innovators and other experts as special hosts and guests.

“In a world where it’s never been easier to start your own business, and where even the titans of industry are challenged by newcomers every day, people have a thirst for expert information on the fundamentals of running a business successfully. Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School will deliver indispensable information and guidance to a range of listeners, whether they are first-time job candidates, managers, entrepreneurs or even CEOs,” says Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer, SiriusXM.

Thomas S. Robertson, dean of The Wharton School, calls the partnership a unique avenue to disseminate creative cutting-edge programming using the full breadth of Wharton’s faculty research and knowledge in the global community. “This initiative aligns well with Wharton’s reputation for innovation and will allow us to reach a broad range of mainstream listeners interested in business topics,” Robertson adds.

“Business Radio Powered by The Wharton School” programming currently in development is expected to include:

  • Market Update with Jeremy Siegel — a weekly, in-depth analysis of the dynamics of the stock market hosted by Wharton’s Russell E. Palmer Professor of Finance.
  • Launch Pad – new ventures go live on Business Radio and listeners weigh in. Hosted by Karl T. Ulrich, Vice Dean of Innovation; CIBC Professor of Entrepreneurship and e-Commerce; Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
  • When Things Go Wrong — listeners share customer service experiences gone awry and Business Radio gets to the bottom of the situation. Hosted by Christian Terwiesch, Andrew M. Heller Professor, and Marshall L. Fisher, UPS Professor, both of the department of Operations and Information Management.
  • Sports Business — listeners are invited behind-the-scenes to explore the business issues underlying the multibilliondollar sports industry. Hosted by Kenneth L. Shropshire, David W. Hauck Professor of Legal Studies and Business Ethics; Director, Wharton Sports Business Initiative.
  • The Business of Retailing understanding and managing retailing, the economy’s largest sector. Hosted by Barbara E. Kahn, Patty and Jay H. Baker Professor; Director, Jay H. Baker Retailing Center; Professor of Marketing.

“Our listeners will get direct access to some of the brightest minds in business today. The range of topics will be expansive but the discussion and conversation will surely be useful every day in our listeners’ own working lives,” Greenstein says.

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Wharton School Offers Free Online MBA Courses

Whether you’re interested in previewing first-year MBA material, or just looking to get up-to-date with the fundamentals of business and management, the new MOOCS, or massive open online courses, offered by University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton …

Whether you’re interested in previewing first-year MBA material, or just looking to get up-to-date with the fundamentals of business and management, the new MOOCS, or massive open online courses, offered by University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School should fit the bill.

Announced earlier this month, the Wharton MBA Foundation Series in Coursera’s course catalog offers four classes taught by Wharton faculty. There’s no cost to take any of these courses, unless you wish to receive a verified electronic certificate for $49 indicating you’ve mastered the course requirements—something to keep in mind if you want to put it on your resume.

“This is the first time that a business school has bundled a collection of MOOCs together in this fashion,” Don Huesman, managing director of the innovation group at Wharton, tells Bloomberg Businessweek. “We’re taking our core required classes in the MBA program, with the same instructors, to provide those same core concepts.”

The four new courses are:

1. An Introduction to Financial Accounting, taught by Brian J Bushee. Began Sept 16th 2013 (10 weeks long)

2. An Introduction to Operations Management, taught by Christian Terwiesch. Begins Sept 30th 2013 (8 weeks long)

3. An Introduction to Marketing, taught by David Bell, Peter Fader and Barbara E. Kahn. Begins Oct 14th 2013 (9 weeks long)

4. An Introduction to Corporate Finance, taught by Franklin Allen. Begins Oct 28th 2013 (6 weeks long)

Bloomberg Businessweek notes that along with five existing electives, which include courses on sports business and health care, the new offerings make it possible to learn much of what students in Wharton’s full-time MBA program learn. All nine courses will likely attract students from around the world.

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University of Pennsylvania Wharton MBA Essay Tips

Joining the trend of streamlined application essays, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has published only two required essay questions for the 2013 application. Wharton seeks diverse candidates who understand the Wharton brand of Knowledge For …

Joining the trend of streamlined application essays, University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has published only two required essay questions for the 2013 application.

