Tag Archives | Tuck

What MBA Schools Think of Admissions Consultants

aigac conferenceIt’s natural for MBA students to worry, and indeed they do. One thing they shouldn’t worry about is the use of an admissions consultant. Well, at least an ethical and professional admissions consultant, that is.  So here it is in black and white from one top school: Tuck.  They say it’s really OK. In their words,

Reputable consultants have experience in MBA programs and a broad understanding of the variety of schools out there. Consultants can also assist on the path to reflection and discovery.

See? Nothing to worry about.

Not exactly. Tuck, and every other school I know of is very clear: the work has to be yours. If someone you pay can help you make that hard work more focused, and less stressful, GREAT! If they guarantee they or their method will get you in, RUN! And if they offer to write anything for you, “HANG UP!”

Also, not every admissions consultant will be the right fit for you. I (Betsy of Master Admissions) have one style, and my colleague Candy of MBASpain, has another. And the many experienced consultants at the big firms, like MBA Exchange, have a range of different skills and offerings. It depends on what is right for you.

That’s what Tuck is saying here — the right consultant can help. Read what they say in their own words here. We had a terrifically productive day with the admissions committee at Tuck in June. And we stay in touch with them regularly, to understand what’s new with the school and its value proposition.

Tuck is not the only school who has met with admissions consultants and hosted us. The list is robust, in Boston alone we saw MIT Sloan, HBS, HKS, and had conversations with visiting admissions officers from Wharton, Columbia, Yale, Darden, Texas, UCLA, Babson, LBS, INSEAD, Haas, and more I am forgetting. We’ve been hosted by Stanford GSB in Palo Alto and by Chicago Booth virtually. So yes, if you do it right, admission officers “get it” that using a consultant may just make the difference for you.

Financial Times Global Rankings — What they Mean to You

The Financial Times‘ Global Rankings came out last Monday, and everyone is a winner.  That’s what I always say about rankings, because there are always ways to slice and dice the data so that a school can claim they are highly ranked according to someone.

I, for one, am glad that there are a number of rankings (USNews, BloombergBusinessWeek,FT, Economist, WSJ, Forbes, and an aggregated version by Poets & Quants) – although the FT and the Economist really do dominate the global rankings – and I am glad that they all emphasize something different. That’s because the business school experience is different for everyone, and it’s very hard for a rank to represent just how good a school is for you.

HBS Wins Overall – Sort Of
But like Oscars, rankings are a part of life in the admissions industry, and there are definitely some quirks.  For example, although Harvard Business School ranks #1 in the survey overall, it is only #17 for “aims achieved.”  It’s also ranked #77 for “value” and #43 for “international mobility.”  This tells me that I probably need to dig a lot deeper to understand the methodology, something most of my clients will never do. All they know is that Harvard Business School is on top of the charts, and that’s a good thing.

Good News for Columbia
Columbia Business School administrators should be cheering by the fifth-place overall ranking especially after applications for last year’s entering class declined 19%.

The ranking also puts CBS as fourth in the United States, just behind HBS, Stanford GSB, and Penn.  One of the boosts in Columbia’s methodology seems to be its 92% employment figure, that is, percentage of students who have accepted a job offer within three months of graduation. Of the US business schools, this ranks higher than Harvard and Stanford’s 89%, but lower than Emory’s 96%, or UC Berkeley’s and Tuck’s 93%.  Given the high exposure of Columbia students to the financial industry, that’s not bad.   In the mystifying category of “aims achieved,”  the score came in #24, vs.  #4 for Yale and #13 for Carnegie Mellon Tepper.  Tepper, by the way also had a 90% employment-after-three-months figure.

International Mobility
Here’s an interesting ranking for those who want to go to business school to “see the world.”  If you want to do so, don’t stay in the US, because the highest ranked US school in the list is Wharton, coming in at #40 for “international mobility.”  I know that’s one that begs for methodology, but other name schools in the US that followed Penn were Harvard, Berkeley Haas, our friend Columbia and MIT Sloan.

Ranking By Alumni
The FT also lets alumni have their say on their schools in certain categories.  For example, the top US schools for economics in this survey are Booth, MIT, Yale, and Tepper (again!)

