Archive | Chicago Booth

Admissions in the Age of Video

It’s official.  Your camera-ready self is the ticket to getting into business school.  At least at the Chicago Booth School of Business. In the competitive world of MBA admissions Chicago Booth had a brilliant idea, and they are rolling it out for their wait-listed candidates.   They are asking those prospective waitlisted students to put together 90-second infomercial about themselves.

Says Carrie Lydon, Associate Director of Admissions at Chicago Booth. “Often candidates would like to introduce themselves via a face-to-face conversation, and a video provides the opportunity to create a personal connection …In terms of the content–it is entirely up to you.”

What a great way to see just how articulate a student will be in the classroom (cold calls, anyone?) How well-thought-out is their argument asking the committee to “pick ME!”? How sincere, how grounded, and most of all, how believable is the candidate?

But students should be aware that it’s not just an advertisement for themselves. It’s new information. Here are five tips for selling yourself on video:

  1. Have something to say: Use the 90 seconds to actually make a case for yourself, It’s not about how much you want it;  it’s about how and why you are a great fit for the school.
  2. Be organized: Identify the two-to three specific things you want to convey in your message and clearly articulate them.
  3. Talk to the admissions committee directly: the people watching the video want you to connect with them.
  4. Rehearse:  It’s a performance, and you’ve got to be prepared.
  5. Be confident, but not arrogantSounds easy but so hard.  Take a tip from the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business value of “confidence without attitude.

And here’s the great news, Master Admissions can help you put your video together.  We can help you put together a grounded, sincere video of YOU being YOU. We can help you be effective. We advise on the important non-verbal communication, tone of voice, and your ability to speak from your best self.  As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “What you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.”

Want more information? Contact me at and we’ll make it happen!

Finding the Right Fit in a Business School

Lots of angles (and curves) to measure

There’s a lot of talk about finding the “right fit” when it comes to selecting a business school.  But as is the case with many words du jour, “fit” is often thrown around without much explanation of what it means.  What exactly is a “right fit,” and how is this relevant to applying to b-school?

Self-knowledge is the secret

Fit is so popular that I’ve written about it myself , but more importantly so have some of the top business schools. Some schools are more specific than others, but the general message is more or less the same: Know yourself.  Understand the cultures of the schools to which you are applying.  Be able to explain exactly how you would strengthen these cultures.

Before you can even think about what schools fit you best, you have to really look at yourself.  You need to know yourself very, very well.  Your level of self-reflection will absolutely show through in your application, and helps admissions officers understand you and how you could fit into the life of their school.  Soojin Kwon Koh, Director of Admissions at Michigan’s Ross School of Business, writes in her blog, “Our ability to evaluate your fit with Ross depends on how well you know and tell us about yourself.”  So know thyself!

Common culture with the school

Rose Martinelli, then Associate Dean of Admissions at Chicago Booth, stressed the importance of fit in an admissions chat, “… it all boils down to fit. The ability of the applicant to communicate path and plan, and why Chicago is a good match for them professionally and personally.”  It’s not just about who you are at work.  It’s also about who you are as a son or daughter, friend, and community member.

Berkeley-Haas, in the “Essays” section of its admissions page, goes so far as to say that it seeks applicants “who demonstrate a strong cultural fit with our program and defining principles.”  This does not mean that everyone at Berkeley shares the same opinions and experiences—quite the opposite.  It does mean, however, that students at Haas share a common culture, as outlined in the school’s Defining Principles; students question the status quo, have confidence without attitude, are lifelong learners, and think beyond themselves.

While Stanford’s Graduate School of Business doesn’t explicitly mention “fit” or “match” on its website, it does outline its “Core Values”: intellectual engagement, respect, integrity, striving for “something great,” and owning your actions.  To be a good fit for Stanford, you need to be able to demonstrate your alignment with these values.

Cornell’s Johnson Graduate School of Management touches on fit in its third essay question, “What legacy would you hope to leave as a Johnson graduate?”  The question explains that “the adcom wants you to really evaluate what ‘fit’ means to you for Johnson.  ‘Fit’ is different for everyone, so we want to see how authentic and purposeful you are about applying.”

— Researched and written with help from the great Alice Woodman-Russell

Go Global with an MBA Exchange Program

The World is Your Oyster

Many MBA programs allow for, if not encourage or require,  study abroad, and students who leave, as well as those who host, are amazed at how much they learn.

International exchange programs were brought home to me at a Forté Foundation event last week in San Francisco when I met Katie Cannon,  a London Business School student currently on exchange at UCLA Anderson. Katie’s infectious enthusiasm for LBS and international study—and her passion for the arts and her interest in media management— make a semester in LA perfect for her.  There’s no question that the Anderson students will be learning from Katie as much as she will be learning from them.

Katie is hardly the only one studying abroad during business school.   More than half of the top MBA programs offer full-term international exchange programs. London Business School is a good example. It’s a particularly international school; about 35% of its students spend a semester in a foreign country, and a typical class may have people from over 60 different countries.  To facilitate exchange, LBS partners with over 30 schools worldwide, and students at those schools can also study in London.

UCLA Anderson, located in southern California, is an ideal exchange choice for students like Katie who want to pursue careers in film, television, or talent management—or even financial services and venture capital.  It’s also a great home-base business school for students who want to study abroad— 20% participate in an international exchange.   UCLA—along with Cornell Johnson, Duke Fuqua, NYU Stern, Chicago Booth, and Michigan Ross—is a member of the Partnership in International Management network , an international consortium of business schools, and it also has exchange agreements with schools outside that network.