Wharton seeks diverse candidates who understand the Wharton brand of Knowledge For Action. Understanding yourself and your fit with Wharton, and telling a cohesive story is key to success with these essays.

Required Questions:
What do you aspire to achieve, personally and professionally, through the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

The career goals essay is a standard MBA prompt. Wharton has traditionally kept the career goals question focused entirely on professional goals, but this year expands this essay question to also include your personal goals for the MBA. This is certainly about fit with Wharton and to gauge more about your personality and potential success in the program.

Be careful to answer the specific question in this career goals essay. Notice that you are not asked about your professional background or your key accomplishments. To answer the question asked, you will want to focus mainly on the future and what you are planning to pursue with your MBA degree. At the same time, there is certainly room to add color by using your background information where it is most relevant to your goals. Think about the key moments of your professional life that crystallized your goals for you, and focus on illuminating those decision points rather than reciting your entire resume.

When you address your personal goals for the MBA make sure you are making the case for Wharton specifically. Consider what living in Philadelphia might be like, the many clubs and student activities, and leadership development opportunities like traveling to Antarctica with your classmates that may address some of your personal life goals.

Academic engagement is an important element of the Wharton MBA experience. How do you see yourself contributing to our learning community? (500 words)

This question is similar to questions asked in previous years about courses and the opportunities you plan to pursue at Wharton. This question is both about your intellectual curiosity and your knowledge of the Wharton MBA program.

Wharton no longer asks candidates “Why Wharton” explicitly in essay questions, but rather seeks to understand how your unique personal qualities fit with the overall Wharton culture. Doing your research on the culture and understanding exactly how you fit in will help you approach this essay, as well as navigate interviews and other interactions with the Wharton admissions committee. Consider inlcuding specific information from your Wharton research in this essay such as Wharton faculty you would like to study with or unique educational opportunities at Wharton.

Remember that Wharton’s brand positioning is “knowledge fuels action.” As you consider how you might contribute to the learning community do not neglect your professional experiences and the way you approach learning at work and at school. The Wharton academic environment is one where professors often consult to industry and like to experiment in the real world, and you should be able to bring your own real world experience to contribute to the community.

Reapplicant Essay:
All reapplicants to Wharton are required to complete the Optional Essay. Please use this space to explain how you have reflected on the previous decision on your application and to discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). You may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)

All reapplicants are required to provide information that supports your renewed candidacy. The most successful version of the reapplicant essay will provide tangible evidence that you have improved the overall package you are submitting this year. Improvements like GMAT score or new quantitative classes as especially tangible, but a promotion, increase in responsibility at work, a job change or even a change of goals and mission can apply.

A rejection or waitlist last year is a form of feedback, and may have led to soul searching for you. When you describe your changes make sure reflect your ability to take feedback and improve. Describe how you approached the reapplication process after assessing your own strengths and weaknesses as a candidate and making the appropriate efforts to improve.

Optional Essay:
If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words)

This question is truly optional and should only be used if you have extenuating circumstances in your background. If you do have an area of concern that is on this list, make sure you spend your optional essay space on explanations, not excuses. While you might be embarrassed to explain your D in undergrad Chemistry, better to explain that you had a difficult semester in your personal life than to leave the admissions committee to speculate.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has over a decade of experience assisting candidates to achieve their Wharton MBA dreams. We offer customized advice, including specific preparation for the Wharton group interview, to give you a competitive edge. Contact us to learn more.

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Wharton School 2013-2014 Essay Questions

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has announced the required essay questions for the upcoming MBA admissions season. This year’s applicants will now submit two rather than three essays, with a reduced word count from …

The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has announced the required essay questions for the upcoming MBA admissions season. This year’s applicants will now submit two rather than three essays, with a reduced word count from previous years—a trend which seems to be spreading across several top programs this year.wharton essays

Required Questions:

1. What do you aspire to achieve, personally and professionally, through the Wharton MBA? (500 words)

2. Academic engagement is an important element of the Wharton MBA experience. How do you see yourself contributing to our learning community? (500 words)

Reapplicant Essay:

All reapplicants to Wharton are required to complete the Optional Essay.  Please use this space to explain how you have reflected on the previous decision on your application and to discuss any updates to your candidacy (e.g., changes in your professional life, additional coursework, extracurricular/volunteer engagements). You may also use this section to address any extenuating circumstances. (250 words)

Optional Essay:

If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words)

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Click here for a reminder of the Wharton School deadlines, and check back for Stacy Blackman’s Wharton MBA essay tips, coming soon!

