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Today, I want to make a recommendation that is (perhaps) unexpected.
Many clients apply to their most aggressive schools during Round 1. After all, that way you get the "benefit" of a Round 1 application, right? Itll be easier to get in, right? WRONG! : )
Let me explain why gang.
1. Your apps will improve over time. Thats right, your second will be better than your first, your third will be better than your second, etc. This is an ART form guys! And you will find your style, and improve. Dont do your top school first--you wont put your best foot forward.
2. Better to submit a great app during Round 2 than a bad app during Round 1. Sure there is a benefit to R1--but dont RUSH this thing. Relax--Round 2 is juuust fine. I applied and got into Stanford, HBS, Kellogg...all Round 2. Put your best foot forward. THAT is the most important thing. Period.
3. Take advantage of the R1 advantage...by using it on a safety school! It will be THAT much easier to get into a safer program if you can submit early. And how cool would that be--now, you get in, and you have a GREAT program in your back pocket. Sure itd be great if you could get into more...but you dont have to. Now, you only have to apply to GREAT schools in Round 2.
Hope this helps gang. Resist the urge to apply to all your best schools early--and use good judgment instead!
Okay gang, today we are going to talk about the "Admissions Consultant Guarantee." We just got off the phone with a young woman who was literally in tears, having been taken by one of these scams. "But they guaranteed that I'd get in!"
Some shops out there will claim a success rate of 99.5%, and a few even offer a "guarantee" that you will get into school.
These are scams. Lets talk about why these people are dishonest, and simply trying to take your money.
1) First of all, I assure you that no business keeps track of ALL of its former clients after they complete the service. To be able to calculate such a percentage, companies would need to be in touch with 100% of their former clients! And of course, this is impossible. Some folks want to keep in touch, and some folks dont. And of course, that is juuust fine. But it throws any kind of "percentage" off track. Instantly.
2) No company can actually interview for you. No matter how good your application is, YOU will have to interview. And no amount of prep can FORCE you to do a great job in the interview. "Success" requires you to nail the interview...on your own.
3) With a guarantee, the consultant will feel pressure to push you into a LESSER school. Nobody has a GREAT chance at Stanford for example--there is always an element of chance. So if I had to "manage" a "yield" of my clients' acceptance rates, I would NEVER agree to do a Stanford app. I would always push folks to lesser schools. That way, my "yield" goes up. But my clients would suffer.
So whats the moral of the story guys? First of all, do NOT trust anyone who claims a % acceptance rate. They are either lying, or pushing clients to apply to lesser schools. And secondly, reach out to former clients. Reach out to consultants. Do your research--there are good people out there (and not just us, obviously). Find them.
Friends, today is my birthday. And I am saying this for two reasons: first, because if anyone reeeally wants to, they can send a quick "hey man happy birthday." We're suckers for that sort of thing.
But the second (and main) reason is that birthdays make one think. Well they make me think anyway. And for anyone who follows our posts, you know by now that every once in a while, we get a bit...philosophical.
So. Here is the REAL reason to go to business school. And forget what we all write in our apps. But I have finally reached a point in my life where I love what I do. I run this business, I help thousands of clients each year (paying, and free through forums, etc.), I own a few buildings in Chicago, and I am a happy dude. And there is no question that without my MBA, I wouldnt be in this position.
Now. Im no dummy--I realize that for many of you, you have much loftier aspirations. I own a few small properties here--a small fraction of the holdings of a "real" real estate developer, who is building commercial highrises in say, NYC, Dubai, etc. And running my Essay Company is not like running Coke, P&G, etc. I get it. : )
But the point is this. Bschool gave me freedom. It got me the jobs I needed, to save the money I needed, to buy the buildings I own. And I closed on a new one last Friday. It also taught me what I needed to know to build this business, Precision Essay, to make it succeed, and to help so many people along the way.
So why do we go to bschool really? For FREEDOM. To be able to reach a point in life where you look around, do what you wanna do all day, and say to yourself, "Im one happy dude."
And today, on my thirty (ehem)th birthday, I am one happy dude. Go to bschool, go to the best school you can get into, open some doors for yourself, and pursue your passion. That is the name of the game.
