Tag Archives: Wharton

MBA as Great Equalizer for Women

Although US Labor statistics still report women’s wages lag behind their male counterparts at 81 cents on the dollar, Forté Foundation‘s Elissa Ellis Sangster believes the gap could well shrink as more women enter the upper …

Although US Labor statistics still report women’s wages lag behind their male counterparts at 81 cents on the dollar, Forté Foundation‘s Elissa Ellis Sangster believes the gap could well shrink as more women enter the upper echelons of business management upon earning an MBA degree.

In addition to opening up new career opportunities for women, who are more likely than men to switch careers, an MBA could boost a woman’s lifetime earning potential by $3 million, Forté Foundation has found.

While this is encouraging news, Sangster’s recent editorial in the Financial Times notes that the problem continues to be lower enrollment levels for women at the world’s elite business schools.

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School sets the record among top programs with a 42 percent female Class of 2015, while 41 percent are women at Harvard Business School. At Stanford Graduate School of Business, women represent 36 percent of the entering class, and at Chicago Booth School of Business, women make up just 35 percent of the Class of 2015.

To encourage more women to pursue an MBA, Sangster believes the key, among other efforts, is early exposure to business careers, and getting more women to major in business at the undergraduate level.

Also, business needs to become more responsive to the needs of both women and men for flexibility that helps balance employee’s personal and professional lives.

“Statistic after statistic show that women are good for business, but business is lagging behind in returning the favour,” Sangster writes. “While not a magic bullet, an MBA can boost earning potential and open up a broad range of opportunities for women. We just need to make sure that they get the memo.”

You can read Sangster’s editorial in its entirety at the Financial Times.

 

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Evaluate in Which Round to Submit Your B-School Application

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA blog on U.S.News.com – See more at: http://www.stacyblackman.com/2013/07/08/dont-ignore-a-low-gpa-in-b-school-applications/#sthash.ThWkBFpR.dpuf This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA blog on U.S.News.com – See more at: http://www.stacyblackman.com/2013/07/08/dont-ignore-a-low-gpa-in-b-school-applications/#sthash.ThWkBFpR.dpuf This …

This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA blog on U.S.News.com – See more at: http://www.stacyblackman.com/2013/07/08/dont-ignore-a-low-gpa-in-b-school-applications/#sthash.ThWkBFpR.dpuf
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA blog on U.S.News.com – See more at: http://www.stacyblackman.com/2013/07/08/dont-ignore-a-low-gpa-in-b-school-applications/#sthash.ThWkBFpR.dpuf
This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA blog on U.S.News.com – See more at: http://www.stacyblackman.com/2013/07/08/dont-ignore-a-low-gpa-in-b-school-applications/#sthash.ThWkBFpR.dpuf

This post originally appeared on Stacy's "Strictly Business" MBA Blog on U.S.News.com

I field questions every admissions season from clients about when to submit business school applications. They ask if they have a better shot in round two rather than round one, or if it's even worth submitting in the final round.

Schools regularly address this question on admissions blogs, but seldom provide insight beyond the standard advice of applying whenever you can put forth the strongest application.

I polled several consultants on my team and while there may be no definitive answer, I believe you'll find their feedback informative.

Applying in round one: First-round applicants tend to be extremely well-prepared candidates who have known they want to go to business school for awhile. They have spent considerable effort preparing for the GMAT, cultivating extracurricular activities and seeking out leadership opportunities either at work or in volunteer settings.

Early applications show serious interest and planning. In this round, you may have the greatest statistical chance, since you're only being compared to the current candidate pool.

In fact, a former Chicago Booth School of Business admissions committee member says the committee accepted 65 percent of Booth's students during this round.

For applicants to second-tier schools, the top 20 to 40, applying in the first round conveys that the school is a top choice and could result in a scholarship, says a former committee member at the Jesse H. Jones Graduate School of Business.

Applying early also allows you to submit applications to other programs in later rounds if you're not admitted in round one. Programs with an early action or early decision round, such as the Tuck School of Business and Columbia Business School, value the commitment shown by applying ahead of the crowd.

