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Ask Alex @ MBA Apply

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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 24 Dec 2012, 09:22
HImba88 wrote:
Hi Alex,

Quick question. Is it worth my time and $ to start an alternative transcript. 740 (48 q, 44 v) 3.48 from no-name liberal arts school, business major (3.83 bus. GPA) w/ a quite a bit of quant courses. Basically, I would like to start an alternative transcript for two reasons (1) went to no-name school and (2) work will be relatively calm during the upcoming spring semester so it would be an opportune time.

My questions basically are: Will my current GPA + no-name school be a significant handicap? Probably not applying any time soon (i.e. targeting 2-3 years). If taking additional classes will only have a minimal impact, then my time and money could be spent on other things. Basically, curious if I'm already doomed from top schools via avg. GPA + lack of pedigree.

Greatly appreciate your help.

Thanks,
HImba88


Your GPA won't be an issue. Focus on your career.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 13 Jan 2013, 15:20
Hey Alex! Was hoping to pick your brain a bit..


Civil Engineering Major - Top 25 Engineering University 2.8 GPA, upward trend. I also have a Business Minor.

White Male, 26 @ Matriculation

GMAT: 570 -> 640 -> 690 (45Q/40V)

WE: 2.5 years in the civil engineering/construction industry. 1 Promotion from Field Engineer to Project Engineer. Smallish company (Not Bechtel/URS/etc). Have great hands on experience with managing ..lets call them interesting people. By the end of my time there I was managing 25+ employees on a 75 million dollar dam rehabilitation for the Army Corps of engineers. I left to take a job at an investment management firm- it is a 18 month pre-MBA job working in fixed income as well as performance attribution. I'm 1 month into my 18 month contract, so I am unable to elaborate more on this subject currently.

ECs:
Undergrad:
New student orientation: served for 3 years, and mentored many of the students in my group throughout the year.
Habitat for humanity: Had leadership positions in 3 trips across the US with 10-20 students from school in remote, high need areas during spring and fall breaks.
Special Olympics: Venue Coordinator for 3 years - Planned all the volleyball operations for special olympics weekend (largest student run SPO event in the nation).
Yearbook Photographer
Post Grad (Ongoing):
Member ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers)
Served on the Safety board at my old job - suggested a company wide safety imitative that they still practice.
On the recruitment board for local Habitat for Humanity
Young Alumni Member
Career Mentor
Other:
Enjoy cars - help run my friends car @ the track...kind of the pit crew for him. Also get together with a local group of "gear heads" about once a month to do car-guy stuff. (Very informal..but i enjoy it a lot)
Travel during hurricane season up and down the east coast to surf
Avid photographer (Not published - never tried)
Enjoy outdoors - hunting/hiking/climbing/etc. You name it, I love to do it.

MBA Goal (In flux, circling in on it...): I want to work in corporate finance (Treasury) for a F500 manufacturing/energy firm.

Why MBA: I want to leverage my background of "hands on" work with my work in the fixed income space to work my way up the corp fin. ladder at a large company. I believe my engineering experience combined with my experience in buying corporate debt allowed me to see not only how projects are built, but the financials on how they're made possible. An MBA will provide me with the hard skills to fill in the gaps between my experience, and "round me out" so that I will have the tools needed to succeed.

Why Now: Well.. for one my Contract is ending in 2014. two, I don't want to get stuck doing fixed income forever - I prefer to be in a company that makes something - not service. I feel that my experience allows me to see things from both sides of the spectrum, and all that is needed now is, as i mentioned before, something to fill in the gaps and brush up my soft skills.

My "list": Tuck, Wharton, Fuqua, Ross, Tepper, Johnson, and Darden. Open to adding or subtracting schools. The only reason W is on the list (love the school, but lets be honest, its a stretch) is because we are family friends with someone on the finance board. He has offered his support that he will be able to help me get in, but I am unsure of how this works/if this works. At any rate, I'll apply

My concerns: Well the obvious concern is the GMAT/GPA combo. I am not too keen on sitting for the MBA one more time, but if thats what I have to do, I'm game. I was going to use the next 6 months to take 2-3 courses to help build an alternative transcript (Currently taking UCLA Extension - Math for Management). Do you think that I need to redo the GMAT? I already have a monster improvement, I'm not sure how much more I can squeeze out. It seems silly to take it again for 20 +/- points. My quant is low (67th %), and I struggled during undergrad in my calculus courses. I believe this was due to overextending with my ECs + plain goofing off. I was very immature. Hopefully now that won't squash my dreams.

Let me know what you think, sorry for the long-windedness.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 15 Jan 2013, 09:38
PepsiPepsi wrote:
Hey Alex! Was hoping to pick your brain a bit..


Civil Engineering Major - Top 25 Engineering University 2.8 GPA, upward trend. I also have a Business Minor.

White Male, 26 @ Matriculation

GMAT: 570 -> 640 -> 690 (45Q/40V)

WE: 2.5 years in the civil engineering/construction industry. 1 Promotion from Field Engineer to Project Engineer. Smallish company (Not Bechtel/URS/etc). Have great hands on experience with managing ..lets call them interesting people. By the end of my time there I was managing 25+ employees on a 75 million dollar dam rehabilitation for the Army Corps of engineers. I left to take a job at an investment management firm- it is a 18 month pre-MBA job working in fixed income as well as performance attribution. I'm 1 month into my 18 month contract, so I am unable to elaborate more on this subject currently.

