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Amerasia MBA Blog

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Harvard and Kellogg: a tale of two business schools?  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Oct 2017, 02:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Harvard and Kellogg: a tale of two business schools?
Very rarely do we get caught up in trying to spot trends in terms of which schools are "hot" at any given moment.This is mainly because narratives tend to overreact in the moment, only to fade over time ("Wharton is going off the rails" - 2013 .. "Stanford is mired in sexual harassment scandal!" - 2015), but also because so much of trying to spot these trends is about reacting to anecdotal evidence from a small sample size.  Put another way: you are just hearing your clients buzz about schools and express their opinions.  Is that enough to go all-in on?  No, definitely not.  But can you sometimes spot an interesting new trend or pattern?  I think yes, sometimes you can. 
We can look to the recent past for support on this. In the case of Booth about 7-8 years ago, you could feel them coming on strong with huge money spends, the benefits of a new building, careful management of their brand, and other facts that made it feel very likely that the school was going to take a jump.  Just a few years later, it did take that jump.  In the case of Yale SOM, we wrote about why it might be a hot school several years ago and then it started shooting up the rankings.  Sometimes the noise is just noise.  But sometimes it is the signal (to paraphrase Nate Silver).   So, which two schools seem to be creating the most noise this year among my clients?  On the plus side: Kellogg.  On the minus side: wait for it ... HBS.  Yes, the mighty Harvard Business School.  
Trending Up - KelloggQuite simply, my clients are raving about Kellogg right now.  I think the reason is pretty simple, as Northwestern has added a world-class facility to its already top-flight culture.  With Kellogg in the last five years, it has felt like the trade-off has been: "give up some of the cutting-edge in exchange for being with really cool people in a place built on compassion and values."  In a world going to hell in a handbasket, many have been willing to take that trade-off.  Now?  It doesn't feel like they even have to.  And to me, this is proof of how valuable a new, gleaming, innovative building is.  It's not just a great space to attend business school, it projects innovation, a tech focus, and vision.  It's like a massive advertisement for modern thinking and advancement.  Overnight, Kellogg went from kind of a "beige" business school (for lack of a better term) to one bathed in neon light.  It's incredible.  And when you factor in that they interview everyone - and many of those will be on campus - I think you can expect the small swell that I'm hearing right now to become a rising tide.  So you heard it here first: one of the old lions of the MBA space is about to become the new "hot school." 
Trending Down - HBS Has the "disruption" generation set its sights on Harvard Business School?  Now, don't get me wrong, pretty much all my clients still apply here, they still live and die on the results, and most will probably still attend if they get admitted.  But there is something just a little different in the air this year.  There is still the same nervous energy about bad outcomes, but less excitement about good ones.  More and more of my clients have Stanford as their first choice and some are even thinking they might choose Wharton over HBS if given the opportunity at both.   I think part of the reason is just exhaustion with HBS' admissions practices, if I can be blunt.  The insanely early deadline, the ridiculous "two waves" of interview invites (which seems to accomplish nothing except provoke anxiety), the over-the-top post-interview writing assignment, the list goes on - everything Harvard does seems to be designed to make this process more stressful.  (Now, I think that is to the advantage of applicants because if they can cruise through stress free it's a great look, so I'm not personally complaining.)  I do think some fatigue is setting in for people.  But that fatigue only feels real in a world where people are willing to pivot.  If HBS maintained its singular dominance in the MBA culture, candidates would put up with literally anything to get in.  My thinking is that this new generation is different.  People are seeing that the world is truly upside down.  They watch Sean Spicer lie his ass off from the White House podium and then get a fellowship at Harvard and they think, "really, that is the brass ring I am chasing?"  They see that people starting incredible businesses went to all kinds of different schools.  They note that the best business plan competitions are at MIT and Booth and others.  Why kill yourself to go to the old-fashioned version of the best when there can be lots of "bests?"  I am not sure if I agree or disagree, but I definitely feel a change in tone.  It wouldn't surprise me in the least if we see Harvard's apps dip a bit the next few years.  
Have any trends you are seeing on your end?  Want to know more about what we are observing?  Hit us up at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com

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The Hard Part of the MBA Interview - How to Survive It  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Oct 2017, 21:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: The Hard Part of the MBA Interview - How to Survive It
This article is a bit of a repeat from one we wrote last year, but it's key this time of year, when it seems like every day a client is getting ready to take on an MBA interview.  This particular piece is about a harsh reality of that process, which is that every interview is going to take a dip, or hit a rough patch, at some point ... through no fault of anyone involved. Why is this? And how can you address it? Let's dive into it.
What do we mean by the "bad part" of an interview?

“In all our years of doing this, we’ve only had one or two clients completely botch their interviews. One started crying and another refused to stand behind his own career goals.”

The "bad part" of an interview in the way we're referring to it is the part where things start to slide away from the interviewee. It's that moment where you feel like you start to "lose" your audience; where you go from being compelling and charming and totally on point ... to something else that feels distant and foggy and remote. It's a very unpleasant feeling that tends to evoke panic moves and counterproductive responses. It's kind of like getting caught in a riptide or skidding out in your car - what you should do is go with the current or lean into the skid, but of course people do the opposite and try to jerk against it and wind up with a crisis. What we are going to teach you today is how to go with the current, and how to turn into the skid. Please understand that we are not talking about total meltdowns here, which are rare. In all our years of doing this, we've only had one or two clients completely botch their interviews. One started crying and another refused to stand behind his own career goals. Other than those (and even both of those were more the fault of the interviewer, it seemed), we've never had people experience true horror stories. We're talking about something more subtle, but no less frustrating, far more common, and something that tends to derail even the best interview subjects.
When does this moment happen in a standard interview?

“So you are looking at arriving at the rough patch about 15 minutes into things, right after you’ve been crushing it, and right when they start asking you questions like “tell me about a time you led a team””

The moment you start to "lose" the interviewer is almost exactly the same, regardless of interviewee, interviewer (alumni, student, admissions officer, whatever), or school - it happens when the interview shifts from what we call the "nuts and bolts" section (the first 10 minutes after small talk, where you talk about your goals, your interest in the school, your job, etc.) and into the "behavioral" section of the interview. Nearly every school features a chunk of the interview where they ask behavioral questions. This is almost always after the nuts and bolts section and its the place where things tend to lose steam. So you are looking at arriving at the rough patch about 15 minutes into things, right after you've been crushing it, and right when they start asking you questions like "tell me about a time you led a team," or "can you share a time when you stepped in and resolved a conflict within a team," or "when did you have to persuade a group of people," or any other question designed to unpack key b-school traits (or "behaviors") such as leadership, teamwork, persuasive communication, and so forth.
WHY does it happen during the behavioral section?

“If I am interviewing you and you start telling me about Deal X and Person Y and Conflict Z, I just do not have a personal stake or interest in any of it.”

This is pretty easy to understand if you've ever sat in the interviewer's chair for more than about 10 of these. Collectively, our team has hosted thousands of interviews. Personally, I did probably 500 of them in my past life as an associate director of admissions. Pauldid dozens upon dozens as a student and alumni interviewer. One of our interview gurus did what felt like a million of these on the GSB campus for BCG. We KNOW what it feels like to be that person conducting the interview. And here's the dirty secret: it's almost impossible to be riveted by one of these behavioral stories. During the nuts and bolts section, everything is zipping and moving - you're talking schools, goals, career paths, motivations, and all the fun stuff that is universal, elemental to the proceedings, and, therefore, interesting. Further, you are also discussing the school in question ("so tell me, why School X?") which is, of course, the best discussion point of all, because both parties have a mutual interest (one person wants to go there and the other loves it enough to either be working there, going there, or volunteering as an alum from there). However, when you transition to "tell me about a time you led a team," it's just impossible to really care. Schools (at a high level) feel they must ask and tease out these qualities, which is fine in theory, but in practice, it doesn't translate to interesting content. If I am interviewing you and you start telling me about Deal X and Person Y and Conflict Z, I just do not have a personal stake or interest in any of it. So what happens is that the interviewer - who does a bunch of these, remember - starts to drift out during this section. They start thinking about what they will have for lunch or how much longer this will be or maybe even the great stuff you were just talking about. Regardless of what they fixate on, it's probably not your answer to the question at that moment. Therefore, it creates a feeling that the interviewer is disinterested (they are), which creates the feeling that the energy level and dynamic is dipping (it is) ... and that the interviewee is at fault (he or she is not) and that there is something that can be done about it (there is not!). And that's where things start to go sideways.
How does it go sideways?

