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What is up my friends. Nice that the forums lately have been particularly respectful, eh? Seems like most nasty folks have moved on to greener pastures. Nice change of pace.
Today, we are going to talk briefly about DEFERRALS. I was just contacted by an old client whom we worked with to get into a few of the top programs in Asia--and he deferred successfully his acceptance.
It IS possible to do this, and I wanted to talk about how to do so. First of all, you should start by seeing what the school's perspective is on the process. They may lay out a very clear process to defer your admission.
Typically, you will need to write a letter, laying out your argument. And you will need a TIGHT line of reasoning. We have had some clients have their deferral request accepted, and some turned down. The key is to argue that you will be a much more valuable member at the community, after this waiting period. So what are great reasons to ask for a deferral?
1) To pursue a project at work 2) To pursue an amazing opportunity outside work 3) A personal matter (death in the family, etc.)
With a strong argument, you will make it happen. The key is, as always, to write a compelling reason as to why you need the deferral, and why you will be BETTER suited for the program, one year from now.
Love it guys, thanks for the kind words. Plenty more great posts where those came from. : )
Now, today we're gonna talk about Round 3 (this year) versus Round 1 (next year). That is, TIMING.
A few clients of ours are currently considering Round 3. "And if I dont get in, I will just reapply during Round 1, right?"
WRONG! Let me explain--Round 3 deadlines are April, and Round 1 deadlines are October. Earlier, depending on ED options, European schools, etc. So...how much do you REALISTICALLY think you can improve your app by in those short five months?
: ) You get the idea--the key to a reapplication is to show true improvement. If you are applying Round 3, and say you get waitlisted, and dont hear back from the school until June, that leaves even less time to improve. Almost...no time to improve.
Round 3 is TOUGH guys, possible but tough. If you wanna go for it, do it. But realistically, its gonna be hard to reapply during the following Round 1.
What is up friends. Jon Frank, back atcha after a relaxing vacation down in the Dominican Republic.
Lets talk about vacation folks. Taking breaks is CRITICAL gang--especially at this stage of the game. Lots of folks didnt get in (in fact statistically, most didnt get in). So the knee jerk reaction of course is to...START WRITING A NEW APP. Digging back in. Right? After all, theres no time to waste. Right?
Wrong, folks. Couldnt be more wrong. Relax. Take a break. Read a book, and put your apps AWAY guys! If you need a book recommendation, ask me for one. It is time to clear your head. Everything will look different, and feel different once youve cleared your heads. It is critical to approach things DIFFERENTLY your second (or third?) time around.
Take a break. Step back. Reevaluate. The same mindset didnt work the first time--so it wont work the second.
See you guys in the DR? : ) AND GOOD LUCK! _________________
Okay gang, phew. Round 3 is about...half-way done. Today I wanna make a shameless, shameless plug. It isnt for my business, however. It is for a BOOK. A rare book recommendation.
Now I wanna get one thing straight, I HATE business books. Good to Great, Execution, anything by Jack Welch...hate it all. Business books are boring, and (like much of what you will be exposed to at bschool) impossible to implement. But there is, in my humble opinion, one exception.
The book is called Built to Last. It isnt a "how-to" manual, and it isnt written by a former retired GE Chairman. But what it is, is a fresh perspective on what separates mediocre companies from GREAT ones. I dont make book recommendations lightly, and I NEVER make business book recommendations.
But the thesis of this one, if I had to drill it down to one (pathetic) sentence, is that business is all about PEOPLE. That is what makes companies succeed--it isnt about the business idea, it is about being surrounded by smart, interesting, creative people. THAT is what all these companies have in common. And it is this thesis that we take into ALL we do at Precision Essay--it feeds directly into our "go to the best school you can get into" thesis, and the "dont get a masters in real estate or any one specific discipline, get an MBA" thesis as well. It's all about the PEOPLE folks. Read the book. It will change the way you see business, guaranteed.
And with that my friends, back to Booth Round 3 apps. Good luck of course to all.
Friends, today we will talk about the FAMILY BUSINESS.