Tonight I wanted to make a point about Letters of Recommendation. For whatever reason, that is where most of the questions have been coming from lately. And as always, we do indeed have some thoughts to share (and weve been emailing this advice out like wildfire these last couple days):
First of all, your recommenders should do the work, and not you. That is perhaps the most important aspect of the bunch.
Also, 70% of the job of the recommender is to corroborate your stories. So for example, if you claim to have rescued a baby from a fire, in the LORthe recommender should say "Yes it is true, he DID rescue the baby." That is 70% of the job.
But the other 30% is where the guy can bring his own knowledge and perspective to the table. He should talk about stuff that you HAVENT covered in your app. Stuff that you dont even know he would say! Who the heck knows whats on this guys mind--30% of it should be fresh material, which may even surprise you.
Also, the tone is critical. We want a guy who is truly excited about you. Excitement needs to come through his tone, for sure. Nobody likes to read a lukewarm application.
And finally, perhaps most importantly, we need SPECIFICS. It isnt enough to simply say that youre smart, creative, a leader, etc. We need for your recommender to PROVE it. Show us examples of this. Dont just say, "He is smart." Say, "He is smart, one time I gave him a phone cord and a key and he turned it into a television. See that? Smart." Every single adjective that they use should be backed up with PROOF. Every single one.
And with that, you should be in good shape.
Hope this helps everyone, and good luck! _________________
Friends, it is 3:35 AM here in Chicago. Just finished up some HBS, some Stanford, and some baba ganoush. So naturally, it is time to talk about bowling. As always, bear with me.
Ive been talking to clients all week, reading more essays than ever. And we have come across an unusual challenge. A client writes about one list of problems, then in the conclusion, kinda goes his own way. Loses track of the challenges he had set up. Let me explain. Here is an example:
I set out to build a building in Shanghai. -But I didnt speak the language in China -And I didnt have enough start up capital And I failed! No building. The next time I set out to build a building... -I waited until the market got better. -I delegated better.
And its like...what? What did this conclusion have to do w the mistakes youd made? What does a down market have to do with not speaking Mandarin? What does delegation have to do with capital requirements?
So. Think bowling. We tell everyone to "set em up, and knock em down." Keep your essays niiiiice and simple. If you set up three problems? Knock em right down. In the same order. Dont go off the reservation. Dont overthink it. Like this:
I set out to build a building in Shanghai. -But I didnt speak the language in China -And I didnt have enough start up capital And I failed! No building. The next time I set out to build a building... -I anticipated cultural challenges, and learned chinese. BAM, 1st one fixed. -I raised 20% more money than I needed. BAM. 2nd one fixed.
Set em up, and knock em down. Three up, three down. A, B, C teed up? Same A, B, C retired. Its not unlike Doc Gooden (pre-1991). Three up, three down. And keep em the same three. Niiiice and simple gang.
Hello gang, and welcome to planet caffeine. It has been a scorcher this year, and honestly...we are loving it. Two things I want to cover today guys:
1. Starting tonight at midnight (or so) we will no longer be taking any new clients with deadlines on or before October 10. And yes, we know thats a Sunday. Every year, we close our doors to new clients once things get a bit too heated. If you are already working with us, of course you are grandfathered in. But this is the only way we know to keep our business so focused, boutique, and well, awesome. We are however offering a 10% discount to ANYONE who signs up with us for Round 2. So...bonus.
2) Now. Onto something a bit less sad. REAPPLICATIONS. Too many folks approach us this late in the game on reapplications. "So Im thinking Ill do my reapplication in Round 2." Oh no! Now hear this my friends, all hands on deck. If you are reapplying, for the love of God, get your app in Round 1, if not earlier. Think about it--how will you convince the adcom that youd spent the last year gearing up for a reapp...if you couldnt get it together for Round 1?
Do yourself a favor gang, if youre reapplying, get that sucker submitted. Today.
Hope this helps, sorry to close our doors, but we need to keep small--otherwise we're no better than the next guy.