UC Berkeley Haas offers exchange programs established with several leading b-schools, “if,” says the website, “you can bear to be away from Berkeley.” (Click on the Haas link for useful descriptions of each of the exchange schools.)  In addition to international offerings, Haas also has an exchange with Columbia Business School, giving students the chance to spend a semester in New York City.

Most other top schools require some form of international experience during their MBA years. For example, Yale School of Management mandates that students take a short-term trip abroad in the second semester of the first year.  Professors lead the trips in countries they specialize in, from Brazil to Estonia to Israel to Japan.  Yale also offers a more traditional fall term international exchange for second year students.  Stanford GSB  also mandates a “Global Experience Requirement” which can be fulfilled by study trips or a summer immersion program.

Another resource for current or prospective b-school students interested in international study are the Centers for International Business Education and Research (CIBERs), created by Congress in 1988.  To date, there are 33 CIBERs, located at universities around the country, including UNC Kenan-Flager, University of Texas McCombs, and George Washington University.

It’s all there for the asking – so make sure your passport is up-to-date and push yourself out of your comfort zone.

The New MBAs Who Are Changing the Definition of Leadership

This article was originally published in Forbes Woman. You can see more at this link.

If someone were to ask which countries in the world have more women than men preparing for their MBA by taking the Graduate Management Admissions Test, you might guess the U.S. or Sweden or even Iceland.

You’d be wrong – in fact, more women than men are taking the GMAT in China, Russia, Vietnam and Thailand.

This represents an amazing trend… not only are hundreds of thousands of women preparing to embark on a serious business careers, but they are coming from some countries that have historically seen relatively few women in executive and leadership roles.

This trend is quite a bit different from when I entered business school in 1980.  A generation ago, my class at Harvard Business School comprised 21% women – a number now which has grown to 36% – still low.  Apple launched its initial public offering with a split-adjusted price of $2.75 (now $351). Charles and Diana were about to be wed, China’s Gang of Four had yet to be tried, Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan were about to define a decade.

Thirty-one years ago, most women who are now applying to business school weren’t even close to being born. Their parents likely had no inkling that their future female offspring would be sitting at a computer taking an English-language standardized test in hopes of embarking on a career in business. They had no idea that these eventual young women would be stepping into a formal program with the goal of walking out with an MBA.

What has changed, and will continue to change, is twofold: women are starting to look at themselves as leaders, and the definition of leadership has changed. Business schools today are not just looking for managerial potential, but are looking for different kinds of leaders:  principled change-makers who show up in the world.

Much More than Management

But many women still believe they cannot gain acceptance to an MBA program because they think they have not yet held a high-ranking title in their company. Or have not managed a team of subordinates.

“Leadership encompasses much more than managing people,” wrote Rose Martinelli, former director of Admissions at the University Of Chicago Booth School Of Business.” Business schools are now equating leadership with influence, or the ability to motivate others toward a shared goal. Stanford Graduate School of Business’ recommendation form includes a “Leadership Behavior Grid” with traits such as initiative, influence and collaboration, developing others, and trustworthiness. Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business defines leadership as “the ability to inspire others to strive and enable them to accomplish great things.” And Wharton places its leadership programs “at the heart of MBA life.”

Leadership can mean anything from running a classroom to being the idea person in your work team. From standing up for an unpopular position, to organizing a food drive. In a nutshell, leadership is about finding the passion inside and acting on it – and that’s what these amazing women from unexpected countries are doing by taking the GMAT and believing in their own leadership potential.

The Essence of Leadership

Furthermore, business schools are actively searching for what women have been known for traditionally: Emotional IQ.  In a seminal article published in a 1998 Harvard Business Review article, entitled, “What Makes a Leader,” Daniel Goleman attempted to answer the question with the attributes of effective leaders.  Goleman, who popularized emotional intelligence with his book of the same name, wrote, “It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant,” he says. “They do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities.’ But … emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.”

Emotional intelligence is what separates good leaders from great ones.  And business schools want to see people with the raw material to produce nothing less than great leaders.  “We educate leaders who make a difference in the world,” proclaims Harvard Business School’s mission page.

Women are training up, getting their technical chops in order, and are ready to take the next step. They will both influence and be influenced by what is being taught in the leadership component of MBA programs all over the world. And you can bet that when this generation of female leaders matures, we’ll see business and enterprises become even more diverse, more embracing of new ideas and creativity than we can even imagine now.  The world is ready.

Business Schools that Accept the GRE or GMAT

More and more business schools are accepting the GRE in lieu of the GMAT these days. In response to a query I received from the academic adviser to students at one of the world’s top undergraduate schools, I thought I would put together a handy table for you to identify which schools accept either the GRE or GMAT. Below you can see that many do, but not all.




Columbia YES Columbia Business School
Darden YES UVA Darden
Fuqua YES Duke Fuqua
HBS YES Harvard Business School
Mich Ross YES University of Michigan Ross School
Tuck YES Dartmouth Tuck
Stanford YES Stanford GSB
Wharton YES Wharton MBA
Yale YES Yale School of Management
Chicago NO Chicago Booth
Cornell NO Cornell Johnson
Haas NO UC Berkeley Haas
Kellogg NO Kellogg

If you have any questions about updates to this information, please email me at

A few notes: Cornell does not indicate it accepts the GRE, but they haven’t said they *don’t* accept it, as Haas and Chicago Booth have. UCLA Anderson’s MBA program doesn’t accept it, but their Executive Program does.

Further, things do change! so please check the links and make sure the information you have is current.

Meanwhile, if you need any advice on studying for standardized tests, please see last week’s blog post on test anxiety and your brain.