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MBA Admissions Consultant
Joined: 20 Apr 2003
Posts: 6452
Own Kudos [?]: 846 [0]
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Location: Los Angeles CA
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MBA Admissions Consultant
Joined: 20 Apr 2003
Posts: 6452
Own Kudos [?]: 846 [0]
Given Kudos: 92
Location: Los Angeles CA
Send PM
MBA Admissions Consultant
Joined: 20 Apr 2003
Posts: 6452
Own Kudos [?]: 846 [0]
Given Kudos: 92
Location: Los Angeles CA
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MBA Admissions Consultant
Joined: 20 Apr 2003
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The Resilience Factor: How Flaws and Failures Can Strengthen Your Appl [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: The Resilience Factor: How Flaws and Failures Can Strengthen Your Application
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/The-Resilience-Factor-How-Flaws-and-Failures-Can-Strengthen-Your-Application-1.png[/img]
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/The-Resilience-Factor-How-Flaws-and-Failures-Can-Strengthen-Your-Application-1.png[/img]

The Resilience Factor: How Flaws and Failures Can Strengthen Your Application

A speaker recently told a story about traveling in Asia, where he saw a stunning emerald. Enchanted by the stone’s beauty, he decided to buy it on the spot.

He returned home and took the emerald to a jeweler for appraisal. The jeweler began examining the stone through his magnifier, and as he did so, his face went pale.

“What’s the matter?” asked the proud owner of the emerald.

“I can’t find a flaw,” said the jeweler.

“Wonderful!” said the stone’s owner.

“No, it’s not. If it’s flawless, it’s a fake. A phony. Nothing in the natural world is flawless,” replied the jeweler.

“Then find a flaw!”

After a few more tense moments, the jeweler discovered a small flaw, and the owner of the stone stopped worrying that he had been taken in by a piece of plastic masquerading as a gem.

What does this have to do with admissions? Just this: When the adcoms ask you to write about a flaw or weakness in your essays, and you either fail to offer any or the ones you come up with sound like you are just checking a box – mentioning something vague and generic and not of much significance – you will seem like a fake in their eyes.

Everything in nature has an imperfection or two (or three), including human beings. Don’t misunderstand: we’re not suggesting that you cop to every weakness you know that you have and say, “This is me. Take it or leave it.”

But if you have learned and grown from your weaknesses or succeeded in [url=https://blog.accepted.com/writing-about-overcoming-obstacles-in-your-application-essays/]overcoming obstacles[/url], you are well positioned to flip those shortcomings into strengths in your essays. It takes honest self-reflection, a desire to improve, and hard work to break an unhealthy habit, pattern, or way of thinking. The ability to demonstrate self-awareness by working to minimize your flaws and develop new skills or talents to compensate for weaknesses will prove your maturity while also building your resilience. These are qualities that adcoms especially want to see these days. 

How can failures and flaws really build resilience? 

Recently, we worked with a client who was [url=https://www.accepted.com/mba]applying to MBA programs[/url] and had once made the type of mistake that could have not only gotten him fired but also destroyed a lucrative business relationship between his employer and a major customer. 

Here’s the story: “Sami” was working in an analytics department and played a role in the incorrect interpretation of some key data. This incorrect reading led his employer to recommend a business strategy to the firm’s customer that was the exact opposite of what it should have been. What a disaster! Sami didn’t discover this catastrophic error until after the new strategy had been implemented. 

He could have watched from afar as the strategy failed and things fell apart. Instead, he came clean and waited for the blowback. Sami expected the worst and nearly began clearing out his desk.  

Instead, he was rewarded for his integrity, despite the risk to his reputation. Not only did he keep his job, but the relationship between his employer and the firm’s customer actually flourished. This experience clearly positioned Sami to write about a “failure” and the lessons he learned about owning up to one’s mistakes and accepting responsibility. He didn’t look smaller because of his mistake – his stature grew because of his honesty.  

“Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.”

Essay questions that ask you to discuss failure, risk, mistakes, conflict, difficult interactions, or overcoming obstacles often make applicants cringe. After all, you’re on a mission to show the admissions committee that you are on top of your game and ready to conquer the world. The last thing you want to do is wave a flag that calls attention to the gory details of when and where you’ve fallen short. 

As Sami’s experience proves, however, questions about failure provide a window into your character. How resilient are you in the face of a setback? How did you respond to the situation? Did you shrink from the impact of your actions, or did you muster the courage to try to set things right, as best as you could, under the circumstances? What did you learn about yourself, about the world of business, about relationships, and/or about communication? What wisdom did you gain that you have applied in your life since then? Can you show convincingly that you view your stumble as an inevitable, vital, even transformative step on the road to achievement?

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden once said, “Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.” So take heart: writing about your flaws and setbacks is an opportunity for you to shine by [url=https://blog.accepted.com/proving-character-traits-in-your-application-essays/]showing your humility, commitment to growth, and determination[/url] to apply lessons learned. Reading about your setbacks allows the admissions committee to understand what you’re really made of. 

Follow these four steps to transform your setbacks into achievements.

1. Demonstrate how your failure led to success.

The mistake you made might have led you to discover a new idea, strategy, or invention that you otherwise would not have discovered. Or, it might have given you the determination to strengthen your skills or knowledge base.

Be specific when you present your examples. A mistake you made in the lab might have cost you weeks of work. However, as a result, you learned something important about lab techniques, and now you’ve adopted more fastidious research practices. (Note: this needs to go way beyond the normal trial-and-error nature of research.)

If you are discussing a personal failure, maybe you neglected an important relationship to the point where the relationship died. Feeling this loss keenly, you now make a point of treating people with greater respect. When writing about professional or personal failures and lessons learned, you cannot simply claim that you’ve changed without citing evidence. Clearly spell out what you learned and how you have changed. Offer true, believable examples of times when you behaved differently, more purposefully and sensitively, as a way of investing more deeply and wisely in your relationships.

2. Show that you truly understand why something went wrong.

Explaining what went wrong is only half the game in these essays. You must also explain why it went wrong.

Doing so will show the adcom that you have taken time to really think about and reflect on your role in the situation and your understanding of the dynamics that led to the problem. Don’t play the blame game. Explain the process you went through to get real answers and solutions. Relate some of the steps you have taken to avoid making similar mistakes since. Perhaps you caught yourself about to repeat the mistake, but realized that impulse was not the “new you” and saved yourself from making the error again.

Let’s look at an example. You pushed your colleagues hard to complete a work project, but your hard-driving nature made them resent you, and with no benefit to the project. Having realized your mistake – even though your sole intention was to get the job done on time – perhaps you could write about the focused attention you now pay to your colleagues’ suggestions, efforts, and capabilities. In other words, from that error you have learned to turn lemons into lemonade. Offer at least one specific example of how your efforts have paid off.

3. Focus on what you’ve learned on a personal level.

Mature applicants view and consider situations and people differently – and make decisions more deliberately – after making mistakes. Prove that you are this kind of applicant. Show how you grew by, for example, taking a course in time management to help better juggle all your responsibilities without dropping the ball, starting therapy to help with your anxiety when work pressure feels overwhelming, or another tangible step forward.

Add power to your explanations by describing “before and after” situations: the “before” stressed-out, not-well-organized person staying up till 3 a.m. to get everything done and delivering haphazard work, and the “after” person practicing time-management and mindfulness skills, and coping with responsibilities more calmly, deliberately, and competently. Demonstrating these changes through real-life examples presents you as more grown-up and emotionally intelligent. And you can bet the admissions committee wants to see these valuable traits.

4. Show the adcom how you’ve become more resilient.

“Resilience” has become a cliche, but it’s critical to appreciate the concept: it is the building of inner strength and fortitude in the face of conflict, pain, or disappointment. Successful adults must be resilient to cope with life’s rocky patches. Naturally, colleges and universities want to see evidence that you have this important quality.

Earlier in this article, we said that a weakness or failure could be flipped into a strength, given the right attitude and effort. Similarly, a weakness can also be the flip side of a strength. For example, perhaps your tendency to be “too detail oriented” resulted in your discovering a critical error before it triggered a larger problem. Identifying your weakness and giving it careful thought might have prompted you to take steps to correct or minimize it.

Be thoughtful in your responses to questions about weakness or failure, and don’t shy away from them. [url=https://reports.accepted.com/guide/leadership-in-admissions-2]Successful leaders[/url] must have honesty and integrity as part of their DNA and be able to identify and admit to failures and weaknesses. As motivational speaker Zig Ziglar pointed out, “It’s not how far you fall, but how high you bounce that counts.” 

Nobody’s perfect, but a “perfect” answer to questions about flaws and failures just might get you admitted! To make sure your essays reflect you at your best, [url=https://www.accepted.com/services?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_medium=resilience&utm_source=blog]work with us[/url]. Every consultant at Accepted has years of experience in admissions and guiding applicants to gain coveted acceptances at top schools worldwide. Let them do the same for you!

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Judy-Gruen.jpg[/img]

By Judy Gruen, a former Accepted admissions consultant. Judy holds a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University and is the co-author of Accepted’s first full-length book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. [url=https://www.accepted.com/services?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_medium=blog_bio_Judy&utm_source=blog]Want an admissions expert to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch![/url]

[b]Related Resources:[/b]

[list]
[*][url=https://reports.accepted.com/from-example-to-exemplary-guide]From Example to Exemplary: How to Use Sample Essays to Make Your Essay Outstanding![/url], a free guide[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/writing-about-overcoming-obstacles-in-your-application-essays/]Three Ways Writing About Obstacles Strengthens Your Application Essays[/url], a short video[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/recipe-for-writing-an-accomplishment-essay/]Strategy for Writing an Accomplishment Essay (with examples)[/url][/*]
[/list]
The post [url=https://blog.accepted.com/resilience-how-flaws-and-failures-can-strengthen-your-application/]The Resilience Factor: How Flaws and Failures Can Strengthen Your Application[/url] appeared first on [url=https://blog.accepted.com]Accepted Admissions Blog[/url].
This Blog post was imported into the forum automatically. We hope you found it helpful. Please use the Kudos button if you did, or please PM/DM me if you found it disruptive and I will take care of it. -BB
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Rejected by Harvard Business School Now What? [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Rejected by Harvard Business School – Now What?




February 1st was either an exciting day or a tearful one for Harvard Business School (HBS) Round 2 (R2) applicants: the school’s MBA Admissions Board notified candidates whether they were invited to interview or had merited “early release.” Euphemistic though it sounds, early release should really be viewed by R2 applicants as the blessing that it is: you now know that you are out of the running for the HBS program and are free to consider your other options. So dab your eyes with a tissue, patch up the wall you punched, and take a look at what some of those other options are.

U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents

If you are a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you can still consider Round 3 (R3) at your top-choice programs, especially if you have a unique background or profile that these programs might still want to round out their classes. Did you steer growth in Africa, lead a new product in Eastern Europe, or pioneer a revolutionary health program in Mongolia? These are examples of unique experiences and insights that many top MBA programs would love to include among their student bodies. While visa challenges tend to stymie R3 applicants who need an F-1 Visa to study in the United States, if you have U.S. residency, you might be a prime R3 candidate. 

Moreover, if you are living in the United States, you might find one of the many top MBA programs with part-time options to be the perfect alternative if there are weak points in your profile. Students in Berkeley Haas’s full-time program have an average GMAT of 733, but those in its part-time program have a median GMAT of only 700 (with 80% of students falling within the 620-740 range). The average GMAT score for students in Northwestern Kellogg’s full-time MBA program is 731, but (even though its part-time MBA does not release data about student test scores) Kellogg waives test requirements for applicants with an undergrad GPA of 3.4 or higher in a business, economics, or STEM field. Chicago Booth’s full-time students have a 728 average GMAT, but its average for the part-time program is only 691. If your GMAT score was a significant factor holding you back, then part-time programs offer the opportunity to graduate with the same degree without making another attempt – or several! – to improve your GMAT scores.

Non-U.S. Citizens

If you are an international student and therefore not a good R3 candidate for the U.S. fall-entry MBA programs, you do have alternatives that will put you in a business school classroom in the coming year. First, if your heart is set on building your career in the United States, then there are other program options to consider here. For example, if your goals are in finance, you might consider a Master of Financial Engineering degree at Berkeley Haas (R2 deadline is March 28th, R3 is May 16th) or Baruch College (R3 deadline is February 15th). Columbia also offers a Master of Applied Analytics (priority deadline is February 15th, final deadline is June 1st) . For those interested in business analytics or careers in management science and engineering or financial engineering, you might consider Columbia’s Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, which offers concentrations focused on these areas (regular deadline is February 15th). Aspiring product managers and tech entrepreneurs might consider Cornell Tech’s MBA (rolling admissions through March 6th).

Outside the United States

MBA aspirants who are seeking international careers can consider the top MBA programs in Europe and Canada as well. Oxford Saïd has one remaining deadline for this year (March 20th), as does London Business School  (March 25th), as does the MBA program at Cambridge Judge has two (March 11th and May 7th).

In addition, IMD practically just began its admissions process, with upcoming deadlines of February 15th, April 15th, June 15th, August 15th, September 15th, and October 15th  remaining to enter its program (pre-program work starts in October). Similarly, INSEAD’s Round  4 deadline for its August intake is March 5th, and for its January-intake program – whose students complete an internship in the middle of the program – has an R1 deadline of March 12th.

For applicants who were particularly interested in HBS’s case study approach, the Ivey MBA program in Canada – whose students analyze more than 300 cases over the course of its one-year MBA – might be the perfect alternative (the R1 deadline was Jan 29th, but international students can apply up through R4, for which the deadline is September 23rd). IESE in Spain also bases its program on the case method and accepts applications through May 31st. Other programs in Canada include Toronto Rotman, Sauder, and HEC Montreal, all of which accept international applicants with early March deadlines.

Address Your Weaknesses

Finally, if your heart is still set on HBS and its full-time U.S. program peers, early release offers you time to assess your application profile and address any weaknesses over the next seven months. Many applicants find Accepted’s rejection review the perfect starting point in identifying the parts of their application and profile that would benefit from improvement. 

Have you made a noticeable impact beyond the norm in your professional role? Have you demonstrated deep community engagement? Is your GMAT/GRE score meeting (or ideally, exceeding) your target program’s average score? If not, this is a great time to take action and patch those holes.

If you would like a free profile review to identify weaknesses in your profile or shortcomings in your previous applications, register for a free consultation



Vanessa Febo has ten years of experience teaching academic and professional writing at UCLA, with a special certification in teaching writing techniques. She has drawn on this expertise to guide clients to placements at top institutions, including Harvard, Stanford, and USC. Before joining Accepted, Vanessa coached UCLA students through the application process for graduate programs, major grants, fellowships, and scholarships, including the Fulbright, Stanford Knight-Hennessey, and the Ford Foundation Fellowship. Additionally, Vanessa has extensive experience successfully guiding clients through applications for a diverse range of programs, including those in business, humanities, social sciences, and STEM fields. Want Vanessa to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!

Related Resources:

The post Rejected by Harvard Business School – Now What? appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.
This Blog post was imported into the forum automatically. We hope you found it helpful. Please use the Kudos button if you did, or please PM/DM me if you found it disruptive and I will take care of it. -BB
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Starting Your Application Essay: Three Tips [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Starting Your Application Essay: Three Tips
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Starting-Your-Application-Essay-Three-Tips-1.png[/img]
[url=https://www.accepted.com/free-admissions-consultation-all][img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/Starting-Your-Application-Essay-Three-Tips-1.png[/img][/url]

If you haven’t yet read the other blog posts in this series, go ahead and check them out:

[list]
[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/identifying-the-ingredients-of-a-winning-essay/]Identifying the Ingredients of a Winning Essay[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/from-example-to-exemplary-2-a-theme-for-your-statement-of-purpose/]Finding a Theme for Your Statement of Purpose[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/writing-career-goals-essay/]Writing Your Career Goals Essay[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/how-to-create-the-first-draft-of-your-application-essay/]How to Start Your First Draft of an Application Essay[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/from-example-to-exemplary-5-revise-and-polish-your-essays/]Revise and Polish Your Application Essays[/url][/*]
[/list]

Once you have [url=https://blog.accepted.com/from-example-to-exemplary-2-a-theme-for-your-statement-of-purpose/]reflected on the questions that helped you identify and develop your essay theme[/url], you should have a clear path to writing an effective essay. Here are three essential steps to help you achieve that goal.

[url=https://www.accepted.com/free-admissions-consultation-all][img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Schedule-Free-Consultation-Banner-Button.png[/img][/url]

1. Make an outline.

An outline can be formal or informal, but start with one as a foundation. A formal outline will have clearly delineated categories and subcategories, while an informal outline can simply be a list of the main points you want to cover. After answering the questions in [url=https://blog.accepted.com/from-example-to-exemplary-2-a-theme-for-your-statement-of-purpose/]the second blog post in this series[/url], you should have a robust list of experiences, anecdotes, and ideas for possible inclusion in your essay. Do you have more examples and ideas than you can use in a single essay? If so, that’s a good problem to have! You can “spread the wealth” of these anecdotes among different essay questions and schools. Having a variety of experiences and stories in your inventory will also make your writing fresher and easier to do for each school.  

2. Structure your essay with an introduction, main content, and conclusion.

Now let’s break the job down further to keep the task of writing manageable. First, how long can or should your essay be? Grad school application essays can range from as short as 250 words to more than 1,500. Ironically, writing a very good short essay is much harder than writing a very good long one. Writing a super-short essay is like being six feet tall and stuck in a coach airline seat – you’re going to feel cramped, despite writing as succinctly as possible. You have very little room to add colorful context or details. At the same time, you must pare your story down to its essence, and there is strength in that.

Assuming you have more legroom, so to speak, and can write up to 700 words, you still have to divide that real estate among your essay’s introduction, main body, and conclusion. Breaking your essay down like this will help you gauge how much you can afford to write in each section, with the main content comprising most of the space. However, while keeping that in mind, don’t worry too much about overwriting at first. In your initial drafts, you need to be able to write everything you want and need to say. In the editing process, you’ll find ways to trim and pare your essay down to just the most crucial material, including the most salient, compelling experiences and insights.  

It is difficult to edit yourself, however. Even professional writers need editors on important projects. [url=https://www.accepted.com/grad/services?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_medium=ex2ex_lets_get_drafted&utm_source=article]Having an expert editor to help you trim down your essays can be a huge asset[/url], saving you time while helping you make content decisions that will work to your advantage. 

3. If you feel stuck, start from the middle, or even the end, of your essay.

In [url=https://blog.accepted.com/identifying-the-ingredients-of-a-winning-essay/]post #1[/url] and [url=https://blog.accepted.com/writing-career-goals-essay/]post #3[/url] of this series, we looked at some strong introductions and analyzed what made them work. But don’t get hung up on crafting the perfect introduction before moving on to the rest of your essay. If you freeze up because you’re not sure how to begin your essay, days might go by with no progress. So here’s a writing secret: you don’t have to start at the beginning. Start with any section of the essay about which you feel confident. It could be in the middle, with a story you want to tell. It could even be the conclusion you have in mind. Often, the perfect introduction will come to you when you are well into writing the rest of the essay. 

Primarily, don’t lose sight of the image you want to create of yourself for the admissions committee. One way to think about this is to ask yourself [url=https://blog.accepted.com/proving-character-traits-in-your-application-essays/]what three adjectives you want them to associate with you after reading your application.[/url] Determined, focused, and empathetic? Ambitious, team-oriented, and creative? Visionary, responsible, and community-minded? As you read your draft, try to see whether your three intended adjectives are standing out to you. Keep your eye on the prize. Stay focused on presenting the most meaningful, lively examples that will best showcase the talented, purpose-driven individual you want the adcom to see you as.  

And even though we’ve written this before and you’ve heard it before, it bears repeating: never simply claim to be something without backing it up with evidence.

Summary Tips

[list]
[*]Make an outline, even if it’s informal.
[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/first-drafts-of-personal-statements-let-yourself-go/]Feel free to overwrite your first drafts[/url] – within reason. Capture on paper all the important experiences, ideas, and insights you want to share. As you edit, you will trim the excess and get to the core of your message. Engaging a skilled editor to support you can be a wise investment.
[/*]

[*]Don’t worry if you are stuck on the opening of your essay. Skip it for now, and start wherever you feel confident about what you want to write. As you build your essay from the middle or even the conclusion, the introduction will come to you. We promise!
[/*]

[*]Keep in mind the impression you want the adcom to have of you when they have finished reading your essay. Does your narrative suggest that image to you?[/*]
[/list]

[url=https://blog.accepted.com/from-example-to-exemplary-5-revise-and-polish-your-essays/]In the next and final post in this series[/url], you’ll learn how to revise and polish your exemplary essays.

Our incredible experts at Accepted will walk you through the process of creating a slam-dunk application. They have read literally thousands of essays and know the exact ingredients of an outstanding essay. Need help figuring out which service is best for you? [url=https://www.accepted.com/free-admissions-consultation-all]Click here for more guidance.[/url]

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Judy-Gruen.jpg[/img]

By Judy Gruen, former Accepted admissions consultant. Judy holds a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. She is also the co-author of Accepted’s first full-length book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. [url=https://www.accepted.com/services?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_medium=blog_bio_Judy&utm_source=blog]Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch[/url]!

[b]Related resources:[/b]

[list]
[*][url=https://reports.accepted.com/guide/how-to-fit-in-stand-out-during-the-admissions-process]Fitting In & Standing Out: The Paradox at the Heart of Admissions[/url], a free guide[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/recipe-for-writing-an-accomplishment-essay/]Strategy for Writing an Accomplishment Essay (with examples)[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://www.accepted.com/admissions-podcast]Admissions Straight Talk [/url]Podcast[/*]
[/list]
The post [url=https://blog.accepted.com/how-to-create-the-first-draft-of-your-application-essay/]Starting Your Application Essay: Three Tips[/url] appeared first on [url=https://blog.accepted.com]Accepted Admissions Blog[/url].
This Blog post was imported into the forum automatically. We hope you found it helpful. Please use the Kudos button if you did, or please PM/DM me if you found it disruptive and I will take care of it. -BB
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How to Get into HEC Paris MBA? [Episode 565] [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: How to Get into HEC Paris MBA? [Episode 565]
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/HEC-Paris-MBA-Essay-Tips-and-Deadlines-2022-–-2023.png[/img]

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/02/HEC-Paris-MBA-Essay-Tips-and-Deadlines-2022-–-2023.png[/img]

Don’t miss our Admissions Straight Talk podcast interview with Sara Vanos, the Executive Director of Marketing and Admissions for HEC Paris MBA Programs. Sara highlights the unique aspects of the full-time MBA program, such as the 16-month duration, on-campus housing, and flexibility in specialization and electives. She also mentions the New Horizons program, which focuses on anticipating trends and thinking creatively. Listen below or click the image to read the full transcript.



The HEC Paris MBA application essays – and there are many compared to most MBA applications these days –give the adcom a well-rounded view of you. They go beyond what you’ve done to capture how you think and respond, even how you imagine. Moreover, they require you to communicate complex thoughts and experiences succinctly. For the four shorter essays especially, don’t waste words on conventional introductory and concluding paragraphs. Jump right into your point or story and use straightforward sentences that avoid wordy constructions (e.g. “had the opportunity to”); don’t hesitate to use direct, declarative sentences. This writing approach has an added benefit: it conveys confidence.

Since there are several essays, I suggest first sketching out ideas for them all, then stepping back to assess how all these facets add up as a whole, and adjusting topics if/as necessary to avoid redundancy and ensure a well-rounded presentation that will make the adcom feel that they must invite you for an interview.

HEC Paris MBA application essays

HEC MBA essay #1

Why are you applying to the HEC MBA Program now? What is the professional objective that will guide your career choice after your MBA, and how will the HEC MBA contribute to the achievement of this objective? (500 words maximum)

This is a traditional goals question with a couple of twists.

  • First, the “why now” part should be explicitly addressed, even if it seems obvious. Briefly is fine – the essay overall should make this case ultimately.


  • Second, the “professional objective” is essentially your long-term career vision. The question implies that this vision or goal will drive your preceding steps, so present your shorter-term goal(s) in that context: show how they pave the way for you to pursue and achieve your ultimate professional objective.


  • Be brief but specific when discussing the HEC MBA – tie its program directly to achievement of your goals, and detail the 2-3 points about the program that are most meaningful to you.

Finally, connect the dots. This essay, well done, will convey how your goals grow organically from your experience and are achievable given your previous experience and an MBA from HEC.



HEC MBA essay #2

What do you consider your most significant life achievement? (250 words maximum)

Most significant life achievement – Wow. It probably didn’t happen yesterday. And for many people it didn’t happen at work… Few work accomplishments rise to the level of MOST SIGNIFICANT LIFE ACHIEVEMENT. Imagine if, for example, you state that boosting your organization’s bottom-line (by whatever amount) is your greatest life achievement – the adcom might wonder about your values or whether you really have a life. Although, if you can say that at work you saved jobs or lessened negative environmental impacts or were instrumental in developing a new medical advancement, that would be more substantial and could possibly fit the bill.

For many people, this story will be personal – I think of clients who have persevered through, managed, and overcome major family crises. For others, it will involve impact with community, religious, and/or social organizations or groups; for yet others it could involve a major milestone such as a national sports ranking or photo exhibit or music performance.

Whatever topic you select, with only 250 words, simply narrate the story and include the results or impact. It would be fine to have a sentence or two of reflection on why it’s so meaningful to you, but don’t make a long explanation. The reason should be clear from the content.

HEC MBA essay #3

Leadership and ethics are inevitably intertwined in the business world. Describe a situation in which you have dealt with these issues and how they have influenced you. (250 words maximum)

Again, keep the structure simple: tell the story, and end with a brief discussion of how the experience has influenced you. Don’t feel the need to present a very dramatic story – many such situations are gray, not black and white. It may seem like a challenge to identify an experience that encompasses both leadership and ethics. However, addressing an ethics challenge will almost inherently require leadership (even if informal), whether on your part or someone else’s. When you explain how it influenced you, don’t just state generalities; give a specific example.

HEC MBA essay #4

Imagine a life entirely different from the one you now lead, what would it be? (250 words maximum)

This essay is an opportunity to show a different side of yourself. Describe an imagined life that reflects something meaningful to you. Make it vivid, show your passion. Note that the question does NOT ask what you would do if not in your current life/role; it asks you to imagine a life. Use that openness to express your creativity. In doing so, however, avoid being abstract. Weave in and employ your actual knowledge and experience, e.g., if you love ballet and are an avid ballet-goer, you could build your imagined life in a way that portrays your knowledge of and passion for dance. The reader would learn something interesting about you – and your prospective contribution to the social milieu of the program.

HEC MBA essay #5

Please choose from one of the following essays: (250 words maximum)

a) What monument or site would you advise a first-time visitor to your country or city to discover, and why?

b) Certain books, movies or plays have had an international success that you believe to be undeserved. Choose an example and analyze it.

c) What figure do you most admire and why? You may choose from any field (arts, literature, politics, business, etc.).

All these options are equally good – choose the one that resonates most with you; the one that you want to answer. It’s another opportunity to showcase your interests and passions. The “why” part is key: avoid platitudes, be specific and present focused, fresh insights.

HEC MBA essay #6

Is there any additional information you would like to share with us?(900 words max)

This question invites you to explain anything that needs explaining (e.g., gap in employment, choice of recommender, a bad grade, etc.) as well as to present new material that will enhance your application. If you choose to do the latter, make sure it’s a point that contributes to a clear and full picture of your candidacy. They give you a lot of words to work with; don’t think that you must use all 900!

HEC Paris at a glance

HEC MBA average GMAT score: 690

Class size (Class of 2021): 281

HEC MBA acceptance rate: 18.9%

You’ve worked so hard to get to this point in your journey. Now that you’re ready for your next achievement, make sure you know how to present yourself to maximum advantage in your SCHOOL NAME application. In a hotly competitive season, you’ll want a member of Team Accepted in your corner, guiding you with expertise tailored specifically for you. Check out our flexible consulting packages today!

HEC Paris remaining MBA application deadlines for Jan 2023 intake

Application dueDecision received1 June 20229 July 202215 August 202217 September 202215 September 202222 October 202215 October 2022**19 November 202215 November 2022**17 December 2022

*Application deadlines may be subject to change 

** For non EU nationals, we encourage you to apply sooner due to housing and student visas

Source: HEC Paris website

***Disclaimer: Information is subject to change. Please check with individual programs to verify the essay questions, instructions and deadlines.***

For expert guidance with your HEC Paris MBA application, check out Accepted’s MBA Application Packages, which include comprehensive guidance from an experienced admissions consultant. We’ve helped hundreds of applicants get accepted to top MBA programs and look forward to helping you too!