So here we are, youve finally submitted (at least some of) your Round 1 apps. What now? Sure you keep trucking, and gear up for Round 2--why the heck not. But what do you do with the apps youve already submitted? That is, under what circumstances do you reach out to the admissions committee, to "follow up" on the application you have already submitted? There are only two such instances, and I will list them both below:
1) Never. No matter what you do, do NOT reach out to the adcom and say, "Hey I just really wanna reiterate that I applied, and I really really strenuously want to get in." This would be bad. I was speaking to a reapplicant today who reached out to the adcom once a week, after submitting last year. Thats right gang, emphasis on REapplicant.
2) If/when you have a positive update. Did you just retake your GMAT? Did you get a 750 instead of that 670 you were saddled with? REACH OUT. Send an email to the admissions folks, and let them know. Did you just get promoted? Well gosh, let's let them know it. Did Aunt Sally just call and tell you that she likes the knickers youre wearing today? Well, this is NOT worth following up with the adcom over.
Whats the lesson here gang? Now that you have submitted, relax. Get a beer. Do NOT reach out to the adcom, unless you have a pretty flippin good reason to do it.
Okay friends. Lots to talk about today. For the first time in our four years on these forums, someone has posted, offering to write your essays for you. Intriguing. We make no moral judgments.
In a related note, as some of you may know, I own a number of properties here in Chicago. Tonight, one of the units had a break-in. Dishonesty abounds, gang. Dishonesty abounds. Its not just on these boards, it is everywhere.
But I'll let the crotchety old men worry about "the state of society," and "how dare they" blablabla. Again, we make no moral judgments. So why is this relevant?
Simple: adcoms can smell a rat. And to their credit. As many apps as I have seen in my career, they will see more in a month. A dishonest app--whether you are writing about something you dont REALLY care about, or someone else wrote it for you, or some schlock consultant crossed the line, or you're saying something someone else told you to say--it just wont work.
Forget the fact that it is dishonest, morally reprehensible, lame, etc. That's all someone else's problem. My problem--or YOUR problem, is that it actually wont work--it is so clear when we read a LOR that an applicant has written himself. The other night I was reading an application that a foreign woman had clearly...not written. Id never met the girl, but two sentences into the thing, I knew.
I promise you, dishonesty is not the way to get it done. This is NOT a moral argument. This is practical. This is about getting your as*es into business school. The truth is POWERFUL. The truth gets people into Stanford. The truth inspires people.
Dishonesty is not just "wrong," whatever that means. It is also a surefire way NOT to get into a top bschool.
But something tells me that those bozos who broke into my building dont read my GMATClub forums.
Okay gang, first of all please accept my apologies for being MIA for the last few days. We always do our best to check in, but for better or for worse, we sometimes cant make it.
Now. Over the last few days, I have noticed something...strange. Three essays, two from China and one from India, begin almost the exact same way. It goes something like this (hit it):
With the aim of making difference in lives of people from AAAAAAAA, my long term goal is to start my own BBBB which will provide employment in CCCCCC.
With the ambition of creating my own venture in the Vietnamese healthcare industry, I am applying to Sloan’s MBA class of 2013.
Sound familiar? Its like a disease. This one sentence is rampant! So...what gives gang? Is there a handbook that someone passed out, that everyone is plagiarizing from? The adcoms are going to have a field day, finding people who have lifted these exact words, and dinging them.
Going along with our honesty theme, lets not shoot ourselves in the foot guys. All MBA guidebooks are only that--a guide. Dont take their sample essays one step too far--and into your MBA apps...
Hey gang. Seems like a busy time here round these parts. HBS interviews, Yale interviews, the occasional ding--let me just share two quick thoughts (then I'll let you get back to trolling these boards, stressfully).
1. If you have missed Columbia's ED deadline, that is okay. You should still submit...ASAP. Big picture, it is still early folks. Dont submit CBS in January, submit it sooner. The sooner the better--and CBS is quite unique in that way. Chatting w some clients over the past few days, many people dont get it. If you have a list of five schools "for round two," abd CBS is on that list, youd better bump it up. CBS must now be at the the TOP of the list. Submit CBS. Immediately.
2. Its Friday night guys. What on earth are you doing reading these bulletin boards? Everyone in my company who doesnt use their vacation LOSES it. Know why? Because you work BETTER after a break. Go out. Drink some beers. Attempt the Triple Lindy before it's too cold to do it.