“You are doing the equivalent of taking out your conversational shovel and just digging a deeper and deeper hole. ”

An interview goes sideways when the interviewee recognizes this shift and tries to respond in an ill-fated attempt to get the magic back. Understand this: you are not going to get the magic back. Not yet, at least. However, many people - especially Type A personalities - believe everything is within their power, including dazzling an interviewer. So what they do is start to talk more. And more. And more. And what they talk more about is details. Facts, setup information, tangents. They just start piling on information and they turn a 60-second story about a leadership experience into five minutes of rambling. More facts and details do not make it more interesting. If you have read this post up to this point, you now know that it makes it LESS interesting! You are doing the equivalent of taking out your conversational shovel and just digging a deeper and deeper hole. And this is when an interview goes from "totally normal and good" to "rough."
Okay ... so what should I do?Obviously, if we are saying that this happens in virtually every interview and that there is a wrong approach, it implies that there is a right one.

Image



To find out that right approach, please contact us today for our interview prep services. Kidding, KIDDING ...
We're going to tell you what to do, in three steps:1. Go in with prepared behavioral stories.Have 3-5 stories about teamwork, leadership, conflict, and the like. You can use almost any story for almost any prompt, so narrow down what you are trying to keep track of in your head. Telling the right story in an interview is like playing the right song at a party - it's easier if you have a loose playlist ready in advance. Then, you can tweak and adjust based on the exact mood/question, rather than scrambling in a mad panic to find the right song/story from a sea of thousands of choices flying through your mind. Further, you should structure those stories using the same SCAR model we use for our impact essays, which is Situation (15 seconds setting up the scenario), Complication (this is the thing that raises the stakes and makes it interesting and is the specific response to the question they ask - "the reason I needed to step up into the leadership void was X"), Actions (15-30 seconds of what you did), and Results (how it finished up and what you learned about yourself from the experience). If you have that balance, it should take 60-90 seconds to tell your story and it will be clean, easy to understand, and - most of all - something you can stick to.
2. Ride out the rough patch. We talked earlier about going with the current or steering into the skid. Well, same thing here. What you simply have to do during this part of the interview is *accept that this is how it is*. It's absolutely unbelievable what we see when we do this job, which is a universe of people who believe that they can bend the world to their whims. Look, we get it - many of you are candidates at elite MBA programs because you have a certain amount of tenacity. However, some things just are what they are. If you try to fight this universal ebb in the interview experience, you will be the person digging away with that shovel and just burying your chances. You become the unlikeable person who patronizes the interviewer with way too much info, or the scattered person who just starts rambling, or any number of unflattering archetypes. And it's all because you can't just going with the flow and accept that which you are powerless to change. Besides, we still have step 3 here. (Between the "powerless to change" stuff and all the steps, it is starting to feel like a recovery program.)
3. Seize your chance to win it all back ... when it arrives. Think of it this way: rather than fighting the current to look like a hero in the face of an insurmountable rip tide, why not allow yourself to wash up on shore and then, full of energy, do a few backflips to impress people? That's how the interview works. With a few exceptions (HBS, to name one, which we approach with a slightly different lens with our clients), every single interview experience features a third part after nuts and bolts and then behavioral and it is this: "what questions do you have for me?" This is your chance to completely bring the energy back. Have questions ready to go. Make them good and smart questions (that will interest the interviewer). Show enthusiasm for the answers that they give to you (don't think about how you just did during the "real" interview; stay in the moment). Lean forward, be expressive, be charming. If you engage the interviewer in this last frame, that person will love you. Again, having done this job, I can tell you that it's so rare for people to end on a high note ... yet it's so easy to do! It amazes me how hard people will fight to be dazzling during the impossible stretch, yet they completely fold up their tent during the easy part. Just stay engaged and be a generous conversationalist, listener, and audience (yes, audience - everyone, including interviewers, likes to hear themselves talk and everyone likes to have people laugh at their jokes, humble brags, and self-deprecating comments). It's all there for you at the end and since it's the last part, it's the part they will remember. You will walk out of the room and they will write down "Loved him/her!" on their report. The five-minute lull where the two of you dutifully and robotically cranked out the behavioral section will be long forgotten.
We hope this post helps many, many people be their true selves in their MBA admissions interviews, rather than letting that nervous, eager-to-please side erupt to the detriment of their chances. Steer into the skid, everybody.If you are looking for help in this process - with interviews or anything else - please email mba@amerasiaconsulting.comPermalink
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Rejected? The Ding Analysis "Triangle" for MBA Applicants  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 09:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Rejected? The Ding Analysis "Triangle" for MBA Applicants
These days, in addition to helping our clients navigate financial aid decisions and a few waitlist scenarios, we also meet a lot of new folks who didn't use admissions consulting services to apply - but now are wondering if perhaps they should have.  Most often, they are asking for "ding analysis," which is basically "please tell me if I did something wrong and whether I can fix it for next time."  We are happy to oblige, of course, and so we see a lot (we mean A LOT) of rejected applications, to a lot of schools.  In giving feedback time and again, we naturally are starting to see some of the same issues cropping up.
The good news is that these issues are in keeping with the feedback we give from the outset of an engagement, but the bad news is that obviously some people aren't getting that advice.  (Note: I understand how pedantic and self-serving this all sounds, but it's simply true.  Our clients avoid the "triangle" of ding reasons by virtue of working with us, and, therefore, they are getting into droves of schools.  Yes, it's self-serving, but that doesn't make it false.  Not sure what else to say.)  
Anyway, let's dive into the three reasons - or the "Triangle" - of typical ding issues that we see. 
1. Failure to have properly articulated goals will get you dinged.  

“I also hear applicants (sometimes smugly) tell me that schools “don’t want to see yet another person who wants to do consulting.”  Um, yes, actually they do.”