How to Get into HEC Paris MBA? [Episode 565]



Show Summary

Are you interested in an MBA program located in Europe, with a strong global and entrepreneurial flavor, a program that prides itself on flexibility and personalization? And would you love to complete your full-time MBA in just 16 months? Then HEC Paris may be just the ticket for you. 

In this episode of Admissions Straight Talk, Linda Abraham interviews Sara Vanos, the Executive Director of Marketing and Admissions for HEC Paris MBA Programs. They discuss the MBA programs offered at HEC Paris. Sara highlights the unique aspects of the full-time MBA program, such as the 16-month duration, on-campus housing, and flexibility in specialization and electives. She also mentions the New Horizons program, which focuses on anticipating trends and thinking creatively. Sara emphasizes the importance of work experience, extracurricular activities, and language proficiency in the admissions process. She also addresses the use of AI tools like ChatGPT in essay writing and the relevance of an MBA degree in today’s world. 

Show Notes

Welcome to the 565th episode of Admissions Straight Talk. Thanks for tuning in. Are you ready to apply to your dream MBA programs? Are you competitive in those programs? Accepted’s MBA admissions quiz can give you a quick reality check. Just go to accepted.com/mbaquiz, complete the quiz, and you’ll not only get an assessment, but tips on how to improve your qualifications. Plus, it’s all free. 

It gives me great pleasure to have, for the first time on Admissions Straight Talk, Sara Vanos, Executive Director of Marketing Admissions HEC Paris, MBA Programs. Sara started her career in higher education at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, and in 2014 she moved to HEC Paris, starting out in their careers office. Since 2016, she has worked in marketing and recruitment. Sara became the Executive Director of Marketing and Admissions for HEC’s three MBA programs in April 2023, and she also earned her MBA at HEC in the executive MBA program. 

Sara, welcome to Admissions Straight Talk. [1:54]

Thank you so much, Linda. It’s a pleasure to be here today.

Can you start by just giving us a very high-level overview of HEC’s three MBA programs? [2:01]

Sure, I’d be happy to. So we have our full-time MBA program, which is a 16-month program that can be residential. We have on-campus housing, or you can live off-campus. So that’s in our Jouy-en-Josas campus, which is quite close to Paris. You can do specialization, you can do electives, plus your core plus all kinds of other sorts of surprises and leadership activities. So that would be our full-time MBA.

Then we have our executive MBA. That can take anywhere from 15 to 21 months because it’s part-time. It’s either modular block, so you come on campus every two months, or you can do every other weekend in Paris. It’s typically for more senior professionals. So the average age is 40, usually with some management experience. And then we have anything from directors to CEOs to CFOs in that program. So very senior crowd. And then we have TRIUM, which is one of our flagship partnership programs. So it’s in partnership with LSE and also NYU. Even slightly more senior profiles that join that program. And it’s really exciting because it takes place in modules all over the world.

How long is that program? [3:17]

That one is almost 20 months.

Let’s zoom in on the full-time MBA program’s more notable and distinctive elements. Can you describe them? You’ve hinted at them a little bit. By the way, I once visited HEC Paris and it’s absolutely beautiful. [3:26]

I commute from Paris every day to go on campus, so it’s actually really easy to reach. And like you said, it’s beautiful. So it’s a wooded, private, acres of a forest, tennis courts, a chateau of its own, and of course, our other programs. But the one that we’ll zoom in on now is the MBA. So a beautiful campus with the possibility to live on campus, which is kind of interesting and different because a lot of MBA programs, you’re spread out everywhere. So we feel that having this on-campus housing really builds the community from day one because you’re with about 80% of the students living in our residential housing, you can easily attend club activities, and different community events, so you really foster that connection from day one.

If we start with the curriculum or notable things there, I think the 16 months is really unique. So typically, you’re looking at an MBA, “Where do I do it, how long, my ROI.” Et cetera. So we’ve kind of found the sweet spot. So you can either do 12 or 16 months, depending on your intake. So it can be a little shorter than the longer programs, but you get all the benefits of the longer programs. So electives, specialization, participation in our MBA Olympics, New Horizons, which is broadening your horizons and figuring out how to anticipate trends. So that’s unique.

We have a pretty smaller than I would say, some of the larger class sizes. So usually, an average of about 300 students come in two intakes. And you can start in September or January. So that’s also unique. I think if we say maybe one takeaway from these things I’ve kind of thrown out, there would be flexibility and customization. So I know that’s what a lot of people look for in their program. So whether it’s program length, how to sort of specialize what you take, so we have the specializations, which electives, where you live, if you live on campus, all of that really offers the flexibility to have a great experience.

You mentioned the New Horizons program. Could you tell us what that is? [5:38]

So it’s a type of capstone, but it’s really tailored specifically to HEC Paris. So it’s relatively new in our curriculum. We always had a type of MBA project or capstone, but we’ve really refined this one. So when students come in, they’re challenged to come up with a strategic question, but then they have followings or courses or workshops through their MBA. There’s always a surprise visit. And the goal of New Horizons is  to prepare you professionally, possibly have your question address something that will have your career sort of at heart, but it teaches you to anticipate trends and think about the what-ifs.

So it does that in different ways. For example, we have different improvisation workshops, so really hands-on how to react. We have workshops taught by consulting firms, so how to think like a consultant. And then we also have this kind of surprise visit. So every year the visit is changing. This year the students were surprised at 3:00 AM to visit a place called Rungis, which is where all of the fresh food produce comes in just outside Paris. So operationally, there are so many things to look at, especially because we’re receiving from countries all over the world and just how to scale, how to anticipate, how to think about it could be AI trends, it could be many different trends. So just addressing those in a real life place and then speaking about them in the following workshops. And it culminates with a project or a paper where you have to take your strategic ideas, challenge it, take all these workshops, put them into place, and then your final project, which can be used towards your professional career or starting your own company.

The interesting thing about the fruit and vegetable market is that it’s also so old. [7:17]

It started in Paris a long time ago, and now it’s scaled quite a bit and moved out, but it’s just the most interesting place at such a scale to think about that and managing that and anticipating trends, and what if there’s a pandemic? How do you receive what happens next?

HEC’s program is a 16-month program with two possible intakes. What about the internship? Most MBA programs feel that the internship is very important, especially for career changers. What does HEC say about that? [7:45]

So HEC and myself are very, very happy behind the internship. It can be very important step in someone’s career. Not necessarily, but we do offer that choice. So if someone joins in September, they do the MBA internship in the traditional timing, so it would be a summer internship. So there are different ways through the curriculum to prepare. That would be sort of similar to a two-year program where you have that gap in the summer, then you come back for your specialization and graduate early.

For January, it’s kind of interesting and cool because they can do a smaller summer internship, so a two-month internship in the summer, and then for their fourth term, they can choose to do a longer internship. In Paris, sometimes internships can be up to six months. So this allows them to do that kind of traditional French internship and/or they could go straight into full-time. So it’s quite flexible there as well. Shorter, longer internship and/or short internship. So many combinations. I think the hardest part is deciding and wrapping your head around which one is best for your career. Some of our students will choose to do other things in the summer instead of internships. Some will choose to learn French intensively. Some will choose to travel, some will choose to work on a startup or MBA project. But I would say about 80% of students will follow some kind of internship before they graduate.

What are the language requirements for entrance to HEC and for graduation? [9:20]

To enter, you just have to be able to pass your TOEFL,or be a native English speaker, and have done a degree prior to that in English. So the entry requirements are quite easy. I think graduating becomes a little bit trickier because we expect you to learn at least one new language before you leave the program and at a level designed for your goals. So we have in-person French classes, which our students can take. They can, however, choose the level based on how far they want to go. So let’s say they know they want to work in France, they’ll choose something a bit more intensive. So they’ll evaluate their level before, and their classes will be very intense and directed at giving a certification at a level where they can work with a proficiency, versus other students might say, “Okay, I want to have a level of French to communicate, to get around Paris to enjoy, but I don’t necessarily need it to work.” So they could choose that level.

On top of that, we sometimes have students who will choose to follow an additional language. There are up to 14 available, some in person, and some through our language center. But for example, when I worked in careers, I had quite a few students who would learn German instead of French because they were targeting to work in Germany afterward. So you have a lot of choices there, and it’s all included in the tuition, and it’s kind of at the desire of the student based on where they want to go. And then, we complement that with what we think can help to their professional goals or personal goals.

Do you ever have students who, let’s say, are very good at a particular language and say they want that to be their second language so they really don’t have to learn a second language or third language would be the case? [10:48]

Yes. Those ones have to learn a third language.

The basic requirement is that everyone needs to come out with a minimal, I think it’s a B1 level in an additional language. So we do have some students who come in speaking two languages. Most of our students, I think we looked and I think almost 90% of our students already come in with two. So they need a third. There are students with three already who need to learn a fourth. So we just want at least one new language at proficiency as part of the overall experience.

A very high percentage of students at HEC do not come from France. How does career placement work if they want to go back to their home country or they want to a country other than France? [11:27]

I just looked at this stat this morning, and I think 74% of our students work outside of their home country, but in over 50 different countries. So we do have students coming who want to work in France or Europe or UK. So that’s happening. I think generally, about 50% of our class has placement in Europe or the UK. We do have a lot of students though, however, who want to experience a new geography or who want to return to their company. So we have sponsored students who return to their home company or we sometimes have students who want to go back to their home country. We also have double-degree students who do one year here and one year at a university in another country, so they have those double networks.

What I think is important is that we have alumni and even alumni chapters, but also sometimes alumni offices across different countries in the world. Our careers team works with companies that are global. Often they’ll work with a global office that will look at regional placements. So we do have connections, I would say, worldwide. There are places where we place more students. So I would say in Asia we have more. Also, the US. Last year we had a lot of placement across Latin America, specifically Mexico in consulting. So our careers team works globally, but sometimes they’ll chase opportunities based on the makeup or desire of the class because that seems to be ever-changing.

Years ago, everyone wanted to work in France. The last two years I think our students have been a bit more open based on opportunity. We’ve had a lot of placement for consulting firms in the Middle East as well. So sometimes MBB students are more geographically open. So again, we have the connections and we kind of have our plan, but then every year we make some tweaks to it with the careers team based on what our students are looking for.

What don’t people know about HEC Paris that you would like them to know? Are there any misconceptions you’d like to dispel, myths you’d like to bust, or just things that you think are unknown? [13:25]

So I think one of the myths, perhaps is that you need French, that the classes are in French or that you need French to survive and thrive. We have lots of students every year who say, “It’s not important to me.” And they have a fantastic time, and you can get by and especially where our campus is and the surroundings and in Paris, it’s nice to have French, but it’s not important. So I think first off, to live in France, to even work in France, is a nice to have. It depends on what you want to do and where you want to go, but you don’t need it. And our courses outside of language classes are all in English. So I would say that’s a common myth.

What would I like people to know? 

Maybe that you have kind of all of the things that you’d expect from an MBA, but then there are some very special things about HEC that are memorable and stand out that I would say, yeah, don’t exist everywhere. So first the specializations, that’s a four-month intensive themed kind of journey where you decide a specialization. So we can take entrepreneurship or we could take consulting or we could take finance. So you really do a deep dive there outside of the electives. So that’s really great. We have our MBA Olympics, which I think is a standout feature as well. So we host MBAs from around the world on our campus. I think it’s just a really special place, and you almost don’t know it until you talk to somebody who’s working there or studied there. It’s something that’s not very easy to communicate in words, but I think through fit, vibe, and community, you’ll feel at the moment, hopefully, that you talk to somebody who’s linked to HEC.

HEC requires a GMAT or the GRE. Any plans to accept the executive assessment or other tests? Are you considering introducing test waivers? [15:10]

I love that you asked this. It’s a really timely question because I think in the last month or two months we’ve decided to accept the executive assessment. So we could take the GRE, the GMAT, or the executive assessment. I would say, as always, it’s a great idea to talk to our marketing and recruitment managers before you decide which test because they might be able to help you find the one that is the best fit for you. We have had a very low percentage recently as well of GMAT or GRE test waivers. That would be someone with a CFA level three, for example, someone with a really strong finance background paired with a strong English test or English university, et cetera. So it’s possible, but again, it’s a conversation where we look at holistically all of the elements that we would normally find in those tests. So it can happen. We have quite a bit of flexibility there. But I think it’s good to speak to a marketing and recruitment manager because it’s really specific to the person.

Sometimes it’s about the time and preparation you put into the test that helps you to prepare for this big step, be ready in courses, but also sort of mentally prepare, mentally prepare for studying again. I think there are a lot of benefits to the tests outside of just the score to get into a program.

The website says that HEC students have an average of six years of full-time work experience. Qualitatively, what makes for impressive work experience in your eyes? [16:47]

Six years is the average. That’s just taking everyone. It’s really much wider because sometimes we have someone with, I would say usually two years would be the minimum. However, we have had once or twice someone with a little less than that. So we like to look at everyone individually. We examine, I’m in every jury, I hear about every single applicant from what they wrote in their essays to all of the things that we look at. So we do look at everything. Strong work experience is typically someone who has done something impressive or has shown a promotion or has a good motivation that matches what’s happening in their careers.

So we’ll look at the CV, we’ll look at the roles that the person has had. We’ll also look at their motivations alongside that, then we’ll look at their essays to understand a little bit more deeply, possibly their projects. A clear CV is always nice because sometimes, when there are many points and there’s a mumble jumble or a really crazy format, it’s harder for us to really assess the CV. But I would say usually career progression, interesting projects, and promotions. Sometimes brands can be interesting as well, but they’re not necessary. A really cool startup project can jump out. We’re looking for a diversity of professional backgrounds as well.

So sometimes we might have a pile of amazing investment banking CVs, but then we’ll have a designer or an architect, and that will really stand out to us. So we’re looking at everything. So not just what you think would be a perfect CV, we’re looking to add that professional diversity to the classroom and things that will really be interesting or that are interesting to employers. So if we talk about designers, it’s so interesting because in the last couple intakes, we’ve had some really cool or atypical profiles, and they’re the profiles that the companies that were recruiting we’re really looking at. So I would just say people don’t count themselves out because you have sometimes no idea what will jump out in the MBA world or what will be a success.

You mentioned a minute ago the MBA Tournament, which is one of HEC’s better known programs. It’s a three-day multi-sport competition. There have been 1,500 participants from 15 leading international business schools participating. I’m sure it’s an organizational challenge for the students. But that and HEC’s essay questions lead me to ask about the importance of non-professional, avocational interests or activities in your admissions process. Is that something that you are looking for? [18:56]

We definitely assess extracurriculars. There’s a section where you can put any additional information. It’s important to us that people learn both in kind of traditional ways and non-traditional ways. So when you’re taking an MBA, we’re looking for you to learn in the classroom, but outside the classroom, that can be through clubs, social activities, and conversations. Sometimes we even look also at it can be travel or things that show that you’ve opened your mind. Not everyone would’ve had the chance to study or work abroad, but it could be something as simple as an extracurricular that’s global, or it could be working with business colleagues across countries. So we do look at that. We have a section where you’re able to share.

Again, you can be creative in some ways there. We don’t need you just to have volunteered at a food bank. That can be fantastic. But if you’ve volunteered in other ways, if you’ve made a committee at your work, if you have, again, started a company, if you have some kind of social purpose, or you’re involved in something within your community, I think any of those are good to share. Probably the more the merrier because some people, I think undervalue what they do, and then we see the line on their CV that says they’re like, I don’t know, a martial arts champion, but they didn’t add that into their actual application or a dance champion or somebody who’s a guitarist on YouTube. I don’t know. We see all kinds of interesting things, and sometimes we find that in the line in the CV, not in the application.

What do you look for besides stats? [21:13]

We’ll start by looking at their CV. So that’s one of the criteria. We’ll look at the GMAT, GRE test. These are things that kind of all follow and complement each other. We look at previous academic backgrounds. So which school did you go to? What did you study? And again, we try to tie all of this back to motivation. So there’s a motivational paragraph where you get to explain what’s next, why an MBA. So we’re kind of trying to look holistically. As discussed, we look at extracurriculars. We also look at languages. So we think it can be interesting, even if you’ve just started to learn a language, if your goal is to work in France, it can be helpful if you’ve already started learning. It’s not necessary, but we do look at that in terms of, again, motivation, career desires and outcomes.

We look at the essays, so we read all of the essays, and then discuss them. So sometimes, things can jump out. Some of them are kind of creative. So I would say in there, depending on the essay topic, we’re looking for different things. The additional essay is something that maybe only 10 to 20% of students use, but it’s extremely interesting because it’s where you can add anything that we might not have known about you. And it’s often where we learn something extremely interesting. So I would say that’s something to look at.

Where we also evaluate, but it’s at a later stage, would be the interviews. So how did it go with your alumni interviewer? How did the alumni interviewer rate your presentation? Because you have to make a presentation. Communication skills and motivation, et cetera. I think those are all of the main buckets if I’m thinking through them. There’s none that’s weighted super heavily. They’re all kind of pairing together and matching together. And even if someone doesn’t have the perfect application, because we discuss each and every profile in a jury of several members, there are other things that can come into play. So for example, our marketing and recruitment managers try to have a call or meet everyone that comes in the program. So it can be very interesting because often they’ll add complementary information that can boost almost if somebody forgot something and the marketing recruitment manager knows, they can also talk about their conversation, talk about things like that. So I think that’s also somewhere that can add value.

Is there a conversation in addition to the interview, or are they one and the same? [23:30]

The process is basically we evaluate the whole application. The marketing recruitment manager presents the file, we speak, and we all go there. Then we decide who moves to interviews. So from there, that stage, then they have two alumni interviews, and that’s where we leave the decision to our alumni. So that’s a bit almost scary because in my teams, we could say, “This is the perfect CV, this is the perfect profile.” Unfortunately, if they don’t make it with the two favorable comments from the interviewers, they can’t be admitted. So if both say no, we are like, “Oh no.” That has happened. It’s always unfortunate because if we move someone to interviews, we really believe in them, but we believe more in our graduates’ opinions of who will fit best at HEC and who will make HEC shine the most. So we send them off and let them have that final decision.

What if the interviewers don’t agree? [24:27]

So if there’s two that don’t agree, which it’s more rare than you would think, if they don’t agree however, then it comes back. So we have a final, final jury, which involves people from our academic and delivery team, the dean, the careers team, and myself. It’s quite a large team. So that’s where we vet them all. If they all had a great application, they made it to interviews, it’s good, so we still check in case there are any flags that the larger community would like to discuss. That’s where we debate as a group. We read the comments, we look at the assessments of both interviewers, and we try to understand what the interviewer said, what that means, and how that ties back. So it’s kind of a final check and balance, and then the members of the final jury get to vote.

That’s quite a process. What do you want to learn from these essays? [25:30]

What we’re looking for there depends on the question. So sometimes we’re looking at maybe an ethical dilemma or something that someone’s facing in their work, we’re looking for a genuine example. It’s not necessarily like, “Are you writing a poem? Are you a great writer?” It’s more about the content of the essay and what’s there, and is it genuine. Is there something interesting? Do they assess themselves? Do they have emotional intelligence? It’s hard to read all of this from an essay, but actually, you can get a lot more, I think, in these paragraphs than you would imagine based on the differences of the questions.

I don’t know, sometimes you can see that someone is a little bit creative when they describe where they might take you in their home city. You can see how they kind of struggled with the decision or how they turned it around. So we’re just trying to get to know the person because, until that point, we may or may not have met them. We want to get to know them over paper. So it’s not something that you can just say like, “Yes, no”, it’s a lot deeper than that, I think. So the more someone would share, I think the more we would be able to assess and get to know them and hopefully move them to the next round.

I also found it very interesting that the longest essay question, or the one with the highest word limit is optional. The required questions are around 200-250 words, right? [26:46]

Yeah. They’re quite short. We’re looking for, usually, a couple of paragraphs, sometimes a little longer, depending on the person. Definitely, a word limit can be important because I think our longest CV was 24 pages. It was a researcher citing a lot of research.

For us that was just a little bit too long so we want to make sure that we find that sweet spot. Additional can go a lot longer because sometimes people use that to articulate various things for scholarships. So they might want to put additional information if they’re looking for a scholarship that we couldn’t have measured. Some people are telling us more about their life situation. So for the additional, we let it go. We haven’t had anything too, too long yet. And, like I said, not that many people use it, but it’s always quite valuable when they do.

Some people will use it to explain a GMAT score if it’s maybe lower than they would’ve hoped, other people will use it, for example, we have our Laidlaw scholarship, so that’s 100% funded tuition. So some of our female students will use that as a place to kind of indicate that they’re interested, and there they would have to express financial need and a little bit more information. So we kind of use that for everything for now. We’re changing to a new CRM relatively soon, wherein we’ll be able to break that down a bit more based on yes or no. So it’ll become more sophisticated shortly.

What’s the most common mistake that you see applicants making in the application process? [28:28]

Yeah, it’s a funny one. Usually, we kind of let it go because it’s so common, but a lot of people will cut and paste essays and keep the other schools that they’re applying to. It’s okay because we know that they’re applying to multiple schools, but sometimes people will say, “I’m applying to HEC only.” And then they will cut and paste an essay in a CV where they cite another school. It’s the most common one. I think for the admissions team, we are rather used to it. We know that it can happen. We know, “Okay, it’s an oversight. Maybe the person is not super detail-oriented.”

But where it can have a larger impact is our alumni will have access to the application of the person who’s applied and moved into an interview round. So for I would say our alumni, it’s a more big mistake because they want people who are like diehard HEC, they want them to love HEC, to only be thinking about HEC. So common. Easy though, I think, for applicants to take a quick double-check, put a PDF of your application file, look the whole thing through, and just look for these very small but easy-to-fix things, I would say.

Yeah, this is one of the things that comes up repeatedly from admission directors. My suggestion for applicants is if you are adapting essays from another school, don’t cut and paste, number one. But if you are adapting essays from another school, when you start that process, not at the end, when you start, do a find and replace. That way, you will not miss it. 

You mentioned ChatGPT a few minutes ago. Are you concerned at all about it? [30:17]

What’s quite interesting is recently we had a professor who gave an exam, and he allowed half the class to use ChatGPT, and he allowed half the class not to use it, and it turned out no one knew who did, who didn’t. And the professor, when they were marking the test, they didn’t know who had used it or who didn’t. The grading was much, much higher for those who did not use it. So A, I think that says something for now I think that you may lose creativity, and sometimes we know people did ChatGPT because of the format of the paragraphs or how they use emojis or kind of how they do things, it’s quite easy to know.

In the end, we are not going to ding anyone for it, but I think you might be doing yourself a disservice because A, you miss the thought that you put into the essays, which is just as important as what you write. I think the process of taking the time, finding your achievement, wording it, having that deep impact to how it comes across and how we’ll read it might or might not be more generic. I don’t know yet, and I’m sure chat GPT will get better. But for the moment, I don’t think it helps candidates that much. Maybe to formulate their ideas. But then I would still go back, and if you want the best essay, I think probably for now you’re still better than the robots. But we’re not too worried for the moment. We’ll kind of see what happens in the future. But again, we’re not looking at somebody who writes perfectly. We’re looking to understand the person, their ideas, their flow, et cetera. So if they have someone or a robot that helps them, it’s not the end of the world today.

What about applicants applying for your January 2025 intake or planning ahead for the September 2025 intake? What advice do you have for these two groups? [31:57]

I think they kind of have a pleasure and a joy of planning because we see both the people who plan really early, especially when we go to fairs, for example, in Germany, they’re planning two years out, and then we see last minute applicants who are coming in one month. We like all of them, but I do think that there’s a joy in planning early because it allows you to kind of check the boxes, make a financial plan, figure out the funding, how you’re going to be able to pay for this, make a really good Excel. Because I think funding and understanding that is quite important, and sometimes it can be maybe overlooked or rushed. So I think it’s great because you can actually make, “I want to save X.” And how much your loan is for.

I think the other thing is that you have more time to perhaps visit schools, explore, maybe do that thing where you go on multiple campus visits across schools to assess fit, more time to get in touch with current students or alumni or the schools themselves. What I would probably look at for those candidates, too, schools are changing their curriculums, not rapidly, but I hope that they’re adapting every couple of years. So I guess it will be important to know how do schools adapt their curriculum? How might that impact you? How can you kind of anticipate what might be different in a couple of years? So those are some questions that could be interesting to ask. But otherwise, I would say just enjoy the ride, the joy, and all of the time you have to study, to plan. But don’t under or overestimate the amount of time and kind of ignore little things. Just use that time wisely so that you have, I guess, a pleasant journey where you can plan everything and you’re not rushed at the last moment.

What would you have liked me to ask you? [33:57]

Maybe why or how is an MBA still relevant? Is it still relevant? Why is this the degree to follow maybe in today’s day and age? I think that’s something that people are kind of questioning.

Since the moment that I worked at Rotman, I have, and even before, real admiration for the MBA degree because I think it’s so versatile, and having had the pleasure of working careers, I have seen miraculous career jumps, changes, and not just career, but also personal. So if I look at a student who would come for coaching in year one versus two, the way that they’re challenged, the way that they’re trained to feel comfortable in the uncomfortable, the way that MBA programs teach a core but also teach you to anticipate trends, the way that you can holistically see marketing or finance or all of these buckets and how they work together, I think it’s incredible. For me, it’s still the most transformational, versatile degree. It opens doors that would most likely be closed or take you a lot longer to achieve. So I think that that’s probably the thing that you should know first. Why are you passionate about an MBA? And then for me, I truly believe in this degree before I did it, but since I did it, and with everything I’ve seen from careers to admissions and more.

I got my MBA a long time ago, and I did not pursue a traditional MBA path, and I don’t think I fully realized the benefit of the degree until maybe 15 years after I got it. But it still benefited me when I started Accepted. It has long-term value. [35:35]

Yeah, that’s extremely important. You’re not just investing in something that’s for a couple of years, you’re investing in something for life. And I’m sure that there will be moments at two years, five years, 10 years, 20 beyond where you’ll be like, “Oh yeah, I remember that.” Or, “Oh, I can read that balance sheet.” Even though you haven’t used it.

Where can listeners and potential applicants learn more about HEC Paris’ MBA programs? [36:42]

The first stop is probably the most obvious. So go on the HEC Paris MBA website. From there, there are two of buttons that you can click that might be a good place to start outside of the curriculum, et cetera. 

One would be to connect with us. So I mentioned our marketing recruitment managers, they’re the loveliest people. They want to get to know you, and they’re really genuinely there to help you, get to know you. When I visit their offices, they know where someone they met two years ago is in the class or in which job, so it’s genuine.

Or we have a button that talks about our news stories or blogs, and it inspires me all the time. I also really like Instagram, but I won’t go too crazy because I like to dream about what’s next beyond just kind of the technical things in the brochure, and our stories allow you to dream about, I don’t know, a family that moved here together or at Christmas, there was all the Christmas lights of Paris and what you can enjoy, or a student story about where they did their internships. So I would say start by dreaming and connecting with us and then go deeper into the details.



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Writing an Essay Lead That Pops [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Writing an Essay Lead That Pops
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Writing-a-Lead-That-Pops.png[/img]
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Writing-a-Lead-That-Pops.png[/img]

How many times have you sampled the first few lines of a book and decided, “Nah, this isn’t for me”? Whether you picked the book up in a store or library, or downloaded free sample online, you probably made a pretty speedy decision about whether it would hold your interest.  

The human tendency to rush to judgment

Our extremely fast-paced world has trained us to make snap decisions throughout the day, and if, for example, we’re not hooked instantly by an article, book, movie trailer, or song, we’re just a click away from another, more appealing choice. We might move quickly away from someone at a party who begins to bore us and whom we lack the patience to listen to, for even another minute.

[url=https://www.accepted.com/free-admissions-consultation-all][img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/general-free-consultation-button.png[/img][/url]

Because we have endless choices, we get choosier and choosier about what we’re willing to stick with. These rapid judgments might not be fair, but the “burden of overchoice” in our lives feeds our short attention spans. 

Admissions committee members are human. And the pressure of their job forces them to make very quick decisions about whose applications they will invest more time in and whose will merit only an obligatory but cursory review before being set aside as unworthy of serious consideration. 

Their reality is truly “so many applications, so little time,” which means that when you are applying to [url=https://www.accepted.com/mba]b-school[/url], [url=https://www.accepted.com/medical]med school[/url], [url=https://www.accepted.com/grad]grad school[/url], or [url=https://www.accepted.com/college]college[/url], you have to capture your reader’s attention with the very first lines of your essay – before they are tempted to just give it that cursory read and move on to the next application. Your very first sentence cannot fall flat. It must reel them into your narrative. Every word counts.  