Maybe applicants dont realize this--and frankly, I didnt realize it until I got to HBS as a student in 2003. But having a family business is a VERY good thing for MBA applications. If you do have a family business, and if it is impressive enough (figure $1 million in sales minimum), you will become very appealing to the adcom. Why? Three main reasons:
1) Easy to get a job. Thats right--as weve said countless times before, schools want applicants who will be EMPLOYED upon graduation. And if you are gonna go back and work for the biz, you will have a job for sure. You wont hurt the school's employment statistics at all. Nicely done (you lucky sonofagun...)
2) Clear career arc. So many applications fail because the client isnt clear about what he wants to do. If you have a family business, your career arc is niiiice and clear. No need to argue "consulting really IS a logical way to get into PE" etc. Any work experience is valuable, if you know for sure that youre gonna end up running the family biz some day.
3) Good chance youre gonna be CEO. And in the wise, wise words of Louis Anderson in Coming to America, "That's where the big bucks start rolling in." Every school wants grads who will make lots of money, and then, well, give it back to the school. Money is power folks.
Anyway, just some food for thought. If you have a family business, play it UP. There is no shame in going back to the biz--in fact, it will work very well for you indeed...
Good luck to everyone as always. _________________
Okay gang, it is April. And you know what that means. Tax season. Why is this relevant? Here's a (boring) topic that hasnt been discussed much if at all yet. Deducting the cost of your MBA. Yep, you can do it.
Its a bit aggressive, but it CAN be done. And thats BIG money. Im no accountant (as my grades in accounting at HBS will attest to, yea non grade disclosure). But as I DID write off my MBA. And it was 100% legal. Here's how it works, per a recent article in the NYT:
Okay gang, enough about taxes eh? Lets talk about getting into school.
I was reading a very interesting article today--it is based on undergraduate admissions (not MBA), but the topic is VERY relevant. It's essentially a behind the scenes glimpse into the Amherst undergraduate admissions office. How they actually, physically make decisions.
Dean PARKER: Yes, indeed. There are years that it's great to be a runner and there are years that it's great to be a lacrosse player, and there are years that it's great to play the piccolo and there are years that it's great to play the piano. But the candidate doesn't know that...
Happy reading, and good luck to everyone as always.
Okay folks, lots of interviews still goin on. Lets talk about em, shall we?
There is one aspect to interviewing that people seem to forget. That is "the art of puffery." Puffery is LEGAL, and purely fair game.
Look at it this way: when you're doing a deal with someone in person, you may talk a good game. "We love this deal, we're gonna do it for sure." Even, "Our company has the best track record of any out there," etc. While you're talking, in person, the standard for "truth" is a bit more relaxed. When they send you the fine print, and it's time to sign something and write checks, it's a different (more careful) game altogether.
The same is true in an MBA interview. When you are talking, you can take some additional liberties. In your written application, of course there is LESS room for such liberties. Everything that you write will be fact checked, double checked, background checked, etc. But just as it would be in real life, in your interview, out loud and in person, you have a bit of extra leeway. The adcom EXPECTS you to take advantage of this leeway; the standard for truth while chatting in person, is just a bit more relaxed than it is in writing.
So NAIL your interviews gang. Strrrreeeetch your stories a bit if you need to; it is more than fair game to do so.
Okay folks, today I will speak from personal experience about STUDENT LOANS. Lots of applicants have this vague sense for what it means to take out a ton of money, but no real sense for "what the payments will be." Well, I graduated from HBS in 2005. This is my story. [Dun dun DUN...]
When I applied to bschool, I was preeeetty poor. Didnt have much by way of "cash" per se, so I maxed out the student loans. Back in the day, that means...upwards of $100K. Literally, I kept going back to the student loans people until they told me that I couldnt have any more money. I dont know anyone who was told this. The year was 2003-2005. The way that $100K broke down was roughly 50-50; 50% subsidized, and 50% private.
THE SUBSIDIZED PIECE. This is great money--between the stafford, and the perkins (honestly i never understood the whole thing) i ultimately managed to lock my loans in at roughly 2%. This amounts to a payment on my $50K debt of $125 or so per month, until I'm like...50 years old. And at my interest rate, thats just fiiine by me.
THE UNSUBSIDIZED (nasty) PIECE. This is at a floating rate, and happily this year I finally managed to pay it off. But back in the day, given the floating rate that I was in at (and at my $50K) my payment was roughly $550. So all in, net net net, a payment each month of $625.
