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As we are approaching ~ 1 month to go in many of the R1 applications, please post any questions you have to this blog. I am a Wharton MBA Alum and MIT Sloan BS alum, and I provide comprehensive MBA application coaching, including initial strategy discussions, school selection, essay editing, recommendation help and interview prep.
Thank you for the detailed post. While it is nice that you have been taking steps to improve your profile, your academic performance will hurt you when going for a top 10 school. You mentioned that you received the F's early on in your studies, did your GPA have a significant and consistent improvement over the years? This will make a difference, especially if the poor grades can be explained away due to health reasons.
As a quick evaluation, the top 10 US and top 5 UK would be stretches for you and in order to be competitive you would certainly want a GMAT in the mid 700s or low 700s as a worst case. Given your academic performance, delayed start of schooling and poor grades in the initial years, you need to score above the average for schools you are applying to. When I mention average, I am also considering the average for an Indian Male, which is higher than the school's average. This higher score will mitigate some of the academic performance on record.
In addition, you want to continue to find leadership opportunities at work and ensure you are receiving promotions and raises ideally faster and larger than your peers. How many years of work experience do you have? It will be important to explain your story clearly given the different choices you have made along the way.
Let me know more details about your work experience (including titles), the academic question I posed above, in addition to when you are thinking of applying. I can then discuss specific schools that I would recommend you applying to.
Advice & Tips: How late is too late? ---- I am getting lots of questions now from people asking if it is too late to apply round 1, with the first set of deadlines just a few weeks away. When thinking about how late is too late, there are a few things to consider:
1. How many schools are you applying to? If you are trying to knock out a couple schools, it obviously makes the process simpler. 2. Do you have a really good idea of your essay topics? If you are just starting to think about this, a few weeks may not be enough time for you. If you have a good idea already, then turning it into a polished essay could be done in a few weeks. 3. Have you asked your recommenders already? One of the toughest things about applying with a few weeks left is that you really should give your recommenders enough time. Do they know that you are applying? Did they already fill out their form or did you ask them at least? 4. Are you a re applicant? If you got dinged last year, you are better off applying in round 1, because you know you will be applying again so there is less of an excuse to wait for round 2, and you should have done enough at work already (a promotion, new job etc)
There are other things to consider, but those are a few. I have worked with clients with as little as 2 weeks, and they got into top MBA programs, but it requires A LOT of work if you will cram it in. I like to recommend a couple months per application if possible. Keep in mind you are always better off waiting for round 2 if your application will be that much better. Don't rush it if you sacrifice quality.
Columbia GSB personal question: How many things should you talk about in your personal essay?
Here you have an interesting option, do you talk about one passion you have and develop a great story about it, or do you talk about a few things that you like to do? First of all, talk about whatever you have shown the most leadership in over the years. If you love Skiing and have gone skiing a couple weeks a year for the last 10 years, but besides recreational skiing on vacation you haven't done much else, I would not talk about it at all. The key here is to be impressive, and to show dedication and commitment to something. How will what you say make you stand apart from the group of applicants fighting for your spot?
It is fine to talk about multiple things, but only if they go well together. Try to avoid listing a few things with short descriptions....the key here again is to create a comprehensive essay. if you like cooking, eating, travel and have led a homeless shelter's nutrition program, that makes sense to talk about them all. You travel and you eat while visiting new countries, trying new meals and then you share your learning with the homeless shelter as you help them have enough nutrients to live a healthy life. However if you volunteer at a camp, enjoy hiking, and have run your own newsletter on technology, pick one to talk about since these do not really go together at all.
Update on Wharton interview preparation: For those of you preparing for your Wharton interviews (and for those applying in R2, read this and keep it in mind) you have heard by now about the new questions and some recommendations to attack them. While many people have been getting worried about this, I actually feel it makes the interview process easier. As long as you have the best stories ready to answer these questions, you will be able to ace the interview. These are the questions I have been giving clients in mock interviews even more Wharton changed its focus, because they are the questions that people need the most help with.
If you want to know exactly what to say in these interviews and which of your stories are good to use, contact me for a mock interview package.