We're not going anywhere, and neither is your CBS app.
Okay guys, it's interview season. I wanted to talk briefly about a mistake that many of our friends seem to be making.
"Walk me through your resume."
Seems easy enough, right? [wrong]
Here is what you DONT want to do. Simply repeat everything that is written on the sheet of paper for the guy. Why bother? Homeboy's looking at the thing too, and he probably saw it before you even sat down together--no need to have "storytelling hour" together. Instead, focus on what the resume DOESNT say. And what is that, you wonder? Easy: TRANSITIONS. The only thing 100% missing from your resume is the glue--the part where you explain WHY you did it all. WHY you went from point A to point B.
No need to talk for five minutes about the bullet points you're both looking at. Instead, talk about how you GOT there. WHY you came, why you left, etc.
Transitions, people. Thats where you should focus, when walking someone through your resume.
So I had a very disappointing exchange with a friend a few days ago, and I wanted to share it with everyone here. And it is relevant to our bschool applications...and our lives.
The exchange was racial in nature--so rather than talk about white people, asian people, black people, etc., I will use colors that dont really exist. The point isnt one specific race/color or another.
So as we began to chat a bit, we became friendly. She begins to say things like, "I only feel comfortable with purple people." Then over time, she becomes more emboldened. "Yeah, I was with this girl, a really annoying, typical green girl." And later, "That car is gross, I can only imagine a green person driving it." And "All green guys tend to be a**holes."
What we have here, my friends, is racism. Why is this relevant? Because our bschool apps ask us to talk about diversity. Diversity isnt the ability to hang out with people of different backgrounds, and "appreciate our rich differences." Quite the opposite. Diversity, and globalization isnt about differences. It is about SAME-ness.
At the end of the day, we look different, we eat different foods, we are from different countries. But what is amazing--and what we should write about in our bschool apps--is not the differences, but the similarities. We are the same. We have the same hopes and dreams, no matter what countries our parents came from. No matter what we ate for lunch today. No matter what color our skin is--we all have so much in common. I challenge everyone, including myself, to look beyond superficial appearances, and to seek the deep connection that all humans share. Especially those of us who are so smart, and so lucky to pursue exciting, dynamic, MBA dreams...
This is the essence of diversity, and how we should approach it in our bschool apps, and in our lives.
Friends, today I want to make a point that many of you are learning on your own steam, every day. MBA Interviews, guys, are a BREEZE.
Let me repeat this.
MBA interviews are eeeeasy. Occasionally you will have the (un)luck of the draw, and you may encounter an alumni interviewer who wants to give you a hard time. But most of the time guys, you wont. You will be asked the same questions that you expect to be--why MBA, why that school, career goals, walk me through your resume. That is IT gang. Dont kill yourselves stressing about obscure questions--9 times out of 10, your interview will be a breeze.
And if you do get asked some curveball questions, we can help you prepare for those as well. But dont psych yourselves out guys--MBA interviews are far easier than consulting, banking, you name it. Its a piece of cake. Just study the obvious questions, hosted by any number of sites online, and you are 95% of the way there if not more.
As a reapplicant to Kellogg, I must say that I have learnt from the numerous MISTAKES I made last year during the application process. The only problem that I still have is how to show the admissions committee that I have greatly IMPROVED so I am more successful this year!
Best Regards, Hihihi _________________
''And when I saw that ignorance is rampant among people,I ignored to a point that they thought I am the ignorant''
Friends, today we want to share just a couple quick words about accomplishments. I had a long, difficult conversation with a client today, and I thought everyone might benefit from it.
He was saying that he wanted to be judged by his accomplishments. That he felt they were more impressive than those of others. I assured him that he was quite wrong. : ) Let me explain.
No matter how great your accomplishments are, someone else will have done more. If you built one building, the next guy built three. If you have one patent, the next guy has three. If you did a $5 million deal, the next guy did a $5 billion deal. The guy sitting next to you in bschool likely flew in the Israeli army, and cured cancer. And that was BEFORE he joined McKinsey in their new Beijing office.