It's amazing to me how often I open up a set of essays and start looking for goals ... and find that I have to keep looking ... and looking ... and looking.  Applicants love to bury their goals in broad proclamations, quotes, misdirection, sentimental nonsense, and all other manner of articulation that has the net effect of making it extremely hard to figure out what they want to do.  I believe that part of the problem is that people misunderstand the purpose of career goals and how to properly think about both the short-term and long-term elements.  
The short-term goals should be:
  • A) achievable,
  • B) a good fit based on your transferable skills (which MUST be articulated in your essays),
  • C) clearly stated, and
  • D) achievable.  
Did I list "achievable" twice?  You bet I did.  
This is because schools want to admit applicants that they can place into jobs.  Period.  You have exceptions like HBS, GSB, and MIT - all schools that don't really care much about short-term goals.  However, for the most part, schools want to know they can help you gain employment - for your sake and theirs (employment reports are a big part of rankings).  I can't tell you how many people I have spoken to on consult calls or essays I have read where a strange ST goal is in place, with the explanation, "I wanted to differentiate myself a bit."  I also hear applicants (sometimes smugly) tell me that schools "don't want to see yet another person who wants to do consulting."  Um, yes, actually they do.  Because they can get students jobs in consulting!  Don't put that you want a short-term job working for Prada or doing freshwater turbine investing - those aren't jobs they can help you get.  Be smart about this.  
The long-term goals are for sharing who you are.This is where you can differentiate and showcase passion and tell them where you come from and all that good stuff.  You SHOULD have fun with this and be creative and reach for the stars.  So what if every other applicant and their brother is saying they want to start their own business; if starting your own business is the best way to share your dream and articulate what makes you tick, share that goal.  So, so, soooooo many people invert the ST and LT goals - they go exotic with the ST and staid with the LT.  This is the opposite of what you should do and it's usually fatal. 
Of course, this doesn't even include the people who straight up forget to include their goals in a goals essay.  And yes, this happens all the time.  I just assume if you are reading this blog post, you won't make that mistake. 
Last thing: vague statements of what you want to do with your life - like "impact the world" or "make a difference" - are not goals.  Just so we're clear on that.
2. Failure to be an individual will get you dinged.  Many dinged elite applicants that I see suffer from the same problem, which is that they never showcased what makes them a cool, unique person.  I'm not talking about having a "brand" or billing yourself as the "such and such candidate" - readers are not idiots, so they aren't going to be swept off their feet for something that rudimentary.  I'm talking about setting aside your desire to sound smart or to cover every last detail or to (the worst) "write what they want to hear," and instead being a real person with real interests and a real personality.  So many dinged applications are dry, rigid, and only technically sound - there is a skeleton but no heartbeat.  (Note: the cousin of this failure is less common, but also a problem, which is the "I am going to try to sound interesting" applicant - where they use weird phrasing or lofty prose to create "interesting" material.  Please understand that the material is anything but interesting.  It's excruciating.  You can have clean paragraphs, topic sentences, and easy-to-follow prose and still be interesting - it's what you say, not the flourish with which you say it.)
3. Failure to understand and connect with the DNA of the individual school will get you dinged.  And now we get to the big one.  A certain specialty of ours has become working with elite candidates who "somehow" got dinged at every single school the year before.  This is a group of Type A people who have worked hard and strived to make it this far and so they typically do okay on the first two bullets (although not always and almost never to perfection - there's a reason we have a firm that grows every single year; this stuff is not easy).  It's the third bullet that kills them.  I will ask a 3.7, 720 PE guy to send me his four dinged files and I'll open them up to find that Wharton and Kellogg have the same leadership stories inside and that HBS and GSB feature the exact same tone and approach.  Dings, for sure - or at least at two of the four.  (If it's not clear why that's the case, I would say again, that's why we have a business.)  I see people who *should* get into Booth, for instance, but they didn't talk about their capacity for risk or the ways in which they have grown when stepping into ambiguous situations.  That tells Booth, "I'm probably going somewhere else" at worst and "I don't understand your culture and therefore am giving you no idea whether I am a fit there or not" at best.  I see people who do not showcase readiness at INSEAD, who put risky career goals in a Columbia essay, who fail to touch on the four principles at Haas, who don't write about Knowledge for Action at Wharton, who ignore the "think, feel, say, do" element with MIT, and on and on and on.  And these are just the easy parts.  A good application - a set of essays that will transform a reader from a mere gatekeeper into your advocate - knows the DNA of the school in question, taps into it, and then uses it to say "I am one of you!" to the reader.  A failure to do this invites massive risk, even for the best candidates, as you go into admissions committee "naked," which is to say, without someone fighting for you.  At that point, anything can happen - bad demographics, a test score 10 points too low, a C in a class, a low quant split, bad luck, you name it.  And even though it seems cruel and unfair, the same candidate can experience bad luck 3, 4, or 5 times in the same round.  
Time after time, I review a file and explain "this is wrong with the goals," "you could have been more interesting and personal throughout," and - most of all - "you just didn't tap into the DNA of these schools."  It almost never fails.  This is why I've taken to calling it the Ding Triangle.  Almost every ding features each of these three sides to it, forming together to generate that result.  I'm happy to say that all three can be address and improved upon in almost every case and that we've had great success in doing so.  Therefore, if you have been dinged, don't give up hope, but instead, be honest with yourself - or, better yet, find someone who can give you an honest appraisal in these areas.  Then, get back after it.  
If you are a dinged applicant, we are happy to see where you went wrong and to help you improve.  
Reapplicants have been a true specialty given the sheer number we work with every year - and the success that they have had.  If you are starting fresh, be sure to engage someone who knows what they are doing so you can avoid a Ding Triangle of your own.  
Email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Rules of Thumb for Word Limits  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 21:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Rules of Thumb for Word Limits
Two good rules of thumb when writing application essays for b-school is to 1) answer the question and 2) stick to the word limits.  If you have tried your hand yet at writing these essays, however, you have probably noticed it’s a bit difficult to hit that word limit precisely.  What's the solution?
Feeling limited in what they can say will send applicants into quite a tailspin as they tweak and edit for hours on end trying to whittle or expand that essay in order to maximize the allowable number of words. 
First thing you should know is that the word limits on applicants’ essays are rarely exact. I have personally read hundreds of essays, both as an admissions consultant and also as an admissions committee member for a top five business school, and again I reiterate: essays rarely hit the number on the head.   Having said that, I have also seen each year the type of applicant who finds it very important to use the exact number of allowable words, so occasionally, I will see a 400 word essay that has just that--exactly 400 words.  What you should realize is that the admissions committee is not going to be impressed by this.  In fact, they rarely even count the words in your essay.  The word limit was not invented to see if you can hit it exactly, but rather to give you a guideline for how much information to give them.  If not for guidelines, the admissions committee would receive volumes of data from over-eager candidates who want to tell their life-story.
If you are the type of person who prides herself on being exact, then by all means, craft your essays to the letter.Know that most admissions committees, however, will agree that plus or minus 5% of the total word limit is acceptable.    While they may or may not be counting the words, they do indeed notice when essays begin to venture outside of this buffer, and you don’t want to communicate that you can’t follow instructions.
One last tip is to look at the overall word count of an application package and apply the same +/- 5% rule. 
So if you go over on one essay, try to hit or come under on another. Give and take is a good strategy so you are not perceived as taking advantage of the reader.  Ultimately the most important thing is to give them the information you feel is vital to a positive admissions decision, and if you do it within the buffer, you won’t call your decision making into question. 
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________


Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | mba@amerasiaconsulting.com | 877.866.9251

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Stop Trying to Impress  [#permalink]

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New post 31 Oct 2017, 21:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Stop Trying to Impress
It’s tempting to pull out all the stops when crafting your MBA applications, but you can go too far when the effort to impress backfires.When telling your story on paper, there is a fine line between language that is too casual and language that is overly formal.  Of course essays are a formal presentation of your reasons for going to school, but most essays can be improved by approaching them more like you would if you were telling your story to a good friend.  Don’t think the adcoms will be impressed by flowery language or obscure vocabulary words.  Most readers of these essays don’t even have more than an undergraduate degree, and if they sense you are merely saying what you think they want to hear, it’s a good excuse for them to reject you.
You must also remember that there’s always someone out there who is applying with more impressive work or life experiences.Don’t pump up a story to make it dramatic or sensational.  Doing so will make you sound desperate.  It’s far better to focus on why you did something than what you did or how you did it.  If you tamp down the what and how and pump up the why, you will be viewed as more genuine.
You also never want to offend an adcom member with condescending verbiage. Often, if you read your essay out loud to someone you will begin to hear what it will “sound” like to the adcom.  This is a good exercise and can reveal areas of your essay that push the limit on readability and flow.  It can also help you find out whether or not your essay is cohesive and organized.  Reading something back to yourself in your head will not reveal nearly as much because your brain fills in the gaps. 
The three c’s of essay writing are to: be clear, be concise, and be careful. Being clear means know what you mean to convey and nail it down tightly.  Being concise means using Strunk & White’s rules of brevity—less is always more.  Being careful simply means not making dumb mistakes.  If you stick to these simple rules, your essays will impress for the right reasons.

