This is such delightful news! Here's the link to the page that asks prospective applicants to watch a video and write up their impressions.
The application just went live today, so have at it!
This is such delightful news! Here's the link to the page that asks prospective applicants to watch a video and write up their impressions.
The application just went live today, so have at it!
Like you, I don't want to deal with the fact that the admissions cycle for 2014 matriculation is fast approaching. I'd rather think about spring and long days and warm weather (and for those south of the equator, you get to think about skiing.) But now is the time to start planning your campaign for the next few months.
So here are a few tips to get you going as you apply to business school.
1. Consider first round.
Whether it less competitive or not, the admissions committee has a blank slate for the class. Better they pick you because of you, rather than search for someone to fill a hole and it happens to be you. For portfolio managers out there, you know what I mean – if the portfolio is partly built, you tend to look for either non-correlated securities or to fill a certain area where you need exposure. MBA classes are built similarly.
2. Make sure your GMAT scores are up to snuff.
The last thing you want is to have to deal with studying for a very annoying standardized test and project-managing the rest of the application. I am a strong believer in taking a course or hiring a tutor. Feel free to email me for specific suggestions.
3. Use your summer to talk with first-year and graduating MBA students.
You have a wonderful chance to ask the dumb questions and get a feel for your fit with each school. If you are thinking of switching careers, find a between-years student or recent grad and ask how it has worked for them so far. The clearer your game plan for the next few years, and how it connects with the future, the better.
4. Research by reading and watching everything published by the schools.
Let the school market to you. A college classmate of mine actually tells business schools how to market their services to prospective students. MBA programs pay good money to consultants and brand managers to make sure that what they are saying about themselves represents the school’s unique selling points.
5. Start thinking about your recommenders.
You want to make sure you have buy-in from the people who will help you the most. I’ve written about this a lot, including an article in Poets & Quants – and here’s the original blog post on wrangling recommenders, which culls the best advice from admissions officers and other experts.
If it makes you feel any better, applications for medical school are due in June. Just think…you’ve got several months more!
And if you will be in San Francisco in July, I'm facilitating the Harvard Club's MBA Admissions Workshop. Save the date of July 16 for a fun and interactive few hours that will help you clarify and organize your plans for the upcoming applications.
Thank goodness for RSS feeds - saw this note that Wharton has already planned its coffee chats. These events are really useful.
Meet Wharton students in your city this summer!
In the coming months, current Wharton MBA students will be spread across the globe for their summer internships. To take advantage of having so many student ambassadors around the world, Wharton MBA Admissions offers informal 'coffee chats' with these students for prospective students to learn firsthand about the Wharton experience and life in Philadelphia.
If you are interested in learning more about the Wharton MBA, register today for a meet-and-greet near you, as space is limited (click on the 'Coffee Chats' tab). Additional dates and cities will be added soon.
The students look forward to meeting you
The Wharton MBA Admissions and Financial Aid Team
Note that sometimes these events are shown as sold out when they are not, so it's really ok to crash if you cannot sign up. Also, I've heard sometimes that some events aren't well attended at all, so you get some great one-on-one face time with students. These activities are the single best ways to figure out your fit with the school (and vise-versa).
If you're going to San Francisco...
Come to the Harvard Club of San Francisco's MBA Application Workshop. I'll be running this fun and interactive session that will help you clarify and organize your thoughts so you can put together an outstanding application to business school.
Details so far:
Date: Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Time: 6:15 - 8:00 (includes post-workshop networking)
Location: Mechanics Institute Library, 4th Floor
57 Post Street (right at Montgomery BART)
Focus: Getting you into your choice of a top business schools
Questions? Email me at email@example.com
I've gotten a lot of comments regarding this post about the GRE vs. GMAT. To be honest, the issue was not really about whether one should take one over another, but more a way to show that the GRE is accepted nearly everywhere, and to offer up the links to the schools' websites regarding their preferences.
On LinkedIn I received this comment from Kate McKeon, an accomplished GMAT instructor, whom one of my clients is using right now. She's smart and experienced, so I thought I would put in her response right here:
From my experience, the GRE can't hold a candle to the GMAT in terms of ability to test depth of analysis skills. The GRE is a much "faster" test (question turnaround time is faster) and therefore more adaptable to memorization. I've taught and taken both.