How to hook your essay readers from the beginning

This sounds like a lot of pressure, right? But this is a challenge you can meet successfully. Think of your lead as the beginning of a good fiction story: something is at stake here, something compelling and colorful, something with a punch. Let’s look at a few examples, and you’ll quickly get the point:

“Horns blare as tiny auto rickshaws and bicycle-powered school buses interweave at impossibly close range in the narrow streets of Old Delhi.”

“After a near disaster during my first week as a case manager at a community center for women and children, I discovered that to succeed in my job, I’d have to restrain my anger at how badly things were run in this place.” 

“My aunt’s cancer had already metastasized throughout her body by the time she was finally diagnosed correctly – too late for any effective treatment. At that moment, my interest in a career as a science researcher became much more personal.”

“From the age of seven, when I was struggling with simple math problems but acing my spelling tests and already writing simple stories, I knew I was meant to become a writer.”

Notice that three of these four sample leads are personal anecdotes. They offer no details about the writer’s GPA or technical facts about what they researched in the lab. The first lead is so colorful and dramatic that we instantly want to know more about the person who observed the scene. In every case, the lead begins [url=https://blog.accepted.com/5-elements-telling-attention-grabbing-story/]a story that makes the reader sit up[/url] and say, “Ah! This is a dynamic person with a compelling voice!” 

Your goal is to write an essay that introduces you to the admissions committee and makes them want to get to know you better. You’re way ahead of the game when your essay introduction really shines.

Three components of a strong lead

A strong essay opener will include three key elements:

[list]
[*]The theme or agenda of your essay, offering the first few facts about who you are, [url=https://blog.accepted.com/how-to-write-a-goal-statement-for-graduate-school/]what you are interested in doing[/url] with your life/career/studies, and/or important influences[/*]

[*]Creative details or descriptions[/*]

[*]Energetic writing that will keep the reader engaged through the rest of the essay[/*]
[/list]

Good leads connect where you’ve been to where you’re going 

Let’s look at a few more engaging first lines:

[list]
[*]“It was absolutely pitch black outside when we had to silently leave our home and climb into the back of a truck, beginning our journey to freedom.”[/*]

[*]“Only six months after I launched my start-up, money was flowing… out the window.”[/*]

[*]“Finding a green, scratched 1960s Cadillac in a dump last summer was the moment I realized that mechanical engineering was for me.”[/*]
[/list]

Wouldn’t you want to keep reading to learn the rest of these stories? I would! 

Many clients worry that these kinds of anecdotal introductions are too “soft,” [url=https://blog.accepted.com/how-personal-is-too-personal-2/]too “personal,”[/url] or too “creative.” But the right vibrant anecdote can absolutely do the job of being creative, personal, and strong. A compelling lead draws your reader into your story and make them feel involved in your journey. Descriptive language can go a long way to spice up a straightforward story and help the reader follow you from where you began to where you are headed.

How to write a lead that pops

Now that you have read several great examples of attention-grabbing leads, your mind might already be busy generating ideas for your own essay introduction. Write them down. If you don’t have ideas just yet, though, that’s okay – give yourself some time to think. Make a list of turning-point moments in your life that relate to your educational or professional goals. As we have seen, these experiences can be drawn from anywhere: recent or older work experiences, your cultural or family background, or “aha!” moments. 

An electrical engineering applicant could describe the first time their rural home suddenly went dark and they realized they had found their professional calling. An MBA applicant might have had a very profound and meaningful experience offering basic financial guidance to a struggling working-class individual, prompting their goal of pursuing a career in the nonprofit sector. A law school applicant might have witnessed a courtroom scene during an internship that inspired them to pursue a certain type of law. The possibilities go on and on.

As you make your list of anecdotes, jot down as many [url=https://blog.accepted.com/essay-tip-the-importance-of-details/]small, precise details[/url] as you can about each memory or experience. Why was this moment important on your journey toward your dream career or school? How did you feel at that moment? How did it help shape you? What did it teach you? Were there any sensory details (sights, smells, tastes, touch) that were particularly relevant to those moments? 

Then, try starting your essay with the anecdote itself, inviting the reader to share your experience, and add color, personality, and voice.

At the beginning of this post, we pointed out how easy it is to make snap judgments (perhaps unfairly) about a book, article, film, or acquaintance you just met at a party, and to turn your attention away because you weren’t captivated instantly. We end this post asking you to think about all the times you began sampling a book or story and after the first few lines, you simply had to know what was going to happen next. You bought the book or read the story straight through. You want your essay to be one of those proverbial “page-turners” (even if it’s less than one page) that the admissions committee starts reading and can’t put down. You will have earned their full attention, straight through to the end. [url=https://reports.accepted.com/from-example-to-exemplary-guide]Once they’re hooked,[/url] you can take them anywhere you please.

Still need help finding that “hook” to open your essay? Our admissions pros will guide you to finding that perfect moment. They can help you plan and craft an application that will draw your readers in with a substantive narrative that will inspire them to place your application in the “admit” pile.

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Judy-Gruen.jpg[/img]

By Judy Gruen, former Accepted admissions consultant. Judy holds a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. She is also the co-author of Accepted’s first full-length book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. [url=https://www.accepted.com/services?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_medium=blog_bio_Judy&utm_source=blog]Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch![/url]

[b]Related Resources:[/b]

[list]
[*][url=https://reports.accepted.com/five-fatal-flaws-grad-school-statement-of-purpose]Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Grad School Statement of Purpose[/url], a free guide[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/essential-components-of-mba-personal-statement/]Three Must-Have Elements of a Good Statement of Purpose[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/proving-character-traits-in-your-application-essays/]Proving Character Traits in Your Essays [/url][/*]
[/list]
The post [url=https://blog.accepted.com/writing-an-opening-lead-that-pops/]Writing an Essay Lead That Pops[/url] appeared first on [url=https://blog.accepted.com]Accepted Admissions Blog[/url].
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Four Ways to Highlight Your Strengths in Your Application Essays [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Four Ways to Highlight Your Strengths in Your Application Essays
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Four-Ways-to-Highlight-Your-Strengths-in-Your-Application-Essays.png[/img]

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Four-Ways-to-Highlight-Your-Strengths-in-Your-Application-Essays.png[/img]

One of the most important pieces of advice you will ever learn regarding your personal statements and application essays is this: Show, don’t tell. 

It’s a classic writing lesson, and you’ve probably heard it before, perhaps many times. But how do you actually “show, not tell,” in your essays?

[url=https://www.accepted.com/free-admissions-consultation-all][img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/general-free-consultation-button.png[/img][/url]

Simply “telling” is ineffective, because it usually involves boastful claims such as “I am a wonderful team leader” or “I have excellent communication skills.” These are not convincing if they’re not backed up with evidence. Empty claims are perilously bland and unpersuasive.

Instead, show your strengths through vibrant, compelling details. Here are four tips to help you do just that:

1. Lay out the steps you’ve taken.

If you are writing about a goal you achieved or a project you completed, spell out the process you followed. This will add depth and validity to your claims. The statement “Within six months, I was promoted to Junior Account Manager” is generic and “blah.” Consider this rewrite: “After completing my training in record time and then doubling sales in my territory, I was promoted to Junior Account Manager after only six months on the job.” There, isn’t that better? Explaining the specific measures you took to obtain that promotion shows how you did it.

Similarly, if you are asked to discuss a weakness, [url=https://blog.accepted.com/16-grad-school-application-mistakes-you-dont-want-to-make-episode-237/]don’t just tell the adcom[/url] what your weakness is and state that you have overcome it. Instead, show concrete examples of specific steps you’ve taken to improve. For example, let’s say the weakness you are highlighting is a tendency to procrastinate, and you have worked hard to become more efficient. Do you now plan your projects when you get them and stick to the schedule you set for yourself? Do you check your calendar at least twice daily to ensure that you don’t miss a task, call, or appointment? Show both your system for success and the results you’ve achieved, such as the fact that you haven’t pulled an all-nighter since you implemented these changes.

2. Provide examples of strengths and skills.

You say that you are creative, mature, and [url=https://reports.accepted.com/leadership-in-admissions-2]an excellent leader[/url]. But what have you done specifically that proves it? What impact have you made on your teammates, coworkers, company, or community? Remember, simply claiming that you’re creative isn’t convincing. Sharing a story or painting a picture (with words) that truly depicts the creative workings of your mind is. Leadership is a quality that is highly valued by most graduate schools, so make sure to provide an example of your leadership and impact for these programs.

3. Offer relevant, compelling details.

Supporting details make your success story more believable and memorable. These supporting details show your achievements at a much higher level than just telling about them would, and they help fill out the picture of who you are and what you’ve done.

Details can include the number of people on your team, the amount of money you raised, the butterflies you felt in your stomach when launching your new product, the fear you experienced when you botched a project, followed by extreme remorse and then the resolve to do better. These specifics make your story come alive. 

4. Tell a story that reveals your strengths.

Admissions committee readers are just like you and me: they love a good story. And at its core, a good story needs a problem – one with some emotion or tension. It needs a main character who confronts the problem, struggles with it, and finds a resolution. In application essays, you – as the applicant – are the main character coping with a challenge or problem. You reveal your strengths by showing how you figured out a solution – or a path to a solution – to your challenge or problem. In doing so, you might have benefited others and set yourself on a path to further personal and professional growth.  

When you tell a story that spells out your initial challenge or dilemma, includes the steps you took to resolve it, reveals your strengths, and keeps the reader engaged with colorful details, your essay will greatly enhance your admissions chances.

If you’d like additional help showing the adcom what you’re all about, our experienced consultants can show you the way! Discover how to create an application that will get you accepted! Schedule a[url=https://www.accepted.com/free-admissions-consultation-all] free consultation[/url] with an Accepted admissions expert. 

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Judy-Gruen.jpg[/img]

By Judy Gruen, former Accepted admissions consultant. Judy holds a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. She is also the co-author of Accepted’s first full-length book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. [url=https://www.accepted.com/services?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_medium=blog_bio_Judy&utm_source=blog]Want an admissions expert help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch![/url]

[b]Related Resources:[/b]

[list]
[*][url=https://reports.accepted.com/five-fatal-flaws-grad-school-statement-of-purpose]Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid in Your Grad School Statement of Purpose[/url], a free guide[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/essential-components-of-mba-personal-statement/]Three Must-Have Elements of a Good Statement of Purpose[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://www.accepted.com/admissions-podcast]Admissions Straight Talk Podcast[/url][/*]
[/list]
The post [url=https://blog.accepted.com/showing-strengths-in-application-essays/]Four Ways to Highlight Your Strengths in Your Application Essays[/url] appeared first on [url=https://blog.accepted.com]Accepted Admissions Blog[/url].
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Four Tips for Displaying Teamwork in Your Application Essays [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Four Tips for Displaying Teamwork in Your Application Essays




Teamwork – and its close cousin leadership – are highly prized by graduate programs and universities. But if you haven’t worked in a team on any regular basis, don’t worry! You’ve probably got a number of examples of teamwork in your back pocket that you didn’t even realize were there. Consider the following four ideas when you are writing an essay about teamwork.



1. Teams come in many flavors and sizes.

Unless you’ve been living like a hermit for the past several years, you have undoubtedly participated in various groups. Maybe you were a member of a sports team; a dance, music, or theater troupe; or a youth group through your church, synagogue, or community center. You might have been a member of a committee, either as a volunteer or at work. Perhaps you helped organize an event, tutored, been part of a Scout group, or volunteered to be a Big Brother or Big Sister. 

In any of these cases, you likely worked with other people. Even if your interaction was with only one other person, you have material you can discuss in a teamwork personal statement. Yes, working with just one other person, as a mentor or guide, counts! 

2. Show that you were an active listener.

Teamwork and collaboration require effective listening. Discuss a time when you stopped to listen – really listen – to others, patiently and skillfully. Unfortunately, and perhaps unfairly, many young people today have gained a reputation for not being willing to listen to others and for quickly becoming agitated by differing views. Demonstrate to the adcom that this isn’t who you are. Show that your ability to listen to others, to take in other points of view, and to express your understanding of those views helped eased tensions and increased collaboration. This can be an impressive example of your teamwork skills.

3. Discuss morale boosting and conflict resolution.

Have you ever been involved in a project when enthusiasm was flagging, but you found a way to inject renewed excitement into it? Have you brainstormed an idea to strengthen a group, club, or assignment? These are also examples of teamwork. Perhaps you found a way to make peace between two warring members of a group who couldn’t agree on the direction your project or plan should go. If you mediated this conflict and got the two individuals to start working together, that was surely teamwork (and worthy of a peace prize!). 

Any time you proactively got involved with other people (especially when they were being difficult), discovered a better way to get things done, found a middle ground, or thought of a creative new idea, that was teamwork.

4. Consider experiences in your personal life for material.

A client once wrote about her efforts to heal a serious rift in her family after her father passed away. Siblings were fighting for control of the successful family business, and an ugly succession fight ensued. The client patiently coaxed cooperation, even in this personal and emotionally charged environment. She used both shuttle diplomacy and active listening among battling family members, leading to everyone’s agreement to use a mediator to reach a final resolution.  

Another client wrote about having organized a trip with a few friends and how he dealt with a dispute between two of them. Their  bickering had threatened to ruin the long-planned trip. His effective listening and creativity in figuring out an activity that neither of the “combatants” would be able to resist helped defuse the situation and saved the trip from becoming an outright disaster for everyone. In both these situations, the “teams” were small, but the stakes for those involved were high.

We hope you now see that you’ve been working in teams more often than you thought! No doubt you’ll have strong options to choose from when writing a teamwork personal essay.

Watch: Linda Abraham discusses two main ways you can show the adcom that you are a leader.



Our expert admissions advisors can help you identify your teamwork experiences and guide you as you write about them, or assist you with any other component of your application. Schedule a free consultation today!



By Judy Gruen, former Accepted admissions consultant. Judy holds a master’s in journalism from Northwestern University. She is also the co-author of Accepted’s first full-length book, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools. Want an admissions expert to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!

Related Resources:

The post Four Tips for Displaying Teamwork in Your Application Essays appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.
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Which MBA Option Is Best for You: Full-Time, Part-Time, EMBA, or Onlin [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Which MBA Option Is Best for You: Full-Time, Part-Time, EMBA, or Online?



At its core, the MBA is a business administration graduate program for professionals seeking knowledge, skills, a credential, and a network to help them advance in business and maximize their career performance. Although the term “MBA” makes many people automatically think of a two-year, full-time program, in recent years, the variations on the MBA theme have multiplied in response to students’ and organizations’ changing and diversifying needs and interests.

Natalie’s story

When I was applying to b-school, I contemplated part-time versus full-time programs, and one of my best friends, Colleen, had to make the same decision.

Ultimately, I decided to attend the Ross School of Business’s full-time program at the University of Michigan. Colleen chose to study in the part-time program at Michigan Ross instead. We shared 60% of the same classes and 40% of the same professors, and we even had a class together. At the time, Michigan offered evening courses, reserving half the spots for full-time students and half for part-time. Sadly, the school recently discontinued its part-time program.

I graduated two years before Colleen, with a unique internship, the opportunity to begin a new career, and a lot of debt. Colleen advanced quickly with the company that hired her upon graduation from college and graduated without debt, because the company had sponsored her education. We both have the same degree.

Now, as an Accepted consultant and former admissions director/dean of full-time, part-time, executive (EMBA), and online programs, I lend you my insight and guidance from the other side of the table in this brief analysis of program types.

Getting to know the MBA players

Are you ready to explore the various players in MBA admissions? Here’s a roundup of available MBA program options and their benefits and drawbacks.

Full-time MBA programs

In the United States, full-time MBA programs are two-year programs with an internship in the summer between the first and second year. They target business (and sometimes other) professionals who have roughly three to eight years of work experience. These programs are perfect for 25- to 30-year-old career changers who can afford the opportunity cost of leaving work to immerse themselves in education and experience. Obtaining a new position post-MBA is often a primary focus for students, and recruiting by potential employers is a significant benefit of attending a full-time MBA. 

A business school’s reputation often relies on the brand value of its full-time MBA program. Those programs consume the most significant portion of the school’s budget and rarely generate revenue. MBA programs dedicate more than 90% of all scholarships, fellowships, and resources, such as career services, to full-time students.

Pros

  • Close and sustained interaction with other full-time students – ideal for career changers, internship opportunities, strong recruiting, company presentations, fellowships, and scholarships

  • Feels like an undergraduate program, with clubs and activities

Cons

  • Significant opportunity cost, time away from industries that are undergoing rapid change

  • Families often get the short end of the stick, though schools typically have resources to support students’ spouses/significant others.

An alternative to the traditional two-year program would be a one-year or one-year plus accelerated program in the United States, such as those offered by Kellogg, Emory, and Columbia (J-Term), or a European MBA program.

Part-time MBA programs

Part-time programs are ideal for people who don’t want to leave their company or industry for a significant period of time or who can’t afford to stop working. Such programs target individuals who are employed full-time. These students’ continuous professional efforts shape classroom discussions and projects. Part-time MBA students tend to be a little older than full-time MBA students. While these programs traditionally serve local students, they increasingly offer varied structures and online components to attract distance students. They do not generally provide as much access to recruiters. Often, admission is less competitive than for the same school’s full-time program, which allows part-time students to obtain a “brand” they might not qualify for otherwise.

These programs take very few resources but often share the same faculty as the full-time program. Generally, the part-time applicant pool is less competitive or diverse because schools typically receive fewer applications and are limited to their immediate region and to the industries that dominate that region. Furthermore, part-time programs can serve at least as many – and often more – students than their full-time counterparts.

As much as schools say that the quality of their full-time and part-time students is the same, that quality truly depends on the school’s location and how that location generates applications. Schools in larger cities have an easier time attracting great applicants to their part-time programs. They can maintain higher quality standards, but full-time programs evaluate applications from around the globe, so choosing candidates for admission is easier.

Pros

  • Can continue to work/earn and can apply learning in real-time

  • Companies often fully or partially sponsor part-time students, lessening their financial burden.  

Cons

  • Completing the program takes longer, internships are not offered, and many schools don’t offer access to recruiting. Working and studying simultaneously can be grueling.

  • Most part-time programs do not offer scholarships or fellowships to part-timers.

  • Part-timers typically have less access to comprehensive career services than students in full-time programs, because companies usually hold their presentations and interviews during the day.

Executive MBA programs

Executive MBA programs (EMBAs) are part-time programs targeting seasoned managers and entrepreneurs – typically, people in their mid-30s to late 40s (depending on the program) whose rise to senior level is imminent or who are already in senior management. This category has a range in terms of desired/required length of experience. Although the coursework covers the same topics as traditional MBA programs, it’s developed and presented with a higher-level perspective. A great benefit of EMBA programs is the chance to network and form relationships with peers from various industries. Students are at a career phase when a fresh perspective is valuable but sometimes hard to obtain. These programs don’t target career changers but are increasingly used by and open to them, even though most EMBA programs don’t offer formal recruiting.

EMBA programs are also lucrative for schools – schools charge a premium for their EMBA program – but they are typically smaller than full-time programs. These programs are commonly held every other weekend and tend to be less generous with financial aid than their full-time counterparts. Three full-time programs that target the same audience as EMBA programs are , MIT Sloan’s Sloan Fellows, and LBS’s Sloan Fellows.

Pros

  • Can apply to learn immediately at work, gaining breadth of exposure at a pivotal professional moment, a valuable credential

  • Students bond well with their cohort and the faculty.

Cons

  • The challenge of managing school plus a demanding career and personal/family responsibilities; usually no formal recruiting for career changers

  • Students rarely interact with either part-time or full-time students.

For EMBA admissions advice, check out EMBA: The Ultimate Guide for Applicants.

Online MBA Programs

Online and hybrid MBA programs have surged in popularity in an ever-evolving education landscape, particularly for individuals aged 32-37 (too old for traditional programs, too young for EMBA), offering flexibility and accessibility that traditional MBA programs cannot match. While there are many ways to deliver the MBA experience online, I focus here on the two major categories, synchronous and asynchronous.

Synchronous online MBA programs closely mimic the traditional classroom setting, in which students and instructors interact in real time. Classes are scheduled at specific times, requiring attendees to log in simultaneously for live lectures, discussions, and group work.

Pros

  • Real-time interaction 

  • Structured schedule 

  • Networking opportunities

Cons 

  • Less flexibility

  • Time zone constraints

  • Limited accessibility for those with other commitments (e.g., work, caregiving)

Asynchronous online MBA programs allow students to access course materials, lectures, and assignments on their own schedule – and sometimes at their own pace – without the need for live participation.

Pros 

  • High flexibility

  • Accessibility for all, regardless of time zone, irregular schedule, or other commitments

  • Sometimes self-paced

Cons 

  • Lack of interaction

  • Requires self-discipline

  • Delayed feedback for responses to questions or assignments, which can disrupt the pace

Specialized graduate management programs

These programs offer an MBA course focusing on a specific industry or function. They vary in their format and approach. Boston University’s Full-Time Social Impact MBA is an example of a two-year specialized MBA, and the Executive MBA in Healthcare at the University of California, Irvine, is an example of a specialized EMBA. The Cornell Tech MBA is an example of a one-year specialized MBA.

Pros

  • Intensive focus on an area of interest, with coursework adapted accordingly, and a network of colleagues with related experience and goals

Cons

  • Missing out on the diverse perspectives from other industries/sectors that can refresh and invigorate your thinking

Although you usually can’t apply to two different types of MBA programs at the same school in the same admissions cycle, you can do so in other cycles. And you can apply to different types of programs at various schools simultaneously. For example, someone who is between a regular and an EMBA in terms of age or length of experience could apply to regular MBA programs that trend older, EMBA programs that trend younger, and/or online programs. Or someone might apply to full-time MBA programs and a part-time program nearby as a good backup.



By Natalie Grinblatt, a former admissions dean/director at three top business schools. Natalie has reviewed more than 70,000 applications, interviewed more than 2,500 candidates, and trained nearly 700 admissions directors and alumni volunteers to select outstanding candidates for admission. Her clients gain admission to top programs, including those at Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT, Cornell, Columbia, Berkeley, Chicago, Northwestern, and NYU. Natalie holds an MBA from Michigan Ross. Want Natalie to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!

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Ten Tips for Short-Listing and Visiting B-Schools [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Ten Tips for Short-Listing and Visiting B-Schools




You’re about to make one of the biggest decisions of your life. It will determine your future in so many ways: where you might work, where you could live, and the people who will become a part of your life. Choosing a business school is serious business! But it’s also a huge opportunity to turn the future you envision into reality.

Here are ten tips on how to short-list your program choices through research and school visits to find a good match.



1. Map out your b-school plan.

Consider where you want your b-school journey to end. Perhaps you’d like to pivot into finance or consulting. Or maybe you want to jump right into entrepreneurship. Or you might want to become a product manager for a tech company. B-schools such as Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, and nearly all others publish annual reports about their students’ recruitment and student-led start-ups.

Consult your network and start asking some key questions. What skills are these companies looking for when they hire? What skills do I lack that I need to scale up my business idea? Who would be the ideal kind of mentor to seek guidance from as I take over my family business?

Then, look through the various schools’ curricula to find matching academics, leadership development resources, career assistance, networking, and recruiting opportunities. You’ll likely be overwhelmed. At this point, that’s okay. You want to start by familiarizing yourself with what’s out there.

2. Be real about where you thrive.

Do you want to compete against the best of the best within a large, cosmopolitan mix of peers in – or near – a big city? If so, check out Harvard, Columbia, Wharton, Booth, , , LBS, , and IESE.

Do you want to be in the heart of the tech scene in Silicon Valley, where you can go deep and figure out how to change the world? If so, check out theStanford GSB and Berkeley Haas.

Do you perform best in a supportive, tight-knit campus environment? If so, check out Duke Fuqua, Tuck, Cornell Johnson, Darden, the Yale SOM, and HEC.

Think about where you already have friends or family. They can be a big help in getting settled and having a support system. If you’re international, consider a school that’s close to an airport hub with good connections to your home city, should you need to visit family.

Two years is a big investment of your time. Make sure you feel comfortable where you will be planted.  

3. Compare your stats.

To be competitive, your test scores and GPA should be at or above the average for students enrolled at your target school. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t apply to your top choice if your GMAT, GRE, or EA score is below the average, however. Other aspects of your application could really stand out and make you an attractive applicant.

4. Ask yourself whether you need an internship.

A one-year or accelerated MBA might be the best option for you if you do not require a summer internship to pivot career paths. Often, that’s the case for applicants from family businesses, entrepreneurs, candidates with company sponsorship, or older individuals who are further along in their careers and can convincingly argue that they can network on their own.

Check out these top U.S. and international one-year programs or MBAs oriented toward older applicants (not EMBAs!): IBEAR, LBS, MIT Sloan Fellows, Stanford MSx.

5. Consider a STEM program if you’re international.

STEM MBAs give you the option to stay and work longer in the United States – up to three years after graduation.

6. Network with the community.

Once you’ve done your research and come up with a list of roughly eight to ten schools, it’s time to start networking. You will have a better chance of gaining admission if you can show the school that you know its community.

Ask people connected with the school whether you can meet them for coffee or have a virtual chat with them to get their thoughts about the school.

Sign up for and attend online events and webinars. Many schools track digital touch points, which indicates true interest.

Also, attend in-person events. Go to the MBA tour in your city so you can meet admissions officers. Making a campus visit, if possible, is another good way to show your interest. Do your research ahead of time so you can make the most of your visit. Sign up for a tour, schedule meetings with student ambassadors, and attend any events you can fit in.

You want to come away from this networking with names of contacts and their insights on how you can make the most of your time in the program.

7. Come prepared with questions for admissions officers. Expect to ask at least one.

Before you go on a campus tour or attend a virtual event, think of questions you can ask the person leading the tour or event. Remember, though (especially on a campus visit), that admissions officers are busy, likely fielding questions from more than 100 people who want to speak with them. Raise your hand early so you can get your question in. That said, don’t monopolize the Q&A time. That can be annoying! If the session leader offers, go up to them afterward to thank them for their time and take a business card.

8. Polish your image, and your elevator pitch.

This might sound obvious, but dress for success during your campus visit. Wear business casual. And practice your elevator pitch – that’s your one-minute self-introduction that covers where you’re from, what you do, and what you want to achieve career-wise by going to business school. Believe me, you need to practice this! You’ll impress people if you come off as concise and polished. No one you meet will be interested in a long, self-absorbed introduction. Get to the point, and ask questions – you’re on a research mission!

9. Don’t be annoying.

Again, admissions officers are busy people. As are students and alumni. Don’t drop by the admissions office unannounced and demand to speak to someone. Don’t offer to hang out and wait, either, even if it will take hours. Arrange your visit within the parameters already offered.

Don’t frequently message students or alumni, asking for advice on your application if they are a new acquaintance, rather than a long-term friend.

You want to leave the contacts you meet with a good impression, not a memory of irritation.

10. Follow up with a thank you.

Make sure to send a short thank-you email or handwritten note expressing your interest in the MBA program. This will go into your file and show the adcom again that your interest in the school is genuine.

Now it’s decision time!

Now. narrow your list down to four to six schools that offer you a range. Your test scores and GPA will help dictate this list:

  • Reach – where your scores and grades are below average. 

  • On Par – where your scores and GPA meet the averages. 

  • Safety – where your scores and GPA are above average. 

Now consider your recruitment research, event attendance, networking efforts, and campus visit. Really focus on where you were able to make positive contacts. Where did you feel a good vibe? These touch points, along with your stats, should determine where you have the best chance of acceptance and where you will thrive.



Michelle Stockman is a professional journalist, former Columbia Business School admissions insider, and experienced MBA admissions consultant. Want Michelle to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch!

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Former Wharton Admissions Director Joins Accepted: Welcome Kara Keenan [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Former Wharton Admissions Director Joins Accepted: Welcome Kara Keenan Sweeney [Episode 570]
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/Episode-570-Blog-Banner-1-1-1.png[/img]
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Show Summary

MBA admissions veteran Kara Keenan Sweeney has joined Accepted. Formerly part of the admissions team at Wharton Lauder, INSEAD and Columbia Business School, she’s not only an Accepted consultant but she’s our guest on the podcast. Kara discusses various aspects of the MBA application process, including choosing the right schools, handling common challenges faced by international applicants, and approaching the essays and resume. She also touches on the qualities that management consulting firms look for in MBA recruits and provides advice for MBA re-applicants. Finally, she discusses the use of AI and ChatGPT in the admissions process and the importance of authenticity in application materials.

Show Notes

Our guest today is no stranger to Admissions Straight Talk. She’s been on several times but wore a different hat. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Kara Keenan Sweeney, Accepted consultant. Kara previously served as the Director of Admissions, Marketing and Financial Aid at Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Penn Law School.