I also provide interview prep for all other schools, so when you get the interviews this round or next for HBS, Columbia, Sloan, Stanford, Chicago, Kellogg, NYU keep me in mind. Good luck everyone!
I hope everyone is having a nice Thanksgiving weekend. Here is a tip for those of you preparing for interviews. When you are telling your stories (tell me a time when you led a team, a time where there was conflict, etc etc) you don't have to tell as many details as you may think. Now, don't stop reading just yet because these stories need to be VERY detailed, but only in a specific way. During my mock interviews, many of my clients come in with very detailed stories, but the problem is they are detailed about the work specific task more than what they actually did and why that was important. When you are thinking through your stories, only tell the interviewer as much about the specific details of the project/task/activity as they need to know to understand how impressive your role was. Too much and you will find yourself explaining your latest project and you will probably not get as strong of a point across.
Good luck in the interviews everyone, and contact me for interview preparation sessions. I work throughout the holidays!
MIT Sloan started to send out interview invites today, but if you did not get one yet don't worry. They have not sent out very many and they will trickle out over the next few weeks.
If you were lucky enough to receive an invite and want some interview prep, contact me. As a Sloan alum (undergrad) I know a lot about the interviews and they are quite different from Wharton and HBS among others.
Good luck everyone applying to schools and prepping for interviews.
Want to apply in Round 2? Unsure if there is enough time?
Think about a few things. How far along are you in the process? Do you have essay concepts, drafts, etc? Who else have you shown your essays and what type of feedback did they give you? If you have not started yet, do you know your stories, do you know your overall strategy?
While I recommend my clients to take 4 weeks per school, I have done it in as little as 2-3 weeks, so there is still time if you want to put an application together. (But this does not hold true for everyone, often I recommend people not to apply given time constraints, so it really depends on how strong you are overall)
If you want to have a quick chat about your timing, let me know. Good luck to everyone and once you are done with applications, take a week break and then start prepping for the interviews. Don't ignore the interviews, there is a lot you can do to prepare
Need last minute sanity checks but need fast turnaround? - I work throughout the holidays, every day and can provide hourly service for last minute checks or whatever you need. I hope all your applications are turning out well, good luck everyone!
Visit my website for details about interview prep as well, and shoot me quick emails with any questions that you may have. Happy holidays!
I thought I would start a discussion about the schools deciding to require applicants to make decisions by February and give a $2,000 deposit. How does everyone feel about that? I understand it helps the yield and gives them some extra cash when people defect but I wish they stuck to the May decision deadline they used to have. If you got into your #2, 3 school but waitlisted at #1, it puts you in a bad position. Nobody likes to lie to a school - but what are your options? Of course you will accept in case you don't get into your #1.
I hope those of you reading have this problem (which means you have multiple acceptances) Have a great weekend everyone and keep me in mind for interview preparation as the invites come out. I have a comprehensive interview prep package that will prepare you for any school you are interviewing for, and my mock interviews are very customized to each individual school.
Could you please evaluate my profile based on the following information:
Bachelor of Engineering - Mechanical Engineering - 71% Aggregate - India PG Diploma - Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Systems Management - Pass - University of Manchester - UK
2.) Work Experience
2.5 years by now - 4/5 years at the time of matriculation. Family Business - Working as General Manager - started my stint in inventory management - took some good effective initiatives - implemented Inventory Management Techniques such as ABC Analysis, Economic Order Quantity estimation for about 5000 parts in the inventory - estimated the operation cost of the warehouse with these techniques - marginally reduced the operative costs to about 60% of before. took charge as a plant manager to set up a building material (aggregate) manufacturing plant in a village with my team of 20 people and further hired contractors and labor on my own - successfully set up the plant which is now in a running condition already - formed a joint venture with a company from Malaysia to supply them the material on a consistent basis - liaison with the project manager of that company on a daily basis to resolve day to day issues (transportation, financial etc) - reported directly to the Chairman of my company.
Now, I am promoted as a General Manager of the company and into setting up of a sponge iron plant of 200 Tonnes per day capacity - the company has also proposed a 10 MW power plant in the future for which I will be the incharge again - I am right now looking after its civil construction and assisting the labor and the contractors hired by me few months ago - trying to handle the project professionally with the help of tools like Microsoft Project, ERP, Excel Spreadsheets.