ECs:
Undergrad:
New student orientation: served for 3 years, and mentored many of the students in my group throughout the year.
Habitat for humanity: Had leadership positions in 3 trips across the US with 10-20 students from school in remote, high need areas during spring and fall breaks.
Special Olympics: Venue Coordinator for 3 years - Planned all the volleyball operations for special olympics weekend (largest student run SPO event in the nation).
Yearbook Photographer
Post Grad (Ongoing):
Member ASCE (American Society of Civil Engineers)
Served on the Safety board at my old job - suggested a company wide safety imitative that they still practice.
On the recruitment board for local Habitat for Humanity
Young Alumni Member
Career Mentor
Other:
Enjoy cars - help run my friends car @ the track...kind of the pit crew for him. Also get together with a local group of "gear heads" about once a month to do car-guy stuff. (Very informal..but i enjoy it a lot)
Travel during hurricane season up and down the east coast to surf
Avid photographer (Not published - never tried)
Enjoy outdoors - hunting/hiking/climbing/etc. You name it, I love to do it.

MBA Goal (In flux, circling in on it...): I want to work in corporate finance (Treasury) for a F500 manufacturing/energy firm.

Why MBA: I want to leverage my background of "hands on" work with my work in the fixed income space to work my way up the corp fin. ladder at a large company. I believe my engineering experience combined with my experience in buying corporate debt allowed me to see not only how projects are built, but the financials on how they're made possible. An MBA will provide me with the hard skills to fill in the gaps between my experience, and "round me out" so that I will have the tools needed to succeed.

Why Now: Well.. for one my Contract is ending in 2014. two, I don't want to get stuck doing fixed income forever - I prefer to be in a company that makes something - not service. I feel that my experience allows me to see things from both sides of the spectrum, and all that is needed now is, as i mentioned before, something to fill in the gaps and brush up my soft skills.

My "list": Tuck, Wharton, Fuqua, Ross, Tepper, Johnson, and Darden. Open to adding or subtracting schools. The only reason W is on the list (love the school, but lets be honest, its a stretch) is because we are family friends with someone on the finance board. He has offered his support that he will be able to help me get in, but I am unsure of how this works/if this works. At any rate, I'll apply

My concerns: Well the obvious concern is the GMAT/GPA combo. I am not too keen on sitting for the MBA one more time, but if thats what I have to do, I'm game. I was going to use the next 6 months to take 2-3 courses to help build an alternative transcript (Currently taking UCLA Extension - Math for Management). Do you think that I need to redo the GMAT? I already have a monster improvement, I'm not sure how much more I can squeeze out. It seems silly to take it again for 20 +/- points. My quant is low (67th %), and I struggled during undergrad in my calculus courses. I believe this was due to overextending with my ECs + plain goofing off. I was very immature. Hopefully now that won't squash my dreams.

Let me know what you think, sorry for the long-windedness.


I think you have a pretty solid all around profile for the range of schools you're looking at - that is, taking the GMAT/GPA out of the equation.

With the GPA, adcoms are a bit more forgiving of those who did engineering, but with that said your GPA is still on the low side. As such, the GMAT becomes that much more important.

Retake the GMAT. It may seem silly for 20+ points, but it's important in your case. You still could be competitive for schools like Tepper, Cornell, Ross, Duke and Darden with what you have now, but it'll also be easy for the adcom to ding you based on your GMAT/GPA alone. Wharton and Tuck will be big stretches because of the GMAT/GPA combo.

Here's what I suggest:

1. Retake the GMAT. Shoot for 740. I know it's a stretch, but do whatever it takes. Hire a private tutor, enroll in a test prep course. No matter how strong your written applications and interviews are, it's still a real gamble with your current GMAT.

2. Enroll in 2-3 extension classes: some combo of calculus, algebra, statistics, accounting, finance, etc. Doesn't have to be upper level courses - freshman level courses are fine. I believe UCLA offers online extension classes, as do other universities. This will help to serve as a counterpoint to your GPA.

Do these two things, and you will be more competitive for the range of schools you listed (and schools like Wharton and Tuck will be less of a stretch). Good luck!
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 17 Jan 2013, 12:21
I am a Pakistani National and want to do mba from a top usa university. Kindly provide me with realistic evaluation of my profile and the ways to improve it.

Born December 1991
O Levels 2007
A Levels 2009
ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Affiliate 2012
Bsc(Hons.) Applied Accounting Oxford Brookes University 2013 : Upper Second Class Honours
Work Experience : None
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2013, 00:40
mhz99 wrote:
I am a Pakistani National and want to do mba from a top usa university. Kindly provide me with realistic evaluation of my profile and the ways to improve it.

Born December 1991
O Levels 2007
A Levels 2009
ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) Affiliate 2012
Bsc(Hons.) Applied Accounting Oxford Brookes University 2013 : Upper Second Class Honours
Work Experience : None


MBA programs will not admit someone with no work experience.

Work full-time for a few years, and then consider getting an MBA.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 18 Jan 2013, 00:40
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SUGGESTED CHANGES TO THE MBA APPLICATION

Over the past eight years, I have been an admissions consultant, having reviewed thousands (if not tens of thousands?) of applicant profiles on various discussion forums as well as with clients who elect to sign up for my service.

And I know that some admissions committee members also read these boards as well as my blogs.

There have been gripes from admissions committee members that applicants are being "over coached" or that that it's more difficult for them to really get a sense for who the applicant is as a person (i.e. that the applicant's essays are inauthentic).

And there's a straightforward fix to that:

1. STOP ASKING THE WHY MBA/WHY NOW/GOALS QUESTION.

Theoretically, this may make sense. However, the reality is, everyone knows that b-schoolers don't know what they want to do. They are going to school to figure that out. Furthermore, having been an MBA student myself and know a lot of MBAs, having a strong narrative for this question has ZERO bearing on that person's caliber as an MBA student or in the recruiting process. In reality, we take it as it comes - it's not entirely in an applicant's control, because what job they take is as much a function of the job offers they get. That is why so many applicants trip up on this question because it forces them to make stuff up, or to be more specific than they really are about their goals.