An ex-Tuck admissions committee member shared reports that showed early action applications were up 30 percent this year. Since Tuck's class size is so small, earlier truly is your best shot.

Likewise, a consultant formerly with Columbia admissions says if you're committed to Columbia Business School, you should absolutely apply in the early decision round, as it's the only school with a binding decision. Columbia will also frequently offer applicants a spot in the January start if September is full.

In the end, there are more slots available in round one and more opportunities to be placed on the waitlist if that's the route the admissions committee decides to take, says a former Duke Fuqua School of Business admissions committee member.

On the other hand, a lot of strong applications come in during the first round, says one former Wharton School admissions staffer. According to an ex-Kellogg admissions committee member, you're more likely to be wait-listed for this round versus round two.

If you need to demonstrate your commitment to improving your quantitative profile by taking additional course work, or believe you can perform significantly better on the GMAT, you probably should wait for a later round.

Applying in round two: Second-round applicants have the advantage of visiting campus in the fall, which can help tremendously when it comes to drafting compelling essays and demonstrating that all-important fit with your target schools.

The general population tends to apply in this round, so it may be more favorable for candidates with less-than-perfect backgrounds, says the former Kellogg admissions committee representative. If you're accepted in this round, you'll have plenty of time to start preparing for this next phase of your life, from leaving a job to moving.

This is when most of the seats fill up, explains a former Wharton admissions committee member, so accepted candidates have a chance to participate in a welcome weekend and make a sound decision on a school. On the flip side, rejected applicants will have time to start strategizing their applications for the next year, notes one ex-Chicago Booth admissions member.

Round two receives the highest number of applications, which makes competition fierce as candidates are compared with the round two pool as well as the accepted candidates from first round. Your application may not stand out as much if you have a common profile, warns a former Wharton admissions committee member.

The increased volume may also mean longer processing times, and some schools might wait-list applicants they never had a chance to interview. Also, says an ex-Kellogg admissions committee, applicants are less likely to be wait-listed or get in off the waitlist.

Applying in round three: Round three is the trickiest time to apply, as almost all b-school seats have been filled and programs are waiting for stellar candidates who will help round out the class profile. While schools encourage students with a solid application to apply in the final round, they candidly admit it is uber-competitive and often counsel including an optional essay to explain why you've waited.

While it's better to submit a strong application in the final round than a weak one in round two, applying with a generic background is far less compelling at this point. It was almost impossible to find a consultant to endorse applying during this round.

One former admissions employee explains that people best suited for this round have a highly unique background that would truly add to the class. A former admissions committee member from the Haas School of Business says there were admission spots available at the end because by that time, the school knew who had already accepted offers elsewhere.

Aside from the potential drawbacks of having no choice but to interview on-campus and miss out on welcome weekends, our ex-Chicago Booth insider reveals that programs say this round is reserved for wait-listed candidates and the "superhuman," such as, for example, the Olympic gold medalist from Cameroon. Statistically speaking, one's chances are slim.

The bottom line: There are many outside factors that come into play when it comes to making admissions decisions. It can depend on who reads your file, their mood and what other applications they read that day, notes the former Haas representative.

Everything else being equal, I would always advise a client to apply as early as possible to any program, so long as you aren't sacrificing the quality of your application.

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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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Tuesday Tips – University of Pennsylvania Wharton MBA Essay Tips

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has published the new essay questions for applicants seeking a space in the class of 2015, along with a new brand position: Knowledge for Action. This essay set focuses on …

University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has published the new essay questions for applicants seeking a space in the class of 2015, along with a new brand position: Knowledge for Action. This essay set focuses on your knowledge of Wharton. As the front page of the Wharton MBA admissions website states: “At Wharton, admissions is all about the right fit.” Understanding yourself and your fit with Wharton, and telling a cohesive story is key to success with this set of essays.

When contemplating the optional essays, it will be important to choose topics that will allow you to demonstrate both achievements at work and your extracurricular or personal activities. In addition, refer back to your application strategy and strengths and weaknesses to determine which personal qualities you want to highlight in your two essays.