This, of course, is one of the reasons why "entrepreneurship" is such a bad idea for a short-term goal. Youre gonna have debt, people. And an extra $600 or $700 per month is no joke. Take it from me. And obviously, you can do the quick mental math to grow the loans by inflation or given todays tuition increases etc...
Hope this helps gang, and good luck. _________________
Whats up guys. Today I wanna share a story that I heard from a friend of mine who is a Dean at a top-30 liberal arts college.
She was telling me about the preponderance of applicants from one particular country, who literally submit the same essay EVERY year. So picture it gang, there is (presumably) some company out there, or some essay that gets passed along every year...and the kids submit an essay that is 80-90% the same every time. She says to me, "And every year it is so funny, most of the kids from *COUNTRY* all submit an essay about Rosa Parks. So I know that it's either that theyre passing the essays around to one another, or that they all hire the same company to do all their work. None of them get in of course..."
Oh no! It was like redemption to read this comment, since at Precision Essay we dont do the writing for our clients. But a word to the wise folks, dont pass your work along to a company to do it for ya. Dont use old essays "that have worked in the past." It is too obvious, and adcoms are getting smarter every year...
At 1:05 AM on Mar 15th, I gave in…to the pressure that had been building up over last two years of my MBA application journey.
I had tears in my eyes. And the feelings of…relief…joy…excitement… all flashed on my face. Luckily, I had my wife just by my side to celebrate the good news the email brought - I had just got admitted to a Top-20 MBA program…
And before I could settle down, in just 12 more hours, I got another such email, from another top B-school…Admitted - it too said!
Now, I had applied last year too. And had failed miserably, with NO interview call, let alone an admit.
And this year??? Five interview calls, with two admits and two waitlists, all at top places. (Oh, and did I say, both the admits have scholarships too!)
I credit Jon Frank and Raj Patil – heavily – for this drastic shift in my performance.
I found their contribution priceless, in two broad ways that made this shift possible.
First: In the profile evaluation stage itself, Jon revealed to me, that my choice of schools was well…not right. With his suggestions, I realigned my school portfolio, and focused my energies on the ones where I had the best chance. This definitely helped in getting my two admits.
Second: Essay edits – this is truly Jon’s and Raj’s forte. I mean, these guys are AMAZING in editing essays…trust me! For example, my Goals Essay this year was so sharp, I almost feel embarrassed when I read my last year’s essay. And this was a result of Jon’s inputs.
He would question every key thought in an essay and challenge me to refine it further. And even though I had signed up for two rounds of edits, he would not stop giving the essays just one more read, each time, before they became…perfect.
I also loved their promptness! They would turn around the essays in no time, especially if I was hard-pressed for a deadline – and without sacrificing the work-quality. And since they have gone through the drill themselves, their inputs on Leadership and other ‘story’ essays are just so…sensible!
Jon and Raj: It was great working with you guys! I’ve told this to you many times, wont hurt if I say once more - Thank you. You guys rock.
To the MBA applicants, I would say, take the help of experts. It’s worth it. In my own case, I would have saved one year, had I taken help last year itself!
And guys, if you are considering working with Jon and Raj…go for it! They are good!
Hey guys, I was just asked a great question about how to work with your recommenders for their letters. So lets talk a bit about Letters or Recommendation (LORs).
Here is the way to make the LORs sing (whether or not you use us, or any consultant). The LOR has TWO main roles--first of all, it must corroborate the stories that you have told. This is 70% of the LOR's role. If you claim to have "saved $50 million in options savings," then your recommender should cite this, and prove that it is in fact true.
But there is more to it than just that--he should also bring an additional 30% of NEW information to the LOR. Thats why it is so important that people dont write their own recs. The recommender will and SHOULD say something about you that you dont expect. Something that you likely wont even KNOW. He should bring 30% of a fresh perspective.
Not just the same one that youve provided in your app.
So thats the basic breakdown--70% corroborating your stories, and 30% of their own FRESH perspective. Your consultant can of course walk you through all this stuff--and perhaps even work with them directly to make the recs SING.
One thing I love to do guys, is to DISPEL myths. So...lets have at it.