Same with the "why MBA" - what are you adcoms hoping to get from this that won't sound cliche, boring, or simply just BS? And if they do say something truly original - it's likely gimmicky. There are only so many reasons why someone wants an MBA -- and the *real* reasons you don't want to hear are often personal ones: they are lonely at work and want to be around folks their own age; they want to find a soulmate; they want to re-live their college years, last chance to feel like a young student again before settling down post-MBA as a soon-to-be-married adult, etc. They feel stuck or bored in their careers and lives and want a change.

As for "why now?" - because they want to go... now! I want to go now because I hate my job. I want to go now because you adcoms don't like older candidates. And so forth. If you don't want applicants to bullsh*t you, then stop asking this question, because for 99% of the applicants who actually do get in - their responses to this essay was mostly BS or some standard issue narrative that doesn't really reveal their "authentic self." If adcoms don't bullsh*t answers, then stop asking questions like this.

Ironically, b-schools seem all about ethics these days, and yet, they ask a question that puts many applicants in a position to misrepresent themselves in order to "play along." Or they end up admitting the best bullsh*tters. Again, speaking from real experience as a b-school grad, the why MBA/goals narrative has ZERO to do with caliber, talent, or focus.

Thankfully, HBS and Sloan don't ask this anymore. It's about time other schools stop as well. It's a waste of time for everyone involved.

2. STOP ASKING THEM TO KISS YOUR ASS

Essays about "how will you fit into our culture" or questions about how the school's mission and values fit with the candidate's own history will naturally lend itself to plenty of ass kissing. It ends up being this BS story parroting the school's so-called values (give me a break... what's next - "mission statements" and "mantras"? Or "pillars"?).

I understand that adcoms want to identify candidates who may be a fit for a school. But you don't find that out by asking them directly to comment on your silly catchphrases that you call "values" or "culture," because you'll get plenty of empty platitudes and insincere compliments about how amazing the school is.

I mean, are the essays more about applicants telling the school how wonderful the school is, or is it more about finding out more about the applicant?

3. STOP ASKING ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

I know b-schools like to think they are training leaders, but come on, most people applying are in their mid-20s in junior positions at work. And even if they do volunteer somewhere outside of work, they aren't exactly General Patton. I know, there are different "models" of leadership or whatever linguistic gymnastics you use, but the fact is - you're dealing with YOUNG ADULTS. Or those in their 40s and above like to say - THEY ARE KIDS.

The more you push them to talk leadership, the more BS, embellishment and so forth you will get. Most of the incoming students don't have much *real* leadership experience simply because they're young and very early in their careers (and frankly they are *barely* adults). And whether they do or not at this point in their lives has little to do with the kind of leader they will be in their 40s should they be senior execs by then.

So cut this crap about leadership. It's pure BS, or you end up with students with their head up their ass talking about the kind of "leaders" they are (while they troll for undergrads at sorority parties on the weekends). These applicants are not CEOs. They are kids a few years out of college. Even those in their later 20s - they are still young in the grand scheme of things.

Asking b-school applicants about leadership is akin to asking high school kids about marriage. The overwhelming majority are not in a position to really know that firsthand, and that's okay. They very well could be amazing leaders later on, but there's no way of judging that right now because they are young, and they will not be the same people in their 40s.

4. ESSAYS SHOULD FOCUS ON WHO THEY ARE OUTSIDE OF WORK.

Thankfully, more schools now are doing this, but they could go further by getting rid of essays that deal with work entirely.

Why?

As an admissions consultant, I can predict reasonably accurately where people tend to get into based on a raw profile alone. And frankly, so can most adcoms. A resume, GMAT, GPA can pretty much tell you whether the applicant is even in range. I'm sure there are "diamonds in the rough" but even then you can probably spot that in their resume (i.e. they have something that makes them unique or intriguing).

You don't need to hear about yet another work project about how they worked in cross-functional teams and went above and beyond, led a group of people towards a common goal, blah blah blah. Again, you can pretty much get a gut feel for their career progress and overall caliber as a professional based on their resume (and a quick read through of their reference letters).

The essays should ideally focus on finding out who they are outside of work. It's not just about "extracurriculars", but about their personal backgrounds, what they love doing (even if it's a hobby), some important or formative moments in their lives.

By asking these questions, you will get the opportunity to really see the person behind the resume/profile -- and likewise, the applicant can write from a place of expertise - THEMSELVES. They are writing about their own personal history and what makes them tick, what their priorities are. You are then giving the applicants the opportunity to truly reveal more about who they are.

For example:

What are the three most joyous moments in your life thus far and why?

What have been the two lowest moments or biggest setbacks personally - how did you deal with it and what did you learn about yourself?

Aside from family, who or what is most important to you and why? (a version of "what matters most and why").

What personal experience in the last five years has changed you, and in what way?

What have you done or experienced in your personal life that you're most proud of?

If there was one moment that you could take back, what would it be and why?

What has been the biggest surprise (good or bad) in your life, and how has that surprise shaped who you are or your values?

And so forth. If schools want to build a class full of mature, thoughtful people with integrity and a sense of values, ask them to talk about who they are outside of work. The level of depth (or lack thereof) shown in these essays can be revealing. Adcoms can gain insight into who the applicant in ways that no resume can (but is a good complement to the resume, or "professional profile"). Also, asking them about their non-work self allows each applicant to reveal more of their personality, which gives the adcom a better sense of whether they are a fit for the school or not, because the applicant is *revealing* who they are (through the tone of their writing and what they are writing about), and not *telling* the adcom or parroting what they think the school's culture should be. It's about the applicant, and not about the school. A lot of the kinds of things adcoms are looking for (personality, team/people orientation, curiosity, exposure to different kinds of people, etc.) can be inferred or revealed in these kinds of essays in a more meaningful way.