Required Question:
How will Wharton MBA help you achieve your professional objectives? (400 words)

The career goals essay is a standard MBA prompt. For this particular prompt, notice what is NOT asked. 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.

Budget your words carefully on this essay and be sure to answer each sub question thoroughly. When discussing your career progress, focus on building a path from your past to your future short- and long-term goals. The AdCom will be looking for evidence that you can achieve your career goals and your goals are a logical extension of your background and interests. Do your homework on Wharton and provide very specific reasons why you want to pursue your MBA at the Wharton School.

Respond to 2 of the following 3 questions:

1. Select a Wharton MBA course, co-curricular opportunity or extra-curricular engagement that you are interested in. Tell us why you chose this activity and how it connects to your interests. (500 words)

This question allows you some flexibility to talk about either academic or extra-curricular activities that you are interested in. Because this question asks why you chose the activity you want to pursue at Wharton, you can showcase an interest that ties into an aspect of your application strategy you want to highlight.
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 adcomm. Specifically to this question, you could identify Wharton faculty you would like to study with or demonstrate your knowledge of Wharton clubs and activities.
This question also provides an opportunity to show how you will be part of the vibrant Wharton community. Don’t forget to talk about how you will impact the course, co-curricular opportunity or extra-curricular engagement and your fellow students’ experience.

2. Imagine your work obligations for the afternoon were cancelled and you found yourself “work free” for three hours, what would you do? (500 words)

Entirely open-ended questions like this can be a gift to an applicant, or can derail an otherwise strategic application.
Before you select a topic for this question refer to your application strategy and list of strengths and weaknesses. Have you covered your key professional experiences? What have you demonstrated about leadership? If you have not addressed important extracurricular or volunteer activities or a story from your background that illuminates your interest in Wharton and potential contribution to the class, this is the ideal space to provide that information.
This essay is a great way to demonstrate your capacity for creativity and innovative thought. In addition, this essay can be an opportunity for you to highlight experiences in your professional or personal life that may not have been covered in the previous essay due to limited space. If your professional experience doesn’t demonstrate the innovation you would like to highlight in this essay, perhaps your extracurricular or academic pursuits offer ideas.

3. “Knowledge for Action draws upon the great qualities that have always been evident at Wharton: rigorous research, dynamic thinking, and thoughtful leadership.” ”“ Thomas S. Robertson, Dean, The Wharton School
Tell us about a time when you put knowledge into action. (500 words)

This question is entirely about your fit with Wharton, as exemplified by a story that shows how you fit with the new Wharton brand platform. Wharton combines intellectual rigor with an interest in making an impact in the business world, so ideally your essay tells a story about a time that you used analytical rigor and action to make an impact.
Behavioral questions like this one are meant to illustrate how you have acted in situations in the past, as a predictor of future behavior. Your answer should be concise but detailed, and clearly lay out both the situation and what you did and thought as you navigated the outcome.
While a professional example seems like the perfect fit for this type of question, don’t neglect the possibilities you might have outside of work. If you have made a large impact in a volunteer capacity this may be a place to discuss that process. Whatever the source of your example, make sure you are clearly demonstrating your ability to make thoughtful decisions and act upon them.

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.

Concerned about your Wharton application? Contact us to learn more about how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help.

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SBC Scoop: Success on the Wait List

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client. This time of year we hear from many applicants who have ended up on a …

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

This time of year we hear from many applicants who have ended up on a wait list for their top choice programs. For our comprehensive clients, wait list strategy is part of the all inclusive consulting package. We’re also available to help new clients on an hourly basis – go ahead and contact us to hear more.

Our comprehensive client Abhishek had selected Wharton as one of his “reach schools” out of a list that included Duke, North Carolina, and UT-Austin. He had a stellar academic record in his engineering program, and an interesting work trajectory. Abhishek started his career at a large multi-national IT consulting firm, and then took a position as the third employee at a start-up providing services to small businesses. The company grew and as their client base expanded Abhishek was able to increase his responsibilities rapidly into project management and client facing services.