My students report that the GMAT is strongly preferred at most schools, even by those who do accept both. The GRE is still treated like day old bread. Your Columbia applicant's experience is par for the course. Columbia seems to be the biggest stickler (they won't accept the GRE if you have ever or will ever take the GMAT), but the unofficial scuttlebutt is that the GRE is a weaker test for this candidate pool. If a student is weak on quant and very strong on verbal he/she may be able to get nicer percentiles on the GRE, but by taking the GRE is at a slight disadvantage in the application. No one piece of your application is likely to kill your overall app, but niggling weaknesses do add up.
To add to your mix, I had a fairly successful GRE-based applicant admitted on the condition that she submit a GMAT score in order to continue the program. She was given a semester to do so. First term of bschool seems like an awful time to study the GMAT.
Good stuff, and worth noting.
For those who are applying to business school, with or without the anticipation of a joint-degree program, the question arises: should I take the GMAT or the GRE?
In all honesty, I think the answer is either, but it's not entirely black and white. First, not all business schools accept the GRE. You'll see a list at the end of this article that indicates, at least of this writing, which do and which do not. I've also put links to the school websites for further explanation. Things change all the time.
Why do schools even take the GRE? Because they are casting a wider net to get more interesting students, and because they realize that lots of students think about joint degree programs. Harvard Business School was one of the first schools to accept the GRE, because, as Dee Leopold said in 2009
HBS: Since many HBS applicants are also considering graduate programs besides the MBA, there is now no need for them to take the GMAT if they have already taken the GRE. We believe that the GMAT and the GRE meet our expectations of what a standardized test can tell us about a candidate's ability to thrive in our MBA Program.
The Rumor Mill
Face it, both tests are standardized, and both are computer adaptive. They are both annoying and require more studying than you want. Most, but not all schools are perfectly happy to take either. For example, this line is from Michigan Ross's application instructions:
ROSS:Your performance on either exam will be used as part of our assessment of your academic ability, and you are at no advantage or disadvantage by taking one exam instead of the other.
. But other schools, such as UCLA Anderson, strongly prefer the GMAT
ANDERSON: We strongly prefer the GMAT as a standard by which to evaluate all applicants, but we will accept GRE scores instead.
That means you have to check carefully and rely on what you read and hear from admissions officers, beyond what is on chat boards, and even blogs like mine. Caution, the next few lines are entirely hearsay! This could have been a quirk, a miscommunication, or a policy that has changed. For example, I had a student who took the GRE for Columbia, did well, but felt he wanted to take the GMAT to prove his quant mettle. He didn't do well because he had an off day, but because he HAD taken the test, Columbia took his GMAT instead of the GRE. What would have happened if he didn't report the GMAT? Who ever knows. (He is going to Yale SOM anyway, his first choice).
Your Quant Score
Most admissions officers admit that they want to see a balanced score on both verbal and quant. The general buzz is that around 80% on both is about right, but there's definitely some give on both sides. So don't fear if you get a 47 on the quant, which is turning out to be a 78% these days. As for the GRE, the population on the quant side is a bit less numbers oriented, so if you get an 80% in that pool, it's pretty well known that you are being measured against a different population, usually not as quant-oriented as GMAT test takers. So shoot for a higher percentage, say about 85% on quant.
If you are worried about how you look by taking one test vs. another, I say, don't worry unless they really make a point of it (like UCLA). All you need to do is get it over the net, and they pretty much tell you what a normal distribution looks like. Get within one standard deviation of the average, and you are fine.
Having said all that, if test taking is not your forte, you really should take a GRE or GMAT course. You don't know what you don't know about your own study habits. It's worth the investment.