Finally, adcoms hate jargon. Asking about non-work stories has a way of cutting out jargon entirely (because jargon is often used in work contexts).

5. CUT DOWN ON THE REC LETTER QUESTIONS

Some schools (Haas and Columbia in particular) ask way too many questions which often seem to be repetitive.

HBS, Stanford and Wharton are a good model to follow. 4-5 short questions is all you need. Maybe even 2-3: in what capacity do they know the applicant; what is their greatest strength or talent, and what is their weakness.

If you want rec letters written by the recommenders that are substantive, make it easy for them to do so. Cutting down on the question and/or even better - standardizing them so they are similar across all schools will ensure that recommenders can spend the quality time to be thoughtful, rather than rushing to submit 6-7 different rec letters for the 6-7 schools the applicant is applying to.

The written application and the essays in particular can still be useful -- so long as they are asking the kinds of essay questions that minimize BS in the first place.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2013, 02:07
Excellent Alex. Makes total sense. Most do MBA to figure out what they want to do, take a break etc. not what they write in essays.. I like the MIT model - don't tell me what you are going to do, tell me what you have done...

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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2013, 08:35
Fantastic post Alex. I agree that these essay questions force people to give BS answers.

I wish adcoms liked honesty and accepted simple answers like, "I want to make more money, hence I feel I need a MBA"!
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 22 Jan 2013, 10:32
Alex,

I'm trying to decide if it's worth to apply for an MBA this year (2013) or if I should postpone my plans for at least another year. I've talked with 2 Brazilian MBA coaches and career advisers regarding this subject, and both of them encouraged me to apply in fall 2013 1st round IF, and only IF, I manage to get an excellent score at the GMAT exam (say 720+, for example). Despite that, I still remain skeptical, since I'm not sure if they only want me as their client or if I really stand a chance of getting in (especially in my dream schools). That's why I would be pleased if you could evaluate my profile.

Age: 24
Gender: Male
Nationality: Brazilian
Undergrad: Business at a top 5 business school in Brazil
GPA: 8.1/10.0 (16th out of 90 students)
WE:
4 months as an intern in Itau (Latin America's largest Bank);
12 months working for a Brazilian M&A boutique - (My team successfully closed 2 cross-border transactions);
12 months in Private Equity (as of JAN/2013) working for a Brazilian firm focused on mid-market opportunities;
Extra-Curricular Activities:
During college, I was part of a group that founded a student organization at my university, which was an awesome accomplishment since we left our legacy to the school (we were responsible for setting an AIESEC office - the world’s largest student ran organization).
International Experience:
Did a high school exchange program, were I stayed for 1 semester in Brisbane, Australia; had the opportunity to travel to over 10 different countries in my life; attended a retail convention in the US, as well as had the chance of doing business with multinational companies and interacting with foreign investors of my firm's fund.
Post-MBA Goals
I was born into an entrepreneurial family. We have a retail chain in Brazil, with over 100 stores, ~BRL 1 billion in revenues (~USD 500 million), and over 6,000 employees.
I believe that, with the experience I had in Private Equity and M&A, combined with the academic, professional and personal experiences that an MBA will provide me, I would be ready to go back to Brazil and assume a leadership position at my family's company. Being part of the team that leads its growth and causes a positive social impact in my country is a dream.
Target Schools:
Top 10 US MBA programs in general ( H|S|W are my dream schools)

thanks in advance!
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 24 Jan 2013, 16:38
mainhoon wrote:
Excellent Alex. Makes total sense. Most do MBA to figure out what they want to do, take a break etc. not what they write in essays.. I like the MIT model - don't tell me what you are going to do, tell me what you have done...

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Yes, I believe Rod Garcia (MIT adcom) a few years back already mentioned this about how they felt that they could yield more insight by having applicants focus on talking about their past experience.

The other questions that are frankly silly are the gimmicky ones -- if you were to choose a mascot for the school what would it be and why, which leader would you want to be in an elevator with, etc. Even Booth's "powerpoint" which I thought was silly - because a *real* powerpoint presentation that is effective is often very sparse and incomplete and therefore cannot be viewed in a vacuum - because it's often there to support the person speaking since an effective presentation is one where the audience is focused on the speaker, so Booth's so-called powerpoint slides end up having to be far more cluttered than what would normally be used in a real presentation. I always liken it to wanting to know how good a hamburger is based on only the buns alone. Thankfully, Booth realized their folly and have since changed the wording - so that it's not a "presentation" but more of a blank canvas.

Kellogg's "essay tweet" about something fun this past year I felt was a waste (i.e. whether someone is "fun" or not can be revealed far more authentically if the essay prompt is more straightforward; gimmicky questions force applicants to overthink it or to come up with equally gimmicky and artificial responses) - I get that they are trying to see if applicants can come up with a "tagline" for their so-called "brand" (another trendy and gimmicky thing - to refer to oneself as a "brand" that is interchangeable with products for sale). Kellogg can get too cute with the way they word their essay questions.

Ask simple, direct questions about the applicant's past. That's all that's needed. If the applicant is dumber than a bag of hammers or is one-dimensional in terms of personality and insight - that will be apparent. And conversely, those who have depth and intrigue don't need gimmicky questions to be able to reveal their true colors.