For general management UVA Darden bests HBS, followed by Tuck, Stanford, Ross and Kellogg.  Here’s good marketing for you, alumni of Indiana University’s Kelley School ranked their alma mater #2 for marketing, after Kellogg, (of course) and before Duke. And here’s a fun one, showing you that Wharton is not just a finance school, alumni ranked Penn below the following schools for “Top for Finance” : Chicago Booth, NYU Stern, and Univeristy of Rochester’s Simon School.

Don’t Believe Everything You Read
I admit, I have cherry picked some of the points to make in this blog post. Mostly because it is fun, but rankings are really hard to figure, and they really don’t matter as much as what is the right school for you.  Rankings only tell a small part of the story .

Also, rankings can be misleading. Because I came from finance, I used to get a lot of questions about the best school for finance – and maintain that you need to do a whole lot of your own research and networking to figure out your right path.   So visit schools, talk to students and professors, and see what’s happening beyond just what pundits like me write on the internet. Spring is around the corner –the best time for campus visits — so take advantage of the time you have now to see if those rankings really tell the whole story.

January 2013 Update

This is embarrassing. I haven’t been on this blog since last November. It’s all for good reasons; I’ve been working one-on-one with my new friends who have applied to some wonderful schools. It’s funny when you have a boutique practice like mine; I get to see all of the top business schools. Of course I get a lot of HBS, after all I went
there and keep up with the school. I also get a fair amount of Stanford GSB applicants — that’s partly because of the work I do down there on writing and resume coaching — and partly because I live in the region. But funny enough, I only got a few Berkeley applications this year, so the regional argument doesn’t seem to hold.

For some strange reason, this year I had a lot of Tuck applicants, and all of the first-round applicants did quite well. In fact, they may all be visiting each other in Hanover next year, for after all, Tuck is very self-selecting. I also had quite a few Duke applications, which made me smile, because the 25 Random Things essay is a lot of fun. If they keep that essay next year, or if you are crazy enough to apply in Round 3, I encourage you to do the Duke application first, because it helps you wrap your brain around some of the things that make you unique.

So it’s been a successful Round 1 — no bad surprises, some great fun surprises, and even some cash money surprises!
For Round 2, let’s see where it goes; right now a few students are finishing up the NYU Stern application, MIT Sloan Fellows is also this week, and Haas’s third round (out of four rounds) is also this week.

I’m tee-ing up some other blog posts to make up for lost time, so stay tuned. Also, if you’ve got a burning question, feel free to email me, or check out my forum on Wall Street Oasis.

Happy New Year, Western and Lunar

Using LinkedIn in Your Business School Quest

Everybody does it. The minute they see the name of someone they want to know more about, they rush to LinkedIn. It’s the world’s database, and so very useful.  So useful, in fact, that to position yourself for business school or your next career step, you need to be LinkedIn savvy.

You need LinkedIn for two reasons – first, you can (and should) manage your own public profile, because you can bet that a LinkedIn profile comes up first if someone Googles you.  Second, you can (and should) use it to do deep research on schools,

career paths, and life choices.

Here are five tips for using LinkedIn like a pro:

1. Make Sure Your Profile is Up-to-Date

People will look for you, that’s a fact. LinkedIn expects to see 5.3 billion professional searches in 2012, and a strong majority uses the site for professional networking. It’s so expected that you will have a complete profile that at least one MBA program, the MIT Sloan School of Management, requests your LinkedIn URL on its application in addition to your resume.

You’ll be doing a lot of meeting and greeting in your business school quest–and you want people to take your request to chat seriously. An up-to-date LinkedIn profile shows your best professional side, and also indicates that you are current with professional social media trends.

Tip: Add your picture.  According to Krista Canfield, LinkedIn spokesperson, you are seven times more likely to be viewed if you include a photo. Professional-looking photos leave a more positive impression.

2. Just Click on a School

LinkedIn is an enormous database, and most of it is free. You can get tremendous amount of critical information without even reaching out.  Think Wharton is only for finance? Click on “Wharton” on any grad’s educational profile, and you’ll see an array of information. You can plug in graduation year, say 2011, and check out where that class landed by region, by industry, and by company. Check out how many—and who–ended up in marketing or business development or product management.  Think you want to work in Asia, but not sure that Columbia Business School is the right school for you? You can find scores of recent grads in China, Singapore, and Korea.