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Kara has an extensive background in graduate admissions, starting with her master’s in higher education administration from Columbia and including admissions positions at INSEAD, Penn State, and as I mentioned, Wharton’s Lauder Institute. Most recently, she was a senior recruiter for McKinsey & Company.

Kara, welcome to Admissions Straight Talk. [1:24]

Thanks, Linda. It’s great to be with you on this side of the table.

Glad to have you back, and this time as a colleague. Let’s start with something really easy. How did you get into admissions? [1:32]

Yeah, it was a little bit by happenstance, which I think is true for a lot of admissions professionals or higher education folks. I started working at Columbia University at the beginning of my career, and one of my first jobs was in student affairs at the business school, and I was working specifically with Executive MBA students as their… Directing a cohort through the two-year program, so working closely with admissions, actually.

And I started to get a little bit of exposure to admissions and help out with interviewing and things like that. And then, a few years into that role, an admissions job opened up on my team, and I was lucky enough to get it. And the rest is history. That was, I think, 17 years ago, which is crazy to think about it. It’s been that long. But yeah, I started in student affairs and navigated my way to admissions, and it’s been a great experience.

You have a wealth of experience in MBA admissions and a lot of it has been focused in the international business space. What do you think is critical for MBAs interested in international business, and specifically those programs that you’ve worked for? [2:31]

It’s funny as I’m thinking through the question again. So much of business education now is international. The cohorts and the classes are so international. I think Wharton’s 30, 40%; Lauder, of course, is probably 50, 60%. So it’s just such a global pool of students. Back maybe 30, 40 years ago, it was mostly Americans at Wharton or whatever. So it’s changed a lot. Very global by nature. But for students who are looking at international business, it’s looking at it in that global context. It’s looking at it from a big vantage point.

For Americans who are maybe looking to gain some more hands-on experience, maybe going to INSEAD or London Business School, having a “study abroad” experience can be a great way to really get that on-the-ground cultural immersion, language immersion in some cases. For some international students coming from outside of the US, coming to Wharton Lauder or Columbia Business School or any of the US schools is a great way to get that US or North America focus. Getting that on-the-ground experience is really invaluable.

Working at Lauder and at INSEAD, it’s funny, the students are so similar in terms of their profile; of course, the languages and their objectives. They all look at business very much through a global lens. For example, in approaching applications and things of that nature, of course you want to keep that global outlook. Why do you want to apply to an international program? Why are those things important to you? And really, really dive deep into that and expand on why that is, and not just take it for granted that it’s something that the admissions committee or the admissions officer looking at your application would understand.

Yeah. So many great international opportunities. And, of course, Wharton and other schools have so many great exchanges. Even for students who don’t have a language like you need to have at INSEAD or Lauder, there are so many ways you can have an international experience through, really, so many of the business schools.

It’s interesting that you were talking about having a global lens. And what was going through my head as well was, “How do you manifest that global lens?” It would probably be through the motivation to apply to the particular programs that you’re going to as well as your post-MBA goals. Is that correct? [4:49]

Exactly. Yeah, for sure. That’s if not the most pointed question people get on their MBA essays, it will definitely be asked in some form. What are your short-term goals? What are your long-term goals? And really that’s a way… If the international component of a program like Lauder or INSEAD or any of them are important to you, you can weave that in.

“I really want to work in China, and this is important to me for X reason,” or whatever the case may be. Having that global outlook and baking that into your application is definitely important.

What if you want to work in China, for example, but you’ve never been to China? [5:36]

That’s okay too. When I would look at an application from someone, let’s say, who’d been very US-based, maybe somebody who studied a language in college but didn’t have a ton of hands-on experience, this is an opportunity to get that hands-on experience that you’re looking for. And these programs provide that.

Some of the top schools in China, for example. Somebody could spend a year or two there studying. So, it is a great way to get that experience, and you can position your application to say, “Hey, this is how I plan to do it, and it’s through this MBA program and hopefully an internship and maybe cultivating my network in China,” or wherever the case may be. And hope to do that by harnessing the program.

What are some of the best ways to handle the more common challenges faced by international applications? In other words, I’m American by citizenship and I want to study at INSEAD. Or I’m Indian and I want to study in the United States. I’m European, I want to study in the United States. What are the most common challenges that applicants face and how do you deal with them? [6:20]

For some of the programs, there are such specific requirements like for INSEAD or for Lauder you have to pass those language tests, for example. So that’s something… If you’re an applicant and you’re thinking about an international program that has some sort of language component, go on the website. I remember at Lauder, we had language audio clips that you could listen to get an idea if your language is up to snuff. If it isn’t, get a tutor, and work on it. That sort of thing. In some cases, the work that you have to do is very practical to make sure your application meets the bar. In other cases…

And I think maybe as Americans, sometimes we’re guilty of looking at things through a very American/US lens. So if you’re applying to INSEAD or London Business School or whatever the case may be as an American, make sure you’re looking through that global lens, answering their questions at a global vantage point.

What’s great about INSEAD for example, and I’m sure that it’s still the case, is they have no more than 10% from a given country. Knowing that a lot of these programs will be really intentional about global diversity, and so of course, as someone from North America, you can bring a certain outlook, skills, whatever the case may be. And then of course students from another part of the world bring something else, culturally speaking.

It doesn’t mean it’s a disadvantage, but essentially you want to make sure you meet the requirements and that you understand that you’ll be a part of a really international global cohort if you go to one of the schools outside of the US. I would say on the flip side, and maybe not so much as true for Indian applicants, but something I would come across maybe from students from Asia or Latin America… Really, anywhere in the world where someone’s first language is in English. It goes to some extent without saying, but making sure your TOEFL score is strong and that your essays are well written and that they’re grammatically correct.

It sounds so basic, but it’s really important, obviously, to the admissions committee. You can have a 750 GMAT, great scores as an undergraduate student, a great job, but we need to make sure that you can communicate clearly in a well-written way in English. Believe it or not, there are papers in MBA programs. You will have to write papers. If you do a program like Lauder, you’ll have to do a research paper so those things can be important and admissions committee members will pick up on that. So make sure your language, whether it’s English or any other language you need for a program, is really up to snuff. Brush up on it.

You mentioned the importance of the essays a minute ago, and obviously they’re not just important to international applicants, they’re important to all MBA applicants. How do you advise applicants to just approach the MBA application, the essays in particular? [9:09]

It’s like you have a bunch of puzzle pieces that you need to pull together into a beautiful mosaic of what makes you you. And I think you can just say, “Okay, I wrote good essays, I have a good GMAT or GRE score.” You’re checking the boxes, but you really need to pull it all together into a story that tells the story about your professional, academic, personal. You want to have that all woven in so that when someone’s reviewing your application, they’re thinking of you as a whole applicant. They’re getting that overall composition of who you are as a person, what your goals are, what your objectives are, and who makes you you.

That’s what we’re looking to bring in: unique people that will make up a diverse class across professions, personalities, interests, clubs, passions, and whatever the case may be. So really thinking about it from a broad stroke and then maybe narrowing in. When you’re looking at your essays, that’s when you can drill down a little more on your goals or something that makes you unique. Or, for the Wharton essay, what you might add to the community. That’s when you can start to get really specific.

But you still want to make sure that the person reviewing your application has a full picture of who you are overall as opposed to just writing down a list and checking off a box.

The checkbox approach to applications isn’t a terribly effective one. [10:53]

Right.

In your many years of experience at different programs, what were the most common mistakes that you saw in applications? [11:09]

Going back to my earlier point about something as simple as having your essays be grammatically correct, making sure your application tells a story, making sure that… For example, as you’re building your resume and other parts of your application that tell the story about what you do professionally, that it’s clear to someone who doesn’t have an area of expertise in tech or consulting or whatever the case is. So making sure that it’s something that’s clear and transparent. And I think sometimes people could get a little too in the weeds.

I like the idea of resumes really telling the story about your accomplishments as opposed to just spitting out what you do. These are your duties. Some of the things are pretty obvious. And making sure that things are really right. I remember years ago we had an applicant who, whether it was accidental or intentional, I don’t know, they had a couple of extra zeros on the end of that salary. And it just was such a large salary it didn’t totally make sense. And, of course, those things are checked when someone is admitted to a program. They go through a background check to make sure everything’s correct.

We ended up denying the person because of other aspects of their application, but I thought, “I’m sure that was an error,” but it was something that really stuck out. And it made us all raise our eyebrows, and it just didn’t add in his favor. And I think it was just one of those little mistakes that you don’t want to make. So, make sure that you’re obviously telling the truth, being factual. But catching any little errors. Make sure you have folks, whether it’s an admissions consultant or a friend, whatever, take a look at it and make sure that you’re good to go before hitting submit.

Great advice. We’ve focused on your very rich experience in terms of MBA admissions, but you’ve also worked with applicants interested in management consulting, obviously students interested in management consulting, and you were a recruiter for McKinsey. In general terms, what are the management consulting firms looking for in their MBA recruits?

And as an admissions application reader and evaluator, if you saw an applicant coming in saying, “I’m interested in going into management consulting,” and you wanted to test whether that is a realistic goal, what did you expect them to bring to the table? [12:52]

Yeah. Right. Maybe to answer the last one first, I think to some extent it also answers the first question. It’s really aptitude. It doesn’t necessarily mean you came from consulting or you were at another kind of consulting firm and now you want to go to one of the three top consulting firms. What was great about my experience in recruiting for consulting was that I was really impressed by the array and diversity of the profiles of people who were interviewed and hired to work as consultants.

Some of them had been literally research scientists in a lab, I know there was someone hired who had a PhD in nursing. There’s a whole amazing skill set of folks who… Just like an MBA program, I would often tell candidates, in particular candidates at Wharton, so much of what we’ll be looking at is exactly what Wharton looked in your application: who are you as a person? What makes you unique? Where can you add value? Because of course, with consulting, the client work crosses the gamut. Finance, healthcare.

There are so many different ways you can contribute, so don’t feel you need to fit some sort of prototype just as you don’t as an MBA applicant. But the great thing about consulting is you can come in and really have such a variety of backgrounds, variety of expertise. But, of course, having strong aptitude. There are certain skills that they look for; leadership, and empathy. Again, very similar to what an MBA program might look for. There are some consistencies across there.

So, if you made a great Wharton or Harvard or Stanford or whatever school applicant and you were admitted, there’s a pretty good chance you’re in a good spot to be a strong consulting applicant. And that goes again, regardless of what you were doing before your MBA. Because there are so many different ways those profiles can add value to the client work. Essentially, at the end of the day they’re going to say, “How can this person help solve the client’s needs?” With such a variety of client work, such a wide variety of MBAs or graduate students can help solve those problems.

You mentioned aptitude. What is aptitude for becoming a management consultant? You mentioned leadership. Is it communications? Problem-solving skills? [15:30]

For sure. Absolutely. For example, we might have quite a few folks considering consulting who had come from a military background. They hadn’t had a lot of formal business experience, but they had incredible leadership experience. And for example, empathy; they might have a story that they tell. And on my prior role, one of the components of the interview process was having a story that you could tell about an experience where you could really dive deeply into where you could add a specific skill set like empathy.

And what’s great about the hiring process at McKinsey was they would actually pretty much lay it out, I think, just like an MBA program. What are they looking for? You go to their website, go to their careers page and really make sure you review all of that because there’s a lot of helpful information. They’ll tell you, “This is exactly what we’re looking for. This is what the interview process is like.” They’ll say, for example, we are going to ask you to talk for 15 minutes back and forth with a consultant about an opportunity you had to flex your leadership skills.

You can think about that and prepare stories and reflect on your background. And then in the other case, of course, it’s having aptitude as far as problem-solving with cases and having quantitative ability. I think brushing up on your quant skills and making sure those are good to go is really just a practical essential through the process as well.

I never thought of empathy. I’m not opposed to empathy, but I never thought of it as being a requirement. Is that part of good listening? [17:03]

Yeah. It’s not a requirement, but definitely a good thing to have as you work on teams. Of course, so much of the work is team-based work with clients. Yeah. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pivoted to campus recruiting, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was such a holistic process. Again, very similar to the MBA review process.

Let’s say MBA applicants have their grades and scores if they’re required, they know where they want to apply. How should they go about choosing schools and completing the application? What would be your recommendation? [17:31]

Yeah. This is a great question, and sometimes people just say, “I want to go to one of the top five schools. It doesn’t matter which one.” I think you want to really do your research and find out, “Do I want a small program? Do I want to be part of a large class?” like at Wharton where the world is your oyster. A million different majors and things that you can choose from and a big community to be a part of. Or do you want to be part of a smaller program where you really get to know everybody and you form that relationship or that network that, for some people, is really important? Where do you want to be geographically? Some just really obvious things.

Do you want an international experience? Do you want a one-year program like INSEAD where you’re done in 10 months, you’ve got your MBA and you can hit the ground running in your next job? Or do you want a two-year, full-time experience? You have a nice break in the summer, can do an interesting internship. Really think about the experience. And at the end, which we talked so much about when I was at Wharton Lauder and just in general, is fit.

You know that when you’re applying for jobs, “Is this the cultural fit for me? Is this a place where I can see myself?” So be sure to participate in all of those online info sessions. If you can go to campus, that’s great. If you can tap into your network, talk with students and alumni, do all of that. It’s really worth it to choose your schools wisely, choose your experience and take all the time you need early on in the process versus just say, “Okay, any of these top schools I’ll be thrilled to get into.”

Of course, I’m sure you would be thrilled to get into those, but at the end of the day you want to be at a place where you know you’ll really fit in and be happy.

Do you have a recommended order for approaching the different elements of the application, like the boxes first or the essay first or the resume first? [19:22]

Yeah. I think the first thing is to sign up for those info sessions, attend those introductory reviews, get a sense as to what the schools are looking for, and understand the application process. Sometimes the essays are updated in the summer, but generally you can assume they’ll be somewhat consistent with prior years. Thinking about your short and long-term goals. Part of the… The essays are really things where you can reveal who you really are.

Some of the things might be a little bit easier to knock out, like the GMAT or the GRE. So if there’s some things that you feel, “Hey, I can get this done,” or, “I have two recommenders I have an amazing relationship with, I’m going to get those taken care of.” Different things that you feel will be less time-consuming. Other folks might say, “Hey, I really need six months to prepare for the GMAT,” and that’s where they’re going to put their energy.

It really depends on the person. But doing your research ahead of time, giving yourself plenty of time, and focusing on the areas that you think you need to put in the most work I think makes the most practical sense.

What’s critical in a resume? [20:44]

In a perfect world, at least I’d like to see a one-page resume. But everybody’s different. If you can’t get it into one page, of course an admissions committee or officer will review two pages. But one page is ideal. Having a nice, clean format; having something that’s, as I mentioned earlier, easily understood or digestible by someone who doesn’t have expertise in what you might be an expert in. So making sure that if you show it to a friend who’s a second grade teacher, they can understand even though you’re an investment banker or whatever. They can easily understand, “Okay, this is what you do. This is what you’ve done over the last couple of years.”

If you’ve had interesting clients or projects. And don’t forget to include what makes you, you to the extent that you can on a resume. Obviously not a ton of space, but achievements, and community interests. Were you in a leadership role as an undergraduate student? Do you have a passion for working with children? Whatever the case is. Do you love to run or hike? Because that is such a great way for someone who’s reviewing a lot of things to say, “Oh, that really stood out to me. This person hosts a cooking class every week,” or does whatever that they love.

So, to the extent that you can… Obviously, you have your academics, your professional accomplishments. Be sure to include some aspect of what makes you you. I really love to see that and those are the things I tend to remember.

What advice do you have for MBA re-applicants? [22:04]

Don’t despair is the first tip. I remember every year we would have people reapply and be successful, so definitely reapply but you want to do so intentionally. Make sure that you’ve had some change in your profile, hopefully a positive change, over the last year. Maybe the quant was a weaker area of your application so you’ve retaken the GMAT or GRE. Maybe you’ve taken some quant courses online or that sort of thing to strengthen your quantitative profile.

Maybe on the other hand, you were starting out. Maybe two years out of college and you’ve gained another third year. Maybe you’ve been promoted ahead of your peers. Maybe you’re working on interesting projects or you’ve become a manager. Anything interesting that has evolved in your profile over the last year, you want to call out to the admissions committee, and that will really be the re-applicant essay in most cases. What’s changed in your profile?

So, don’t just submit the same old application. Get new recommenders, new essays. Make sure that it’s fresh and that you can show where your profile has grown over the last year and where you’ve learned, “Okay, this is where I was intentional about working on these one or two or three things that I felt I needed to submit a stronger application.” And guarantee every year there’s a really strong number of successful re-applicants. I remember quite a few when I was at Wharton Lauder, so it’s definitely something you should consider.

And I think it’s great to do it because you can reflect back, “Okay, where did I need to correct?” Work on it, do it, and then hopefully you’re successful.

Sometimes people have the qualifications, they have the skills, they have the aptitude, but they don’t portray it well. [23:43]

Right.

I think sometimes that’s very hard for them to see themselves. We tend to be in love with our own writing and our own words. [23:50]

Yeah, definitely. The way you tell your story is so important.

What do you think about applicant use of AI and ChatGPT? [24:07]

Yeah, this is a whole new world. In the last couple of years since I stepped away briefly from admissions, it’s really evolved. It was much less of a thing just a few years back. So a couple of things; it’s out there, people are going to use it, and I think admissions committee members and officers and folks reading your applications will be aware of that. It’s no secret. And I think people are pretty smart. I think those tools can be a great resource as maybe giving an idea or giving you some template to some extent.

But at the end of the day, it’s a computer voice. It’s not an authentic human voice and it’s not you, and that’s what makes an applicant stand out and makes you special. You want it absolutely to be your voice in the essays and no AI sim can punch that out for you and really cater to you. It’s out there, it’s not going away, and admissions committees and readers will be very mindful of it.

Yeah. I don’t know, Linda, if you’ve had a different experience with it or what your thoughts are, but it’s a whole new experience for me and I’m interested to see how things play out now that I’m back into the admissions world.

I think it is a tool and like any tool, it can be abused or it can be used. If you just give ChatGPT a specific question and your resume, it will write a very poor essay in response. Don’t do it. I was talking to an MBA admissions consultant and former admissions director yesterday, and he told me that he had a client and he could tell it was a ChatGPT-generated essay. And he asked his client, “Did you write this, or is this ChatGPT?” And the guy hemmed and hawed and finally said it was ChatGPT. He says, “Well, I could tell. This looks like a computer-generated essay and there’s not much substance to it.” Using it in that way is abuse and not going to serve an applicant very well. [25:58]

Right. Yeah, absolutely. It’s called artificial for a reason. It doesn’t feel authentic. I think admissions committees are going to be very wise in the use of it. Tread carefully.

When we first started hearing about artificial intelligence, Judy Gruen, who used to work for Accepted, I was talking with her one day and she said, “Why are we talking about all this artificial intelligence? We need some real intelligence down here.” [27:55]

Right.

I think that’s what the application is for and that’s what the admissions committee wants to see. [28:07]

Exactly.

What do you wish I would’ve asked you? We’ve covered a lot of ground here. [28:20]

I would say, what do I love about admissions or what do I love about this kind of work? And I absolutely love working with the applicants and learning their stories. I talked with somebody earlier today; amazing profile, very interesting life story, great goals. And I was so energized just chatting with him and learning about his objectives and how we could perhaps help him. That’s the best thing, is seeing the candidate experience.

Seeing them go from just the investigative stage, research phase of considering an MBA program. Working with them, hopefully getting admission, deciding where they’re a best fit. It’s just great to be part of someone’s journey. And that is life changing in so many ways. My former colleague at Lauder had a board in her room with all the couples that met each other in the program. And marriages are made, babies are born, all kinds of things. And if not a relationship, obviously you have your degree, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Hopefully, you will reach your professional and academic goals. But you will also have an amazing experience for the year or two that you’re in the program; new friends, many of whom are from around the world, just a great experience. Playing even just a small part in that is definitely the best part, for sure.

You joined Accepted fairly recently, but wait until you start hearing from clients that they’re admitted. It’s the biggest reward when you’re on this side of the desk. [29:41]

Yeah.

[url=https://www.accepted.com/hubfs/Podcast_audio_files/Podcast/570_Kara-Keenan-Sweeney_2024.mp3][img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/AST-Listen-Now-Button-1024x256.png[/img][/url]

[b]Relevant Links:[/b]

[list]
[*][url=https://www.accepted.com/experts/kara-keenan-sweeney]Kara Keenan Sweeney[/url], Consultant Profile and Contact Information[/*]

[*][url=https://www.accepted.com/map-your-mba-quiz]Mapping Your MBA Application Quiz[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://www.accepted.com/mba/services/rejection-review]MBA Application Rejection Review and Strategy[/url][/*]
[/list]

[b]Relevant shows:[/b]

[list]
[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/hec-paris-mba-essay-tips-deadlines/#transcript]How to Get Into HEC Paris[/url], podcast Episode 565[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/stern-at-nyu-abu-dhabi-a-full-time-mba-in-the-middle-east-episode-549/]NYU Abu Dhabi: Top Ranked MBA Program in the Middle East[/url], podcast Episode 549[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/how-to-get-an-mba-at-columbia-business-school-episode-528/]How to Get an MBA at Columbia Business School[/url], podcast Episode 528[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/get-into-insead-the-business-school-for-the-world-episode-520/]Get Into INSEAD, the Business School for the World, [/url]podcast Episode 520[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/applying-to-wharton-lauder-do-your-research-episode-465/]Applying to Wharton Lauder? Do Your Research![/url], podcast Episode 465 [/*]
[/list]

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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Former Wharton/Lauder Admissions Director Joins Accepted: Welcome Kara Keenan Sweeney [Episode 570]



Show Summary

MBA admissions veteran Kara Keenan Sweeney has joined Accepted. Formerly part of the admissions team at Wharton Lauder, INSEAD and Columbia Business School, she’s not only an Accepted consultant but she’s our guest on the podcast. Kara discusses various aspects of the MBA application process, including choosing the right schools, handling common challenges faced by international applicants, and approaching the essays and resume. She also touches on the qualities that management consulting firms look for in MBA recruits and provides advice for MBA re-applicants. Finally, she discusses the use of AI and ChatGPT in the admissions process and the importance of authenticity in application materials.

Show Notes

Our guest today is no stranger to Admissions Straight Talk. She’s been on several times but wore a different hat. It gives me great pleasure to introduce Kara Keenan Sweeney, Accepted consultant. Kara previously served as the Director of Admissions, Marketing and Financial Aid at Lauder Institute at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and Penn Law School.



Kara has an extensive background in graduate admissions, starting with her master’s in higher education administration from Columbia and including admissions positions at INSEAD, Penn State, and as I mentioned, Wharton’s Lauder Institute. Most recently, she was a senior recruiter for McKinsey & Company. 

Kara, welcome to Admissions Straight Talk. [1:24]

Thanks, Linda. It’s great to be with you on this side of the table.

Glad to have you back, and this time as a colleague. Let’s start with something really easy. How did you get into admissions? [1:32]

Yeah, it was a little bit by happenstance, which I think is true for a lot of admissions professionals or higher education folks. I started working at Columbia University at the beginning of my career, and one of my first jobs was in student affairs at the business school, and I was working specifically with Executive MBA students as their… Directing a cohort through the two-year program, so working closely with admissions, actually.

And I started to get a little bit of exposure to admissions and help out with interviewing and things like that. And then, a few years into that role, an admissions job opened up on my team, and I was lucky enough to get it. And the rest is history. That was, I think, 17 years ago, which is crazy to think about it. It’s been that long. But yeah, I started in student affairs and navigated my way to admissions, and it’s been a great experience.

You have a wealth of experience in MBA admissions and a lot of it has been focused in the international business space. What do you think is critical for MBAs interested in international business, and specifically those programs that you’ve worked for? [2:31]

It’s funny as I’m thinking through the question again. So much of business education now is international. The cohorts and the classes are so international. I think Wharton’s 30, 40%; Lauder, of course, is probably 50, 60%. So it’s just such a global pool of students. Back maybe 30, 40 years ago, it was mostly Americans at Wharton or whatever. So it’s changed a lot. Very global by nature. But for students who are looking at international business, it’s looking at it in that global context. It’s looking at it from a big vantage point.

For Americans who are maybe looking to gain some more hands-on experience, maybe going to INSEAD or London Business School, having a “study abroad” experience can be a great way to really get that on-the-ground cultural immersion, language immersion in some cases. For some international students coming from outside of the US, coming to Wharton Lauder or Columbia Business School or any of the US schools is a great way to get that US or North America focus. Getting that on-the-ground experience is really invaluable.

Working at Lauder and at INSEAD, it’s funny, the students are so similar in terms of their profile; of course, the languages and their objectives. They all look at business very much through a global lens. For example, in approaching applications and things of that nature, of course you want to keep that global outlook. Why do you want to apply to an international program? Why are those things important to you? And really, really dive deep into that and expand on why that is, and not just take it for granted that it’s something that the admissions committee or the admissions officer looking at your application would understand.

Yeah. So many great international opportunities. And, of course, Wharton and other schools have so many great exchanges. Even for students who don’t have a language like you need to have at INSEAD or Lauder, there are so many ways you can have an international experience through, really, so many of the business schools.

It’s interesting that you were talking about having a global lens. And what was going through my head as well was, “How do you manifest that global lens?” It would probably be through the motivation to apply to the particular programs that you’re going to as well as your post-MBA goals. Is that correct? [4:49]

Exactly. Yeah, for sure. That’s if not the most pointed question people get on their MBA essays, it will definitely be asked in some form. What are your short-term goals? What are your long-term goals? And really that’s a way… If the international component of a program like Lauder or INSEAD or any of them are important to you, you can weave that in.

“I really want to work in China, and this is important to me for X reason,” or whatever the case may be. Having that global outlook and baking that into your application is definitely important.

What if you want to work in China, for example, but you’ve never been to China? [5:36]

That’s okay too. When I would look at an application from someone, let’s say, who’d been very US-based, maybe somebody who studied a language in college but didn’t have a ton of hands-on experience, this is an opportunity to get that hands-on experience that you’re looking for. And these programs provide that.

Some of the top schools in China, for example. Somebody could spend a year or two there studying. So, it is a great way to get that experience, and you can position your application to say, “Hey, this is how I plan to do it, and it’s through this MBA program and hopefully an internship and maybe cultivating my network in China,” or wherever the case may be. And hope to do that by harnessing the program.

What are some of the best ways to handle the more common challenges faced by international applications? In other words, I’m American by citizenship and I want to study at INSEAD. Or I’m Indian and I want to study in the United States. I’m European, I want to study in the United States. What are the most common challenges that applicants face and how do you deal with them? [6:20]

For some of the programs, there are such specific requirements like for INSEAD or for Lauder you have to pass those language tests, for example. So that’s something… If you’re an applicant and you’re thinking about an international program that has some sort of language component, go on the website. I remember at Lauder, we had language audio clips that you could listen to get an idea if your language is up to snuff. If it isn’t, get a tutor, and work on it. That sort of thing. In some cases, the work that you have to do is very practical to make sure your application meets the bar. In other cases…

And I think maybe as Americans, sometimes we’re guilty of looking at things through a very American/US lens. So if you’re applying to INSEAD or London Business School or whatever the case may be as an American, make sure you’re looking through that global lens, answering their questions at a global vantage point.

What’s great about INSEAD for example, and I’m sure that it’s still the case, is they have no more than 10% from a given country. Knowing that a lot of these programs will be really intentional about global diversity, and so of course, as someone from North America, you can bring a certain outlook, skills, whatever the case may be. And then of course students from another part of the world bring something else, culturally speaking.

It doesn’t mean it’s a disadvantage, but essentially you want to make sure you meet the requirements and that you understand that you’ll be a part of a really international global cohort if you go to one of the schools outside of the US. I would say on the flip side, and maybe not so much as true for Indian applicants, but something I would come across maybe from students from Asia or Latin America… Really, anywhere in the world where someone’s first language is in English. It goes to some extent without saying, but making sure your TOEFL score is strong and that your essays are well written and that they’re grammatically correct.

It sounds so basic, but it’s really important, obviously, to the admissions committee. You can have a 750 GMAT, great scores as an undergraduate student, a great job, but we need to make sure that you can communicate clearly in a well-written way in English. Believe it or not, there are papers in MBA programs. You will have to write papers. If you do a program like Lauder, you’ll have to do a research paper so those things can be important and admissions committee members will pick up on that. So make sure your language, whether it’s English or any other language you need for a program, is really up to snuff. Brush up on it.