Finally, from my own experience having worked with many applicants, I find that folks tend to clam up when they have to talk about something they aren't sure of or what they think adcoms want (goals, mba, gimmicky questions), or about work (since it's easy to default to corporate speak since that's the language of the workplace). However, I found that most applicants to be refreshingly candid about themselves when they are asked questions about who they are as people, or essay questions that ask about their non-work/personal experiences.

Adcoms want to get to know who these applicants are, and applicants really do want to reveal who they are (few people enjoy crafting BS narratives). The onus is on the adcom to stop asking essay questions that make applicants over think it (or to make stuff up).
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Last edited by AlexMBAApply on 24 Jan 2013, 16:42, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 24 Jan 2013, 16:40
fmbraga wrote:
Alex,

I'm trying to decide if it's worth to apply for an MBA this year (2013) or if I should postpone my plans for at least another year. I've talked with 2 Brazilian MBA coaches and career advisers regarding this subject, and both of them encouraged me to apply in fall 2013 1st round IF, and only IF, I manage to get an excellent score at the GMAT exam (say 720+, for example). Despite that, I still remain skeptical, since I'm not sure if they only want me as their client or if I really stand a chance of getting in (especially in my dream schools). That's why I would be pleased if you could evaluate my profile.

Age: 24
Gender: Male
Nationality: Brazilian
Undergrad: Business at a top 5 business school in Brazil
GPA: 8.1/10.0 (16th out of 90 students)
WE:
4 months as an intern in Itau (Latin America's largest Bank);
12 months working for a Brazilian M&A boutique - (My team successfully closed 2 cross-border transactions);
12 months in Private Equity (as of JAN/2013) working for a Brazilian firm focused on mid-market opportunities;
Extra-Curricular Activities:
During college, I was part of a group that founded a student organization at my university, which was an awesome accomplishment since we left our legacy to the school (we were responsible for setting an AIESEC office - the world’s largest student ran organization).
International Experience:
Did a high school exchange program, were I stayed for 1 semester in Brisbane, Australia; had the opportunity to travel to over 10 different countries in my life; attended a retail convention in the US, as well as had the chance of doing business with multinational companies and interacting with foreign investors of my firm's fund.
Post-MBA Goals
I was born into an entrepreneurial family. We have a retail chain in Brazil, with over 100 stores, ~BRL 1 billion in revenues (~USD 500 million), and over 6,000 employees.
I believe that, with the experience I had in Private Equity and M&A, combined with the academic, professional and personal experiences that an MBA will provide me, I would be ready to go back to Brazil and assume a leadership position at my family's company. Being part of the team that leads its growth and causes a positive social impact in my country is a dream.
Target Schools:
Top 10 US MBA programs in general ( H|S|W are my dream schools)

thanks in advance!


They are right. The GMAT is critical -- anything below 720, and it's going to be a big stretch. That's why rather than thinking about b-schools, focus on the GMAT prep first and foremost. Nothing else. Until you get that GMAT, it's not really constructive to speculate on whether you're competitive or not. One step at a time. Good luck!
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Profile Evaluation [#permalink] New post 31 Jan 2013, 16:25
Thanks in advance for your evaluation of my profile. The major question I have is what are my chances at my target schools if I apply this coming fall (2013) and would I benefit from waiting an extra year and apply in 2014.

1) Brief description of your full-time work experience. What do you do?

1 year at small engineering firm as design engineer, 1.5 years as Financial Analyst in Operations FP&A at a Fortune 200 telecommunications/pay TV provider with a lot of C-level exposure, and will have 7-8 months as Content Acquisition Analyst (deal valuation/due diligence and contract negotiations) at same fortune 200 if I apply Fall 2013

At current company I have been promoted twice with increasing responsibility, but no direct reports at this time

2) Your GMAT.
730

3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.

Attended top 20 engineering school, Major: Biomedical Engineering with emphasis in Mechanical Engineering, Graduated May 2010, GPA: 2.9 Major GPA: 3.1.
Obviously something that needs to be addressed is my GPA. Really no excuses on how bad it was. I was completely unfocused during college especially during my freshman and sophomore years. I just wasn't prepared to deal with rigors of an intensive engineering program. My GPA was a 2.4 my freshman year and trended upwards throughout to a 3.5 my senior year (even with the unexpected passing of my father during my senior year). I realize that even my senior year was just average compared to top programs GPAs. Any suggestions on how to address this would be welcome, as I feel my GMAT and ability to pass CFA Level 1 while working long hours is more indicative of my ability.

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
Part of multiple sports teams outside of work, do triathlons/marathons, and volunteer at Boys and Girls Club

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
Passed CPA Level 1 while working long hours

6) Your target programs.
Columbia, Tuck, Booth, Yale, Stern, Ross, Cornell (Johnson). Any other suggestions would be great.

7) Your post-MBA goal.
Would like to get into an Investment Banking TMT group (or at specialize in telecommunications/tech) or Corporate Development at a telecommunications or tech company
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 [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2013, 01:54
:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

Last edited by neo0911 on 19 Jun 2013, 10:10, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Profile Evaluation [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2013, 09:28
smahr11 wrote:
Thanks in advance for your evaluation of my profile. The major question I have is what are my chances at my target schools if I apply this coming fall (2013) and would I benefit from waiting an extra year and apply in 2014.

1) Brief description of your full-time work experience. What do you do?

1 year at small engineering firm as design engineer, 1.5 years as Financial Analyst in Operations FP&A at a Fortune 200 telecommunications/pay TV provider with a lot of C-level exposure, and will have 7-8 months as Content Acquisition Analyst (deal valuation/due diligence and contract negotiations) at same fortune 200 if I apply Fall 2013

At current company I have been promoted twice with increasing responsibility, but no direct reports at this time

2) Your GMAT.
730

3) College info: The name of the college, your GPA or grade average, your major, year of graduation. For any graduate degrees, please provide the same info. If you grades are low, please indicate if there were extenuating circumstances.