To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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What's the Deal with Work Experience?  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Nov 2017, 20:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: What's the Deal with Work Experience?
I met with an MBA applicant last week who is still working her way through a top ten undergrad program.  She is dead-set on matriculating into an MBA program immediately after she graduates and wanted my advice.  In short, I told her to wait.  Want to know why?  Read on…One of the most important things to realize about an MBA education, is that you extract about as much from your classmates as you do from the academics.  In fact, the entire premise of the degree was designed around this simple structure:  Bring together experienced and ambitious professionals and let them work together to learn the very best practices in business.  The very simple reason why your work experience is so important is not about you, it’s about what someone else can get from you.  If you have little to offer, you will not find the same love and respect from your classmates as everyone else in your cohort is enjoying.  But it gets worse…
The second reason why work experience is so critical is because the recruiters who travel across the country to hire from your school are expecting to find not only top students, but also students with valuable work experience. 
Who do you think will be more competitive in the recruiting process, an MBA grad from your school who also has five years of experience, or an MBA grad from  your school who has zero post-undergrad experience?  Trust me, for recruiters, it's a no-brainer. Now I am not saying it’s impossible to get hired post MBA or to even be selected to attend a top program with little or no professional experience under your belt, but I am saying it’s not likely.  I spoke to an admissions officer last week after my conversation with the applicant, just to make sure I was not giving bad advice, after all, this applicant is a really good student and has impressive achievements.  The adcom member told me out of the entire time he has worked at this school (which I will not name, but it’s a top 20 program), he has seen exactly zero applicants accepted without work experience.  With all the qualified applicants out there, it simply makes it too easy for them to tell folks without experience to come back next year.  Think of it like the 12 year old who tries out for one of those reality singing shows on TV…the judges know the likelihood of them returning next year is high, so they’d rather give the slot to someone who has earned it more. 
Do some schools bring in a few students directly out of undergrad?  Yes.  Could you be that one this year?  Maybe.  But have you considered that even if a school were to let you in, it may still not be the right decision?  This brings me to the last reason you should avoid trying to go back to business school without work experience, and this time, the reason really is all about you.  By working a few years, you will learn more about yourself, discover what you like about the workplace, and ultimately become more confident in your vision, goals and post-MBA pursuits.  And the most important thing of all?  You’ll likely learn as much about what you don’t like as what you do.  And that’s some valuable stuff.  Do yourself a favor and get out there in the real world and log a few laps.  You'll be glad you did in the end.
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.

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Tell Me About Yourself  [#permalink]

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New post 09 Nov 2017, 19:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Tell Me About Yourself
The most common interview question is often the interviewers opening line, so it almost seems like an ice-breaker instead of a serious interview question.  While “Tell me about yourself,” sounds simple enough on the surface, the way you answer this seemingly innocuous question can make or break the rest of the interview---and possibly your chances of admission altogether.What I often tell clients above all else about interviews, is to make sure they capture and hold the interviewers interest.  To achieve this, you should always err on the side of brevity, leaving the option for the interviewer to follow up.  There’s no better opportunity to do this than when you’re answering the introductory question. I always recommend keeping your response under two minutes.  Think of it time-wise the same way you think of the classic elevator pitch, only in this case, you will definitely have time to follow up, so there’s not nearly as much pressure.
“Tell me about yourself,” is not just an invitation to highlight the interesting things about your life, it’s a test of your values, what is meaningful to you on a personal level. A common mistake interviewers often make when answering this question, however, is to dive too quickly into professional achievements.  Remember, they have your resume, so rehashing any information they might already know about you is just wasting time and risking boring them.  Tell them the things they are not allowed by law to ask you, and when you leave, they will feel like they know you more deeply----this is the goal.
I generally like to hear interviewees approach the question chronologically, so naturally, a good place to start is where you were born. Telling someone where you were born is not on your resume, and can be a powerful statement about who you are, especially given the broad and varied cultural environments of the diverse regions of the US and the world.  Feel free to highlight any unique cultural influences which helped shape who you are.  Next, I would tell them about your family, which again, will be more information they will not find on your resume. Family details can be very informative about how you work in teams, a critical component of business school.
Instead of talking about where you went to college, talk about why you went there and why you liked or didn’t like your major studies. The “why” will fill in all the gaps on the resume, which mostly detail the “what.”  While the “tell me about yourself” question is often replaced with “walk me through your resume,” there is a broader invitation in the former to be personal, so don’t worry too much about providing detail---rest assured they will be asking you plenty about your professional background.  In the end, you can’t go wrong by keeping this answer personal and chronological, and aiming to end with “…and that’s what’s brought me here,”  is a fitting  way to set up a thoughtful conclusion to this important introductory question.
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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What are your strengths and weaknesses?  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Nov 2017, 11:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: What are your strengths and weaknesses?
If you applied during round one, you are hopefully by now receiving interview invitations from some of your target schools.  While preparing for this stage can certainly be a stressful time, most applicants find excitement and take comfort in being identified as someone the schools want to talk to.  Some of the most common questions you will likely face will be about your strengths and weaknesses.  Are you ready to answer them?Ah…the time-tested strengths and weaknesses question.  It’s something you will face down not only in your MBA interviews, but also in just about any subsequent interview you are likely to face going forward.  Sometimes the question will be asked directly and other times, it’s veiled behind various euphemisms.  “What would your co-workers say about you?,” for example is basically an invitation to describe your strengths, while “Give me an example of constructive feedback you have received and how you responded,” is a backhanded way to get to your weaknesses.  If you identify these types of questions and frame them from a strengths/weaknesses perspective, you will be able to deliver a message you intend for the schools to hear, versus something which sounds disconnected to who you really are.  No matter how the questions are presented, however, it pays to have taken a full inventory and assessment of your strengths and weaknesses before you sit in the hot seat.
One thing to remember whenever you do self-analysis for b-school applications, is that you are being considered not only for your potential fit within a program as an MBA student, but also for your potential fit inside one of the coveted recruiting companies after you finish. Adcoms are constantly measuring and weighing applicants based upon these two criteria.  When assessing your own strengths and weaknesses, therefore, you must be mindful of attributes which will appeal to both scenarios. 
From the student perspective, it never hurts to highlight strengths which tie into teamwork.  While “I am a people person,” is so overly used that it has become a cliché, if you have strengths in this area, you could come up with a fresh way to couch it, so it comes across as genuine and less trite.    An easy way to get to your core strengths is to think about compliments or recognition that you receive, especially with some consistency.  If you regularly receive accolades, for example, for your presentations, or if you are considered the “go-to person” in the office for, say, audits or when someone needs something creative done, there’s a good chance these attributes either are or at least tie into your core competencies. 
For weaknesses, it’s really just a way for b-schools to assess your maturity level. Mature people have a good understanding of where they fall short.  If you can’t come up with any weaknesses, you will be perceived as not being experienced enough in life to be ready for b-school.  Having said that, you don’t want to ever reveal weaknesses of character or fatal flaws (think Achilles heel).  I often coach clients on relating weaknesses which are easily fixed by b-school, such as, “I lack the in-depth marketing theory to make me most effective in my current role.”  This is far better than, “My anger management issues have often landed me in trouble.”
Specifically when addressing strengths in an interview, it is always better to embed examples into a story or anecdote. Studies have proven that he recall rate for stories vs. wrote descriptions or listing is tenfold.  When you compile your list of strengths and weaknesses, make notes of specific examples of your strengths that you can couch in a brief story—your interviewer will then not be able to get it out of their mind.  Naturally, you can use this same psychological phenomenon to expose a weakness.  If you briefly list or describe a weakness without using an example or story, it will be more easily forgotten by your interviewer. Having them remember you for your strengths and not be able to recall weaknesses would be ideal!
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.