3.  Identify Target Career Paths

Advanced search can be your new best friend.  Perhaps after your MBA, you want to work in business development or product management for a company like online game-maker Zynga.  How have others walked that path? Type “Zynga” in the company box, MBA in the keywords, and see what others have done to get to that point.  You might find that the pre-MBA experiences vary from engineering to Peace Corps volunteer.  Encouraging, isn’t it? You might also find that most have brand management experience prior to before working at the computer game company.  Such intelligence will make you a smarter planner, and later, a more effective job seeker.

4. Join Groups

Joining a group instantly expands your network. You can message group members without being directly connected, and your group status allows you to see the member’s full profile.

Perhaps you are interested in networking with MBAs who live in Washington, DC, who work in investment banking or investment management. In my own case, can see that I am in the same group as 41 others who fit that profile. These groups range from college or company alumni, professional women’s, and interest groups.  As I open up Joanna K’s profile, I see she is not only a member of 85 Broads with me, but she’s also a member of several private equity groups, and which I may decide to join.

Schools are not only using groups to connect alumni, but more and more are forming groups to advise prospective students. Cambridge’s Judge Business School, MIT Sloan, and the Kelley School at Indiana University all have groups designed to help answer questions and educate prospective students. Other groups, such as MBA Podcaster and Poets & Quants offer updated news pieces on the MBA admissions process.

5. Use the “Follow” Tab for Companies and Schools

Don’t let this feature fool you. It’s not just for companies, but you can also follow a school. If I look up “Tuck School of Business” for example, I can see 89 people in my network – either a current student or a faculty/staff member, and a current Tuck student who went to my undergraduate school.  You’ll also get notified when any member of your network adds that school (or company) to their profile.

And Away You Go!

Like many web tools, LinkedIn offers great value if you know how to use it.  Keep your profile up to date, use the unbelievable resources in the LinkedIn database, and then, go out and make connections for your professional and educational benefit.  It’s a great way to make social media work for you.

Authenticity, the Real You, and the MBA Application

self-exploration or self-excavation?

Here’s how to get into your top-choice business school: be yourself. If you are struggling with MBA essays, the last thing you want to hear are those two words, but that’s the secret. I know it seems like a cliché, but admissions officers say over and over that they want to get to know YOU in the essays. Allison Davis, Associate Director of Admissions at Stanford Graduate School of Business wrote those very words in a blog post, even calling them “corny, but true.”

Get Real
The only way for you to do that is to show your authentic self. Not the person you think the committee wants to read about. I guarantee this one fact: YOU are more interesting than that mythical person. They want to read about your successes and foibles. I recall an admissions officer from Berkeley’s Haas School of Business remark that he loved reading the stories where people learn from mistakes or failure. Those stories show a lot about a person’s true character. Remember, every business school class is made up of human beings, and the more you show who you really are, the more you will stand out from the crowd of generic applicants. No kidding.

Dawna Clarke, Director of Admissions at Tuck, blogs about the importance of showing the “real you.”  She reminds applicants that the admissions process is designed to facilitate self-reflection and should help you to genuinely understand yourself—something you take with you regardless of where you get in.  Clarke writes:

Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is to be yourself. It goes without saying that the best thing you can do is walk away from your business school application experience knowing you put your best in front of the admissions committee for consideration. Regardless of the decision outcome, you’ll have no regrets and, hopefully, you have learned a little about yourself along the way.

When your authentic voice comes through, it makes your application credible and demonstrates confidence.  Says the Stanford Graduate School of Business admissions website (look under the heading “Personal Qualities and Contributions”):

In a world that often rewards conformity, the Stanford community thrives only when you share your individual experiences and perspectives.  As a result, the strongest applications we see are those in which your thoughts and voice remain intact.

To understand how you will contribute to and benefit from the Business School community, we want to know about you: your experiences, beliefs, your passions, your dreams, your goals…most Stanford MBA students have excelled by doing ordinary things extraordinarily well. It is what you make of an experience that matters to us, not simply the experience itself.

You may be thinking, oh, I am just another cookie-cutter engineer/investment analyst/consultant/IT specialist.  But you aren’t. You are you, the real you. The more authentic “you” that shows in your application, the better your chances. Promise.