Today I wanna talk about RESUMES. Three myths to talk about:
1) Schools want to see the resume in THEIR specific format.
Nothing could be further from the truth. We at Precision Essay have tons of formats--the one from HBS (that they gave to me when I was a student there in 2003-2005), the Wharton resume, the CBS one. And ALL are just fine. You dont need to send Wharton a "Wharton resume," or HBS an "HBS resume" etc. Pick the format that suits you--any of these professional templates will be juuuust fine. But yes, it WILL have to be professional No need though to worry about "which school wants to see which template..."
2) Two pages is as good as one.
Some schools will allow you to submit TWO pages for a resume. But honestly...one is better. Why? Well, the bar shoots higher if you include two pages. Dont make the adcom member look at your long-winded resume, and say "Gosh lots of words here. But if this OTHER applicant has achieved more, and HE was able to do a one page resume, why did THIS applicant need two?" Unless you have TRULY accomplished a great deal in your career, one page should be juuust fine. And much STRONGER than a two pager, since you can pick your greatest hits...
3) Jargon makes you look knowledgeable.
Now to be sure, SOME jargon is unavoidable in resumes. And there is a place for it--more so than in the essays, for example. But...too much jargon will not fly. Make sure that a 16 year old could understand 90% of what you write in the essay. It is great if you work in a technical area, and schools will of course expect you to have some specific, technical expertise. But ANYONE needs to be able to understand the thing. The most heartbreaking resumes are the ones where youve read a full page (or even two), and you still are left wondering, "Erm, but what does this guy actually DO for a living..."
Hope this helps guys. Feel free to reach out for me and I can send some great templates out. And good luck!
Hey gang. Quiet time, eh? Thank god we dont have to worry about apps for a few months, right? Not much to do, huh.
Let's talk about things that you can and SHOULD do to boost your app for next year. And these are all things that you can do...immediately.
1. Extra-currics. Of course it will be hard to make it seem as though youve been doing extra-curricular work over the past year, if you havent. Starting something up fresh now, in May, would be more than a little transparent. But here's an idea folks: what about a charity or organization that you USED to work with? In years past? Reach out to them again, and RESPARK your relationship with them. Now, you can argue that youve been "volunteering with them on and off for the past five years." Catch my drift? Be smart about this guys, and get some more extra-currics under your belt.
2. Test prep (including TOEFL.) Dont forget the TOEFL guys--since so much of our client base is from China, we know the ins and outs of the TOEFL extremely well. You NEED to break the score of 100. And if you wanna be up in the Magic 7 (though I hate that term) your score will need to be in at around 110 or better. You have TIME to prep for this test. Depending on where you live, scheduling the exam may be tricky--so use this time to PREPARE guys. We would be happy to refer anyone interested to some great firms, whom you may not know about.
3. Target Early Decision schools. It is SUCH a shame that so many applicants dont know about Early Decision. We have clients every year who will get into HBS and Stanford...but be rejected by Columbia, simply because they submitted their apps too late. Dont make this mistake folks. Look into which schools offer ED applications; if you are interested in em, APPLY EARLY. And those first deadlines will hit in late August, or early September. AKA right around the corner.
Hey gang. Just got off the phone with a client and I thought it'd be a great chance to share some of the details (anonymously of course) of our chat.
Let's talk about what happens to folks who are juuust a bit older than the schools' median age. Or rather, "what can I do if I am in my thirties, and applying to bschool?"
The answer...is lots of stuff. But let's talk about just three ideas shall we?
1. Make it clear that you're willing to roll up your sleeves. One of the things that adcoms fear is that the older guys out there are "beyond" rolling up their sleeves and doing the hard work. You're used to the younger guys doing all the dirty work. The number crunching. The nitty gritty. So PROVE through your essays that you are UP for doing that work. You arent "above" anything--you're eager to dig...and to dig DEEP.
2. Make it clear that you are not at a dead end job. Another adcom fear is that you 're applying late because...your career didnt take off the way you had hoped. And now, you are throwing a "hail mary," if you will. You have no choice but to apply to an MBA, even though it is late in the game. Make it clear that this isnt the case! Explain that your career is going VERY well, and you are VERY pleased. But you still need this extra kick. It's like you're trying to get the girl to like you--flex your muscle. Your...plumage, if you will. Be confident, not pathetic.