Abhishek’s work experience helped him stand out from similar applicants, and his MBA plans were in line with his future goal to be a C-level executive at the company. However, Abhishek had a hard time with the GMAT and had only a 680. The quant and verbal sections were also a bit uneven, and despite taking the test several times Abhishek had been unable to crack the 80th percentile barrier that schools like Wharton prefer to see.

Though Abhishek’s GMAT was lower than the mean for Wharton and many of his other target schools, we thought his excellent GPA and interesting work experience would be enough to get him a close read from the admissions committee. As results came in, Abhishek was admitted to UT-Austin, Duke, and wait listed at Wharton. Because Wharton was his top choice, and the reach school, Abhishek decided to remain on the wait list and see if it would come through.

Wharton specifically discourages additional information from wait listed candidates. Therefore we did not put together a wait list letter or seek additional recommendations to bolster Abhishek’s case. It was clear that Abhishek’s lower than average GMAT was likely causing question on his candidacy and making it difficult to choose him over similar candidates with stronger scores. Since this was such a clear weakness in his application, we encouraged Abhishek to take the test again after changing his study approach (he used a tutor who designed a personalized plan to address his specific issues). Though Wharton wouldn’t accept additional materials, they would see his improved GMAT score when it was officially submitted at the test site.

Abhishek successfully increased his score to 710 by focusing on some of his test anxiety. Later in the summer he was offered a spot in the Wharton incoming class and he decided to take it.

Though we can never know if his improved GMAT score was the reason Abhishek made it off the wait list he was glad to have taken concrete steps to improve his chances.

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SBC Scoop: When Numbers Aren’t Enough

Rahul signed up with Stacy Blackman Consulting for a two-hour feedback session on his unsuccessful application from the prior year. With a 760 GMAT and a near perfect GPA from an Ivy League school, Rahul …

Rahul signed up with Stacy Blackman Consulting for a two-hour feedback session on his unsuccessful application from the prior year. With a 760 GMAT and a near perfect GPA from an Ivy League school, Rahul was surprised that he failed to receive even a single interview invitation from his applications to HBS, Stanford, Columbia, and Chicago. With better-than-average numbers, I had a feeling that Rahul needed to focus on the qualitative factors to make his case for admission.

When I read through Rahul’s application to Stanford it was clear that there was room to improve his essays and his recommendations. Rahul’s career goals were a logical extension of his current job in consulting ”“ he planned to return to the firm and advance to partner, ultimately specializing in the technology side of the firm and focusing on developing that side of the business. However, he never explained WHY technology was a passion for him, or WHY he was so devoted to his firm that he wanted to make his career there. Though in conversation Rahul was passionate about his path, it came across as a default answer in his essay.

“What Matters Most” is a tough essay topic for every candidate. In Rahul’s case he focused on his family and particularly his relationship with his grandparents who had immigrated to the United States from India and embraced a new culture and way of life. Again, Rahul’s admiration for his family and forebears was captivating in speech, but did not translate in writing.

As for Rahul’s recommenders, they praised his work, but did not advance his cause. None of them addressed Rahul’s career goals in any depth, and they did not highlight his exceptional work as compared with his peers. Overall it seemed as if Rahul was a strong contributor to his firm, but he didn’t come across as the next generation of leader and superstar there. When we discussed this issue, Rahul explained he had not shared his career goals or any of his other essay topics with his recommenders. As a result, I guessed his recommenders were not as invested in his success and may have lacked direction in writing the letters.

Rahul was receptive to my feedback and continued to work with us to reapply to HBS and Stanford, while adding Wharton, Michigan and Kellogg as new schools on his list. Rahul devoted himself to essay writing, and the results reflected his infectious enthusiasm for his work and his personal life. He also set up lunch meetings with his recommenders to go over his strategy and plans for re-application. With his recommenders in the loop on his overall goals they supported him with enthusiastic letters, and even helped him take on new projects related to technology at the firm in the year before he went to school.

Rahul was ultimately admitted to Wharton and the Kellogg MMM program.

We have so many client stories and each one is different. Even applicants who appear to have similar bios are unique when we peel back the layers. View more client case studies here.

*Please note that no client details are ever shared in SBC Scoop or otherwise without complete sign off from client.

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