Tag Archives | Tuck

Why It Helps Your Application to Visit Schools in the Spring

I’ve always told students to visit schools in the springtime. Now that it’s almost April, and schools will end classes in May, it’s time to remind prospective students it’s entirely worth the trip.

If you can schedule a visit before classes are over, while the sun is shining, and when students know what’s what, you’ll get a much better idea of the school’s DNA.

Here are five reasons to get yourself on a plane sooner, rather than waiting until summer or fall.

1. THE WEATHER

Admit it, life is more pleasant for visitors in the spring than in the dead of winter.  OK, Stanford and Berkeley are lovely most of the year, but the rest of the country? Not so much fun.  Says one Booth second-year student, “For Chicago, the spring weather is a huge plus. The winter just makes everyone miserable.”

2. CLASS IS IN SESSION

One of the best ways to understand an MBA program is to go when class is in session. You’ll feel a completely different vibe when a campus is filled with purposeful students. You want to sit in on a class, see what it’s all about, and get a feel for what it would be like to be a student yourself.  And if you’ve never seen the case-study method in action, you don’t know what you’re missing.

You’ve got about a month left of classes for most MBA programs – for example, the last day of classes for MIT Sloan is May 14.  HBS is a little earlier, and exams begin at the beginning of May. Stanford GSB and Kellogg, which are on the quarter system, run a little longer; last day of classes for Stanford is June 6, for Kellogg is June 2.

Students visiting one-year programs like INSEAD or programs like Columbia Business School need not worry; prospective students can see the school in action year-round.  “With classes taking place over the summer, the J-term also offers prospective students an opportunity to sit in for a class and really experience what it would be like to be a Columbia Business School student,” says Amanda Carlson, assistant dean of MBA admissions at Columbia.” It’s these types of experiences that seem to have the greatest impact on prospective students.”

3. CURRENT STUDENTS KNOW WHAT THEY ARE TALKING ABOUT 

In addition to class visits, you want to talk with real students to discern the realities of campus life.  First year students are usually in a state of shock during fall term – they’re overwhelmed with courses, activities, recruiting, and FOMO, or fear of missing out.   Second year students have figured out the lay of the land, but can be stressed by recruiting, which swings into full gear during autumn.

Spring is a different story.  Jodi Innerfield, Michigan’s Ross School of Business recent graduate notes, “visiting schools in the spring gave me the opportunity to speak with first years as they reflected on year 1, and MBA2’s as they ventured off to their full-time jobs. In the spring, we’re all reflecting on our experiences and enjoying the nice weather, so it’s a good time to get our perspective and see campus.”

Christine Sneva, senior director of enrollment and student services at Cornell Tech, agrees:  “Spring is actually an ideal time because as someone who’s scoping out a program’s value proposition, prospective students should be talking to folks at the end of their program. You’ll get a raw, real-time perspective that will most likely stay with you throughout your search.”

4. LESS PRESSURE

Since most MBA admissions deadlines begin in September or October, things can get pretty rushed for applicants in the fall.  Assuming the student has taken the GMAT or GRE, there’s the application to navigate, recommenders to organize, and goals to figure out, all while continuing to excel in a full-time job.  Amy Mitson, senior associate director of admissions at the Tuck School of Business suggests that, “Spring is a great time to take an advanced look at a program with no pressure. You are still months away from the start of the fall application season. Relax and take it all in! This will also give you something to reflect on when writing your application in the fall.”

5. LONGER LEAD TIME

In addition to reducing pressure, early visits allow a prospective student a chance to reflect on their experiences as they figure out the whole question of fit (see How To Know If Your Target Schools Fit You). The visit will help you figure out where to apply and why.  You’ll be able to go beyond rankings or brand reputation as you think about what the school offers you, and importantly, what you offer the school.  A spring visit allows you to use the summer to really think through your argument for why the MBA and why a particular school.

Not everyone can visit every target school, but it helps prospective students understand the MBA program’s culture, and it never hurts to make the effort, if possible. Says Tuck’s Mitson, “Nothing beats the first-hand perspective and showing your sincere interest like a visit to campus.”

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.