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Amerasia MBA Blog

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A Tip for Applying to HBS - "don't overthink, overcraft and overwrite" [#permalink]

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New post 02 Aug 2016, 16:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: A Tip for Applying to HBS - "don't overthink, overcraft and overwrite"
I wanted to get ahead of something - a potential problem - I see with my clients to HBS and Stanford GSB. Frankly, it's a problem that I consistently see with most applicants answering any essay question meant to evoke an author's deepest (or cursory!) values, beliefs, norms and experiences. HBS calls it out as "overthinking, overcrafting and overwriting", I call it "overselling" your point when writing.Some backgroundThe HBS essay prompt this year is as follows:
"As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?"This is an essay that anyone applying to top business school programs would know. However, this question prompt also has an equally known, but much lesser regarded explanatory text, which is as follows:
"There is no word limit for this question.  We think you know what guidance we're going to give here. Don't overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don't know your world can understand."I do appreciate that the HBS admissions committee readily acknowledges that their advice has been around since the beginning of time ("We think you know what guidance we're going to give here.") Putting myself in the shoes of the admissions committee, this is for good reason. I can see how Dee Leopold (and now Chad Losee) and company must roll their eyes and groan every time they see an applicant disregard their sage advice. Multiply this by 10,000 or so applications, and it must be like playing the 8.5" x 11" (PDF) version of Russian Roulette.  

“Anything any applicant can think to write, the admissions committee has already seen.”

As the applicant, you know that the admissions committee always warns "don't tell us what you think we want to hear.!" The opposite of that is not "tell us what we don't want to hear", but that is what applicants are effectively doing when they disregard the guidance that HBS puts forth and calls out explicitly alongside their essay prompt.  Rather, the correct response is being authentic and genuine, on point and on message.  Easier said than done, I know. But that's what Harvard admissions means when they tell applicants to flush the bullshit by not "overthinking, overcrafting and overwriting."
My advice

“What the admissions committee values, more than anything else is clarity. ”

This is why I always tell my clients that I am against grandiose and big-time essay openers or introductions because what the admissions committee values, more than anything else is clarity.  You want to avoid anything that could possibly make them roll their eyes or make them search for what it is you really want them to know (or what it is a really should know). 
In general, you want to spare them the dramatics because they have seen it all.  They really have.  Anything any applicant can think to write, the admissions committee has already seen.  This includes quotes or any type of riddle or any type of drama. Frankly, for any applicant or anyone who is not a professional writer, it's really hard to pull off writing that is both emotional and meaningful, or witty and on-point. What usually happens is that the author/applicant comes off as a unreliable narrator - a storyteller not to be trusted - because they rely too heavily on (dramatic) speech that oversells the point trying to be made. This is exactly why Harvard specifically gives the following advice alongside their question prompt - again - "Don't overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don't know your world can understand."

“If the author believes in the story, why do they seem so nervous about whether or not we will believe in the story?”

Overcrafting and overwriting equals overselling, which undermines confidence - the author's credibility and confidence in their story and ultimately, the reader's confidence in the points the author is trying to make in the story.  Adding too much language around any event - especially a tragedy - makes the author look like they are trying too hard.  It looks anxious.  The reader thinks - "if the author believes in the story, why do they seem so nervous about whether or not we will believe in the story?"  Top business school programs, and the admissions committee members who read your story, want applicants who are confident.  
So it goes beyond a dramatic story, it goes beyond whether or not the story is true, it goes beyond even being on point, and it has everything to do with the confidence you display - so this is why I always believe that less is more when writing anything emotional or personally trying.
If you are in the midst of finding your most authentic voice for HBS or Stanford GSB, or if you are just starting out on your MBA applications, contact us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact for a free consultation.Permalink
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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Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | mba@amerasiaconsulting.com | 877.866.9251

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Always Waive Your Right to View Your MBA Recommendation [#permalink]