You mentioned the importance of the essays a minute ago, and obviously they’re not just important to international applicants, they’re important to all MBA applicants. How do you advise applicants to just approach the MBA application, the essays in particular? [9:09]

It’s like you have a bunch of puzzle pieces that you need to pull together into a beautiful mosaic of what makes you you. And I think you can just say, “Okay, I wrote good essays, I have a good GMAT or GRE score.” You’re checking the boxes, but you really need to pull it all together into a story that tells the story about your professional, academic, personal. You want to have that all woven in so that when someone’s reviewing your application, they’re thinking of you as a whole applicant. They’re getting that overall composition of who you are as a person, what your goals are, what your objectives are, and who makes you you.

That’s what we’re looking to bring in: unique people that will make up a diverse class across professions, personalities, interests, clubs, passions, and whatever the case may be. So really thinking about it from a broad stroke and then maybe narrowing in. When you’re looking at your essays, that’s when you can drill down a little more on your goals or something that makes you unique. Or, for the Wharton essay, what you might add to the community. That’s when you can start to get really specific.

But you still want to make sure that the person reviewing your application has a full picture of who you are overall as opposed to just writing down a list and checking off a box.

The checkbox approach to applications isn’t a terribly effective one. [10:53]

Right.

In your many years of experience at different programs, what were the most common mistakes that you saw in applications? [11:09]

Going back to my earlier point about something as simple as having your essays be grammatically correct, making sure your application tells a story, making sure that… For example, as you’re building your resume and other parts of your application that tell the story about what you do professionally, that it’s clear to someone who doesn’t have an area of expertise in tech or consulting or whatever the case is. So making sure that it’s something that’s clear and transparent. And I think sometimes people could get a little too in the weeds.

I like the idea of resumes really telling the story about your accomplishments as opposed to just spitting out what you do. These are your duties. Some of the things are pretty obvious. And making sure that things are really right. I remember years ago we had an applicant who, whether it was accidental or intentional, I don’t know, they had a couple of extra zeros on the end of that salary. And it just was such a large salary it didn’t totally make sense. And, of course, those things are checked when someone is admitted to a program. They go through a background check to make sure everything’s correct.

We ended up denying the person because of other aspects of their application, but I thought, “I’m sure that was an error,” but it was something that really stuck out. And it made us all raise our eyebrows, and it just didn’t add in his favor. And I think it was just one of those little mistakes that you don’t want to make. So, make sure that you’re obviously telling the truth, being factual. But catching any little errors. Make sure you have folks, whether it’s an admissions consultant or a friend, whatever, take a look at it and make sure that you’re good to go before hitting submit.

Great advice. We’ve focused on your very rich experience in terms of MBA admissions, but you’ve also worked with applicants interested in management consulting, obviously students interested in management consulting, and you were a recruiter for McKinsey. In general terms, what are the management consulting firms looking for in their MBA recruits?

And as an admissions application reader and evaluator, if you saw an applicant coming in saying, “I’m interested in going into management consulting,” and you wanted to test whether that is a realistic goal, what did you expect them to bring to the table? [12:52]

Yeah. Right. Maybe to answer the last one first, I think to some extent it also answers the first question. It’s really aptitude. It doesn’t necessarily mean you came from consulting or you were at another kind of consulting firm and now you want to go to one of the three top consulting firms. What was great about my experience in recruiting for consulting was that I was really impressed by the array and diversity of the profiles of people who were interviewed and hired to work as consultants.

Some of them had been literally research scientists in a lab, I know there was someone hired who had a PhD in nursing. There’s a whole amazing skill set of folks who… Just like an MBA program, I would often tell candidates, in particular candidates at Wharton, so much of what we’ll be looking at is exactly what Wharton looked in your application: who are you as a person? What makes you unique? Where can you add value? Because of course, with consulting, the client work crosses the gamut. Finance, healthcare.

There are so many different ways you can contribute, so don’t feel you need to fit some sort of prototype just as you don’t as an MBA applicant. But the great thing about consulting is you can come in and really have such a variety of backgrounds, variety of expertise. But, of course, having strong aptitude. There are certain skills that they look for; leadership, and empathy. Again, very similar to what an MBA program might look for. There are some consistencies across there.

So, if you made a great Wharton or Harvard or Stanford or whatever school applicant and you were admitted, there’s a pretty good chance you’re in a good spot to be a strong consulting applicant. And that goes again, regardless of what you were doing before your MBA. Because there are so many different ways those profiles can add value to the client work. Essentially, at the end of the day they’re going to say, “How can this person help solve the client’s needs?” With such a variety of client work, such a wide variety of MBAs or graduate students can help solve those problems.

You mentioned aptitude. What is aptitude for becoming a management consultant? You mentioned leadership. Is it communications? Problem-solving skills? [15:30]

For sure. Absolutely. For example, we might have quite a few folks considering consulting who had come from a military background. They hadn’t had a lot of formal business experience, but they had incredible leadership experience. And for example, empathy; they might have a story that they tell. And on my prior role, one of the components of the interview process was having a story that you could tell about an experience where you could really dive deeply into where you could add a specific skill set like empathy.

And what’s great about the hiring process at McKinsey was they would actually pretty much lay it out, I think, just like an MBA program. What are they looking for? You go to their website, go to their careers page and really make sure you review all of that because there’s a lot of helpful information. They’ll tell you, “This is exactly what we’re looking for. This is what the interview process is like.” They’ll say, for example, we are going to ask you to talk for 15 minutes back and forth with a consultant about an opportunity you had to flex your leadership skills.

You can think about that and prepare stories and reflect on your background. And then in the other case, of course, it’s having aptitude as far as problem-solving with cases and having quantitative ability. I think brushing up on your quant skills and making sure those are good to go is really just a practical essential through the process as well.

I never thought of empathy. I’m not opposed to empathy, but I never thought of it as being a requirement. Is that part of good listening? [17:03]

Yeah. It’s not a requirement, but definitely a good thing to have as you work on teams. Of course, so much of the work is team-based work with clients. Yeah. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I pivoted to campus recruiting, but I was pleasantly surprised that it was such a holistic process. Again, very similar to the MBA review process.

Let’s say MBA applicants have their grades and scores if they’re required, they know where they want to apply. How should they go about choosing schools and completing the application? What would be your recommendation? [17:31]

Yeah. This is a great question, and sometimes people just say, “I want to go to one of the top five schools. It doesn’t matter which one.” I think you want to really do your research and find out, “Do I want a small program? Do I want to be part of a large class?” like at Wharton where the world is your oyster. A million different majors and things that you can choose from and a big community to be a part of. Or do you want to be part of a smaller program where you really get to know everybody and you form that relationship or that network that, for some people, is really important? Where do you want to be geographically? Some just really obvious things.

Do you want an international experience? Do you want a one-year program like INSEAD where you’re done in 10 months, you’ve got your MBA and you can hit the ground running in your next job? Or do you want a two-year, full-time experience? You have a nice break in the summer, can do an interesting internship. Really think about the experience. And at the end, which we talked so much about when I was at Wharton Lauder and just in general, is fit.

You know that when you’re applying for jobs, “Is this the cultural fit for me? Is this a place where I can see myself?” So be sure to participate in all of those online info sessions. If you can go to campus, that’s great. If you can tap into your network, talk with students and alumni, do all of that. It’s really worth it to choose your schools wisely, choose your experience and take all the time you need early on in the process versus just say, “Okay, any of these top schools I’ll be thrilled to get into.”

Of course, I’m sure you would be thrilled to get into those, but at the end of the day you want to be at a place where you know you’ll really fit in and be happy.

Do you have a recommended order for approaching the different elements of the application, like the boxes first or the essay first or the resume first? [19:22]

Yeah. I think the first thing is to sign up for those info sessions, attend those introductory reviews, get a sense as to what the schools are looking for, and understand the application process. Sometimes the essays are updated in the summer, but generally you can assume they’ll be somewhat consistent with prior years. Thinking about your short and long-term goals. Part of the… The essays are really things where you can reveal who you really are.

Some of the things might be a little bit easier to knock out, like the GMAT or the GRE. So if there’s some things that you feel, “Hey, I can get this done,” or, “I have two recommenders I have an amazing relationship with, I’m going to get those taken care of.” Different things that you feel will be less time-consuming. Other folks might say, “Hey, I really need six months to prepare for the GMAT,” and that’s where they’re going to put their energy.

It really depends on the person. But doing your research ahead of time, giving yourself plenty of time, and focusing on the areas that you think you need to put in the most work I think makes the most practical sense.

What’s critical in a resume? [20:44]

In a perfect world, at least I’d like to see a one-page resume. But everybody’s different. If you can’t get it into one page, of course an admissions committee or officer will review two pages. But one page is ideal. Having a nice, clean format; having something that’s, as I mentioned earlier, easily understood or digestible by someone who doesn’t have expertise in what you might be an expert in. So making sure that if you show it to a friend who’s a second grade teacher, they can understand even though you’re an investment banker or whatever. They can easily understand, “Okay, this is what you do. This is what you’ve done over the last couple of years.”

If you’ve had interesting clients or projects. And don’t forget to include what makes you, you to the extent that you can on a resume. Obviously not a ton of space, but achievements, and community interests. Were you in a leadership role as an undergraduate student? Do you have a passion for working with children? Whatever the case is. Do you love to run or hike? Because that is such a great way for someone who’s reviewing a lot of things to say, “Oh, that really stood out to me. This person hosts a cooking class every week,” or does whatever that they love.

So, to the extent that you can… Obviously, you have your academics, your professional accomplishments. Be sure to include some aspect of what makes you you. I really love to see that and those are the things I tend to remember.

What advice do you have for MBA re-applicants? [22:04]

Don’t despair is the first tip. I remember every year we would have people reapply and be successful, so definitely reapply but you want to do so intentionally. Make sure that you’ve had some change in your profile, hopefully a positive change, over the last year. Maybe the quant was a weaker area of your application so you’ve retaken the GMAT or GRE. Maybe you’ve taken some quant courses online or that sort of thing to strengthen your quantitative profile.

Maybe on the other hand, you were starting out. Maybe two years out of college and you’ve gained another third year. Maybe you’ve been promoted ahead of your peers. Maybe you’re working on interesting projects or you’ve become a manager. Anything interesting that has evolved in your profile over the last year, you want to call out to the admissions committee, and that will really be the re-applicant essay in most cases. What’s changed in your profile?

So, don’t just submit the same old application. Get new recommenders, new essays. Make sure that it’s fresh and that you can show where your profile has grown over the last year and where you’ve learned, “Okay, this is where I was intentional about working on these one or two or three things that I felt I needed to submit a stronger application.” And guarantee every year there’s a really strong number of successful re-applicants. I remember quite a few when I was at Wharton Lauder, so it’s definitely something you should consider.

And I think it’s great to do it because you can reflect back, “Okay, where did I need to correct?” Work on it, do it, and then hopefully you’re successful.

Sometimes people have the qualifications, they have the skills, they have the aptitude, but they don’t portray it well. [23:43]

Right.

I think sometimes that’s very hard for them to see themselves. We tend to be in love with our own writing and our own words. [23:50]

Yeah, definitely. The way you tell your story is so important.

What do you think about applicant use of AI and ChatGPT? [24:07]

Yeah, this is a whole new world. In the last couple of years since I stepped away briefly from admissions, it’s really evolved. It was much less of a thing just a few years back. So a couple of things; it’s out there, people are going to use it, and I think admissions committee members and officers and folks reading your applications will be aware of that. It’s no secret. And I think people are pretty smart. I think those tools can be a great resource as maybe giving an idea or giving you some template to some extent.

But at the end of the day, it’s a computer voice. It’s not an authentic human voice and it’s not you, and that’s what makes an applicant stand out and makes you special. You want it absolutely to be your voice in the essays and no AI sim can punch that out for you and really cater to you. It’s out there, it’s not going away, and admissions committees and readers will be very mindful of it.

Yeah. I don’t know, Linda, if you’ve had a different experience with it or what your thoughts are, but it’s a whole new experience for me and I’m interested to see how things play out now that I’m back into the admissions world.

I think it is a tool and like any tool, it can be abused or it can be used. If you just give ChatGPT a specific question and your resume, it will write a very poor essay in response. Don’t do it. I was talking to an MBA admissions consultant and former admissions director yesterday, and he told me that he had a client and he could tell it was a ChatGPT-generated essay. And he asked his client, “Did you write this, or is this ChatGPT?” And the guy hemmed and hawed and finally said it was ChatGPT. He says, “Well, I could tell. This looks like a computer-generated essay and there’s not much substance to it.” Using it in that way is abuse and not going to serve an applicant very well. [25:58]

Right. Yeah, absolutely. It’s called artificial for a reason. It doesn’t feel authentic. I think admissions committees are going to be very wise in the use of it. Tread carefully.

When we first started hearing about artificial intelligence, Judy Gruen, who used to work for Accepted, I was talking with her one day and she said, “Why are we talking about all this artificial intelligence? We need some real intelligence down here.” [27:55]

Right.

I think that’s what the application is for and that’s what the admissions committee wants to see. [28:07]

Exactly.

What do you wish I would’ve asked you? We’ve covered a lot of ground here. [28:20]

I would say, what do I love about admissions or what do I love about this kind of work? And I absolutely love working with the applicants and learning their stories. I talked with somebody earlier today; amazing profile, very interesting life story, great goals. And I was so energized just chatting with him and learning about his objectives and how we could perhaps help him. That’s the best thing, is seeing the candidate experience.

Seeing them go from just the investigative stage, research phase of considering an MBA program. Working with them, hopefully getting admission, deciding where they’re a best fit. It’s just great to be part of someone’s journey. And that is life changing in so many ways. My former colleague at Lauder had a board in her room with all the couples that met each other in the program. And marriages are made, babies are born, all kinds of things. And if not a relationship, obviously you have your degree, which is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Hopefully, you will reach your professional and academic goals. But you will also have an amazing experience for the year or two that you’re in the program; new friends, many of whom are from around the world, just a great experience. Playing even just a small part in that is definitely the best part, for sure.

You joined Accepted fairly recently, but wait until you start hearing from clients that they’re admitted. It’s the biggest reward when you’re on this side of the desk. [29:41]

Yeah.



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Show Summary

In this episode of Admissions Straight Talk, Linda Abraham interviews admissions directors from MBA programs outside the United States to find out if there are any common threads among them. The guests on the show include representatives from Oxford Saïd Business School, INSEAD, NYU Abu Dhabi, and HEC Paris. The interviews cover various topics such as program overviews, admissions processes, and common applicant mistakes. The interviews also touch on language requirements, the role of the video interview in the evaluation process, and the importance of holistic review in admissions decisions. Overall, this interview provides valuable insights into the unique aspects of these MBA programs and shed light on the similarities and differences among them.

Show Notes

Welcome to the 572nd episode of Admissions Straight Talk. Thanks for tuning in. Before I turn  to today’s show, I have a question for you. Are you ready to apply to your Dream MBA programs? Are you competitive at your target schools? Accepted’s MBA admissions quiz can give you a quick reality check. Just go to accepted.com/mbaquiz, complete the quiz, and you’ll not only get an assessment, but tips on how to improve your qualifications. Plus, it’s all free. .

If you are a regular listener, you know that during most episodes of Admissions Straight Talk, I interview a guest, frequently, an admissions director or dean. Usually, our guests are leaders at a US graduate program. However, within the last couple of years, I have had the privilege of interviewing several deans or directors from programs outside the United States. Today we’re going to take specific excerpts from four of those episodes and let you determine if there are some common threads and of course, how they differ.

Today’s episode is a collection of their answers to admissions questions as well as insight into their programs. The guests on this program are:


I’ve asked some questions of almost every admissions director I’ve spoken to, so the responses that you’re going to see, again, represent a sample. In any case. Let’s start with Hannah Griffith of Oxford Saïd Business School. 

Oxford Saïd Business School

While Saïd is a fairly new and very innovative MBA program, Oxford is the oldest university in the English-speaking world, and Hannah provides the following:  An overview of the Oxford Saïd MBA program, focusing on its more distinctive elements; insights into the program’s admissions process, and a review of common misconceptions about Oxford Saïd.

Can you give us an overview of the Oxford Saïd MBA program for those listeners who aren’t that familiar with it, focusing on its more distinctive elements? [2:32]

[HG] Yes, absolutely. So the Saïd Business School is a business school that is embedded within Oxford University. Our MBA program is a one-year MBA program, and given that the business school is embedded within a world-class university, that does impact the MBA experience in a number of different ways. One of those ways being that the students can expect, in the one-year program, a lot of academic rigor. Our program is an intensive one-year MBA, it aims to include everything that a candidate would maybe anticipate finding on a two-year program, but packed into a 12-month period.

The main aim of the business school and of the MBA program is to prepare our students to be responsible business leaders and individuals who, as they move through their career in the future, are prepared to tackle world scale problems, challenges, and to really see business as a vehicle to drive change. And be that within the organizations that they work in, the sectors that they choose to work in, in their communities, and sometimes on a larger scale in the countries that they choose to be based in.

In addition to academic rigor, there are some other things to highlight that students could anticipate finding on the Oxford MBA, an incredibly diverse cohort. So our student body is largely international, our current class is 94% international, with 71 different nationalities represented across the class. And diversity of thought is something that’s very important to us on the Oxford MBA, as well. So we have a very broad range of different sector backgrounds represented in our cohort, that also means that students can expect a diverse range of career outcomes, and also a global alumni network that will be very far-reaching in terms of its depth and breadth, as well.

And obviously access to the greater Oxford community network, correct? [4:58]

[HG] Yes, absolutely. Which largely comes via their college membership while they’re with us in Oxford, but in terms of that alumni network, absolutely. They gain the benefit of having a network that they will have via the business school, and then obviously, another network that comes via the university as well.

What don’t people know about Oxford Saïd that you would like them to know, or what’s a common misconception about Oxford Saïd that you’d like to correct? [5:19]

[HG] That’s a really great question. So I would say that the school is probably best known for its focus on social impact, and its focus on entrepreneurship. So students who research the business school, and research the MBA, those are the two main areas that will stand out to them, in terms of what the school focuses on. So I would say probably a misconception, as a result of that, is that the MBA at Oxford isn’t for you if you are a finance professional, or a consulting professional, or somebody who’s maybe looking to move into one of those two sectors after the program. And actually, the reality in terms of the makeup of our cohort and in terms of the sectors that our students go on to work in after the MBA, those two sectors are actually quite well represented. So about 45% of our class will come from those sectors, in advance of doing the MBA, and about 50% of our class will go on to work in those spaces after the program.

There is large numbers of, or large aspects of the program, in terms of the curriculum itself, but also in terms of the co-curriculars that are designed to support students who are looking to move into those spaces. So obviously, in terms of the core courses themselves, there’s a large number of those that are finance-focused. So for students who are maybe looking to pivot into that space, there is the opportunity to really study those subjects in depth on the MBA. One of our most popular co-curriculars on the Oxford MBA is our Finance Lab, which students, again who are interested in either accelerating their career in finance, or moving into the space, really, really benefit from. Similarly, with students who are looking to maybe pivot into consulting, I mentioned the strategic consulting project already that they can do in the summer semester. Our career development center also run a consulting development program throughout the academic year, to support students who are looking to move into that space.

And certainly, in terms again of the finance focus, we have some world renowned finance faculty at the business school as well. So I would say that’s probably the more common misconception, is that maybe if you are somebody who isn’t interested or doesn’t have experience of social impact or entrepreneurship, that maybe Saïd is not for you, and the case is actually quite the opposite. We do have a focus on both of those areas, but we equally have a focus on finance consulting, and a number of other industries as well.

Let’s move to admissions. Saïd asks for a transcript, test score, a one-page resume, two references, a supporting statement, and then an online assessment before it starts evaluating the application, and deciding whom to interview. What happens after the applicant hits submit, and takes the online assessment? [7:58]

[HG] I’m sure there are lots of people who actually wonder this. It’s a really good question. So once the applications come through to us, they are processed by members of our team, that usually can take kind of the two to three week period, depending on what stage of the application process we are at. And once they have been processed, their application will then be reviewed by the admissions committee. It will be reviewed twice, by two individual members of that committee, and it will then be reviewed a final time by the more senior members of that admissions committee, before a decision is made on whether or not that candidate will move through to interview.

The applications at Oxford are really, really viewed holistically, so there’s not a particular component of the application that holds more weight than others when we are reviewing the applications. But all of the different components are taken into account, and we’re really trying to get a sense from someone’s application of who they are as an individual, and what they could add to the cohort if they were to be admitted. So yeah, essentially that’s it. That process, in terms of review, usually again takes between two to four weeks, depending on the stage deadline that we are at. Students will then be informed if they have been selected to move through to interview and then that process will run usually, again, for about three to four weeks before students will learn if they have been successful, and have been admitted to the program.

What else are you looking for? [9:53]

[HG] Yeah, really good question, and definitely I would say to anybody who has that concern, particularly in relation to GPA, which people will reference often. Do not let that be a barrier to applying for an MBA, and also try not to spend too much energy worrying about it, because the GPA is the one component of the application that candidates can’t influence. It’s the score that they have. They’ve completed their degree, and so essentially, if they have a concern around that area, I would say the best mindset to have is, how you can focus on the other components that you can still control, and make sure that they’re really strong so that they essentially outweigh any concerns that you might have about your GPA.

I would take a similar approach with the GMAT, to be honest. So, it is an important aspect of the application, but essentially what we’re looking to see via your GMAT score, is that you are somebody that would be able to cope with the academic rigor of the program, particularly with the quantitative element of the program. But there is a broader range of scores represented across our class than candidates would often anticipate, and students who come through with a lower GMAT score are people who demonstrate strength in other areas of the application. So that’s sometimes via the work experience that they’ve had across their career to date, they’re individuals who are able to show us that they’ve enjoyed good career progression, and that they’ve maybe had good international exposure across their career to date, that they’ve had leadership opportunities that they’ve been able to embrace. The personal statement that they can write really allows them to give us a sense of their individual story. So again, we’re really looking for authenticity, to try to get a sense of who somebody is via the application.

And then similarly, through the online assessment, which I think is a really key component of the application in terms of showing the committee a little bit more of your personality. It gives us a sense of your communication style, of the experience you have that you might be able to draw on, and share with your classmates if you were part of the program. And all of those things are of equal importance to us when we are deciding whether or not it’s somebody who we would want to put through to interview, and ultimately admit to the class.

Why do you need both the online assessment and the interview? [12:05]

[HG] Yeah, really good question. And sometimes candidates do assume, I think because we have the online assessment, that it has replaced the interview, so it’s good to clarify that it definitely hasn’t. The online assessment is brief, in terms of the amount of information students can provide. So it involves them video recording answers to three questions, but those answers are 90 seconds or 60 seconds in length. So it gives us a taste, maybe, of what that individual might be like, but probably doesn’t give us enough of a sense of their personality, and how they might be within the cohort.

The interview also allows us the opportunity to just explore some of the other components of the application in a little bit more detail, so particularly, the career plan is something that we will talk to candidates a lot about at the interview. And also, as I said, really just trying to get a sense of who they are and of what they might add to the cohort.

And similarly for candidates, I think the interview is a really important part of the process, because it’s their opportunity to maybe learn a little bit more about whether they think the business school is the right place for them. We’re very aware that a lot of candidates who apply to the Oxford MBA are applying to a number of other business schools as well, and so the interview processes and opportunity for them to try to get a sense of, “Okay, is this a business school where I would fit? Is this a program where I can really benefit, in terms of my future aims, and the career outcomes that I’m looking to achieve?” And so the interview, I would say, is maybe more conversational sometimes than candidates would expect, and it does really give them that opportunity to make sure that the business school might be the right place for them, as well.

INSEAD MBA Program

For a different perspective. Let’s hear from INSEAD’s Teresa Peiro. Here are the topics she addresses: an overview of INSEAD’s MBA program, INSEAD’s language requirements, and what INSEAD is looking for in MBA applicants.

To start, can you give us an overview of INSEAD’s MBA program for those listeners who aren’t that familiar with it? [14:03]

[TP] Yes, of course. Our MBA program is a 10-month program that brings together around a hundred nationalities per cohort. You can either start in January, or in the August intake. It’s a very intense program. It’s shorter, but our participants make the most out of it, and we commonly hear all of our alumni saying that it was the best years of their lives.

INSEAD has three full campuses, and several partnerships with both US programs, in CEIBS, in China. How do most students take advantage of that geographic diversity? I mean, it’s already intense, right? If it was 10 months in Fontainebleau the whole time, that would already be intense. But if you have all this, other options, how do they do it? [14:37]

[TP] Indeed. So our applicants have to make a decision of which will be their home campus. So what is their core courses, they will have to stay in their home campus. After that, when the electives start, they can either change campuses, so if someone starts in Singapore, they can go to Fontainebleau, and vice versa. And then we offer different partnerships, as you mentioned, with different schools in the US and China. So what happens is that they can go to that school, while they’re in that school, they’re like full students from the welcoming school, and they spend their period there, and then they come back to INSEAD. 

Where are the three campuses, again? [15:36]

[TP] So we have three campuses: Fontainebleau, Singapore, and Abu Dhabi. And we opened, pre-COVID, a San Francisco hub.

Where are the partnerships? [15:54]

[TP] The partnerships are with Kellogg and Wharton, in the US, and with CEIBS in China.

When you talk about your home campus, how much time are you required to spend there? What do most students do? [16:02]

[TP] It depends more, per class, so there’s not statistically, something consistent. They have to stay for the core courses for the first period, they have to stay where they decided to apply to. Because we consider that that part is the most intense of the program, because they have all of these classes and all the exams, and it’s like the core, and they have to stay focused where they are. And then, switch campuses.

So it’s super interesting because now for example, for instance, we welcomed those who started in Singapore, and they arrived to Fontainebleau, and it’s like they discover a new school, it’s like a new campus. And they get to see other participants that started here in the program, and they have moved, or those who came with them. So I find it very vibrant, the campus exchange moment, because the campus is full of suitcases, and they’re coming in and out. And they see new faces, and you see how, “Oh, I connected with you when we were applicants, and now I see you here.” It’s a good sense of community.

In terms of the partnership schools, is the 10 months divided into semesters? Or, you mentioned periods, how does that work? [17:10]

[TP] There are periods of two months. Five plus P0. P0 starts before they arrive to campus. So we’ve got P0, and five periods.

Could you review the language requirements, both at entry and graduation, for INSEAD participants? That’s a very distinctive aspect of the program. [17:35]

[TP] Yes. And you know what? It’s one very near to my heart. So as you know, or maybe you don’t. INSEAD was founded by Georges Doriot, who was a French Harvard professor. At the beginning, all courses were taught in those three languages. So German, English and French, which were the languages in Europe. We’ve been adapting to the different times. English has to be validated, either by your native language, or by other means of assessment. We need to ensure that every MBA or every student in is going to be able to follow the class, and make the most out of the program. So English has to be validated. If it’s your native language, we will not question it, but then you will have to validate the second language for INSEAD reasons.

How do you validate? [18:38]

[TP] So if English is not your native language, you have to validate it. So there are different criteria. Most common are, you need to have, your whole degree has to be taught in English, and it has to be specified in your transcripts. Or, through TOEFL, PTE, or IELTS.

And if English is your native language, and your second language is French, for example, or Spanish. [18:58]

[TP] There are other tests, they are local. So there are national tests that we accept – many of them, but there are many different experiences. For example, a TOEFL is only two years, and each test has a different experience and date. So we will look at that very closely for your second language, if English is your native language. And for instance, if you for example, hold your bachelor’s in Spanish, it would be validated, too. The second language is like a C1, so it’s fluent that we require, and it’s an admissions requirement.

Now for the third language, it’s an exit language, so you need it to graduate. And we do not give the diploma if you have not validated your third language. Knowing that, the level that we require is much lower. It’s an A1. When I’m talking to candidates or prospects, I always, always encourage them to get that language policy cleared before they start, because the program is very intense. And they prefer to invest their time with other things than learning the language. But for us, it’s like in our DNA, and this open mindedness and being able to make the most of this super international exposure, we want you to have these three languages with you upon graduation.

Would your entry-level requirement be that the person has speaking comprehension and speaking ability, and some writing ability, or fluent writing ability? And the exit requirement, what would that be? I realize there are stricter requirements, I’m just trying to make it a little bit easier to grasp. [20:43]

[TP] The second language is quite strict. You have to go through the three levels to be a C1, which is fluent. You have to be able to write. 

The exit language, which is A2, is more of a little bit of everything. So not very complicated sentences. You don’t have to be able to write a proper essay, but you would be able to write an email.