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Being Thankful  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Nov 2017, 07:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Being Thankful
This time of year is all about Thanksgiving.  Well, and Christmas, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  Giving thanks is an important part of everyone’s lives, but the busy schedules we all lead can leave us skipping over thankfulness altogether.  Similarly, when it comes to business school applications, clients often fail to remember to give appropriate thanks too.  Are you one of them?It should really go without saying at all, but saying thank you, despite being reminded daily as a child growing up, is becoming a lost art.  Perhaps the rush-rush digital world we have become lends itself to skipping thanks, but this does not at all diminish the importance of handing it out.  Precisely because this common courtesy is becoming more rare, people more than ever take notice when thanks are given and received. 
If you want to impress your MBA admissions team, make sure you extend a simple thank you whenever you have a personal encounter with someone at your target school. Whether it be after an interview, school tour, or even a meaningful Q&A session, sending a note of thanks will not only be a positive commentary on your professionalism and thoughtfulness, but will also be a great way to remain top of mind with the adcom as they manage their way through hundreds of applications.  Receiving a note of thanks after an encounter reinforces the impression you made with them and forces their brain to retain information about you---they can’t help it!
Clients often inquire as to what’s the best way to thank someone. I am a still a big fan of the hand-written note, but because of the incredibly slow delivery compared to digital methods, you must be disciplined about getting these off immediately.  A good habit is to keep cards, envelopes and stamps in your briefcase or backpack, so you can literally send out thank you notes on the same day you have the encounter.  This can sometimes result in your note being received the very next day, depending on US mail logistics.
If you are not into the hand-written note thing, you are in luck, because email has long been an acceptable form of professional communication, and will be received well by your benefactor.  Because email is SO fast, however, you may want to wait until the next day to send it out, since sending it out immediately after the encounter will work against the psychology of recall. 
You actually want a little time to go by so the person you are thanking will be forced to actually pull your encounter from their long term memory, vs. having it still sitting in their short term memory. Unless you specifically exchanged texts with someone prior to your encounter or unless they specifically invite you to text with them, I would avoid using texts when sending thanks unless you also send a written note.  Just be careful about overdoing it.
Speaking of overdoing things, it is important to comment here on what would be construed as inappropriate thankfulness. I have heard stories of applicants who have sent gifts or other tangible articles of interest to people to show their thanks, but this is almost always a bad idea.  Sending a gift in a situation where someone is evaluating you and potentially included in a decision about your future is tantamount to a bribe and would be viewed as your trying to gain an unfair advantage, a big no-no in the admissions process.  Also avoid anything “cutesy” in your correspondences, such as the stories I heard about applicants putting glitter or perfume in the thank you envelope, which made a big impression on the adcom to be sure, but in a terribly negative way.  The three P’s of thank yous are to be Professional, be Proper and be Prompt.  Oh!  And don’t forget to ask for their business card!  It makes finding their correct address so much easier.
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.

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B-school interviews vs. Job Interviews  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Nov 2017, 22:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: B-school interviews vs. Job Interviews
When it comes to interviews, one of the most common mistakes MBA applicants make is to prepare for their MBA interview in the exact same way they prepare for a job interview.  If you want to avoid an eye roll after you leave your school’s interview session and potentially being told “thanks but no thanks,”  read on…One of the most obvious difference between b-school interviews and job interviews is the fact that schools aren’t looking for a long term skills contribution.  In fact, b-schools know they will actually play a key roll in enhancing and providing skills to their students, and while they certainly want to understand what you can bring to the classroom from your career experience, they also recognize that you will only be contributing in the academic environment for two years.  For this reason, you don’t want to risk over-explaining your professional skillset.  In fact, I would rely on the interviewer to pull out the professional core-competencies from your past and ask specific questions you can drill into vs. your “selling” your resume’s achievements to them up front.  Like a job recruiter, b-schools are treating your potential offer as a marriage, it’s just that the long term version of the relationship for a school has far less to do with your skills and more to do with who you are as a person.
Your goal for any b-school interview is to leave the room with the interviewer knowing you personally, what makes you tick and why/how you made your choices, vs. what you have done.The what is far more important for the job interview---in fact, many job interviewers are simply checking boxes---can you operate an agile software project, can you work independently without a lot of supervision, will you be able to hit assigned goals.  B-schools do just the opposite and want to hear what drives you, what constitutes your passions and what you see as your long-term career vision.   An employer realized you may not even be working there long term, so casting a vision for your ultimate career destination is of little interest.
For this reason, make sure you have stories in your repertoire for a b-school interview that cast light into these areas. For example, don’t merely describe your leadership style, but weave it into an anecdote instead which can very practically illustrate in living color why you have valid leadership potential. Human nature can’t help but remember stories.  They don’t have to be long or dramatic, but telling a story will inevitably stick to the interviewer’s ribs much longer than a list of adjectives about the things you have done.
Another miss for the average MBA interviewee is to steer clear of what employers consider “illegal questions.” Employers are generally not allowed to ask you questions which will reveal your age, ethnic origin or religion.  B-schools are not allowed to ask these questions either, but these components of your life usually shed a great deal of light on who you are, so work this information into your b-school interview on your own.  Just because they aren’t supposed to ask, doesn’t mean they don’t want to know.  It’s not illegal for them to discuss it, they are just not allowed to be the one to pose the question.  Schools will appreciate your volunteering personal information that provides deep insight into who you are, and if they are not allowed to ask,  you could risk leaving some of this valuable information on the table.
The bottom line with b-school interviews vs. job interviews is that you must go well beyond what’s on your resume if you want to make an impression that lasts. Employers care a great deal more about the what, but you will leave a b-school interview with them feeling like you are one-dimensional if that’s all you give them.  Offer up the why and the how, and you will make a much deeper connection with your target schools. 