Company's employee strength -- 400
Have formed a charity organization which funds the education of our employees' children - motivate them to perform good in their academics in order to avail these benefits - have provided 3 lacs INR till now - this helps our employees too - they feel quite secured and consequently they get motivated to work hard.
Can write good essays demonstrating my leadership and management potential.
GMAT - yet to take! will target 720+ !
Please evaluate my profile based on the information given above.
Your experience with your family business had a lot of leadership I am sure, and management training. That is a strength of your application. However, family businesses are tough, unless they are big and successful $$$ and B schools see you have money, it is a little harder to prove yourself since they have a harder time comparing how good your work really was.
Undergraduate: What school did you go to?
Post MBA: What are you looking to do Post MBA?
Target schools: Have you thought about target schools yet or are you in the beginning stages of your thought process. Based on your undergraduate and what you want to do post MBA, I can help you with this decision.
Your profile is good and some impressive things, but I have not seen the big "wow" that will separate you from the rest of the applicants just yet.
Feel free to contact me offline as well if you want, it is the right approach to start thinking about the process now. Many clients start early with me, you can never start too early so study hard for the GMAT.
I did my undergraduation from Rajiv Gandhi Technical University ( State University of Technology) and with 71 % (around 3.5 GPA) in Bachelors of Engineering (Mechanical Engineering), I was ranked 5th in my department (highest being 76%). But I don't have any proof of the same.
I have not decided on my target bschools yet. That, I guess, depends upon my mock GMAT scores (after thorough preparation) and overall application. Considering that I score above 720 in my actual GMAT and having 4/5 years of work-ex in my family business (turnover = 50 crores INR approx), which schools do YOU think will be in my reach (pratical/stretch/ambitious)?
@ Scott: Post-MBA, I intend to work for a big strategy consulting firm (place -no bar) for 2-3 years before returning to my family business and expand it globally with the skills gained in business school.
I was interested in purchasing one of your multi-school packages, as I am planning on applying to several U.S. business schools for admission in the autumn of 2012. Vital info is as follows:
Nationality: British (born in Libya, raised in England)
Age: 24 (Will be 25 by matriculation in 2012)
Undergraduate Education: University of Leeds (One year exchange at University of Lund, Sweden)
Degree and Result: BSc (hons) Economics (international), Second Upper Class (2.1)
Work experience: Will have 2 years of experience by matriculation at Standard Chartered Bank (Dubai office), in the Wholesale Banking Graduate Rotation Program, where I have completed rotations in Financial Markets, Investment Banking, and Private Equity. Entrepreneurial Experience: While at University co-established, opened a small Italian restaurant, Pizza Milano. Went on to open one more, and have subsequently sold both on.
Extracurricular Activities: Co-founded the International Literacy Foundation in 2010, an international not-for-profit organization focused on literacy promotion. Have completed projects in Canada, Pakistan, and Kenya (with a view to a few more in China, Nigeria and Lebanon) thus far which have revolved around refurbishing, renovating, and expanding libraries at orphanages and insufficiently funded schools. Additional extracurricular activities include volunteering for various causes, such as women’s foundations and the Dubai marathon.
An avid sportsman, I have also represented Liverpool and NW England at field hockey as well as representing my university and Leeds University Business school in addition to being active as an undergrad in the finance and business clubs.
Post-MBA Career Goals:
(Short-term): Private Equity
(Long-term): working for a medium sized to large NGO in Europe.
Essentially, I was wondering what my chances were of admission to Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, and Columbia are?
Thank you for the follow up information. The revenues of your family business is helpful as that will be impressive (albeit depending on what types of leadership roles you had, etc)
Your undergrad won't help you much given its relative ranking to IIT. GPA is pretty good though from there. I would say you really need to do well on the GMAT, aiming for 750 would be a good target. (I can give you some guidance offline in terms of preparation)
In terms of school selection, here are some thoughts which I can expand more on offline with you.