Now, INSEAD clearly lists its admissions criteria, and your website says their ability to contribute, academic capacity, international motivation, leadership potential. I’m sure you know this, you don’t need me to tell them to you. Where are you most likely to see those qualities in the different elements of the INSEAD application? [21:32]

[TP] It’s interesting, because when I’m running, I run application workshops very often. And I always, my first slide is with this, four pictures of these four admissions criteria. And I always tell them, “Whatever information you share with us, be sure that it falls in one of these buckets.” And a follow-up, of course is, “But what’s more important?” “No. I said it’s holistic,” and I’m always saying the same. I’m always sharing with people, “At INSEAD, we’re human beings behind admissions process. There are people reading applications.” And people are like, they begin this conspiracy theories like, “Oh, so you put our CVs in a scan, and they give you like…” “No. It’s nothing like that. It’s all about holistic, and we try to see everything.”

So we have a lot of essays, which we are aware, we know that we ask for many essays compared to other schools. But we really want to know. And it’s not only about us deciding if you are a good candidate for INSEAD or not, but if this is what you want, this is what you need to get wherever you want to go. So these four criteria, and that’s why we are so clear about it, they need to be covered in your application. It’s interesting because, as I think we’ll talk to the Kira video, but the pre-selection decision is purely based on what we’ve received in the application form. And we need to be sure that those four criteria are met.

Do you typically find, I would assume that academic capacity, you typically find in the transcript and the test score? [23:22]

[TP] Yes.

International motivation would probably show up in your resume and your activities, as well as the essays. [23:29]

[TP] International motivation is my favorite because it’s who we are. So international motivation is about us being sure that you’re not only going to be comfortable with such diversity in the class, but they’re going to embrace it. And that you’re going to be, and you know how much you’re going to learn from this diversity, and you’re going to make the most out of it. So we need to be sure of this, and how do we see it?

So the most common, and where most of our candidates really check those boxes is because they’ve gone through international experiences before, themselves. Either studying, either working abroad, and we do believe that this aspect in your life, it’s a big experience that makes you who you are, in a way. You’ve gone abroad, you’ve gone to a different culture, you had to adapt, you had to make some compromises, you learned so many things about it. 

So we get that from previous experiences. Also, in other cases, we have candidates that didn’t have the opportunity of living abroad, or having this experience. So we ask them to tell us how they’ve been in an international environment, and how they felt about it. So either you’re working in a country where there are many people from different nationalities, either you work in a very international company, and you have to… I was going to say deal, but you have to collaborate, and you have to interact with other nationalities from other countries. So that’s what we are looking for. So we do ask, in the essays, “What has been your experience?” And we also ask a detailed list of the international experiences you’ve had in the past.

In advising clients, we sometimes talk about multicultural exposure. So as you say, some applicants might live in a diverse country, in many different cultures, within their own country. It’s not homogenous, it’s a heterogeneous culture. [25:21]

[TP] And nowadays, most of the countries are like that. That’s why companies are always looking for people who are thriving in these kinds of societies.

And the ability to contribute, I would assume, also will come really throughout the application. [25:47]

[TP] The ability to contribute and leadership potential come a lot, also, through the essays.

The question is, “What is it that you bring to the class?” You want to be sure that when you raise your hand, you’re going to share experiences, share what you know, ask the correct questions. And those questions and those contributions are going to come from your past experience.

You mentioned the video a second ago. What is the role of the video interview in the evaluation process? [26:18]

[TP] We are very happy with the video. We love the video. And our message to candidates is always, “Be yourself.” So when I’m presenting these application workshops, I put a picture of Salvador Dali, who is one of our most well-known artists in Spain, because he was genuine. He was himself, and he wasn’t shy to show who he was. And it’s about that. I’m always telling, “We are not expecting you to be a BBC reporter, unless you were a BBC reporter.”

So don’t try to use those fancy words, or things that you think that are… But be yourself. So what we’re looking for here, the role is to see who you are, in a way, and communication skills. The video will reassure us a lot also on the English level, and the fluidity when people speak. I understand it’s stressful, so we always recommend candidates, there’s a practice part in the platform. I always say, “Practice, practice, practice.” There are four questions, and you’ve got 45 seconds to prepare, and 60 to respond. I strongly recommend candidates that they use those 45 seconds to work on their structure. What is it that they want to say? And then, be yourself. I always tell the story that we had a candidate who was a professional break-dancer, and he just went to the floor, and he danced. Amazing.

We loved it. It’s a great story. And this is because sometimes, and I understand the, “Oh, instead, I’m going to try to use fancy words.” No, because you’re going to lose the point of the video, which is, we want to hear you.

And that’s why we’ve got four questions. And I always say that we read applications to try to look into it and accept you, not to reject you. That’s why it’s important that you are yourself, because for the writing, we already have your essays.

Stern at NYU Abu Dhabi

Dr. Robert Salomon, as I mentioned, is the inaugural Dean of Stern at NYU Abu Dhabi, the newest program among the four. He answers questions about the program’s 12-month structure, NYU AD’s admissions process, and why Abu Dhabi, and why now? Let’s start with an overview of NYU’s Abu Dhabi MBA program. Can you please provide us with one? [28:41]

[RS] We are opening here a full-time MBA program. It’s going to be a 12-month accelerated MBA program that will run from January through December. And the first class will start in January of 2025.

You’re really just getting going. You’re not going to have a class this year, you’re just getting going for the following year, really. [29:22]

[RS] Right. We’ll start a year from January. Although the website is now live, the application is available, it can be downloaded, people can start it, and we are accepting applications now. The first deadline comes up January 15th, but people can start applying now.

It takes a while to put together a good application, so that makes a lot of sense. Is this program aimed for people in the Middle East, who want a US MBA? Or is it aimed for people anywhere in the world, who want to focus on business in the Middle East? What’s the goal of the program? [29:47] 

[RS] The program is for anybody in the world, and what we would like, however, is that people who are interested in the region, people who are interested in the potential of building a career in Abu Dhabi, in the UAE, places like Dubai or the broader region. So we’re happy to consider applications from anybody, anywhere, but we are hopefully going to be preparing people for careers in the region.

Now, that said, what people get in the classroom here isn’t going to be very different from what they get in the classroom in New York or in MBA programs elsewhere. They’re going to be prepared to be business leaders, and business managers, so they’re going to get the same kinds of core courses that they get in New York. We are bringing the same robust MBA program that we offer in New York, here to Abu Dhabi. And we hope that this program will be appealing to people the world over, not just in the region, but also beyond.

Will the professors be traveling from New York City to Abu Dhabi, or will there be online courses? Part of the robustness of the NYU program is the faculty. [31:00]

[RS] Yeah. And this will be an in-person program. At the moment, we don’t have any plans for online content. And just as we have a top-notch faculty, world-class faculty in New York, we will be building a faculty here in Abu Dhabi as well. So we will be hiring to the standards that we have in New York, the kind of faculty that we have in New York. Now, saying that there is from time to time, every once in a while, faculty might come over here and there to teach a specific course if they have a specific expertise, and they will offer that course here in Abu Dhabi.

In addition to that, we also have a module of the entire program. One module, or about two and a half months of the program, will take place in New York City. So students will be in New York during the summer months, I think it’s from the end of May to mid-August. They’ll be taking classes in New York and they will be taught by our faculty, our renowned faculty in New York City.

Will the program focus at all on the business of energy, since it’s going to be located in the Middle East, and specifically in the Persian Gulf? [32:15]

[RS] That won’t be a specific focus of this program. We will have several specializations in this program. So the specializations we intend to offer at the beginning include finance, leadership and strategy, technology innovation, and entrepreneurship/ marketing. And potentially, we’re also considering sustainability. So if anything, yeah, I mean there might be sort of a slight energy focus. But on the next wave of energy, sort of how do we transition into the next energy regime, away from fossil fuels, away from petroleum-based energy.

They’re preparing for a future without oil, without fossil fuels, and they are diversifying their economy now in order, so that once that day arrives when the last barrel of oil rolls off the assembly line, or however we want to describe that analogy, that they have other industries that are here, and vibrant, that can sustain the economy.

You mentioned that there are going to be roughly three months or two modules of the program in New York City. Can I ask why? [33:40]

[RS] Well we are a NYU program. We are NYU Stern, as well, and one of the reasons that we want to bring students to New York City is so that they get to know and make connections to the home university. So that’s part of it. So they get to know New York, they get to know NYU, they get to know NYU Stern.

The other piece of this is that this is a global degree program. This is a program that is preparing students to participate in the global economy. And what better way than to have them learn about the global economy, than to be not just in one singular place, but to also have a global experience. And for those in this program, that means not just being in Abu Dhabi, but also going somewhere else. And we have a campus in New York, with an outstanding faculty, a world-class faculty there. So why not bring the students there?

And that’s part of, if you look at many of our other programs at NYU Stern, they also have global components. And those global components are meant to prepare people for the realities, the business realities, of the world that they live in.

Also, New York City is one of the capitals of business in the world. [34:59]

Yeah, absolutely.

Are there any language requirements for NYU AD? Is Arabic something that’s encouraged, or required? [35:09]

[RS] No. All languages are encouraged. I think if you have the opportunity to learn another language, the answer should always be yes. I mean, that’s an amazing gift, and an amazing thing to be able to speak multiple languages. But there is no requirement at Stern at NYU Abu Dhabi, for people to speak anything other than English. And English, spoken widely, here in the UAE. Just about everybody speaks English, all the signs are in English, and the classes will be in English as well.

Okay, great. I noticed that NYU AD, like NYU Stern in New York City, NYU Stern in Abu Dhabi accepts many tests, and also offers a test waiver option. Who should seek a test waiver, and who shouldn’t seek a test waiver, in your opinion? [35:46]

[RS] I want to preface this by saying when it comes to admissions, I’m not an expert. I come from the program side. So I’ve been a scholar, I’m a professor, I’m a researcher. That’s my background. And I’ve come from running programs. I’ve been running different kinds of MBA programs for Stern, and master’s programs, and executive programs for Stern for quite a while. So I’m really familiar with the programmatic side.

I’m less knowledgeable when it comes to admissions kinds of things, but let me just try and answer the question as best I can, with the caveat that I may not… I mean, generally I think the answer I’m going to give you is accurate, but I want to just caveat it with, that I might be making some mistakes on the margins.

So when it comes to test waivers, the kinds of folks who should be seeking test waivers, I would say, are those who feel like they are well-equipped in the areas that are associated with an MBA degree. And what areas are those? I would say, if you have a STEM degree, if you already have a degree in engineering, where you can demonstrate… And you did very, very well in school, in your engineering program, and you can demonstrate that you performed very well, especially in your math classes. That would be the kind of individual who might want to request a test waiver. If you went to an undergraduate business program, and you’ve already demonstrated through your completion of that program that you can handle the rigors of an MBA program, because you already have the qualifications, and you did very, very well in your undergraduate business program. Those are the kinds of folks that should or could potentially be requesting a test waiver or might be granted a test waiver.

So basically, if you have sort of a STEM-y background, and your degree is from a widely respected, accredited university, and you’ve performed very, very well in the classroom, especially in your math-based classes. Those are the kinds of folks who typically qualify for test waivers.

What would you have liked me to ask you? [38:19]

[RS] I think one of the questions that I was thinking about in preparation for this is, why here and why now?

I mean, I think part of it is that if you think about Abu Dhabi, and again, going back to something that I mentioned before. Abu Dhabi is increasingly becoming a world capital that’s connected to other world capitals, and it’s connected to other world capitals more each and every day. It’s becoming more, as you mentioned, it’s becoming more of a finance capital. It’s becoming more of a sustainability capital. It’s becoming more of a business capital. It’s becoming more of a consumer products capital. It’s becoming a technology capital, it’s becoming a FinTech capital.

All of these things that the UAE, and Abu Dhabi in particular is investing in, because they see the need to diversify away their economy away from fossil fuels and towards a more knowledge-based, services-based economy. For us, when we were researching and thinking about this as a location, when you speak to companies and you talk to them and you say, “What is it that you need in order to accomplish these goals that you have?” We hear the same answers over and over and over again, which is, “We need people who have managerial skills.” You talk to even private or public employers here in the region, they say, “There is a need for people with managerial skills to help us with that transition, to be a part of that, to help propel it.” Ultimately, these are the folks who are going to become the leaders in this region, and they are going to be a part of that transition away from an energy fossil fuels based economy, towards this new knowledge-based, services-based economy.

So when we were thinking about it, what better location than to do that, right here? We already have a campus here. We’ve already built a stellar faculty here. We’ve been operating here for more than a decade, we know the market, and so we feel like now is the right time to be the first ones, the first top US business school to offer a full-time MBA in the region.

There’s tremendous talent here, too. There’s a lot of young people who have an incredible desire to upskill, too. So that was also part of it. So the employers are asking for it, on the demand side for our graduates, and on the supply side, the prospective applicants, the students really want it, because they see the need to upskill as well.

HEC Paris MBA

Finally, we have the most recent guest on Admissions Straight Talk,  HEC’s Sara Vanos, and she shares:

  • An overview of the program

  • An insider perspective of the admissions process

  • What she feels are the most common applicant mistakes. 

I’d like to start with some general questions about HEC Paris, and then get more specific and focused on admissions for the full-time MBA program. Can you start by just giving us a very high level overview of HEC’s three MBA programs? [40:57]

[SV] Sure, I’d be happy to. So we have our full-time MBA program, which is a 16-month program, which can be residential. So we have on-campus housing, or you can live off campus. So that’s in our Jouy-en-Josas campus, which is quite close to Paris. You can do specialization, you can do electives, plus your core, plus all kinds of other sort of surprises and leadership activities. So that would be our full-time MBA.

Then we have our executive MBA, that can take anywhere from 15 to 21 months, because it’s part-time. It’s either modular or block, so you come on campus every two months, or you can do every other weekend in Paris. It’s typically for more senior professionals, so the average age is 40, usually some management experience. And then we have anything from directors to CEOs to CFOs in that program. So, a very senior crowd.

And then we have TRIUM, which is one of our flagship partnership programs. So it’s in partnership with LSC and also NYU, even slightly more senior profiles that join that program. And it’s really exciting, because it takes place in modules all over the world.

How long is that program? [42:27]

[SV] So usually that one is just almost 20 months.

Let’s zoom in on the full-time MBA program’s more notable and distinctive elements. Can you describe them? You’ve hinted at them a little bit. By the way, I once visited HEC Paris. It is gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. [42:34]

[SV] Yes, one, I agree. So I commute from Paris every day to go on campus, so it’s actually really easy to reach. And like you said, it’s beautiful. So it’s a wooded, private acres of a forest, tennis courts, a chateau of its own, and of course our other programs. But the one that we’ll zoom in on now is the MBA. So, a beautiful campus with a possibility to live on campus, which is kind of interesting and different because a lot of MBA programs, you’re kind of spread out everywhere. So we feel that having this on-campus housing really builds the community from day one, because you’re with about 80% of the students living in our residential housing, you can easily attend club activities, different community events. So you really foster that connection from day one.

If we start with kind of the curriculum or notable things there, I think the 16 months is really unique. So typically, you’re looking at an MBA, where do I do it? How long, my ROI, et cetera. So we’ve kind of found the sweet spot. So you can either do 12 or 16 months, depending on your intake. So it can be a little shorter than the longer programs, but you get all of the benefits of the longer programs. So electives, specialization, participation in our MBA Olympics, New Horizons, which is broadening your horizons and figuring out kind of how to anticipate trends. So that’s unique.

We have a pretty smaller class than, I would say, some of the larger class sizes. So usually, an average of about 300 students coming in two intakes, and you can start in September or January. So that’s also unique.

I think if we say, maybe one takeaway from these things I’ve kind of thrown out there, would be flexibility and customization. So I know that’s what a lot of people look for in their program. So whether it’s program length, how to specialize what you take, so we have these specializations, which electives. Where you live, if you live on campus, all of that really offers the flexibility to have a great experience.

What do you look for besides stats? You’ve mentioned a little bit, maybe you can just give a little more on that. [44:46]

[SV] So typically, we will assess everyone. So we’ll start by looking at their CV. So that’s one of the criteria. We’ll look at the GMAT, GRA test. These are things that kind of all follow and compliment each other. We look at previous academic backgrounds. So, which school did you go to? What did you study? And again, we try to tie all of this back to the motivation, so there’s a motivational paragraph where you get to explain what’s next, why an MBA? So we’re kind of trying to look holistically, as discussed. We looked at extracurriculars.

We also look at languages. So we think it can be interesting, even if you’ve just started to learn a language, if your goal is to work in France, it can be helpful if you’ve already started learning. It’s not necessary, but we do look at that in terms of, again, motivation, career desires, and outcomes.

We look at the essays, so we read all of the essays, and then discuss them. So sometimes things can jump out. Some of them are kind of creative. So I would say in there, depending on the essay topic, we’re looking for different things. The additional essay is something that maybe only 10 to 20% of students use, but it’s extremely interesting, because it’s where you can add anything that we might not have known about you. And it’s often where we learn something extremely interesting. So I would say that’s something to look at.

Where we also evaluate, but it’s at a later state, would be the interviews. So, how did it go with your alumni interviewer? How did the alumni interviewer rate your presentation? Because you have to make a presentation, the communication skills and motivation, et cetera. I think those are all of the main buckets, if I’m thinking through them.

There’s none that’s weighted super heavily. They’re all kind of pairing together, and matching together. And even if someone didn’t have the perfect application, because we discuss each and every profile in a jury of several members, there are other things that can come into play. So for example, our marketing or recruitment managers try to have a call or meet everyone that comes in the program. So it can be very interesting, because often they’ll add complimentary information that can boost, almost, if somebody forgot something and the marketing and recruitment manager knows they can also talk about their conversation, talk about things like that. So I think that’s also somewhere that can add value.

What’s the most common mistake that you see applicants making in the application process? [47:02]

[SV] Yeah, it’s a funny one. Usually we let it go, because it’s so common, but a lot of people will cut and paste essays, and keep the other schools that they’re applying to. It’s okay, because we know that they’re applying to multiple schools. But sometimes people will say, “I’m applying to HEC only,” and then they will cut and paste an essay and a CV where they cite another school. It’s the most common one. I think, for the admissions team, we are rather used to it. We know that it can happen. We know, “Okay, it’s an oversight. Maybe the person is not super detail-oriented,” but where it can have a larger impact is our alumni will have access to the application of the person who’s applied and moved into an interview round. So for, I would say our alumni, it’s a more big mistake because they want people who are diehard HEC, they want them to love HEC, to only be thinking about HEC. So, common.

Easy though, I think, for applicants to take a quick double check. Put a PDF of your application file, look the whole thing through, and just look for these very small but easy to fix things, I would say.

Yeah, and this is one of the things that comes up repeatedly from admission directors. My suggestion for applicants is, if you are adapting essays from another school, don’t cut and paste, number one. But if you are adapting essays from another school, when you start that process… Not at the end, when you start, do a find and replace. That way you will not miss it. Just do it at the beginning. Okay? Do it then, and it’s taken care of, you won’t be making the mistake that Sara just mentioned.

After listening to this episode, did you detect some common themes? 

What are the differences with US programs, like language requirements for some? Now it’s your chance, your opportunity to apply to programs that fit your goals, your needs, your finances, and your wants. And that is likely to want you. If you’d like help in presenting the best of the authentic you to any of these, or other top MBA programs in the United States or in Europe, or the EU, I should say. Please contact Accepted for guidance in presenting your best self, and polishing that gem of an application.



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U.S. News & World Report 2024 MBA Rankings [Full-Time & Part-Time] [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: U.S. News & World Report 2024 MBA Rankings [Full-Time & Part-Time]
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[url=https://www.accepted.com/mba/free-admissions-consultation][img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/U.S.-News-World-Report-2024-MBA-Rankings-Full-Time-Part-Time-1.png[/img][/url]

As we have come to expect with the U.S. News & World Report ranking, movement is the name of the game. This year, the Stanford GSB has found its way back to the top of the list, tying with Wharton for the #1 spot, while Harvard takes its place at #6, and Michigan Ross exits the Top 10. Interestingly, nine schools on this prestigious list share spots, thanks to ties for the  #1, #3, #7, and #10 positions in the survey.  

U.S. News’ metrics continue to encompass career placement success (50%), quality assessment (25%), and selectivity (25%). One notable adjustment to the career placement success category this year is the introduction of the salary by profession (10%) subcategory, which compares salaries by industry. This change acknowledges that varying pay scales exist for different occupations. The weight was adjusted for each employment subcategory rate to allow for this addition within the category. The weight of the employment rate at graduation is 7% this year (down from 10%), and the weight of the employment rate three months after graduation is 13% (down from 20%). The contribution to the ranking calculation of the mean starting salary and bonus subcategory is unchanged at 20%. U.S. News also changed the calculation approach for the employment subcategories to include two years of data instead of one to compute the averages.

Regardless of the outcomes or the changes in methodology, applicants, students, and alumni continue to study the rankings insatiably. Interestingly, U.S. News encourages prospective students to consider factors beyond the rankings, including “location, campus culture, strength of specific programs, and cost after tuition and financial aid.” We encourage you to do the same and have created a free resource to help you do so: [url=https://www.accepted.com/mba/guide/best-mba-programs]Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One[/url]. 

U.S. News reached out to 506 U.S. universities accredited by AACSB International for its survey, receiving 339 responses. The publication then ranked the 124 full-time, in-person, and hybrid programs that had submitted sufficient data. It’s worth noting that U.S. News largely adheres to the data reporting standards set by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) and the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA). GMAC’s [url=https://www.gmac.com/why-gmac/advocating-for-gme/gme-admissions-reporting-standards]GME Admissions Reporting Standards[/url] and the MBA CSEA’s are publicly available.

[url=https://www.accepted.com/mba/selectivity-index][img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/MBA-School-Selectivity-Index-Button-1024x256.png[/img][/url]

Notable changes this year

[list]
[*]The [b]Stanford GSB [/b]returns to the #1 spot, tying with[b] Wharton. [/b]The salary outcomes, with the adjustment of comparison of salaries by profession, favored Stanford, helping it leap five spots to claim the #1 seat. Stanford boasted an overall average starting salary and bonus of $209,680 (compared to $198,032 last year), the highest among the programs in the Top 10. Wharton’s average starting salary and bonus amount increased significantly to $201,296, and the school saw a higher placement rate than Stanford, with 94.2% versus 82.8%. Although both schools reported the same GMAT median score of 740, Stanford’s median GPA was 3.8, compared with Wharton’s 3.7. Harvard is the only other school in the Top 10 with a GPA median as high as Stanford’s. [/*]

[*][b]Chicago Booth[/b] slipped from #1 to share #3 with [b]Northwestern[/b] [b]Kellogg[/b], which held the #2 spot last year. Booth inches ahead of Kellogg in salary ($204,197 versus $199,888), three-month placement rate (95.0% versus 94.8%), and admit rate (32.6% versus 33.3%). However, it comes in slightly behind Kellogg with a median GMAT of 730, versus 740, and a median GPA of 3.6, versus 3.7.[/*]

[*]While [b]MIT Sloan[/b] #5 and [b]Harvard Business School[/b] #6 each slipped one spot, they are the only schools to stand on their own at their positions in the Top 10. Each of the other nine schools in the upper tier tie with at least one other program. As we’ve noted, [b]Stanford GSB[/b] and [b]Wharton[/b] are tied at #1, [b]Chicago Booth[/b] and [b]Kellogg[/b] are tied at #3, [b]UC-Berkeley[/b] [b]Haas[/b] reentered the Top 10 to tie with both [b]NYU Stern[/b] and the [b]Yale SOM[/b] at #7, while [b]Dartmouth[/b] [b]Tuck[/b] and [b]UVA Darden[/b] are tied at #10. After falling out of the Top 10, [b]Michigan Ross[/b] now stands at #12, tied with[b] Columbia[/b] and [b]Duke Fuqua[/b].[/*]

[*]Looking at the top 25,[b] Vanderbilt Owen [/b]jumped seven spots to #20, where it is tied with three other schools: [b]UNC Kenan-Flagler[/b], [b]UCLA Anderson[/b], and [b]Indiana Kelley[/b]. [b]UT Austin McCombs[/b] moved up four places to #16, tied with [b]Carnegie Mellon Tepper. [/b]Other programs shifted just one or two spots up or down, while [b]Cornell Johnson[/b] held at #15, and [b]Georgetown McDonough[/b] stayed at #24.[/*]
[/list]

The ranking of part-time MBA programs remained relatively static this year. The [b]Chicago Booth[/b] and [b]Berkeley Haas[/b] programs swapped spots at the top of the ranking, now standing at #1 and #2, respectively. The [b]Michigan Ross [/b](now[b] [/b]#6) and [b]Texas McCombs[/b] (now #7) programs similarly swapped places. 

A notable change is the exit of [b]CMU Tepper[/b] from the ranking. The Tepper School combined its traditional part-time MBA program with its online hybrid MBA program and will therefore participate only in the online MBA ranking now. Additionally, U.S. News took specific action to align hybrid and in-person programs with those most comparable. This alignment resulted in 30 fewer programs participating in the rankings. With the departure of [b]Tepper[/b], three schools entered the Top 10, tying for the #10 spot:[b] OSU Fisher[/b], [b]UMD Smith[/b], and [b]UW Foster[/b].

The part-time rankings were based on survey responses from 269 institutions. These schools qualified for the 2024 part-time MBA ranking with master’s level business programs in the United States accredited by AACSB International. According to U.S. News, “The weights of the ranking indicators used in the 2024 part-time MBA methodology were unchanged from last year’s ranking.” Ranking factors included peer assessment (50%), part-time student ratio (12.5%), part-time students total (12.5%), GMAT/GRE scores (10%), undergraduate grade point average (10%), and work experience (5%). 

U.S. News 2024 Top 10 Full-Time MBA Programs

2024 Rank2023 RankSchoolLocation

1 (tie)6 (tie)Stanford UniversityStanford, CA

1 (tie)3University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)Philadelphia, PA

3 (tie)2Northwestern (Kellogg)Evanston, IL

3 (tie)1University of Chicago (Booth)Chicago, IL

54Massachusetts Institution of Technology (Sloan)Cambridge, MA

65Harvard UniversityAllston, MA

7 (tie)10New York University (Stern)New York, NY

7 (tie)11 (tie)University of California, Berkeley (Haas)Berkely, CA

7 (tie)8 (tie)Yale UniversityNew Haven, CT

10 (tie)6 (tie)Dartmouth College (Tuck)Hanover, NH

10 (tie)14University of Virginia (Darden)Charlottesville, VA

U.S. News 2024 Top 10 Part-Time MBA Programs

2024 Rank2023 RankSchoolLocation

12University of Chicago (Booth)Chicago, IL

21University of California, Berkeley (Haas)Berkeley, CA

33Northwestern University (Kellogg)Evanston, IL

44New York University (Stern)New York, NY

55University of California, Los Angeles (Anderson)Los Angeles, CA

67University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ross)Ann Arbor, MI

76University of Texas, Austin (McCombs)Austin, TX

88University of Southern California (Marshall)Los Angeles, CA

99 (tie)Georgetown University (McDonough)Washington, DC

10 (tie)15 (tie)Ohio State University (Fisher)Columbus, OH

10 (tie)21 (tie)University of Maryland, College Park (Smith)College Park, MD

10 (tie)11(tie)University of Washington (Foster)Seattle, WA

[b]Hoping to start business school in 2025 at one of these top-ranked programs? [/b][url=https://www.accepted.com/mba/free-admissions-consultation][b]Sign up for a free consultation[/b][/url][b], and be sure to check out our [/b][url=https://www.accepted.com/mba/services?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_medium=US_News_2023_rankings&utm_source=blog][b]MBA Admissions Consulting Services[/b][/url][b] and work one-on-one with an expert consultant to create an application that will get you [/b][b]accepted[/b][b]![/b]

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/Kelly_Wilson_admissions_expert_headshot.png[/img]

As the former executive director of admissions at Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School and assistant dean of admissions at Georgetown’s McDonough School and the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School, Kelly Wilson has 23 years’ experience overseeing admissions committees and has reviewed more than 38,000 applications for the MBA and master’s programs in management of information systems, computational finance, business analytics, and product management. [url=https://www.accepted.com/experts/kelly-wilson]Want Kelly to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch![/url]

[b]Related Resources:[/b]

[list]
[*][url=https://www.accepted.com/mba/selectivity-index]Accepted’s MBA Selectivity Index[/url], a free tool[/*]

[*][url=https://www.accepted.com/mba/guide/best-mba-programs]Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One[/url], a free guide[/*]

[*][url=https://www.accepted.com/mba-admissions-podcast]Admissions Straight Talk Podcast for MBA Applicants[/url][/*]
[/list]
The post [url=https://blog.accepted.com/u-s-news-world-report-2024-mba-rankings-full-time-part-time/]U.S. News & World Report 2024 MBA Rankings [Full-Time & Part-Time][/url] appeared first on [url=https://blog.accepted.com]Accepted Admissions Blog[/url].
This Blog post was imported into the forum automatically. We hope you found it helpful. Please use the Kudos button if you did, or please PM/DM me if you found it disruptive and I will take care of it. -BB
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MBA Admissions: Application Advice for Tech Applicants [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: MBA Admissions: Application Advice for Tech Applicants
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/MBA-Admissions-Application-Advice-for-Tech-Applicants-1.png[/img]

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/MBA-Admissions-Application-Advice-for-Tech-Applicants-1.png[/img]

Often, when we work with , they begin the process already feeling that the odds are stacked against them. Their first question is usually “How can I stand out in such a crowded field to earn a place in a top MBA program?”