Attended top 20 engineering school, Major: Biomedical Engineering with emphasis in Mechanical Engineering, Graduated May 2010, GPA: 2.9 Major GPA: 3.1.
Obviously something that needs to be addressed is my GPA. Really no excuses on how bad it was. I was completely unfocused during college especially during my freshman and sophomore years. I just wasn't prepared to deal with rigors of an intensive engineering program. My GPA was a 2.4 my freshman year and trended upwards throughout to a 3.5 my senior year (even with the unexpected passing of my father during my senior year). I realize that even my senior year was just average compared to top programs GPAs. Any suggestions on how to address this would be welcome, as I feel my GMAT and ability to pass CFA Level 1 while working long hours is more indicative of my ability.

4) Significant college and post-college extra-curricular activities or community service, especially leadership experience.
Part of multiple sports teams outside of work, do triathlons/marathons, and volunteer at Boys and Girls Club

5) Important certifications like CFA, CPA, FSA, or CA.
Passed CPA Level 1 while working long hours

6) Your target programs.
Columbia, Tuck, Booth, Yale, Stern, Ross, Cornell (Johnson). Any other suggestions would be great.

7) Your post-MBA goal.
Would like to get into an Investment Banking TMT group (or at specialize in telecommunications/tech) or Corporate Development at a telecommunications or tech company


Apply this upcoming year, and if you don't get into the programs you want, then reapply the following year. You have enough experience that it's at least worth giving it a shot this year.

In terms of schools, you've got a decent mix of stretches (CBS, Booth, Tuck) and sweet spots (Yale, Stern, Cornell, Ross), and with 7 total, I wouldn't apply to more. You're in the hunt for these schools, so it's a matter of doing the best you can on the apps, and hope for the best.

As for your GPA, not much you can do there, other than maybe enrolling in 1-3 online extension classes (a few universities like UCLA offers this) in freshman level courses like calculus, algebra, statistics, microeconomics, etc. and ace them to give them further evidence that you're no dummy (that the low GPA was due to lack of effort, not lack of brains). What also helps is that you were in engineering, so adcoms will be a bit more forgiving since they know that engineering tends to grade on a much harsher curve than other disciplines.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 01 Feb 2013, 09:40
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neo0911 wrote:
Hi Alex,

I've bought your book and find it’s really useful and enjoyable to read. I'm now considering the application starting around Aug 2013. My basic background is as below:
Singaporean Male Chinese;
GMAT 760, 99%, (Q51, V42);
Bachelor of Computing graduated from National University of Singapore in 2005 (GPA 3.51);
Now working in oil/energy industry as the Director of Corporate Development of a listed company in Singapore; mainly focusing on strategic planning and M&A in Asia Pacific energy market. Have led and concluded multibillion-dollar investments/transactions/projects in the region.

My target schools (only my preliminary thoughts) include: Stanford GSB, HBS, Wharton, MIT Sloan, CBS, HAAS UC Berkley, Yale, Cornell Johnson, UCLA: Anderson.

Here is my concern (at least for now): at the current stage I'm about 32 with nearly 7.5 years working experiences, and I know applicant like me is "too old" for the top schools (especially the top 3). How do you see my application? Of course I understand that it is very difficult for you to give the assessment based on the very limited information mentioned above; however, I just want to hear your general opinion about my school selections and appreciate any your advice at the beginning of my application.

Thanks!


You're one of those applicants who is at a point in his career where it only makes sense to go to the top schools, but at the same time adcoms will prefer younger folks over you. You'll face this at all top schools, but especially at HBS, Stanford and Wharton.

The thing that helps a little is that you're an Asian male who is NOT in finance (it seems like the overwhelming majority of Asian or Asian-American guys who apply to b-school are in finance, sort of akin to the massive numbers of Indian engineers applying to b-school).

Here's what I suggest:

H/S/W: apply if you really want, but just know they're going to be a big stretch simply because there's enough folks in the applicant pool who are younger that they will prefer over you. You have a solid professional profile, but you're up against other H/S/W applicants who have that and who have as much pedigree/brand in their resume (if not more) and who are younger. Older applicants who tend to be more successful at getting into these schools tend to be non-traditional applicants (military, non-profit professionals, pro athletes, etc. and not corporate professionals like yourself). Again, apply if you really want to scratch that itch, but just have realistic expectations about your chances given who you're up against.

Sloan, Columbia, Haas: these are schools where you'll have more of a shot, and where you should focus on. I think with solid execution on the apps and a bit of luck, you should be competitive.

Yale, Cornell, UCLA: there are no real safety schools in the top 16, but these are schools where you have a reasonable shot of getting into.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 02 Feb 2013, 21:10
Hey guys- Thanks so much for doing this!

24/Asian/Male - plan on applying for the fall of 2014

Work Experience
I Spent 1 year doing an education-based Americorps program in a mid-sized city in the South. I am currently working as a junior researcher for a research institute that studies education and is affiliated with a large, reputable research university. My job primarily consists of doing statistical analyses (ie cleaning data, regression analysis, and a bit of mapping). I have been at my job for 1.5 years. Also, before my Americorps year, I spent three months at a large internationally focused NGO.

GMAT
730 (q48 v42). I also took the GRE and scored a 1410 (q800 v610)

College Info
Top 10 LAC. Majored in math and economics and graduated with a 3.4 out of 4.

Extracurricular Activities
In college I was President of Model UN and I tutored students at a local middle school twice a week. I currently am on the alumni board of the Americorps organization I worked for. Also hope to start tutoring students on weekends.