Target - in your range: NYU Stern, Yale SOM, Michigan Reach - quite tough: Duke, Columbia, Kellogg Safety - slightly easier: Carnegie Mellon, UCLA _________________
Thank you for your post. In terms of experience, you are on the younger end, which is not bad, schools are trending younger, but generally younger ones are more consultants, if you come from a bank they tend to have slightly more experience. That said, regarding your undergad where did you rank relative to your classmates, what was your GPA?
Goals: Your short term goal makes sense but I'm not sure I buy into the long term goal, you would need to show them more about your dedication, passion and experience in that space. Great that you started your own nonprofit, I know just how to spin that to the schools and they love it. However from finance to nonprofit full time is still a big jump.
Any way you could improve your GMAT? 700 is good, you crossed the line, but for a young applicant, they like higher GMAT scores with your profile.
In terms of changes, HBS is tough, so depending on your undergrad rank / GPA that will have an impact. I would say its a reach for you with this profile. Wharton would be slightly easier but also a reach.
Stanford will be almost impossible for someone like you to be honest, I wouldn't advise applying with this profile. They like high GMAT, 700 won't help you too much, though what is your verbal/quant breakdown given you are not American? That is important too
Columbia you stand a better shot at, if we spin it the right way. Feel free to contact me offline for more advice and to talk about my services. _________________
Could you please clearly explain the school category here.
According to you:
Target - in your range: NYU Stern, Yale SOM, Michigan Reach - quite tough: Duke, Columbia, Kellogg Safety - slightly easier: Carnegie Mellon, UCLA
I do understand 'Safety' here. I hope it means that if i get a gmat score of 720+ and good essays i can comfortably get in these schools.
But what about 'Reach' and 'Target' schools? What should i do/show in my application essays to make my 'reach' and 'target' school to safety schools. I am really serious about getting in top 10 bschools in the USA, and what about SAID(oxford), london business school, and Indian school of Business(ISB). Do i have any chance there?
Please describe in detail the meaning of Target and Reach schools.
Are schools like Harvard/Wharton/Stanford impossible for me to get into?
You could do ISB and Oxford (though Oxford isn't a top school). LBS will be a challenge but you could apply there too if you have the time.
I generally don't give more detailed help on these forums in terms of what you need to do to your specific application, but I am happy to work with you if you would like, send me an email.
Reach means it is difficult, you have a chance but its a reach, i.e. more likely you will not get in. Target is just what it sounds like, it is in your target range. You have a good chance of getting in, within your range.
H/W/S: Stanford would be almost impossible for you to get into in my opinion, especially with a GMAT in low 700s. Wharton would be a real reach, so you should think about how many schools you will apply to. Harvard is out of your range as I see it now, but this is without knowing everything about you, so potentially you could have a chance. _________________
Round 2 interviews are starting, here a couple thoughts as you wait for the invites...
How much time do you need to prepare for interviews? -
~2 weeks, but this depends on you, but generally the amount of time the school gives you between the invite and the first appointment is enough time, though it can help to make sure you have enough time to prepare as the interview is very short but counts a lot. You can certainly start preparing now even before the invites.Think through your resume, the why MBA, why the specific school, and then other school specific questions
How can you prepare for interviews on your own? -
I provide professional interview advice and mock interview and have a great track record for getting people into schools. That said, if you prefer to do it on your own, here are a few tips:
1. Prepare many behavioral stories for each question that you may have to answer. - You never know how you will get thrown off during the interview and if you only prepare one answer to "Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership," then perhaps you would have already talked about the story you had prepared for that question. By having multiple stories, you are able to solve this.
2. Think about the reasons you made each of your career choices. While this seems clear to you, sometimes interviewers will poke at your resume and wonder why you made each decision and how that leads to an MBA.
3. Be very clear and concise. Like any other interviewer, they are talking to many people each day and often days in a row so you want to ensure you come across very clear and concise. If you send mixed messages, it makes it that much harder for the interviewer to remember: Jennifer came from XYZ, has excelled at ABC, but loves doing 123. You want those clear, impactful messages.
Contact me if you want individual interview preparation, and good luck! _________________