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New post 15 Aug 2016, 05:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Always Waive Your Right to View Your MBA Recommendation
I tell my clients they have to waive their right to view their business school recommendation, and that it is not really an option to not do so.Not waiving your right could tell the admissions committee that you don’t trust your recommenders.  It could tell them that you are paranoid or overly anxious. It opens up a pandora's box of possibilities, none of which are that great. 
It could tell the admissions committee that this applicant is a liability. What happens if he (or she) doesn’t get in?  Is he going to go after his recommenders for throwing him under the bus?  Is he going to create more headaches for all involved?  Is the applicant going to create reputational risk for the school? I smell lawsuit!
The adcom would rather just not deal with it.Specifically, when you - the applicant - waive your right to see the recommendation you voluntarily and intentionally relinquish your known right, claim or privilege to view the reference letter at any time going forward.  So, by waiving your right, after you are admitted to a program, you will still be unable to see your recommendation.
Personally, I have never heard of a student actually wanting to view their recommendation once they got in(waived or not waived), but I imagine those who got dinged might wonder if their boss really screwed them.  
One last thing here for those of you who forgot to waive your right to view the rec, and whose boss has already submitted the letter.  If you forgot to waive, I do not consider not waiving to be a deal breaker.  Yes, it looks bad to the admissions committee but all-in-all, it's only part of the whole application package.  Any applicant can have compensating factors that make up for your “non-waive”.   
Just keep in mind this as you work through all parts of your MBA application - at a high level, it is important to remember that any applicant is competing against their subset of peer applicants when applying to b-school (i.e. strategy consultant versus strategy consultant).  If you do anything to differentiate yourself in a negative way from these demographics (like not waiving), the adcom will notice the red flag. One little red flag won't kill your application, but several sloppy or bonehead mistakes will begin to gnaw away at your foundation.
If you are in the midst of this process, congrats and good luck!   If you are just starting out on your admissions journey, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com for a free consultation.

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Always Waive Your Right to View Your MBA Recommendation | By Paul Lanzillotti | Amerasia Consulting Group

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The GMAT/MBA Library | Add your sitePermalink
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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Download "How To Apply" Guides | INSEAD | Columbia | Harvard | Wharton

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11th-hour MBA application advice: before you hit submit on that appz [#permalink]