So. Whats the significance? It isnt really about the accomplishment--it is about your unique experience. The guy who built 1 building may get in, whereas the guy who built 3 may not. Why? He had to TRY harder. He is more thoughtful about his buildings. His one building is more meaningful to him. Perhaps he had to overcome more in getting into development. It is about his UNIQUE EXPERIENCE. Not about his accomplishments. I hope this makes sense to everyone. Big, big difference.
Today, we are going to talk about hatred itself. No, not the trolls that spend their time posting nasty comments. Instead, let's hit the more thinly veiled kind that actually appears in MBA applications. And that stuff can be FATAL. Let me explain.
Negativity is, well, negative. When we write things in our essays that pass ANY kind of negative judgment, we are making a mistake. Two reasons why. First of all, it shows an arrogance on your part. A sense that you think you're "better" than the next guy. And as the gmatclub trolls are so nice to point out for us, the act of being so judgmental only calls your own confidence into question. Dont say that your coworker was obnoxious, lazy and needed help learning to work with his peers. Say that he was struggling to communicate effectively, and you wanted to help. Big difference.
The second reason to avoid negativity, is that it makes people feel...negative. Makes people feel bad. Be positive in your essays guys--it will, if nothing else, make your reader think positive thoughts. And that is what we all want, is it not?
It is exciting times around these parts, eh? TONS of great news finally pouring in from all sides. Booth, Wharton, HBS, love it. Wahoooo! This first wave of interviews reminds us of why we do what we do. Thank you for sharing your success stories with us guys.
Now, if I may--I'd like to rain on everyone's parade.
Unless you got an HBS interview invitation, there is a good chance that no matter WHO reached out to you for an interview, you may not get in. 50% or worse for eeeeveryone other than HBS. So why is this relevant?
Because you still have pleeeenty of time to prep for Round 2. If you're reading these forums, you are WAY ahead of the curve. Most of your peers are just now getting around to beginning their apps. You, however, have much of your work done. Start now--if you applied to 3-4 schools for Round 1, dont be foolish--start pulling together 3-4 more for Round 2. Your apps will go SO much more quickly the second time around. Dont sit around and "prep" for the interviews which, I guarantee, will be a breeze.
Instead, put together a backup plan--and EXECUTE it gang.
I LOVE that everyone's getting such good news. But let's push forward with Round 2 now. The timing has never been better, no matter how confident you are in that Wharton interview...
Today we are going to talk about Stern. As we all know, it's a short little app, but in the wise words of the Super Golden Crisp Sugar Bear, essay three has some vitamin-packed punch. Thats a TOUGH essay.
Or is it?
The key is clearly creativity. Now, there are two ways to be creative in this sucker:
1) Subject 2) Form
Of course if you have a great subject, a topic that nobody else can touch, then you could be golden.
But you dont need one. If you wanna pick a boring subject (say, "walk me through your resume" etc.) then you can mix it up with a nifty FORM. To give you an example, we once had a client who sent in a series of painted Matryoshka dolls, with each one representing a different stage in her life. From a subject point of view, she didnt do anything at all unusual. She was a student here, she worked there, yada yada. Very typical story. But her FORM was killer!
So that's an option--a poem, movie script, funny joke, play, sci fi story...you get the idea. You dont NEED an amaaaazing subject. Not necessarily...
Hopefully this framework helps a bit gang, and as always, good luck. _________________
Okay gang. A suuuper easy idea today. Im tired of reading all the "not only...but also" sentences. : ) Yep, you heard me. Why even bother? Its just extra words, and 9 times out of 10, you just dont need em. Like, we get the nuance of course. But it is usually just dead weight. Here is an example:
Not only do I now bring to Fuqua the logic and analytical skills of an electrical engineer, and the project management and team skills of a team-leader, but also strong financial knowledge that will enable me to mentor my peers.
Can we please take out this not only...but also? And maybe a ton of other words too? Lets try it again, shall we?
Today, I bring to Fuqua the analytical skills of an electrical engineer, the project management skills of a leader, and strong financial knowledge that will enable me to mentor my peers.
Wahoooooo! Ten words lighter. Phew. Still not perfect, but weeeell on its way. Forget all the not only...but also gang. Just get INTO it!