To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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What Should You Be Looking For?  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Nov 2017, 19:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: What Should You Be Looking For?
Often, MBA applicants simply look at rankings to determine where to apply to school, but figuring out where you will thrive requires a deeper dive into four key areas.1.      Academic Fit. First and Foremost, you must make sure your target school’s academic offerings are a match with your goals and MBA vision.  Every school has a different teaching philosophy and every applicant has a preferred learning style.  It takes more than a cursory review of the course catalog to determine if there will be a match.  Don’t be shy about reaching out to the admissions office or even to faculty in order to analyze how things are done.  In the process, you will also get a feel for a key question in the school selection process:
2.      Are you qualified to join their ranks? A school’s academic program is a good indicator of whether your own educational and professional background cuts the mustard there.  GMAT score is also an indicator, so if you find yourself 40 points or more below a school’s posted average score for admitted applicants, you may be barking up the wrong tree.  While somebody has to be in the bottom 15% of the class, you might find it uncomfortable, so you must be well aware of where you might fall and ask yourself if that’s the right environment for you to thrive.  Ultimately, you will need to make a case for why you should have a seat vs. someone else who may be slightly more qualified.  If you can’t make this case, you might consider finding another target school.
3.      Professional Fit. Are the industries and companies you are targeting for your post-MBA career on the slate of recruiters at your target school?  Does your target school have a history of sending candidates into your desired career field in significant numbers?  These are important questions, the answers to which can usually be found with a call to your school’s career center.  Remember, the career center’s sole purpose is to service MBA candidates, so they are used to tough questions from both current students and prospective candidates.  The last thing you want to do is to accept an MBA program offer only to find they are not set up to get you the job you seek.
4.      Cultural Fit. A school’s personality is determined by a number of factors including tradition, size, and even geographic location.  Tuck and Johnson, for example, suffer through substantial winter weather, yet also are known for significant outdoor activity amongst its students in warmer weather.  Obviously UCLA, USC and Stanford offer a much milder climate, which could send students scattering to the four winds when the bell rings each day.  Know what you’re looking for as it pertains to cohort camaraderie and make sure your school’s location is conducive to it.  Beyond location, look to the current and former students for indicators of culture.  Is the school cut-throat or cooperative?  Do students live on campus or off campus? Cultural fit is perhaps the most under-rated attribute which clients analyze, yet it can make the most significant difference in whether or not you are ultimately pleased with your school choice.
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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What is HBS Looking For?  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Nov 2017, 20:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: What is HBS Looking For?
The MBA program at Harvard receives more applications than any other business school in the world.  If HBS is what you are looking for, your next step should be to discover what they are looking for—make sense?While HBS makes no bones about their three main criteria for successful applicants, you must undertake some serious analysis if you want to convince them you demonstrate all three.  Falling short in any area will make for a tough run at the most popular business school in the world.
Habit of Leadership. It’s not enough to talk about your plans to lead.  For HBS, professional leadership experience is a must.  Make sure you talk about both why and how you are a good leader and be prepared with specific, but brief examples to back it up.  Don’t forget about personal, community and extracurricular leadership experience as well, all of which will be considered by Harvard.
Analytical Aptitude and Appetite. Like most business schools, HBS does not indicate a preference for any particular major or career path, but it does require of all its MBA candidates to be good communicators who also have a comfort level with quantitative analytics.  Intellectual curiosity is a common trait across the entire student body at Harvard, and one of the best indicators of such is your own academic track record.  Harvard actually cares more about your GPA and college pedigree than they do about GMAT score.  Hopefully you have the golden transcript that will make the right impression, but if not, you might consider building an alternative transcript if you have time to do so.
Engaged Community Citizenship. HBS has more corporate CEOs in their alumni ranks than any other business school, which ultimately stems from their picking students who get involved.  While Harvard takes great pride in building the next generation of leaders, they know that it all starts well before students arrive on campus.  Before applying to HBS, make sure you are not only the type of person who has been involved and engaged in your school and community but are also prepared to explain how you will continue to do so as an HBS colleague and alumnus.  HBS expects each of their 900+ students to contribute their unique perspective both in the classroom and in the campus community, so selling them on how yours would be particularly valuable will put you a step ahead of the applicant pack.

To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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Balancing Round Two Deadlines With the Holidays  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Nov 2017, 22:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Balancing Round Two Deadlines With the Holidays
The year-end holiday season is typically the busiest time of the year for just about everyone, but layering on MBA applications can make it downright insane.  You need a strategy to make it through it all without losing your mind, and hopefully in the process, also earning a spot at your desired school.Sometimes it seems the round two deadlines are downright mean-spirited given that they are generally just days after the new year rolls in, essentially forcing applicants to either forego traditional celebration time with family and friends, or at the very least, having to worry their way through it.  Since we’re still about five weeks away, however, there is time remaining to get a plan together. 
Know your alternate DeadlinesFirstly, you must make sure you are aware of cutoffs or deadlines with obtaining transcripts and lining up recommenders before schools shutter themselves for the holidays.  Planning to take advantage of the week after Christmas to get your errands done?  Think again.  Most universities shut down completely the week between Christmas and New Year’s, which stymies clients every year who procrastinate getting these essential tasks done.  Even the corporate world finds the final week of the calendar year a virtual ghost town in many cases, so tracking down your recommenders can be challenging.  Take advantage of the first two weeks of December when relying on others.
Save time to look things over.Next, you must make sure to budget your time to allow for editing and reviewing.  If your round two deadline is January 5th, for example, start now and try to finish your essays before Christmas, using the remaining days to allow your consultant, friend or family member to read and provide feedback.  Rarely will good essays result from writing and then submitting immediately thereafter. The best way to finish early is to get started quickly.  Don’t worry if you think you’re not ready.  Often, simply putting pen to paper will loosen the creative process and get the words flowing.  Think of the process like pottery.  Throw some clay on the wheel and see what you can shape up.  If it helps, throw some holiday music on in the background and enjoy the fact you still have several weeks ahead of you to make it all happen.
Find time to RelaxFinally, make sure you have a plan to enjoy the season.  Sure, this will hopefully be the last time in your life you have to make school applications, so it’s tempting to focus completely on the process, but if you manage your time to include your favorite holiday indulgences, you will ultimately be more relaxed and likely perform better on your application.  Granted, you may not enjoy the holidays this year like you normally would have, but if you can spend a little time with family, go shopping, or even just sit for a few minutes to enjoy a cup of hot cocoa or stare at a Christmas tree, you may surprise yourself at how energizing it can be.
One final tip:  communicate with your consultant.  Those providing guidance and feedback have lives too, so don’t assume their availability will line up with your timing.  Get on the same page with whomever is helping your finish things off and you will be doing both yourself and them a big favor. 
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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Doing the Fellowship Shuffle  [#permalink]

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New post 03 Dec 2017, 21:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Doing the Fellowship Shuffle
Stanford’s financial aid missteps have been all over the news this week, which should get us all thinking about scholarship and fellowship opportunities in general.  If you are currently applying to b-school, you should definitely be considering how you might make the journey more affordable with support from your target schools. And whether or not your school is giving you accurate information about how it all works.In case you have been living under a rock or buried too deeply in MBA application routines lately, you might not have seen the press release this week about Stanford GSB and the exposure of false information they had been pushing out to applicants for years regarding financial aid.
As the most selective b-school in the world, Stanford GSB has always purported quite adamantly that all financial aid decisions there were based on need vs. merit. This assertion is precisely what landed them in hot water when a data breach revealed that quite the opposite is actually true.  We’re not sure yet what the aftermath will be for Stanford (or for other schools), but the revelation from the West Coast has everyone focusing on financial aid with high alert.
If you think about it, need-based fellowships make sense for top schools, where over-qualification is the standard. Heck, if they tried to split hairs between on who more deserves merit-based funding, they’d likely find that a random throw of darts would yield similar results.  To complicate the issue, a desperate need for diversity in the student body pretty much requires them to deploy financial incentives which are aligned with desirable traits from under-represented groups including females, and people of color for starters.  Top schools clamor over candidates who bring not only a full slate of core qualifications to the table, but also an extra measure of perspective that the average candidate may not offer, and the ability to incentivize them with a tuition discount or fellowship is just what the doctor ordered to ensure a diverse class each year. From this view, it’s hard to fault Stanford for their practice of competing in this competitive market, so let’s just agree that he big problem for them has simply come from not telling the whole truth. 
But even if you are not applying to Stanford, how confident are you that the information you receive from your target school is accurate?Most schools do exactly the same thing Stanford was doing in practice, so you might want to follow up with schools who claim they reward financial aid based purely on financial need.  A quick call to the admissions office could likely help get some clarity on your school’s official position. 
As an applicant, you may not even realize that most schools automatically consider you for fellowships (I say fellowships instead of scholarships simply because most aid of this type at the graduate level is called a fellowship vs. scholarship, a word which is most often used at the undergraduate level).  In case you missed that, you generally don’t have to fill out any additional paperwork at all to place yourself in the running for this free money.  Clients ask us each year how to apply for fellowships, when the easy answer is:  you don’t have to.  If you are going to be offered fellowship incentives, it’s usually done at the time you receive your acceptance letter.  Right there in the body of the “congratulations,” you will generally also find a sentence which spells out your fellowship offer.
Fellowship offers from top schools are usually non-negotiable, and also come with an exploding deadline. If you are lucky enough to receive a fellowship from a top school, take it as a compliment, but know that you will also have to fairly quickly decide whether or not to accept it.  Schools become impatient with applicants who try to hold out for other offers or worse yet, game the system in an attempt to sweeten the pot.  Take-it-or-leave-it is essentially the truism for b-school fellowships.
Although most fellowships are automatic, there are several fellowship opportunities out there which are either unconnected to a particular school (and therefore require separate application), or are special opportunities within a school which may require an additional essay or application.  Admissions offices can be helpful in identifying such opportunities, but far and away the bulk of monies awarded come through each school’s general process.  If you would like to discuss ways to make your application more attractive for fellowships, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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The Student Debt Debacle  [#permalink]