This post is here to help.

The truth is that these candidates’ concern is justified by the numbers. It’s an undeniable reality: tech applicants do in fact represent one of the largest categories of applicant “types.” Exacerbating the challenge is that they often have competitive commonalities, such as high grades and test scores. On the other hand, they also comprise a large percentage of the MBA classes. Their expertise, experience, and goals often align snugly with a desirable MBA profile. For example, students from tech backgrounds make up the third greatest proportion of the class at the [url=https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/programs/mba/admission/class-profile]Stanford GSB[/url], [url=https://www.chicagobooth.edu/mba/full-time/admissions/class-profile]Chicago Booth[/url], [url=https://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/programs/full-time-mba/class-profile.aspx]Kellogg[/url], [url=https://mba.wharton.upenn.edu/class-profile/]Wharton[/url], and [url=https://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/class-profile/Pages/default.aspx]HBS[/url]. 

Still, the competition will be fierce, and you will need to [url=https://blog.accepted.com/application-strategy-tips-on-how-to-stand-out-and-fit-in/]distinguish yourself from the pack[/url] and prove that you are not just a cubicle-bound engineer with great tech skills who lacks the broad experience and leadership exposure to merit a spot in top management.

Here are six suggestions to help you shine in your applications as a unique individual who is a great fit for top-tier MBA programs. 

#1 Know your strengths.

Your technology background gives you some advantages: strong analytical and quantitative skills that these [url=https://blog.accepted.com/mba-programs-go-stem-certified/]now STEM-certified MBA programs[/url] require. The application forms’ text boxes and your resume allow you to share those credentials. 

Likewise, as an applicant from the technology sector, you have almost certainly worked in teams and have likely been part of cross-functional and multicultural groups. In your essays, you can highlight how you have applied your technology skills to diverse industries and/or business functions, and how you have [url=https://blog.accepted.com/display-teamwork-in-application-essays/]combined them with teamwork[/url] and leadership to achieve positive and measurable results.

#2 Combat the stereotypes by showing your diversity of experiences.[b] [/b]

You can also fight techie stereotypes by showing the schools the [url=https://blog.accepted.com/why-extracurricular-activities-make-a-difference-in-your-mba-application/]varied, fully engaged life[/url] you live through your community involvements, hobbies, and personal life. Consider these examples:

[list]
[*]Are you an artist outside of work who has shown your work in galleries or exhibits?[/*]

[*]Did you trek with your church’s youth fellowship group?[/*]

[*]Did you use your knowledge of computer science to design computer games for your brother, who has a learning disability?[/*]

[*]Did you establish a national organization for sufferers of your rare hearing disorder when you discovered that no such organization existed?     [/*]
[/list]

There is much more to you than your technology skills. Show the adcom some of what has motivated and moved you in your life.

#3 Emphasize leadership.

The top schools want leaders, and many technology professionals struggle to demonstrate that they fit this expectation when they work in [url=https://blog.accepted.com/4-tips-for-demonstrating-professional-growth-in-a-flat-organization/]flat organizations[/url] and have no direct reports, no budget authority, and no performance-evaluation responsibilities. So, how can you demonstrate managerial potential or leadership?

One way is by sharing the leadership roles you have played even without an official title. For example, did you coordinate the efforts of 15 people from five departments on a mission-critical project worth hundreds of thousands in revenue? Have you mentored teammates? Have you lobbied successfully for your ideas or solutions when everyone resisted you? These are examples of leadership, too! 

You might also have demonstrated your management caliber through your commitments outside of work. Consider these examples:

[list]
[*]Do you serve on the board of directors of a local charity?[/*]

[*]Were you elected to your condo’s homeowners’ association?[/*]

[*]Did you convince a few friends to join you in teaching tae kwon do to inner-city kids every weekend?[/*]

[*]Do you organize a local sports league whose season culminates in an annual fundraising tournament?[/*]
[/list]

All of these are examples of leadership. With a varied and strong record of these kinds of leadership activities, you will show the adcoms that you have the management skills they are seeking. 

#4 Differentiate your goals, and include desired impact.

Another way to show the adcoms that you are not the “typical” technology applicant is by asking yourself whether the [url=https://reports.accepted.com/mba/guide/why-mba]post-MBA goals[/url] you are presenting are described too conventionally or are too limited in scope. For example, rather than saying that you want to make the transition into strategy consulting at Bain or McKinsey (like so many other candidates will!), try to individualize your goal:

[list]
[*]You want to join a top strategy consulting firm’s defense and aerospace practice to marry global security with sustainability. [/*]

[*]You aim to lead innovations in healthcare service delivery that meet the intense cost pressures of the industry. [/*]

[*]Your goal is to lead innovations in e-commerce using AI and augmented reality.[/*]
[/list]

Similarly, make sure to include the longer view of your goals and the social impact you hope to make through them. For example, rather than saying that you need an MBA to gain credibility and funding for your edtech start-up, show the potential impact you hope to bring to the communities you grew up in through this venture.  

Finally, you can [url=https://blog.accepted.com/different-dimensions-diversity-episode-193/]highlight your individuality[/url] by describing unusual career goals – provided, of course, that they are rooted in your past experiences and involvements. As long as your ideas aren’t too farfetched, goals with a creative twist will certainly make you stand out from the crowd. Consider these examples:

[list]
[*]Given your experience playing flute in a local chamber group, you hope to combine music and technology to improve education outcomes.  [/*]

[*]Your lifelong interest in space exploration makes you want to be the CTO of the first Latin American satellite launch provider.[/*]

[*]You are inspired by your family’s history of heart disease and diabetes to lead healthtech innovations that prevent lifestyle diseases.      [/*]
[/list]

#5 Allow the adcom to see you as a businessperson with tech expertise, rather than as a techie.

You perform your role within a context, probably a multifaceted context. That context includes industry/sector and function. Consider the following examples: 

[list]
[*]Are you the tech expert on a risk analysis team for real estate investment strategy? You probably have some interesting insights about risk assessment and real estate investment through a very practical lens.[/*]
[/list]

[list]
[*]Do you work with a team laying out a process to integrate a new acquisition into a healthcare network? You will likely develop some perspectives on acquisition integration challenges in a highly regulated, rapidly changing, politically charged industry.[/*]
[/list]

Discussing insights and observations you gain from your work in specific functions and industries/sectors in your essays (and interviews) will show the adcom that you have already moved beyond “techie” status and have formed a business mind-set and perspective. You will help them see you in this light.

Moreover, your familiarity with applying cutting-edge technology capabilities and practices within specific industries and/or business disciplines will be a resource for your classmates and enhance the learning environment.

#6 Get the help you need to stand out from the crowd.

The bottom line is this: Applying to top MBA programs as a techie means you need to show the adcom that you are not just a stereotype. Accepted’s expert consultants will help you reflect on your experiences, interests, and skills and guide you in selecting the themes and anecdotes that best portray your singular self. Linking these stories together into compelling essays will grab the adcoms’ attention for all the right reasons.

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Cindy_Tokumitsu_admissions-expert-headshot.jpg[/img]

After a successful career in business publishing, Cindy Tokumitsu has worked for more than 20 years with Accepted. Every year, Cindy’s clients have been accepted to top MBA, law, and med programs. She is a pioneer in the niche of EMBA application consulting. Want an admissions expert to help you get accepted? [url=https://www.accepted.com/free-admissions-consultation-all]Click here[/url] to get in touch!

[b]Related Resources:[/b]

[list]
[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/how-to-apply-successfully-to-stem-phd-programs-episode-566/]How to Apply Successfully to STEM PhD Programs[/url], podcast Episode 566[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/advice-from-successful-stem-applicants-in-graduate-programs/]Advice from Successful STEM Applicants[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/graduate-school-options-for-stem-candidates/]Graduate School Options for STEM Candidates[/url][/*]
[/list]
The post [url=https://blog.accepted.com/mba-admissions-application-advice-for-it-applicants/]MBA Admissions: Application Advice for Tech Applicants[/url] appeared first on [url=https://blog.accepted.com]Accepted Admissions Blog[/url].
This Blog post was imported into the forum automatically. We hope you found it helpful. Please use the Kudos button if you did, or please PM/DM me if you found it disruptive and I will take care of it. -BB
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The Diversity Essay: How to Write an Excellent Diversity Essay [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: The Diversity Essay: How to Write an Excellent Diversity Essay
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/The-Diversity-Essay.png[/img]
[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/The-Diversity-Essay.png[/img]

What is a diversity essay in a school application? And why does it matter when applying to leading programs and universities? Most importantly, how should you go about writing such an essay?

Diversity is of supreme value in higher education, and schools want to know how every student will contribute to the diversity on their campus. A diversity essay gives applicants with disadvantaged or underrepresented backgrounds, an unusual education, a distinctive experience, or a unique family history an opportunity to write about how these elements of their background have prepared them to play a useful role in increasing and encouraging diversity among their target program’s student body and broader community.

The purpose of all application essays is to help the adcom better understand who an applicant is and what they care about. Your essays are your chance to share your voice and humanize your application. This is especially true for the diversity essay, which aims to reveal your unique perspectives and experiences, as well as the ways in which you might contribute to a college community.

In this post, we’ll discuss what exactly a diversity essay is, look at examples of actual prompts and a sample essay, and offer tips for writing a standout essay. 

In this post, you’ll find the following: 

[list]
[*][url=http://blog.accepted.com/category/mba-admissions/feed#diversityessaycovers]What a diversity essay covers[/url][/*]

[*][url=http://blog.accepted.com/category/mba-admissions/feed#howtoshow]How to show you can add to a school’s diversity[/url][/*]

[*][url=http://blog.accepted.com/category/mba-admissions/feed#whydiversitymatters]Why diversity matters to schools[/url][/*]

[*][url=http://blog.accepted.com/category/mba-admissions/feed#sevenexamples]Seven examples that reveal diversity[/url][/*]

[*][url=http://blog.accepted.com/category/mba-admissions/feed#samplediversityprompts]Sample diversity essay prompts[/url][/*]

[*][url=http://blog.accepted.com/category/mba-admissions/feed#howtowrite]How to write about your diversity[/url][/*]

[*][url=http://blog.accepted.com/category/mba-admissions/feed#diversityessaysample]A diversity essay example[/url][/*]
[/list]

[b]What a diversity essay covers[/b]

Upon hearing the word “diversity” in relation to an application essay, many people assume that they will have to write about gender, sexuality, class, or race. To many, this can feel overly personal or irrelevant, and some students might worry that their identity isn’t unique or interesting enough. In reality, the diversity essay is much broader than many people realize.

Identity means different things to different people. The important thing is that you demonstrate your uniqueness and what matters to you. In addition to writing about one of the traditional identity features we just mentioned (gender, sexuality, class, race), you could consider writing about a more unusual feature of yourself or your life – or even the intersection of two or more identities.

Consider these questions as you think about what to include in your diversity essay:

[list]
[*]Do you have a unique or unusual talent or skill?[/*]

[*]Do you have beliefs or values that are markedly different from those of the people around you? [/*]

[*]Do you have a hobby or interest that sets you apart from your peers? [/*]

[*]Have you done or experienced something that few people have? Note that if you choose to write about a single event as a diverse identity feature, that event needs to have had a pretty substantial impact on you and your life. For example, perhaps you’re part of the 0.2% of the world’s population that has run a marathon, or you’ve had the chance to watch wolves hunt in the wild.[/*]

[*]Do you have a role in life that gives you a special outlook on the world? For example, maybe one of your siblings has a rare disability, or you grew up in a town with fewer than 500 inhabitants.[/*]
[/list]

[url=https://www.accepted.com/free-admissions-consultation-all][img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/03/Law-School-Free-Consultation-Button.png[/img][/url]

[b]How to show you can add to a school’s diversity[/b]

If you are an immigrant to the United States, the child of immigrants, or someone whose ethnicity is underrepresented in the States, your response to “How will you add to the diversity of our class/community?” and similar questions might help your application efforts. Why? Because you have the opportunity to show the adcom how your background will contribute a distinctive perspective to the program you are applying to.

Of course, if you’re not underrepresented in your field or part of a disadvantaged group, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have anything to write about in a diversity essay.

For example, you might have an unusual or special experience to share, such as serving in the military, being a member of a dance troupe, or caring for a disabled relative. These and other distinctive experiences can convey how you will contribute to the diversity of the school’s campus.

Maybe you are the first member of your family to apply to college or the first person in your household to learn English. Perhaps you have worked your way through college or helped raise your siblings.

You might also have been an ally to those who are underrepresented, disadvantaged, or marginalized in your community, at your school, or in a work setting. 

As you can see, diversity is not limited to one’s religion, ethnicity, culture, language, or sexual orientation. It refers to whatever element of your identity distinguishes you from others and shows that you, too, value diversity.

[b]Why diversity matters to schools[/b]

The diversity essay provides colleges the chance to build a student body that includes different ethnicities, religions, sexual orientations, backgrounds, interests, and so on. Applicants are asked to illuminate what sets them apart so that the adcoms can see what kind of diverse views and opinions they can bring to the campus.

Admissions officers believe that diversity in the classroom improves the educational experience of all the students involved. They also believe that having a diverse workforce better serves society as a whole.

The more diverse perspectives found in the classroom, throughout the dorms, in the dining halls, and mixed into study groups, the richer people’s discussions will be.

Plus, learning and growing in this kind of multicultural environment will prepare students for working in our increasingly multicultural and global world.

In medicine, for example, a heterogeneous workforce benefits people from previously underrepresented cultures. Businesses realize that they will market more effectively if they can speak to different audiences, which is possible when members of their workforce come from various backgrounds and cultures. Schools simply want to prepare graduates for the 21st century job market.

[b]Seven examples that reveal diversity[/b]

Adcoms want to know about the diverse elements of your character and how these have helped you develop particular [url=https://blog.accepted.com/proving-character-traits-in-your-application-essays/]personality traits[/url], as well as about any unusual experiences that have shaped you.

Here are seven examples an applicant could write about:

1. They grew up in an environment with a strong emphasis on respecting their elders, attending family events, and/or learning their parents’ native language and culture.

2. They are close to their grandparents and extended family members who have taught them how teamwork can help everyone thrive.

3. They have had to face difficulties that stem from their parents’ values being in conflict with theirs or those of their peers.

4. Teachers have not always understood the elements of their culture or lifestyle and how those elements influence their performance.

5. They have suffered discrimination and succeeded despite it because of their grit, values, and character.

6. They learned skills from a lifestyle that is outside the norm (e.g., living in foreign countries as the child of a diplomat or contractor; performing professionally in theater, dance, music, or sports; having a deaf sibling).

7. They’ve encountered racism or other prejudice (either toward themselves or others) and responded by actively promoting diverse, tolerant values.

And remember, diversity is not about who your parents are. [url=https://blog.accepted.com/admissions-tip/]It’s about who you are[/url] – at the core.

Your background, influences, religious observances, native language, ideas, work environment, community experiences – all these factors come together to create a unique individual, one who will contribute to a varied class of distinct individuals taking their place in a diverse world.

[b]Sample diversity essay prompts[/b]

The best-known diversity essay prompt is from the [url=https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-write-the-common-application-essays-2020-2021/]Common App[/url]. It states:

“Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.”

Some schools have individual diversity essay prompts. For example, this one is from [url=https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-write-the-duke-supplemental-essays-2019-2020/]Duke University[/url]:

“We believe a wide range of personal perspectives, beliefs, and lived experiences are essential to making Duke a vibrant and meaningful living and learning community. Feel free to share with us anything in this context that might help us better understand you and what you might bring to our community.” 

And the [url=https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-write-the-rice-university-essays-2019-2020/]Rice[/url] University application includes the following prompt:

“Rice is strengthened by its diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders and change agents across the spectrum of human endeavor. What perspectives shaped by your background, experiences, upbringing, and/or racial identity inspire you to join our community of change agents at Rice?”

In all instances, colleges want you to demonstrate how and what you’ll contribute to their communities.

[b]How to write about your diversity[/b]

Your answer to a school’s diversity essay question should focus on how your experiences have built your empathy for others, your embrace of differences, your resilience, your character, and your perspective.

The school might ask how you think of diversity or how you will bring or add to the diversity of the school, your chosen profession, or your community. Make sure you answer the specific question posed by highlighting distinctive elements of your profile that will add to the class mosaic every adcom is trying to create. You don’t want to blend in; you want to stand out in a positive way while also complementing the school’s canvas.

Here’s a simple, three-part framework that will help you think of diversity more broadly:

[b]Identity[/b]

Who are you? What has contributed to your identity? How do you distinguish yourself? Your identity can include any of the following: gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, disability, religion, nontraditional work experience, nontraditional educational background, multicultural background, and family’s educational level.

[b]Deeds[/b]

What have you done? What have you accomplished? This could include any of the following: achievements inside and/or outside your field of study, leadership opportunities, community service, internship or professional experience, research opportunities, hobbies, and travel. Any or all of these could be unique. Also, what life-derailing, throw-you-for-a-loop challenges have you faced and overcome?

[b]Ideas[/b]

How do you think? How do you approach things? What drives you? What influences you? Are you the person who can break up a tense meeting with some well-timed humor? Are you the one who intuitively sees how to bring people together? 

[b][url=https://blog.accepted.com/different-dimensions-diversity-episode-193/]Read more[/url] about this three-part framework in Episode 193 of Accepted’s Admissions Straight Talk podcast or listen wherever you get your favorite podcast[/b]s.

[url=https://blog.accepted.com/different-dimensions-diversity-episode-193/][img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/05/different_dimensions_of_diversity.png[/img][/url]

Think about each question within this framework and how you could apply your diversity elements to your target school’s classroom or community. Any of these elements can serve as the framework for your essay.

Don’t worry if you can’t think of something totally “out there.” You don’t need to be a tightrope walker living in the Andes or a Buddhist monk from Japan to be able to contribute to a school’s diversity!

And please remember, the examples we have offered here are not exhaustive. There are many other ways to show diversity!

All you need to do to be able to write successfully about how you will contribute to the diversity of your target school’s community is examine your identity, deeds, and ideas, with an eye toward your personal distinctiveness and individuality. There is only one you.

Take a look at the sample diversity essay in the next section of this post, and pay attention to how the writer underscores their appreciation for, and experience with, diversity. 

[b]A diversity essay sample[/b]

When I was starting 11th grade, my dad, an agricultural scientist, was assigned to a 3-month research project in a farm village in Niigata (northwest Honshu in Japan). Rather than stay behind with my mom and siblings, I begged to go with him. As a straight-A student, I convinced my parents and the principal that I could handle my schoolwork remotely (pre-COVID) for that stretch. It was time to leap beyond my comfortable suburban Wisconsin life—and my Western orientation, reinforced by travel to Europe the year before. 

We roomed in a sprawling farmhouse with a family participating in my dad’s study. I thought I’d experience an “English-free zone,” but the high school students all studied and wanted to practice English, so I did meet peers even though I didn’t attend their school. Of the many eye-opening, influential, cultural experiences, the one that resonates most powerfully to me is experiencing their community. It was a living, organic whole. Elementary school kids spent time helping with the rice harvest. People who foraged for seasonal wild edibles gave them to acquaintances throughout the town. In fact, there was a constant sharing of food among residents—garden veggies carried in straw baskets, fish or meat in coolers. The pharmacist would drive prescriptions to people who couldn’t easily get out—new mothers, the elderly—not as a business service but as a good neighbor. If rain suddenly threatened, neighbors would bring in each other’s drying laundry. When an empty-nest 50-year-old woman had to be hospitalized suddenly for a near-fatal snakebite, neighbors maintained her veggie patch until she returned. The community embodied constant awareness of others’ needs and circumstances. The community flowed!

Yet, people there lamented that this lifestyle was vanishing; more young people left than stayed or came. And it wasn’t idyllic: I heard about ubiquitous gossip, long-standing personal enmities, busybody-ness. But these very human foibles didn’t dam the flow. This dynamic community organism couldn’t have been more different from my suburban life back home, with its insular nuclear families. We nod hello to neighbors in passing. 

This wonderful experience contained a personal challenge. Blond and blue-eyed, I became “the other” for the first time. Except for my dad, I saw no Westerner there. Curious eyes followed me. Stepping into a market or walking down the street, I drew gazes. People swiftly looked away if they accidentally caught my eye. It was not at all hostile, I knew, but I felt like an object. I began making extra sure to appear “presentable” before going outside. The sense of being watched sometimes generated mild stress or resentment. Returning to my lovely tatami room, I would decompress, grateful to be alone. I realized this challenge was a minute fraction of what others experience in my own country. The toll that feeling—and being— “other” takes on non-white and visibly different people in the US can be extremely painful. Experiencing it firsthand, albeit briefly, benignly, and in relative comfort, I got it.

Unlike the organic Niigata community, work teams, and the workplace itself, have externally driven purposes. Within this different environment, I will strive to exemplify the ongoing mutual awareness that fueled the community life in Niigata. Does it benefit the bottom line, improve the results? I don’t know. But it helps me be the mature, engaged person I want to be, and to appreciate the individuals who are my colleagues and who comprise my professional community. I am now far more conscious of people feeling their “otherness”—even when it’s not in response to negative treatment, it can arise simply from awareness of being in some way different.

What did you think of this essay? Does this middle class Midwesterner have the unique experience of being different from the surrounding majority, something she had not experienced in the United States? Did she encounter diversity from the perspective of “the other”? 

Here a few things to note about why this diversity essay works so well:

1. The writer comes from “a comfortable, suburban, Wisconsin life,” suggesting that her background might not be ethnically, racially, or in any other way diverse.

2. The diversity “points” scored all come from her fascinating experience of having lived in a Japanese farm village, where she immersed herself in a totally different culture.

3. The lessons learned about the meaning of community are what broaden and deepen the writer’s perspective about life, about a purpose-driven life, and about the concept of “otherness.”

[list][/list]

By writing about a time when you experienced diversity in one of its many forms, you can write a memorable and meaningful diversity essay.

[b]Working on your diversity essay?[/b]

Want to ensure that your application demonstrates the diversity that your dream school is seeking? [url=https://www.accepted.com/services?utm_campaign=Blog&utm_medium=approaching_diversity_essay&utm_source=blog]Work with one of our admissions experts[/url]. [url=https://reports.accepted.com/dimensions_of_diversity]This checklist[/url] includes more than 30 different ways to think about diversity to jump-start your creative engine.

[img]https://blog.accepted.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/Sundas-Ali-2.webp[/img]

Dr. Sundas Ali has more than 15 years of experience teaching and advising students, providing career and admissions advice, reviewing applications, and conducting interviews for the University of Oxford’s undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition, Sundas has worked with students from a wide range of countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Pakistan, China, Japan, and the Middle East. [url=https://www.accepted.com/experts/sundas-ali]Want Sundas to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch! [/url]

[b]Related Resources:[/b]

[list]
[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/different-dimensions-diversity-episode-193/]Different Dimensions of Diversity[/url], podcast Episode 193[/*]

[*][url=https://blog.accepted.com/what-to-do-if-you-belong-to-an-overrepresented-applicant-group/]What Should You Do If You Belong to an Overrepresented MBA Applicant Group?[/url][/*]

[*][url=https://reports.accepted.com/guide/how-to-fit-in-stand-out-during-the-admissions-process]Fitting In & Standing Out: The Paradox at the Heart of Admissions[/url], a free guide[/*]
[/list]
The post [url=https://blog.accepted.com/writing-the-diversity-essay/]The Diversity Essay: How to Write an Excellent Diversity Essay[/url] appeared first on [url=https://blog.accepted.com]Accepted Admissions Blog[/url].
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How Personal Is Too Personal In Your Application Essays? [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: How Personal Is Too Personal In Your Application Essays?




The personal statement is your chance to stand out and make an impression on the admissions committees. How can you make your essay original? How much should you tell? And at what point are you crossing the line into TMI?

When I applied to college, I wrote a personal statement describing some challenging family circumstances I’d had while growing up. But my best friend warned me that it was too risky and intense to write about the situation, so I went back to the essay and asked myself, “What did I learn from this experience? Does it speak to my strengths and individual qualities, or is it something meant for a therapist’s office or a private journal?”

I studied my essay carefully and made sure that it gave the reader a good sense of who I really was and wasn’t just about the people in my family. I was careful to focus on what I had learned from the challenges I’d faced and how the experiences had made me into a more independent and compassionate person.

I decided to submit the essay after all, and I was accepted. In fact, one admissions counselor even wrote me a personal note about my essay! So in that case, taking the leap was well worth it. But, in some cases, it is not.



What are the adcoms looking for?

All admissions committees want to accept a wide range of interesting and talented applicants – a diverse group of smart, motivated, and innovative individuals who can come together to create a dynamic and richly layered community. They seek candidates with integrity who will get along with others and enhance the campus community in a variety of ways. They are also interested in applicants who are resilient, stable, and confident and who have already achieved important things in their lives.

How do you choose an essay topic that is personal, but not too personal ?

Prepare to write your personal statement by making a list of the most meaningful and significant events in your life. Which experiences really changed you, influenced you, and made you the person you are today? You can write about your passion for the subject you are applying to study. Tell them why you find it fascinating. Talk about your motivation for and commitment to the subject by using evidence from your past experiences – work, academic, or volunteering. Discuss any research or reading you’ve done into the subject, too, and why you’ve found it interesting.

Here are some questions you might want to address that would offer lively and distinctive essay material:     

  • Do you have a passion or interest that gives meaning to your life?

  • What have you had to work really hard at?

  • When have your values been challenged, and how did you respond?

  • When have you had to take a risk? What was at stake?

  • Have you had to overcome a personal challenge?

  • Did you grow up overseas?

  • Do you speak several languages?

  • Are you from a cultural background that might make you stand out or has enriched your life in a special way?

  • Do you have a handicap that has made you stronger?

  • Do you love to cook Thai food, run marathons, and play the piano?

The situations you describe can be personal, but only up to a point: beware of revealing too much that is emotionally intimate. Ask yourself, “Do these experiences make me sound emotionally unstable, ambivalent, or insecure?” If so, don’t bring them to the admissions committee. However, if the topic you’re considering has helped you become stronger and wiser, it could be considered a feasible option.

Tips for sharing personal stories

Here are additional tips to help you determine whether your personal statement is too personal or just right for displaying your inner truths and ambitions:

  • Always be honest, but avoid overdramatization. Admissions committees can smell exaggeration from a mile away!

  • Don’t focus your anecdotes on resentment, anger, or other feelings of ill will. Instead, focus on strength, recovery, and growth – in short, resilience.

  • Don’t give details about your current or past romantic relationships. This is information to share with your therapist or best friend, but not the adcom!

With these guidelines in mind, start your creative engines and begin to write! Be authentic, be yourself, and show how your life experiences have helped you grow.

The expert advisors at Accepted can help you with your application essays, from choosing a topic (and making sure it’s an appropriate one!) to putting the final touches and making it ready to submit. Schedule a free consultation and we’ll match you with a personal admissions coach who will help you GET ACCEPTED.



Dr. Sundas Ali has more than 15 years of experience teaching and advising students, providing career and admissions advice, reviewing applications and conducting interviews for the University of Oxford’s undergraduate and graduate programs. In addition, Dr. Ali has worked with students from a wide range of countries, including the United Kingdom, the United States, India, Pakistan, China, Japan, and the Middle East. Want Sundas to help you get Accepted? Click here to get in touch! 

Related Resources:

The post How Personal Is Too Personal In Your Application Essays? appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.
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Ross MBA Admissions: All You Need to Know for Acceptance [Episode 576] [#permalink]
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FROM Accepted.com Blog: Ross MBA Admissions: All You Need to Know for Acceptance [Episode 576]



Show Summary

In this episode of Admissions Straight Talk, Linda Abraham interviews Andrea McHale, the Director of Admissions for the Michigan Ross MBA program. They discuss the unique elements of the Ross MBA program, such as its action-based learning principles and emphasis on impact. Andrea also provides advice for MBA applicants, including the importance of showcasing impact in the application, preparing for interviews, and addressing weaknesses or gaps in the application. 