Post MBA giaks
I am not sure what I want to do when I get out, but I know with 100 percent certainty I dont want to be an academic:). I was thinking perhaps economic consulting.

What schools do you think I am competitive for?

Thanks!
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 03 Feb 2013, 05:01
:-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D :-D

Last edited by neo0911 on 19 Jun 2013, 10:09, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2013, 10:44
obiwanginobili wrote:
Hey guys- Thanks so much for doing this!

24/Asian/Male - plan on applying for the fall of 2014

Work Experience
I Spent 1 year doing an education-based Americorps program in a mid-sized city in the South. I am currently working as a junior researcher for a research institute that studies education and is affiliated with a large, reputable research university. My job primarily consists of doing statistical analyses (ie cleaning data, regression analysis, and a bit of mapping). I have been at my job for 1.5 years. Also, before my Americorps year, I spent three months at a large internationally focused NGO.

GMAT
730 (q48 v42). I also took the GRE and scored a 1410 (q800 v610)

College Info
Top 10 LAC. Majored in math and economics and graduated with a 3.4 out of 4.

Extracurricular Activities
In college I was President of Model UN and I tutored students at a local middle school twice a week. I currently am on the alumni board of the Americorps organization I worked for. Also hope to start tutoring students on weekends.

Post MBA giaks
I am not sure what I want to do when I get out, but I know with 100 percent certainty I dont want to be an academic:). I was thinking perhaps economic consulting.

What schools do you think I am competitive for?

Thanks!


What helps your case is that you're an Asian guy who is NOT in finance. You're a bit on the young side (by about a year or two), so it may help to get another year of work experience. With that said, I think schools like H/S/W are big stretches (but it may be worth targeting one or two), and Sloan, Kellogg, Booth, Columbia, Tuck and Haas are stretches but within range (i.e. choose 2-3 from this list). Schools like Ross, Duke, Darden, Cornell, Yale, Stern and UCLA are sweet spots.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 05 Feb 2013, 10:46
neo0911 wrote:
Hi Alex,

Thanks so much for your reply and it’s really helpful. Actually my current situation is a little bit tricky and I need your opinion on this:

I’m now resigning from my current company because of certain personal reason. At this point, since I have decided to apply in fall 2013, should I look for another job or just take a break and concentrate on my MBA application? If I choose not to take any job and just focus on my application till this fall, will it be an employment “gap” in my resume, a issue which will be taken negatively by the b-schools? How should I address it? Or should I just look for a new job? But the following question is what kind of the job should I take, staying with my current job function/industry? Since I don’t have very strong background in community activities or extracurricular activities in the past, will it be a good idea that I take this opportunity to take some NGO/NPO job from now till the end of my application this year?

Really need your advice as I’m so confused about what to do next. I don't concern too much about the money issue but want to know what move will best suit the needs for my application. Thanks so much!



Don't be foolish and focus on b-school apps while unemployed.

Get a job. Focus on your professional career in parallel with your b-school apps. Get the kind of job you would normally want to get irrespective of b-school. Don't be foolish and make job choices for the sake of a resume or for the sake of others.
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply [#permalink] New post 18 Feb 2013, 21:37
AlexMBAApply wrote:
SUGGESTED CHANGES TO THE MBA APPLICATION

Over the past eight years, I have been an admissions consultant, having reviewed thousands (if not tens of thousands?) of applicant profiles on various discussion forums as well as with clients who elect to sign up for my service.

And I know that some admissions committee members also read these boards as well as my blogs.

There have been gripes from admissions committee members that applicants are being "over coached" or that that it's more difficult for them to really get a sense for who the applicant is as a person (i.e. that the applicant's essays are inauthentic).

And there's a straightforward fix to that:

1. STOP ASKING THE WHY MBA/WHY NOW/GOALS QUESTION.

Theoretically, this may make sense. However, the reality is, everyone knows that b-schoolers don't know what they want to do. They are going to school to figure that out. Furthermore, having been an MBA student myself and know a lot of MBAs, having a strong narrative for this question has ZERO bearing on that person's caliber as an MBA student or in the recruiting process. In reality, we take it as it comes - it's not entirely in an applicant's control, because what job they take is as much a function of the job offers they get. That is why so many applicants trip up on this question because it forces them to make stuff up, or to be more specific than they really are about their goals.

Same with the "why MBA" - what are you adcoms hoping to get from this that won't sound cliche, boring, or simply just BS? And if they do say something truly original - it's likely gimmicky. There are only so many reasons why someone wants an MBA -- and the *real* reasons you don't want to hear are often personal ones: they are lonely at work and want to be around folks their own age; they want to find a soulmate; they want to re-live their college years, last chance to feel like a young student again before settling down post-MBA as a soon-to-be-married adult, etc. They feel stuck or bored in their careers and lives and want a change.

As for "why now?" - because they want to go... now! I want to go now because I hate my job. I want to go now because you adcoms don't like older candidates. And so forth. If you don't want applicants to bullsh*t you, then stop asking this question, because for 99% of the applicants who actually do get in - their responses to this essay was mostly BS or some standard issue narrative that doesn't really reveal their "authentic self." If adcoms don't bullsh*t answers, then stop asking questions like this.

Ironically, b-schools seem all about ethics these days, and yet, they ask a question that puts many applicants in a position to misrepresent themselves in order to "play along." Or they end up admitting the best bullsh*tters. Again, speaking from real experience as a b-school grad, the why MBA/goals narrative has ZERO to do with caliber, talent, or focus.

Thankfully, HBS and Sloan don't ask this anymore. It's about time other schools stop as well. It's a waste of time for everyone involved.