MBA Programs that Take the GRE Too
|Columbia||YES||Columbia Business School|
|HBS||YES||Harvard Business School|
|Mich Ross||YES||University of Michigan Ross|
|MIT Sloan||YES||MIT Sloan|
|NYU Stern||YES||NYU Stern|
|Tepper||YES||Carnegie Mellon Tepper|
|UCLA||YES||UCLA Anderson (GMAT Preferred)|
|Yale||YES||Yale School of Management|
|Haas||NO||UC Berkeley Haas (Part-time YES)|
|LBS||NO||London Business School|
As I write this, it's less than six months to the first round deadlines for business school application. And there's plenty you can do to get organized now. This means mapping out a strategy, juggling all the moving parts, executing, following up, and all while performing your day job.
Those who start early will be able to take the time to do the self-reflection for a successful application to business school. You’ll be able to clarify your purpose and challenge yourself to see if getting an MBA is right for you. You will need to use your powers of persuasion to secure help from friends, family, and potential recommenders.
You will also need to do a bunch of things at the same time, like study for your GMAT or GRE, meet current students and alumni, explore career paths, take extra courses, ask for transcripts, reflect on your own future, oh, and figure out how to pay for the privilege of attending an MBA program.
Visit Schools in the Spring
I’m also a huge fan of visiting schools during the spring term rather than waiting until the autumn. You’ll be more relaxed – and so will the students whom you meet. First years will have already settled in or landed summer jobs. Second years will be all smiles. You’ll be able to let the school and students sell themselves to you so you can differentiate between programs, and figure out the right fit for you. Every school has a different personality, which becomes clear when you set foot in a classroom or participate in a social gathering. Almost every student I’ve talked to wishes they could have researched more programs – a hard task when you are also working, trying to write essays and manage your recommendation process.
What to Do When the Application isn’t Ready
Most schools don’t issue their applications until mid-late summer, and it may feel a bit early to start writing essays. But you can do some introspection that will help you gain clarity for the MBA application process. I suggest students do some writing. You will have to answer a version of this question later, so why not start formulating it now? Here’s the assignment:
Reflect on what earning an MBA would bring to your professional life and do for you personally. Jot down your thoughts envisioning the future.
A little scary? Not as scary as the real essay questions, which range from “What is most important to you and why?” (Stanford GSB) to a cover letter to the director of admissions of MIT Sloan, to Harvard’s now classically simple, “Tell us about something you did well.”
Finally, make sure your GMAT is in order. If you are not happy with your score, (in particular, your quant sub-score, which is the only one that matters), take a course and try again. There is no harm in taking more than once, or even twice. You’ve got enough time to reasonably master the material at this stage, and you’ll be glad to get a solid result out of the way.
Use Your Summer Wisely
If you are in the northern hemisphere, you have all summer to get yourself ready. So use your summer wisely; go to MBA events, meet and great, ask questions, and get yourself ready. It's a lot easier now than when deadlines loom.
Guess what. Six months from now we will be at the beginning of October. Shocking, isn't it, that those of you who are thinking of applying to business school in the first round have only six months to figure it all out. You've got a lot of tactical moves ahead of you, like the GMAT and visiting potential schools while they are still in session (I recommend spring; everyone is happier), and impressing your recommenders with your leadership skills.
How Admissions Officers View Leadership
Your biggest goal in the MBA admissions process is to demonstrate leadership. Business schools may have leadership classes, workshops, or what Stanford calls “Leadership Labs,” but the schools are not working with blank slates. Admissions committees want to see candidates with great leadership potential. This potential can be demonstrated through a record of traditional leadership activities, such as president of your undergraduate student body or manager of your unit at work. Or just a team leader on a visible project. But then there's another kind of leadership, and its a lot more nuanced than just a title on a resume.
“Leadership encompasses much more than managing people,” wrote Rosemaria Martinelli, former director of Admissions at the University Of Chicago Booth School of Business in a blog post. Business schools now equate 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."
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 clothing drive. In a nutshell, leadership is about finding the passion inside you and acting on it.
The Essence of Leadership
Business schools are actively searching for students with high emotional intelligence. In a seminal 1998 Harvard Business Review article, “What Makes a Leader,” Daniel Goleman attempted to answer the question with specific attributes of effective leaders. Goleman, who popularized the concept of emotional intelligence with his book of the same name, wrote in the HBR article, “It’s not that IQ and technical skills are irrelevant....They do matter, but mainly as ‘threshold capabilities.’ But…emotional intelligence is the sine qua non of leadership.”