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Move From Family Business to B-School

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA blog on U.S.News.com Applicants who have worked in a family business sometimes worry that their professional profile won’t measure up when compared with other MBA hopefuls …

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

Applicants who have worked in a family business sometimes worry that their professional profile won’t measure up when compared with other MBA hopefuls with more traditional employment paths. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Every year, top schools accept students who will go back to work for the family business. In fact, 9 percent of the applicants accepted into the Harvard Business School class of 2014 had worked for, or planned to work for, their family-owned company.

Business schools strive to compose a cohort of diverse personalities and backgrounds to guarantee lively discussions, so depending on your role in the company and the type of business itself, your experiences would likely add a unique perspective to the class.

Family business management has emerged as an important discipline at business schools as second- and third-generation family members realize the need for specialized skills in order to take over the reins and create a more corporate work environment. Over the past decade, schools have introduced courses and clubs on family business, founded centers dedicated to the subject or launched concentrations in this area.

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has a Center for Family Enterprises. Columbia Business School, stating that 80 percent of businesses worldwide are classified as family businesses, offered a course this spring on Family Business Management. And students and alumni of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School can participate in the Wharton Family Business Club.

Part of your school selection research should focus on what types of resources and support for family businesses are offered by your target programs. For many applicants, a one-year MBA program is ideal since you won’t need the internship and recruiting opportunities that job-switching students in two-year programs rely on.

I advise applying to the best schools that you think you can get into because they will offer a great education as well as the best networking opportunities. Also, think about whether the school’s geographic location will help you build a network which would directly help your family business.

If the school offers a student club focused on this group, reaching out to current members for their insight on the program’s benefits might prove invaluable in your decision-making process.

As with any winning application, the strategy in this case is to show in detail how an MBA degree will help you further your professional goals. Explain with specifics what you need to learn in order to grow the family business.

Paint a clear picture of your vision for the company’s future, and leave no doubt as to how an MBA will help you make an impact on the business after graduation. That way, the admissions committee understands why business school is the logical next step.

For your essays, start brainstorming some of the challenges your business has faced, and come up with examples that show how you as a family worked to overcome those obstacles. Business schools place a high value on teamwork, and what better way to show commitment and follow-through than by demonstrating you know how to work well with others to achieve a common goal?

As many applicants know, the ideal recommender for an MBA application is the manager to whom you report directly. However, if your immediate supervisors are relatives, you’ll need to get creative since you cannot have a family member write your recommendation letter.

Can you approach a supervisor or manager from a company you’ve previously worked for? Or have you worked closely with any clients or vendors that can speak to your managerial or leadership abilities?

Our client Bill had been working for the family business, a manufacturing company in Baltimore, for three years after college.

[Get more MBA application advice from the trenches.]

After brainstorming for recommenders he could approach outside the business, Bill hit upon a retail vendor that had been supplied by his company for more than a decade with whom he’d built a strong relationship. Since this vendor was evaluating Bill on many similar criteria as a direct supervisor and was an objective, outside source, he turned out to be the perfect choice.

In the end, Bill’s family business-based application fared well next to candidates coming from a corporate background. He was ultimately admitted to Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, and chose Darden to be a little closer to home.

Alberto Gimeno, director of Esade Business School‘s International Family Business Lab, recently noted in the Financial Times that “Concepts such as honesty, pride, loyalty and long-term commitment … are everyday practices of successful family businesses around the world.”

If you’re planning on pursuing an MBA to learn how to take your family business to the next level, take pride in your professional circumstances and know that business schools will value your accomplishments and responsibilities, whether acquired at a Fortune 500 company or under Mom and Dad’s tutelage.

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