2. STOP ASKING THEM TO KISS YOUR ASS

Essays about "how will you fit into our culture" or questions about how the school's mission and values fit with the candidate's own history will naturally lend itself to plenty of ass kissing. It ends up being this BS story parroting the school's so-called values (give me a break... what's next - "mission statements" and "mantras"? Or "pillars"?).

I understand that adcoms want to identify candidates who may be a fit for a school. But you don't find that out by asking them directly to comment on your silly catchphrases that you call "values" or "culture," because you'll get plenty of empty platitudes and insincere compliments about how amazing the school is.

I mean, are the essays more about applicants telling the school how wonderful the school is, or is it more about finding out more about the applicant?

3. STOP ASKING ABOUT LEADERSHIP.

I know b-schools like to think they are training leaders, but come on, most people applying are in their mid-20s in junior positions at work. And even if they do volunteer somewhere outside of work, they aren't exactly General Patton. I know, there are different "models" of leadership or whatever linguistic gymnastics you use, but the fact is - you're dealing with YOUNG ADULTS. Or those in their 40s and above like to say - THEY ARE KIDS.

The more you push them to talk leadership, the more BS, embellishment and so forth you will get. Most of the incoming students don't have much *real* leadership experience simply because they're young and very early in their careers (and frankly they are *barely* adults). And whether they do or not at this point in their lives has little to do with the kind of leader they will be in their 40s should they be senior execs by then.

So cut this crap about leadership. It's pure BS, or you end up with students with their head up their ass talking about the kind of "leaders" they are (while they troll for undergrads at sorority parties on the weekends). These applicants are not CEOs. They are kids a few years out of college. Even those in their later 20s - they are still young in the grand scheme of things.

Asking b-school applicants about leadership is akin to asking high school kids about marriage. The overwhelming majority are not in a position to really know that firsthand, and that's okay. They very well could be amazing leaders later on, but there's no way of judging that right now because they are young, and they will not be the same people in their 40s.

4. ESSAYS SHOULD FOCUS ON WHO THEY ARE OUTSIDE OF WORK.

Thankfully, more schools now are doing this, but they could go further by getting rid of essays that deal with work entirely.

Why?

As an admissions consultant, I can predict reasonably accurately where people tend to get into based on a raw profile alone. And frankly, so can most adcoms. A resume, GMAT, GPA can pretty much tell you whether the applicant is even in range. I'm sure there are "diamonds in the rough" but even then you can probably spot that in their resume (i.e. they have something that makes them unique or intriguing).

You don't need to hear about yet another work project about how they worked in cross-functional teams and went above and beyond, led a group of people towards a common goal, blah blah blah. Again, you can pretty much get a gut feel for their career progress and overall caliber as a professional based on their resume (and a quick read through of their reference letters).

The essays should ideally focus on finding out who they are outside of work. It's not just about "extracurriculars", but about their personal backgrounds, what they love doing (even if it's a hobby), some important or formative moments in their lives.

By asking these questions, you will get the opportunity to really see the person behind the resume/profile -- and likewise, the applicant can write from a place of expertise - THEMSELVES. They are writing about their own personal history and what makes them tick, what their priorities are. You are then giving the applicants the opportunity to truly reveal more about who they are.

For example:

What are the three most joyous moments in your life thus far and why?

What have been the two lowest moments or biggest setbacks personally - how did you deal with it and what did you learn about yourself?

Aside from family, who or what is most important to you and why? (a version of "what matters most and why").

What personal experience in the last five years has changed you, and in what way?

What have you done or experienced in your personal life that you're most proud of?

If there was one moment that you could take back, what would it be and why?

What has been the biggest surprise (good or bad) in your life, and how has that surprise shaped who you are or your values?

And so forth. If schools want to build a class full of mature, thoughtful people with integrity and a sense of values, ask them to talk about who they are outside of work. The level of depth (or lack thereof) shown in these essays can be revealing. Adcoms can gain insight into who the applicant in ways that no resume can (but is a good complement to the resume, or "professional profile"). Also, asking them about their non-work self allows each applicant to reveal more of their personality, which gives the adcom a better sense of whether they are a fit for the school or not, because the applicant is *revealing* who they are (through the tone of their writing and what they are writing about), and not *telling* the adcom or parroting what they think the school's culture should be. It's about the applicant, and not about the school. A lot of the kinds of things adcoms are looking for (personality, team/people orientation, curiosity, exposure to different kinds of people, etc.) can be inferred or revealed in these kinds of essays in a more meaningful way.

Finally, adcoms hate jargon. Asking about non-work stories has a way of cutting out jargon entirely (because jargon is often used in work contexts).

5. CUT DOWN ON THE REC LETTER QUESTIONS

Some schools (Haas and Columbia in particular) ask way too many questions which often seem to be repetitive.

HBS, Stanford and Wharton are a good model to follow. 4-5 short questions is all you need. Maybe even 2-3: in what capacity do they know the applicant; what is their greatest strength or talent, and what is their weakness.

If you want rec letters written by the recommenders that are substantive, make it easy for them to do so. Cutting down on the question and/or even better - standardizing them so they are similar across all schools will ensure that recommenders can spend the quality time to be thoughtful, rather than rushing to submit 6-7 different rec letters for the 6-7 schools the applicant is applying to.

The written application and the essays in particular can still be useful -- so long as they are asking the kinds of essay questions that minimize BS in the first place.

This is a great read.. Would you mind putting this up as a new thread??.. I think it might be easily overlooked otherwise since it is so deep down into this thread.. :)
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Re: Ask Alex @ MBA Apply   [#permalink] 18 Feb 2013, 21:37
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