3. Apply to appropriate schools. Some schools--especially many great programs in Europe--specialize in older applicants. Some schools even in the US prefer applicants with a couple extra years--Cornell for example, has sent countless emails to young applicants that they reapply after they have been "seasoned" juuuust a bit. Tuck, Cornell, IMD, IESE...do the research gang. Apply to schools that are open to folks who are a couple years older than average.
Hope this helps my friends. And good luck! _________________
Okay gang, here are two more entries from the article we just wrote for a magazine in China. Ten tips on how to get into HBS. Easy, right? : )
3. Leadership, leadership, leadership. Every school likes different types of people. CBS likes future Wall Street titans. Haas like the creative types. And at Yale, everyone wants to change the world. But eeeeveryone loves a leader.
This is even more true at HBS. HBS is all about leadership—just look at their Mission Statement. “We educate leaders who make a difference in the world.” HBS is all about leadership. If you don’t have an app that reflects this…you will need to write it again. Leadership is critical for an HBS application; prove to us that you have this background already, and at HBS they will see the opportunity to develop a leader who will, well, “make a difference in the world.”
4. HBS accepts people, not profiles. If all you have written about in your application is your work experience, you are in trouble! Schools don’t accept profiles; profiles are boring. Profiles don’t inspire people. People inspire people, or at least they can. For every three stories about your work, there should be one about some kind of personal accomplishment. Show who you really are. Especially for Chinese clients, it is so easy for American adcoms to write Chinese candidates off as “very technical.” Or “well he doesn’t have the soft skills.” So beat them to the punch! PROVE to admissions committees that you are more than just a perfect quant section on the GMAT. Get personal. One thing we tell all our clients, is that if you can show all your applications to your friends without being embarrassed, your writing isn’t personal enough.
There ya have it. One more entry from this article gang, then we're back to answering questions from the peanut gallery. Stay tuned... _________________
What is up my friends. Today I want to change gears juuust a bit.
Today I got an email from a former sectionmate at HBS. He says, "Hey Jon, I am looking to buy some multifamily properties in Minnesota just as you have done in Chicago. Would you be interested in helping out, or perhaps investing?"
After you graduate from bschool gang, no matter where you go, you will get emails like this. So why is this worth relaying?
Because of how I responded. And because of how YOU will respond.
"Yeah man, I would LOVE to invest in the deal. Id also love to fly out there (a quick flight) to help you find the right deals." It is truly a PLEASURE to help people.
The point of going to great schools isnt so you can "network," and work with others "to get ahead." It is to HELP people. Beyond Precision Essay, I have bought a number of multifamily deals here in Chicago--and whether or not I choose to invest in my classmates' deals, I would LOVE to help the guy get his feet wet in the business. It will be my absolute pleasure to help him.
That is the REAL reason we go to bschool guys--to help people. Not to get ahead, not to make money--all these things will click into place naturally, if you go to bschool, meet some good folks, and do all you can to help them succeed.
Spring is in the air gang. How do I know this? Well, I live in Chicago and we are being FLOODED WITH RAIN. But Im not complaining--I am a fan of the Windy City, even on nights like tonight (flooded, and still healing from a nasty Chicago Bulls loss.)
Why are we talking about rain and puddles? Because of REFLECTION gang. (Bear with me). Successful applications are all about the process of reflection.
You have two choices in your apps.
1) Tell the adcoms what they wanna hear. This can work--especially if you're working with someone who has done thousands of apps. We need to connect our past experiences to our future goals, SHOW me dont tell me, blabla. You know the drill--a smart consultant can guide you to tell the adcoms precisely what they wanna hear.
But here's a novel idea:
2) Tell the truth. Wait for it to frickin POUR rain, look into a puddle and see your own reflection. What do you see? Schools want to know the REAL you. They accept PEOPLE, not profiles. They want to see that you are mature enough to admit your faults, smart enough to admit you dont have all the answers, and flawed enough to have made mistakes--and to learn from them.
Tell the truth, gang. If you speak from the heart, and if you tell a compelling, logical story, you wont need a consultant. Your honesty will win the day.
Hope this helps--and good luck to everyone. _________________