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New post 10 Dec 2017, 14:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: The Student Debt Debacle
OK so you accepted your partial fellowship offer and lined up your student loans.  Think you’re on easy street with financing your MBA education?  Make sure you’re thinking like a business professional before you dive in.For many MBA applicants, making the decision to drop out of the workforce for two years is not one to take lightly.  The ease of getting loans has become routine for domestic MBA students, which often is conducive to forgetting the amount of debt students are taking on.  Because post MBA salaries are pretty bankable, the US government and other loan shops are eager to sign up MBA candidates to help them finance their education.  What you may not know, is that student loan debt is one of the few obligations that even survives bankruptcy, so it’s not a small decision to undertake.
The average student loan takes 25 years to repay, a thought which is harrowing considering that’s more time than some post MBA careers. That’s right! If you don’t pay back your student loan sooner than the full allowable term, you could still be paying off your MBA after you retire.  Hopefully such thoughts will jump start your plan to pay for your MBA before you even start.  Saving all you can up front is a good strategy, but don’t forget about the signing bonus. While a new car is tempting, putting $20K or $30K towards your student debt would likely be a better strategy long term, don’t you think?
Student loans and rising tuition is only half the equation when factoring in the true cost of business school, however, and it’s the other half that really sneaks up on unsuspecting MBA candidates.  Debt stemming from credit cards and other consumer-level obligations such as car payments and loans for living expenses can really add up as well.  While you’re sitting there lining up a plan to pay off the tuition, you may also be building a sizable debt which could be with you just as long.
There exists an extremely dangerous psychological phenomenon when it comes to debt accumulation, which put simply is, the more debt you have, the more you take on. Debt is a contagion, and the larger the pile gets, the less significant additional debt seemingly becomes.  Think of it like a pile of dirty laundry.  Once the pile gets too big to take on in one or two loads, it just keeps growing.  Tossing a couple more dirty socks on each day doesn’t appear to make much difference.
There are several factors that make the debt pile particularly perilous for MBA students. For starters, MBA programs are extremely time consuming and distracting, leaving very little time to manage your finances or tidy up your personal financial statement.  Secondly, MBA students are exceedingly hopeful about their prospects for income increases going forward and figure any debt they accumulate during school will very quickly and easily go away once the money starts rolling in.  Finally, there’s the dilemma of having no other easy option to pay for everything while in b-school.  For most students, taking on debt is simply a necessary evil, the alternative being to forego graduate school altogether.
So how is one to overcome the odds and avoid the MBA debt debacle? Unfortunately there is no easy answer, but you could certainly start by making a budget.  Try to cut out non-essentials and take an honest look at what you really need to spend, especially on a recurring (monthly) basis.  If you find yourself having trouble deciding what is essential, try listening to a podcast called the Minimalist, hosted by Joshua Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, who have mastered the art of cutting back.  Never charge on a credit card what you can’t pay off by the end of the month, and don’t pre-spend money that may come to you from an internship or signing bonus. In the end, even if you end up landing a job that would pay off all your debt accumulated as a student, you will be far better off if you begin your post MBA life with a healthy balance sheet.  At least that’s how a good business professional would look at it. 
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.

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Student Loan Forgiveness  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Dec 2017, 22:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Student Loan Forgiveness
Millennials get a lot of grief these days about a lot of things; one of which is debt.  If you are going back to b-school, you are probably a millennial, so you likely have been thinking about your debt load. Wouldn’t it be great if your student loans could be forgiven?  Sound too good to be true?  Read on…Out of all the millennials who use credit cards, more than half carry a balance every month, which means they are paying interest as well.  If you fall into this category, it’s not all your fault, because younger Americans today are making less on an inflation adjusted basis, thanks to a statistical decrease in real income. As a matter of fact, the average earning for a millennial today is at the lowest level since 1980. Good reason to go back to school so you can raise your income, right?
The last couple of blogs have touched on debt, fellowships and paying off student loans, but what many MBA candidates don’t realize, is that you can actually have your student loans wiped out completely by the US government.  That’s right!  In 2007, Obama passed the PSLF, which allows student loans to be forgiven entirely as long as a few pesky requirements are met.
The Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program forgives the remaining balance on your Direct Loans after you have made 120 qualifying monthly payments under a qualifying repayment plan while working full-time for a qualifying employer.Who is a qualified employer?  Generally speaking, any non-profit or public service organization will qualify.  While ten years of non-profit work is a pretty tall order, before you dismiss this idea out of hand, know that many MBA-level non-profit positions come with rather impressive salaries, so a bona-fide career can certainly be created if you go down this road. 
There are no salary limitations on the loan forgiveness, which means you can qualify for forgiveness no matter how much money you make, but you will be required to make income-based payments on your loan. Therein lies the rub, since in many cases, you will come close to paying off your student loans on your own as your income level and subsequent loan payments rise. But anything left after 120 payments is forgiven—not a bad deal, especially if you were planning to work in public service anyway. 
One additional requirement is that you will also need to consolidate and refinance your loan with the Federal government, but this is not an onerous obligation since the Feds generally have the lowest interest rates on the market.    
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.

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MBA Price Comparison Analysis  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Dec 2017, 15:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: MBA Price Comparison Analysis
There are myriad reasons to consider when deciding on which MBA program is the best fit, but one which often gets buried is affordability.  Have you done a price comparison analysis on your target programs?While it’s true that the cost of an MBA program is arguably irrelevant compared to other core attributes which better determine true fit, there is value in considering your finances when going back to b-school, especially if you find yourself with multiple admissions offers.  If you are one of the lucky ones to have received more than one acceptance, and if you have evaluated your options and determined it to be a toss up, you might want to break down the cost of each school, just like you would in any other price comparison analysis. 
It’s easy to look up tuition costs, but you’d be making a big mistake if you stopped there when comparing total costs to attend.Schools often have thousands of dollars in fees which are not included in core tuition, and while textbook costs will likely be similar across various programs, you might want to look into other required classroom expenses, such as having to purchase a specific type of computer, or software package.  These ancillary materials can add up fast and can often make a big difference in how much a program seems to cost on the surface. 
One thing candidates often fail to consider when comparing ticket prices, is to factor in where a school is located. Not only does rent for housing vary widely from program to program, the city or town in which a school is located can also add considerably to your expenses over a two year period.  Clearly living in New York or the Bay area on the West Coast has a higher cost of living, but you might also be surprised at the relative cost of living in, say, Austin, Texas or Nashville, Tennessee as well.  These cities have seen tremendous increases in recent years, so make sure you do some local market investigations, whether they be in person or online.  Even the type of climate you will be living in can affect your expenses--ever braved a winter in Ithaca, NY, for example?  You might need to buy some warmer clothes than if you went to school in Miami.
Generally speaking, the more remote a school is, the lower the cost.Some low-cost items out in the hinterlands  include automobile expenses (parking, tag, registration, etc.) and groceries, but the lack of competition for goods and services can also mean higher prices in other categories.  Getting your hair cut or shopping for clothes or home goods are necessary expenditures which can ultimately drive you into debt, and consumer debt is a horrible thing to inflate while you have low or no income.  Sure, you will make money at your internship, but don’t forget you often must maintain two residences during your internship summer, since landlords back at school may not allow you to move out or sublet while you are away. 
In the end, it’s better to choose a school which may cost more, but is a better fit academically, professionally and culturally, but if you make this choice for a school which is more expensive, you should begin now saving your pennies and committing now to earmark your potential signing bonus and any leftover internship salary for the extra expenses.
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.