Show Notes

Welcome to the 576th episode of Admissions Straight Talk. Thanks for listening. You’ve seen the stats that most people have a great return on their MBA investment, but what about you? Are you going to see that return? How much will it be? We’ve created a tool that will help you assess whether the MBA is likely to be a good investment for you individually. Just go to accepted.com/mbaroicalc, complete the brief questionnaire and you’ll not only get an assessment, but the opportunity to calculate different scenarios and it’s all free. 

It gives me great pleasure to have on Admissions Straight Talk for the first time, Andrea McHale, Director of the Michigan Ross Full-time MBA and Global MBA Admissions. Andrea has 10 years of industry experience in marketing, sales and supply chain management within the healthcare and automotive industries. In 2013, she transitioned to education administration. Before joining the Ross MBA team, she worked as the Director of Admissions for Michigan State University’s Broad MBA program. She has a BA and MBA from Michigan State, an MS from the University of Michigan and is currently pursuing her doctorate of business administration from the University of Florida. Pretty impressive.



Andrea, welcome to Admissions Straight Talk. [2:14]

Thank you for the super generous welcome. Yes, I’m also a student, so anyone who chats with me, we can talk about the pros and cons of going back to school as someone that’s been in the workforce for a while, but I definitely have a bias towards a full-time MBA and higher education in general.

Let’s start with a few general questions about Ross and then we’ll get more specific and focused on admissions. Can you give us an overview of Ross’ full-time MBA program for listeners who may not be that familiar with it, focusing on its more distinctive elements? [2:51]

Yes. Absolutely. The Ross School of Business is located within the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We are 2024 national champions. However, back to the Ross MBA program, our key differentiators are our action-based learning principles. So really, many people have heard about MAP. MAP stands for multidisciplinary action projects. This is a quintessential end-of-your-first-year MBA experience where you are consultants with real-world impact. Fortune 500, NGOs, you name it, and you’re doing a seven-week project on site and back at Ross with them with real deliverables. It’s that pre-internship before the internship.

Sometimes you’ll also hear of “Midwest nice,” but that really does define our culture. We’re a highly collaborative, very inclusive culture, and we want everyone to be highly successful while they’re here at Ross, and we do that through very intentional pedagogy within the curriculum as well as within your experiential learning through student clubs, different organizations. We have a number of centers and institutes to support your learning even outside of your classroom experience. And I think the last thing about Ross and our curriculum particularly is the flexibility of it. We have over 110 top-ranked graduate programs at the University of Michigan. And you have the opportunity not only to dual degree and choose your path in those dual degrees, but also take up to 10 of your elective credits outside of Ross. So really thinking about what is most important and unique to you and what your goals are and your experience for your education, you have the ability to do that here at Ross.

What’s new at Ross? [4:56]

Oh goodness. Now I’m really going to get into the curriculum.

A couple of the things that our leadership team and that our students have really led is the need to be on trend within business. And with that comes AI and machine learning. And so we’ve introduced a few new curriculum electives this year as well as many of our professors are refining their current curriculum to be dynamic within that workspace and really bringing in case studies and opportunities to utilize AI and machine learning because it will become a big part of business as we continue to grow within that space. We had previously had a concentration in sustainability, but there was a student need and obviously an industry desire to be very focused within ESG. So we introduced a new concentration this year of environmental, social and governance. It’s really offered here as a concentration path to support students navigating really that rapidly changing business world, but creating foundations within sustainability, social impact, and administration.

Is that instead of the sustainability concentration? [6:16]

Yes. We have taken parts of the sustainability concentration path that already existed and added in other classes and electives that would really have a more well-rounded focus within ESG to support what our students’ needs are and then what we are hearing from our employers and within the industry.

I visited Ross a few years ago, and I was very impressed at the time. The dean talked about how all Ross students will be involved in starting, investing in, advising, and then managing or running a business. I think that’s what you call REAL. Can you dive a little deeper into that? Is it still true that all students will do that or is it they focus on certain elements of that foursome? [6:40]

I think in many ways all students will encompass this REAL framework. However, again, talking about choosing your own path and the flexibility of your experience, you can really hone in on specific areas of that. Linda had shared the REAL is start, advise, invest and lead. So that management component. And I’ll talk to a couple areas of just some examples of how that works within Ross.

The foundation of that really is in that action-based learning principles. So if you look at the REAL start, that component is about entrepreneurship. Our differentiator here within the MBA program where all students partake is within MAP. But we also have centers and institutes dedicated to entrepreneurship where you can take that even further through an incubator experience or an investment experience or case competitions and pitch competitions with VCs. So you have that ability to really either experience it as a student or really enhance that through other opportunities. We also then have the advise that’s consultive. Again, MAP encompasses that consulting aspect of really having that framework and being a problem solver and a leader of change within any organization. And that’s something that all students do. But then you could also be involved in the student clubs within consulting opportunities within our CDO program in terms of developing those skill sets to be successful within your career.

The next is invest. REAL invest. All of our students will have financial foundational skills within their Ross curriculum, but we have a number of student-led investment funds. A few of them would be the Wolverine Venture Fund or the Social Venture Fund. This is where Ross students, Ross MBA students, where Rossers have the ability to actually make investment decisions with real money, with real teams and you’re guiding growth based on those decisions. And then the last is REAL lead. This is, I feel like, one of our foundation … Part of our culture is that leadership culture. But an example of this even outside of the curriculum is the Sanger Institute for Leadership where you have the opportunity to participate in a crisis challenge within the story lab. They have curriculum both for MBA students across the board within the university, so you could even interact with more than just your MBA students on some of these initiatives. So you can really make the most of all of these different opportunities based on what your interests are.

Obviously, the opportunities for deep dives into any of these areas exist both in terms of extracurricular activities or in terms of choosing a MAP project, but do all students engage in all four of the activities or do you pick and choose what you’re most interested in? [10:01]

So within your curriculum, you’re definitely going to be interacting within all. Advise, invest, lead. But again, there’s those opportunities even outside of your curriculum where you can maximize a specific foundational area of this action-based learning either through our centers and institutes, our student clubs, some of the investment funds that you can lead. So there’s a lot of different opportunities to elect into them. But across the board, every Ross MBA student will have some component of that within their experience within the 20 months that they’re here in Ann Arbor.

I assume that MAP is the place where a student could do a deep dive into their particular area of interest? [11:00]

Oh yes. Absolutely. Or something completely different. I’ve seen MBA students approach it in very different ways. Whether they really want to say, “Okay. I’m switching into marketing and I want to take a marketing-based project, so it’s going to help me enhance my skill sets going into my internship.”, or we have someone that would go into investment baking and say, “I will never have the opportunity again to spend seven weeks supporting an NGO in Malawi, Africa.” And so they take it as this opportunity to grow as an individual, see a different side of the business landscape where that’s going to help them in their current career path, but in a different way where it maybe provides them a different lens or a different scope to be more successful later on. So I see students approach that slightly differently, and each approach is uniquely their own and it’s the right approach to take.

And our students have the ability to select from over 100 projects. They typically get their top three choices. So you really do have a voice and choice in looking through these projects and what’s going to maximize the value and the gain that you can contribute, and then also learn from those experiences. It’s a seven-week intensive where rather than taking classes, you’re working with the employers or the organization that you’re supporting. You’re going on site for part of that to really learn from the employees and the teams that you’re helping support. And at the end of the day, you have a real deliverable. So this is action-based learning at its best.

And it’s full-time? When you’re doing MAP, it’s all you’re doing? [12:51]

Oh, full-time. Yes. Seven-week full-time. In the last half of your semester in that fourth module as a first-year MBA student, you are completing your MAP project.

What don’t people know about Ross that you would like them to know, or what’s a common misconception that you’d like to dispel? [13:05]

I think the biggest misconception is yes, we are located in the Midwest of the US and that when you think of Michigan, you probably think of automotive or manufacturing, which is true. We still have lots of manufacturing and automotive. There’s been a huge tech increase in the Detroit area specifically. But just because you’re coming to do your education within the University of Michigan at the Ross School of Business doesn’t mean that you stay within Michigan. 75% of our students go coastal or within Chicago, so East Coast, Chicago and West Coast. So we coined the phrase, go blue, go anywhere. And it’s really true. We have a huge alumni network. There’s over 67,000 Ross alumni globally and over 600,000 University of Michigan alumni globally. So when you think about the brand and the network that you gain from coming to Ross, that’s huge. I feel like that’s the first misconception that I want to dispel. And I’d like to say yes, it’s not as cold as everybody talks about in Michigan, but for a few months out of the year it really is. But right now it’s beautiful. So it’s short-lived, but yes, if you’re coming from a warm climate area, we do have a pretty significant winter.

As an Angelino, I can appreciate the people who are afraid of cold, but I was there in June and it’s gorgeous. 

Let’s turn to the application. Ross is asking applicants to submit either a GRE, a GMAT, a PCAT, DAT, MCAT or LSAT score. You almost have the whole alphabet covered there. Or if they don’t do the score, they need to do a statement of academic readiness. What’s a statement of academic readiness and who should apply with the test score and who should submit the statement? [14:31]

I’ll just take a quick second to talk about the standardized test scores and then I’ll move into the statement of academic readiness. Your application is complete whether you choose to submit with a standardized test or a statement of academic readiness. We do not differentiate between the two options. But I will share there’s been lots of changes in even the standardized testing. So this year, GMAT launched the GMAT Focus, and so for the next four years, we will be accepting valid traditional GMAT scores as well as the new GMAT Focus, which has a different scoring range. And what we’re looking there is at the percentiles to really be able to compare with an unbiased and as fair as we can within our application review process. So we do accept both.

GRE this year launched an expedited or a condensed version of their scoring. We do not differentiate between the two tests. They’ve put out a lot of studies in terms of the validity of those assessment scores. So we’re using those comparably across the traditional one or the longer version versus the shorter one. And then the alphabet soup is we do have a number of dual degrees and we do accept various different alternative tests if you’re a dual degree student, and it’s really to reduce any barriers from you pursuing that education that you desire. And that comes to the academic readiness statement. This came about during the pandemic because that became a barrier for students to apply because it was very hard to get to a testing center. We now have enough data to show that students who applied without a standardized test are capable and excelling within the MBA program and obviously within the outcomes. However, this is Ross, and we do need to at least try to triangulate your academic readiness within the application criteria that you provide, and we’re looking for, do you have the quantitative readiness?

The verbal side of things comes with a lot of different things we’re looking at within the application. We’re really trying to understand the quantitative academic readiness that you can bring to your Ross experience. So if you have any type of certifications or you’ve had quant heavy work within your career, if you’ve taken extra classes outside of what’s showing on your transcripts, these are all great ways to reflect your academic readiness and that’s something that we assess. So don’t take that statement lightly. We really want specifics. Not vague response of you’re really smart in mathematics and can do statistics. Provide a specific example, the years that you’ve been showcasing that in your career. That’s really important for us to be able to assess and equalize our applicants within that selection process.

Would you say that if somebody didn’t do so well as an undergrad or didn’t do well in quant courses as an undergrad, they would be wise to take the GMAT or GRE? That’s question number one. And number two, is the PCAT, DAT, MCAT and LSAT, are those really for dual degree applicants? [18:17]

Yes. For the first question, if you had a less-than-desirable outcome from your undergraduate degree in terms of GPA, because that is another criteria that we look at. Not just the GPA, but what was your undergrad focus in, what type of classes that you were taking. We look at all of that in that review process. So if that is less desirable or the outcome that you don’t want to showcase as a strength, taking a standardized test can really help to offset that. You’ve grown, you’ve matured, you’ve taken the time to prepare and study for that test. What if you’re listening to this call and you’re just like, “Hey, I’m not a test taker. This is not a strength of mine.” Possibly the statement of academic readiness may be the best path for you, but at the same time, we’re still looking for academic readiness.

So you’re going to have to take the time to demonstrate … Whether that be through a new class that you take or a new certification, taking the time to still demonstrate that would be important. Now, for the alphabet soup, in terms of the MCAT, the PCAT, the LSAT primarily, yes for dual degree students, but we have individuals that maybe have taken their LSAT. It’s still valid. They’ve worked for a few years as a lawyer and they realized that might not be the right career path for them and they’ve learned that hey, having an MBA and using those transferable skill sets into business may be applicable. Yes, we would accept that. Something to just consider. Again, LSAT. We know that your verbal ability is probably extremely high. Your comprehension and your problem-solving skills probably extremely high, but that doesn’t necessarily reflect your quantitative skill sets. So you just really need to put forth a very holistic application and trying to balance all of those strengths. Highlight the strengths. Be open and honest and authentic about any areas on that criteria of the application that may be a weak point. But altogether we’re looking at you as an individual holistically. Everything can come within balance.

So basically, if there’s a weakness in the application, address it, whether it’s through the test score or classes or certifications or work experience. If you feel that you’re ready, make a case for it. [20:51]

Yeah. Case in point for me. I did not do well my first semester in college. It was a huge transition for me, and I overcame that over time, but my GPA never fully recovered as an undergrad because of a really tough first year. Addressing that and then showing the maturity that I took to not just give up, but to reflect on, hey, I need to figure out what will work for me to be successful. That’s an opportunity to do that. Another area that we’ve been seeing lately is gaps in employment. That’s absolutely okay, but to not address it … If you don’t share it, we fill in the blanks. I don’t want to make any assumptions. So if you just share, “Hey, here’s the rationale why there may be a gap in my employment,” that paints the picture in our mind, and so we understand you as an applicant. Just any weak point, I would just highly encourage you to address in your optional essay.

And I would just add, don’t fudge the dates if there’s a gap in employment. [22:04]

Oh, no. Thank you, Linda.

Ross’ class profile for the class of 2025 has some pretty impressive stats. 719 average GMAT, 3.43 average GPA. The stats also reflect a lot of diversity in the class. What do you look for besides stats? [22:18]

We’re always looking for fit. We want each and every person that we’re admitting into the Ross program to be successful with the tools that we provide within the curriculum, within the student experience. So ultimately that comes through fit and sometimes the best way to that is through essays and your interview. And then also too, it’s not a criteria, but it’s definitely something we look at is how active have you been with the admissions team, with our current students, attending some of our events, whether they’re virtual or in person. Being able to showcase your motivation and ambition is also a huge thing that we look at in terms of the leadership potential, the drive, the desire to be highly motivated. That’s a reflection of those competencies.

I think I know what you’re talking about when you’re talking about fit. I’m sure you know what you’re talking about when you’re talking about fit, but could you tell our listeners what is fit? [23:29]

Yeah. Thank you. It’s a three-letter word. When we look for fit … Again, we talked about our differentiators. We’re action-based learning, we’re collaborative, we’re team-based. But we’re also leaders. So when we think about competencies that would match all of that, are you highly adaptable to different situations? Are you a problem solver? Can you work within teams? Are you motivated? And I reflected on some of the things that we can indicate as motivators. Those are really important competencies that are great for our fit, but weirdly enough, they also transfer into the business world as skill sets our employers desire as well. So we really do want that experience to be mutually beneficial and for you to gain the experience that you love Ross. But at the end of the day too, we want you to be highly successful in your post-MBA career and so we do look for that fit and that cultural competencies carry over into what our employers are looking for as well.

What are the essay requirements at Ross for this cycle? Are they going to change? What do you anticipate? [24:40]

Thank you for asking this. I’m not able to share quite specifics yet. At the end of this, we’re going to share our information on how to connect with us on our webpage, but I can give you the themes. We’ve had the same essays for I think the last three application cycles. And so this fall ’25 intake, it was time for a refresh. So in terms of the essays, we’re going to have three required. They’re going to continue to be a very condensed essay word count. We’re known for that and we did not want to go away from it. And then we will also have an optional essay. So the theme is how do you embrace action-based learning principles. We’ve talked a lot about this, Linda, so far in terms of really that’s a key to our culture. The next one is how will you make impact? That’s probably not something I’ve shared enough in this session, but we’re really looking for people and individuals who fit  in our culture to drive impact. Whether it be within industry, whether it be within community. So that’s going to be a next essay theme.

And the next is career aspirations. So getting back to what are those short-term career goals, long-term career goals and why, and ultimately how does Ross fit within that. And then the last is the optional essay and that will not change. If there’s anything that you have not shared in your application that you feel is important for an admissions officer to know, we will have that optional essay for you to share and reflect where maybe we missed within our application criteria.

One of the hallmarks of the last three years has been that people have had the choice of which prompt to respond to. So you’re moving away from that? [26:28]

Not necessarily moving away from. The impact one, there will be prompts that you can select from, but there were two previously. We’re going just to one, and it’ll have about four prompts for you to answer a question, and that one will be on impact.

In discussing the essays, I think the focus has been much more on people’s motivations and what they’ve done in the past. Where do you think that an applicant can really show impact the most? [26:54]

A lot of them will be not necessarily behavioral in nature, but they’re going to be based on your own experiences. So think through when have you made impact. It could be you’ve driven impact for an individual or a group or an entire community or an entire business process. But being really intentional. Again, talking about specifics in a short word count is going to be important. So think through, maybe jot down like, “Hey, these are experiences that I’ve had that have made a difference in someone or in many people’s lives.” And then from there, narrowing down, which one do you want to showcase, which one represents you the most is going to be key. It’ll be similar to the prompts that we previously had, where you really need to be intentional with what you’re showcasing and what you’re sharing with us. So we didn’t want to get away from that too much, but we definitely wanted to refresh those prompts for our applicants because we’ve had the same ones for a few years.

That’s all fine. Obviously the questions have been very much focused on the essay. In the context of the essays, I think this is an excellent response. But I was thinking that the best place to show impact, not that the essays you can’t, is the resume and the experience sections of the application. I didn’t ask about the resume, so I realize that you were thinking about the essay, but that’s something I think should be highlighted. It is an excellent place. Use those boxes and use the resume to quantify your impact. [28:24]

Yeah. Linda, I agree 100%. I actually think that’s an area where sometimes our applicants don’t spend enough time. This is business school. You really need to spend a significant amount of time preparing your resume and updating your resume. Every bullet you have on your resume should reflect impact. So I think the Google XYZ format or … There’s one other one where it’s like basically everything has, what did you do, how did you do it and what was the result. So everything should have impact within a one pager. But it’s also an opportunity. You’re more than just the work that you do. And there are transferable skill sets in any type of volunteering opportunity or leadership position that you’ve held even outside of your corporate career or the role that you’re playing right now. So adding that to the resume. But if it’s on your resume, it definitely has to reflect impact. Why is it on your resume? I always want to see the why and what amazing things did you do. So I feel like that’s a great opportunity for all applicants. I think it’s a great start when you start preparing for your application is to start with your career and your experiences and your resume because it really provides that foundation for the rest of the criteria that you submit with your application.

We also at Accepted have a check sheet. It’s called 38 Ways to Use the Power of Numbers in Your Admissions Resume. And I’m going to link to it from the show notes. That’s one of the best ways:  to quantify the impact you’ve had. And again, use those boxes, use that resume, don’t leave them for the last minute. If anything, think about it ahead of time. And then you can still discuss motivations and impact in the essays as Andrea was suggesting. But don’t overlook that part of it. I think raising the point of the importance of impact is really, really an excellent point. 

What can applicants expect if they’re lucky enough to be invited to interview? [30:28]

Oh, wonderful. Our interview process is by invitation only, so we will go through after a round and we will do a first evaluation on every applicant and then from there invite to interview. Our interviews … And they will continue to be into this next cycle too, are conducted virtually by our Ross alumni. So you get to connect with an alum that’s out there working in careers and in locations that you’re either already in or desire to be in. A lot of these alums become mentors through the remainder of this process. So I think it’s a great opportunity to just really even initially start to connect with our alumni.

Now, it is still an interview. Our questions are going to be on some of the competencies that I have shared in terms of what we look for and fit. So resiliency, adaptability, problem solving skills, leadership, cultural IQ. Do you embrace the DEI and diversity of thought and what ways do you reflect that? Our questions are mainly behavioral. It should not be a high stress environment, but at the same time, come prepared. Think through what type of questions may you hear in terms of the behavioral response and then when you think about the ways to respond to behavioral questions, either star or car. We want specific examples. So situation, task, action, and result. If you’re using the STAR framework or context, action result, if you’re using the CAR format. So think through and be really intentional. So within two minutes you need to describe the situation, the task you specifically did, the action that you took and the results. Never forget the results. I think that’s probably the one area that many people in an interview forget. So if you come prepared, you should have a really wonderful time connecting with an alumni, building that relationship. And ultimately that gets added into your application and then you have a completed profile of an applicant and you’ll go through another review.

And there’s no more group interview, right? No more team-based interview? [33:28]

No. Not at this time. Yeah. Ross was one of the first MBA programs to have a team-based interview approach. We keep looking at possibly bringing that back. It was something that was super valuable, but we haven’t figured out a way yet in our timelines to bring that back.

It’s also logistically difficult. That’s just the reality of it. We discussed that before you apply you should learn about the program, we’ve discussed the essays, we discussed the resume, and the interview. What’s the most common mistake you see applicants making in the application process? [33:53]

Yeah. Linda and I chatted just now about the importance of your resume, and I just want to highlight that one more time. Really take time to focus on your resume. Anything going into your resume should reflect impact. You’re taking the time to show us what you’ve done. And it’s not just your work responsibilities. It’s what are the outcomes that you’ve had within these experiences? I see that as a mistake. Some people will just put a job description for their work.

Responsibilities but not results. [34:45]

Yes. And we really need to see that. And then we just talked about the interview aspect. So not spending time preparing for your interview. Because they’re alumni driven too, I can’t stress enough, take some time to prepare. Think through even the responses that you’re having back and forth with this alumni. They’re volunteering their time. So even when you go to say, “Hey, John, we were connected as a interview. Here are some times that I’m available.” So really take a moment to think through what is your availability, provide some options. And that way it’s a lot easier for the alum interviewer to connect a little bit more immediately with you so that they’re not having to plan that out. I feel like that’s an area. And then the last thing is not showcasing in the optional essay either a weakness within your application criteria, a gap in your resume. I cannot stress, once again, you share your story. Don’t leave any holes for us to try and fill in. That is the most important thing in creating a complete application.

Do you have any advice for two categories of applicants, both coming to terms with results or lack of results. One is wait-listed applicants, the other is re-applicants. Let’s talk about wait-listed applicants first. What advice do you have for those people in purgatory? [36:00]

It’s true. That’s what happens. One, pat yourself on the back, if either at Ross or any other program that you are placed on a waitlist. You are an admissible applicant. When we review our applications and make decisions, it’s part your criteria that you’re submitting, but it’s also part each year is going to be slightly different in the amount of applications we’re receiving, the overall quality of those applications. So you just have to understand that it’s a process and we don’t take it lightly. We do thorough reviews. So you’ve got to the wait list status. That’s awesome. We have a wonderful process and that’s managed by our admissions officers. So we provide you the opportunity at any point to give us updates, to make updates to your application until a final decision is made. So don’t take that lightly either.

If you have any type of substantial update, whether it be a job change, a promotion, if you retake a standardized test, all of that is valid up until the time a decision is made. So use that as an opportunity to continue to refine your application criteria. Strengthen your profile as much as you possibly can. That will ultimately one, reflect motivation and ambition. And so that just looks good that you’re taking the time to interact with us, that you’re using this as an opportunity to advance yourself and your outcomes. So I would really encourage that.

And then the second part in terms of … Sorry, did you say wait list and then re-applicant? We have a number of re-applicants, and that’s an opportunity for you to do the same thing within a year cycle and say, “Okay. My application may not have been as competitive as I would have liked.” And you received a deny at the year that you initially applied.

Be reflective about that. Look at the Ross class profile or any other program that you’re looking at. Okay, what are areas that maybe I have a weak point that I should look at trying to improve upon for this next cycle? Whether it be your work experience or your standardized test. Your undergraduate GPA is what it is, but are you taking classes or opportunities to enhance those areas and is this something that you can reflect within your application? Those are all important things. And then the last thing is stay engaged. Attend events, try and come on campus if you can. Build those relationships too, because then now we’re talking about those core competencies of success within the classroom experience and outside into your career. So being diligent does pay off. So I would just really encourage re-applicants to think through how they can improve their application profile and stay engaged.

Great advice. Thank you. Can I add one point to your reapplicant advice? I would say take a critical look at how you answered the questions. Did you really answer the questions? Is your application full of mistakes and typos? There’s being qualified, which I think you have addressed superbly, and there’s presenting your qualifications effectively. So you have to look at both when you’re applying. [39:32]

Yes. Absolutely.

What advice would you give to someone thinking ahead to Fall 2025 or later application? They’re probably working now, they’ve finished college. What should they be thinking about and doing? [40:01]

Oh my goodness. It’s a process. So if you’re at the very early stages of, hey, I’m thinking about a full-time MBA, give yourself some grace, but also create a plan. I would initially say, look around on the programs that you’re interested in or the Ross website, and then also get on email distribution lists. I know not everybody checks their emails, nor do I, but it is a great way just to have a continuous update from Ross or any other school that you’re interested in in terms of what’s going on. And then the events will come that way too. So once you’ve done your initial research of understanding what programs may be a good fit for you, that next step is to attend some of the virtual or within your location if they’re coming to you, if you’re in a large metro area, attending some events where you can start to meet with admissions officers, alumni, and current students.

Once you narrow down to your top schools, even probably before you submit an application, or if you maybe start at the beginning of the process, you should come on campus. You really want to make sure that you feel at home, that you’re going to be able to thrive in this environment, that it’s a good fit for you, and that it may inspire you as you go through the rest of that application process.

And then lastly too, take time in the application process. So Linda just said, answer the questions, don’t have any typos. Each school there’s going to be similar themes, and you’ll notice those themes pop up. But the way that each program and specifically the way that Ross asks our questions, we want that question answered. So take time within the essays to frame that. And then the last thing, we didn’t talk about this at all, but it usually takes the longest, is letters of recommendation.

If you’re asking a manager to write a letter of recommendation on your behalf, it takes time for them to do that really effectively and to articulate the experiences that they’ve had for you and the competencies that each program’s looking at. We use the GMAC standard form. So many schools are getting towards that, which is helpful to your recommender, but not every program does. So you’ll need to bake in a few months for them to submit that letter of recommendation in a timely manner. So you’re going to have to create a timeline when is the round deadline that you’re planning on applying in and back that up a few months for a letter of recommendation, even a few more months for you to complete your profile and your criteria in a timely manner. So it is very doable while you’re working, but it does take some intentional planning and effort on your part to be successful.

That’s great advice. Thank you so much. I’m glad you brought up the recommenders. You don’t want to ask your recommender a month or even two weeks before the due date because they could be going on vacation. [43:07]

Yes. It’s true. Or you work for a team … I always give the … I’ll never forget my husband had a very large team and he worked for a tech company and it was booming and everybody wanted to go get their MBA. And so he’s like, I will do one a month for every employee that he knows that is doing their MBA, and he could only commit to one a month, because if you had five employees looking to get their MBA in the same year, it is timely on their part. So I think setting that expectation with your manager or whoever’s doing the recommendation for you so you understand what their timeline might look like is important.

What would you have liked me to ask you? [44:01]

Oh, goodness, this is really comprehensive, Linda, and I had a lot of fun. It’s really reflective as we’re going into this next recruitment cycle, so I really appreciate your time.

The thing I would think about is how do you get involved? So if you’re interested in Ross, the first few things I would tell you to do is go onto our website. There’s a request for information form that we have. It’s very brief. I think it’s like five fields that we have you fill out. But from there on, you’re going to get our bi-monthly updates., And that will have news, events, curriculum changes that we have going on, and then our admission event programming. So as you get to know the program even more, as you get ready to start registering for events, this is a great time.

We are going to be kicking off our recruitment season in the end of June, the beginning of July, and we’ll be going to many major metro areas across the world. So we hope to see you there. And then the next step is to go to our virtual programming and then ultimately to some of our on-campus events. We take those very seriously. We try to do very intentional programming, so you get to live and breathe what it’s like to be a Ross MBA student. So I highly encourage if you have the opportunity to attend those to do that, because I feel like you get the most out of what this experience could be like, and then it’s a great opportunity to interact with the admissions team.

Great. Andrea, I want to thank you so much for joining me today. This has been a highly informative, enjoyable interview. Where can listeners and potential applicants learn more about Michigan Ross full-time MBA program? [45:35]

michiganross.umich.edu



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The post Ross MBA Admissions: All You Need to Know for Acceptance [Episode 576] appeared first on Accepted Admissions Blog.
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