Goleman’s model of emotional intelligence has dramatically improved the global discussion of leadership. In his research of nearly 200 large, global companies, Goleman found that
while the qualities traditionally associated with leadership – such as intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision – are required for success, they are insufficient. Truly effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.
I'll be writing more about these five components in the coming weeks. Indeed, these traits are a little touchy-feely. But then, so is business school admissions.
The always insightful Forte Foundation just posted an article on their blog by Tricia Felice, Chicago Booth '14 about making your exit. She reminds us all that many applicants are receiving good news about their applications and will be going on to the next chapter. Indeed, many of you also asked for manager for a recommendation (and it worked!), so after thanking them for their support, “keep them in the loop about your final decision and timeframes.”
That’s a given. Your boss and your teammates will have to readjust to your absence, and presumably you are going to take some time to play or even get an internship in a new industry to increase your network and experience before going off to business school.
I wholeheartedly agree with Ms. Felice when she says, “I personally don’t think the the standard two weeks is enough. The earlier the better.” Yes, even if it means some people might consider you a lame duck. It's a risk work taking. The author also gives you some tips for planning your handoff and keeping it professional:
“Leave the company happy with you and your work. Present your plans to your boss when you discuss your departure. … Also consider how you pass off clients to your successor or co-workers. Keep it professsional. Craft a professional letter of resignation to make your end date official. …This letter is also a wonderful time to recap your appreciation for the company and leave the door open for a future relationship with the company."
The author also brings up the idea that you might continue to work for your company while you are in business school. Call me opinionated, but I think that’s a choice of last resort if you are going full-time. Business school – your whole experience, including your classmates and friends, is a selfish mistress. And the more you put in, the more you get out. Also, if you can afford to spend two years away, make the internal break so you can open yourself up to new experiences – experiences you didn’t even know you were lacking.
So hat tip to Tricia Felice, the Chicago Booth program and the Forte Foundation, for helping students world over leave their jobs with professional elegance. Onward!
Every year I get the same question: is it worth applying in Round 3?. And every year I see students get in and happily matriculate, so … why not?
Fewer Spaces, Tired Application Readers
Well, it is more competitive, as admissions committee members from Tuck recently posted on their blog. But not impossible, as they say. A work change could be a perfectly fine reason to make the third round plunge: Tuck bloggers tell the story of one student who "wasn’t completely satisfied with her professional life. So although an MBA was something she had been considering, when her company began undergoing some changes, she decided she was ready for a change as well. Because she wanted to ensure that she presented the best possible application, she opted to let a few rounds pass. Additionally, providing a little explanation in your application as to why you’ve chosen to apply at this particular time helps the committee understand your motivations better."
Kurt Ahlm, admissions director for Chicago Booth, also gave this advice in a March 7, Booth Insider blog post
Make it your best effort, not a last-ditch effort to get accepted. Treat this round with the same drive you would for any round, for any of your target schools. We know when an application has been rushed, so make sure you’re putting together a product that you can be proud of and is an accurate representation of what you can do. Don’t use the opportunity to reapply a few months later as a back-up plan.
Do’s and Don’ts
Indeed, don’t take the process cavalierly, or you will be wasting your time and the political capital you had to spend to get people to write those nice recommendations. Last year I wrote up a list of Round 3 tips that still hold true
Do apply third round if
You should NOT apply third round if
And of course, Dee Leopold of Harvard Business School said this in her blog a few years back:
Round Three - Should You or Shouldn't You?
…You may be asking yourself whether it's worth your time and money to submit an application. Is it too much of a long shot?
…we always conclude that we like Round 3 enough to keep it as an option. Although we have admitted about 90% of the class by this time, we always - ALWAYS - see enough interesting Round 3 applicants to want to do it again. I know you wish I could define "interesting" with pinpoint accuracy but I can't. Sometimes it's work experience, sometimes it's an undergraduate school we wish we had more students from, sometimes it's a compelling recommendation …
Yes, it is a little on the late side, and if you are just starting to think about it, you probably should delay until next year. But! If you are already in the process, and ready to go, take heart. You are not as crazy as you think.