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MBA Snapshots: Harvard Business School  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Dec 2017, 18:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: MBA Snapshots: Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School is clearly one of the best known business schools in the world.  With more than 900 students in each year’s graduating class, it’s also one of the largest, not to mention one of the oldest (founded in 1908).  Here’s the top three reasons why HBS is so renowned…1)      TraditionThe ivy league tradition is steeped in prestige, and Harvard leads the way.  As a graduate-school only business institution, HBS adds to the mystique, since the only way to major in business at Harvard is to come back for an MBA there.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being a Harvard MBA, and respect for the degree is given the world over. Alumni refer to telling someone you are a graduate of HBS as “dropping the H Bomb.”  So while not nuclear, it still makes quite an impression, even after 110 years.  From students running their own businesses in their second year, to countless success stories of the alumni, it’s hard to imagine a bigger stalwart of business education.  The 100 pound Gorilla is indeed difficult to budge, and Harvard wears the title of best business school with great pride---whether they actually come in at #1 in the rankings or not.
2)      FundingHBS is one of the richest b-schools in the world with a current endowment approaching $4B.  What is an endowment?  Basically, it’s the school’s net worth in cash, not including its capital assets, such as buildings and land.  Endowment funds are not spent, but rather, are invested in the market across a variety of diverse asset classes.  It's a portion of the proceeds from these investments that are spent by the school each year, and $4 billion throws off a lot of distributions.  The rest keeps on growing.  HBS is one of the richest in terms of facilities as well.  While most b-schools are confined to one building on campus, Harvard’s b-school has 34 separate buildings if you include five on-campus housing facilities and executive education buildings.  That’s like a small city compared to the average school.
3)      LeadershipIf there’s one thing HBS is known for above all else, it has to be leadership.  While it’s debatable which came first, leadership education or leadership results, the modern HBS has both in spades.  Not only is the curriculum steeped in leadership training and the admissions process focused on admitting applicants with leadership experience and potential, but also its alumni ranks are filled with world famous leaders.  In fact, a recent study by US News reported that Harvard Business School has four times as many chief executives of Fortune 500 companies than Stanford and three times as many as Wharton.  Let’s just agree that such results are probably a combination of nature and nurture at HBS, and leadership seems to be the key.
Of course there are other things HBS is known for, such as the case method and a world-class faculty, but these three areas are what essentially make Harvard what it has become known for, and what continues to attract over ten thousand applicants each year.  Are you Harvard material?  Let us help you answer that question.
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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MBA Snapshot: Harvard Business School  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Dec 2017, 14:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: MBA Snapshot: Harvard Business School
Harvard Business School is clearly one of the best known business schools in the world.  With more than 900 students in each year’s graduating class, it’s also one of the largest, not to mention one of the oldest (founded in 1908).  Here’s the top three reasons why HBS is so renowned…1)      TraditionThe ivy league tradition is steeped in prestige, and Harvard leads the way.  As a graduate-school only business institution, HBS adds to the mystique, since the only way to major in business at Harvard is to come back for an MBA there.  There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being a Harvard MBA, and respect for the degree is given the world over. Alumni refer to telling someone you are a graduate of HBS as “dropping the H Bomb.”  So while not nuclear, it still makes quite an impression, even after 110 years.  From students running their own businesses in their second year, to countless success stories of the alumni, it’s hard to imagine a bigger stalwart of business education.  The 100 pound Gorilla is indeed difficult to budge, and Harvard wears the title of best business school with great pride---whether they actually come in at #1 in the rankings or not.
2)      FundingHBS is one of the richest b-schools in the world with a current endowment approaching $4B.  What is an endowment?  Basically, it’s the school’s net worth in cash, not including its capital assets, such as buildings and land.  Endowment funds are not spent, but rather, are invested in the market across a variety of diverse asset classes.  It's a portion of the proceeds from these investments that are spent by the school each year, and $4 billion throws off a lot of distributions.  The rest keeps on growing.  HBS is one of the richest in terms of facilities as well.  While most b-schools are confined to one building on campus, Harvard’s b-school has 34 separate buildings if you include five on-campus housing facilities and executive education buildings.  That’s like a small city compared to the average school.
3)      LeadershipIf there’s one thing HBS is known for above all else, it has to be leadership.  While it’s debatable which came first, leadership education or leadership results, the modern HBS has both in spades.  Not only is the curriculum steeped in leadership training and the admissions process focused on admitting applicants with leadership experience and potential, but also its alumni ranks are filled with world famous leaders.  In fact, a recent study by US News reported that Harvard Business School has four times as many chief executives of Fortune 500 companies than Stanford and three times as many as Wharton.  Let’s just agree that such results are probably a combination of nature and nurture at HBS, and leadership seems to be the key.
Of course there are other things HBS is known for, such as the case method and a world-class faculty, but these three areas are what essentially make Harvard what it has become known for, and what continues to attract over ten thousand applicants each year.  Are you Harvard material?  Let us help you answer that question.
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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MBA Snapshot: Stanford GSB  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Dec 2017, 14:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: MBA Snapshot: Stanford GSB
Stanford GSB holds the coveted title of most selective business school in the world.  Here’s three reasons why Stanford is so renowned…1)      EntrepreneurshipStanford GSB is located in the heart of silicon valley, which makes the campus a common ground for innovation.  Not only is the faculty well known for experiential, entrepreneurial education, but the alumni and friends of Stanford are also accomplished in the startup world.  CEOs of companies like Twitter, Microsoft, and Apple have spoken to students or guest-lectured in the classroom, and the leaders of new, yet-unknown companies are accessible to students as well.  This innovative environment is one of the biggest reasons why Stanford truly cares about what your hopes and dreams are, as evidenced by their application questions.  Very few GSB alumni enter the traditional world of banking or industry, opting instead for a “Shoot for the Stars” approach to business achievement.  If you are a dreamer, yet can backup your vision with a real plan for the future (which includes GSB), you may be on the right path.
2)      West Coast CultureFor anyone who has ever lived in or visited California, you know that the West-Coast attitude is a real cultural phenomenon.  Perhaps because of all the good weather and plethora of outdoor activities, or maybe simply because of the proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Cruz mountains, Stanford has a real “work hard, play hard” approach to business school.  Things feel more relaxed in general at Stanford vs. its competitors and many describe the program as driving towards the “touchy-feely” side of business.  For these reasons, you are probably not surprised that Stanford is considered to be the polar opposite of HBS, where things are a bit more traditional and buttoned-down.  Rarely would someone be able to make a good case for admission to both schools, so if you do decide to apply to both Harvard and Stanford, you will likely run into problems with the admissions committees at both schools, or at the very least, be perceived as someone who doesn’t know exactly what they want.  Generally speaking, you are either one or the other, so make sure you take the time to figure out which.
3)      CollaborationStanford’s student body at the business school is less than half the size of Harvard’s, and they take great pride in students getting to know each other.  In fact, Stanford boasts that by the time you graduate, you will likely know every member of your graduating class.  This kind of network has far more potential than the obligatory network of some of the larger schools because it’s based on real relationships vs. simply a common alma mater.  While still students, most of the work is done in teams and study groups, all of which fosters the same kind of tight-knit environment which births so many new companies.  While Chicago, Stanford and Wharton are all known for their competitiveness amongst classmates, Stanford has the opposite going on, with a strong sense of community and collaboration permeating every corner of the campus. 
To find out more about your options and how we can guide your business school application process, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us viahttp://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.
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