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New post 15 Aug 2016, 06:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: 11th-hour MBA application advice: before you hit submit on that appz
Here are our list of best tips and practices before tapping submit on your apps, so you don't get caught with your pants down an hour to go before the deadline. We always tell our clients, do not wait until only a few days before the deadline to begin completing your online app, because you just may have an "oh-snap" type moment.
1. SOME ONLINE business school applications won't take scanned transcripts bigger than 700kb.You can shrink your transcripts (online) here - http://goo.gl/8EQeC
2 . Some MBA programs host their own applications (ie. and not through a service like applyyouself.com).This quite possibly means limited customer service and a server that might just crash. I wouldn't push the limits of good judgment when submitting close to the deadline. Try to submit a few hours before the deadline or risk having the server slow way down.
3 . Occasionally, you can't cut and paste short answers onto the online app fields when using Google Chrome.You have to use Firefox. No one uses Internet Explorer .... joking, but I have not tested cut/paste with Explorer.
4. Most business schools include short essays on their online application.Tuck has their international experience essays (250 words), Yale has a professional statement, HBS does ask you for your goals and Darden does a good job of hitting you up with an elevator pitch essay. Make sure you review the app way ahead of time, so you don't find yourself with yet one more "essay" to complete with the clock ticking.
5. Also know that all schools have a short answers on their app that will ask you for employment history, significant awards, extracurriculars.Do not simply cut and paste from your resume - try to make your answers complete sentences. 
6. Short answers on the app will most likely have character limits, not word limits.There is a difference, a big one. Also note - that character limits for b-school apps usually count spaces against the character limit. 
7. In general, don't "mail it in" on your online application answers for business school.- the "data sheet" is the first thing the admissions committee will see. Do not get off on the wrong foot by being sloppy or incomplete. Grammar counts.
8. Some schools ask you what other schools you are applying to - this has a purpose.It's like being on a date and getting asked how many other people you are seeing. 
9. Columbia Business School asks you what "current students" you have spoken to.Yes, they want names of current student. Other schools simply ask you what student or alumni you have talked to.
10. Don't put down on your app that you attended an event if you DID not.They do try and keep track, and they will check. This is perhaps the dumbest way to look like an asshole to the admissions committee. 
11. Resumes should be as traditional as possible - no colors, pictures, weird fonts.The resume is supposed to be a sales document - so it has to be aesthetically pleasing. Think like this - would a recruiter hire me for a consulting job if they saw my rainbow colored, alphabet soup looking resume?
12. Columbia Business School asks applicants for their picture.Upload a picture that is professional, not gangsta or gangnam, and minimize the number of other people in the pic.  So don't fake bake, pucker your lips or wear anything with sequins or flair. Chicago Booth wants a slide show and you should really be submitting pictures of yourself in this presentation - so no grainy Motorola star-tac quality pics, or pics with your shirt off.
13. If you're cutting it close on the word counts or if you are filling up all the short answer boxes on the online form, it is okay to use acronyms.Just don't go crazy using them if the adcom doesn't have a clue as to what they are.
14. Don't be a jagoff and submit your recommendation on behalf of your recommender.If he or she is too busy find another recommender or dress up as a clown to get their attention. A good reason is that the writing will probably sound like your style of writing. A better reason is that some schools do record your IP address. It really looks un-kosher to have your app, your rec 1 and rec 2, coming from the same IP and just minutes apart. Don't believe me? See linky - https://technolutions.com/slate/advantage. Scroll down to the bottom and read the fraud section - ya, they are talking about you Willis.
15. Know what timezone you are in, and what timezone the business school is in. If you are applying to HBS or CBS, those MBA programs are in the eastern time zone of the United States. So any times they quote (as the application being due) are being quoted in terms of the eastern time zone, not in IST or GMT. 
For an overview of Amerasia MBA Admissions Consulting services, please visit http://www.amerasiaconsulting.com/mba_admissions_consulting_services/If you are interested in the MBA Admissions Consulting services offered by Amerasia, please email mba[at]amerasiaconsulting.com to inquire about setting up a free consultation.Permalink
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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Paul Lanzillotti | Founder| About | mba@amerasiaconsulting.com | 877.866.9251

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Download "How To Apply" Guides | INSEAD | Columbia | Harvard | Wharton

Kudos [?]: 218 [0], given: 220

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How do I decide which top MBA programs to apply to? [#permalink]

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New post 29 Aug 2016, 05:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: How do I decide which top MBA programs to apply to?
This time of year, the biggest question from clients seems to be about which schools they should be targeting for application.We understand that with so many choices out there, both domestically in the US and internationally, it can be a bit overwhelming. Time and time again, we find ourselves having to remind everyone of the one key word to focus on when choosing schools: FIT.While we often recommend people go to the “best” business school where they can get accepted, it’s so much more than rankings which figures into this decision. Because rankings change all the time, and because your b-school decision is for life (it’s considered a terminal degree after all, meaning you will likely never go back to school again after the MBA), it makes much more sense to go to the school where you fit the best.
So what does fit mean exactly?Every school has its own unique culture and personality, which can often mirror or complement your own working/learning style and preferences. Do you like a school with a competitive atmosphere, for example? Perhaps this feeling brings out the best in your performance, with classmates pushing you to achieve your goals. Or maybe you like a more collaborative environment, where everyone bends over backwards to “never leave a man behind.” Do you like a boot camp mentality or a work hard, play hard philosophy? Do you have a family or are you single? Demographics can heavily influence the atmosphere at business school. Any way you size up the various schools, rest assured there is a match out there for you.
In addition to culture, there are the curriculum differences to consider. This can be characterized as “professional fit,” because it ensures you will be adequately prepared for your post MBA career.Always research the coursework and expertise of a particular school to ensure they provide the professional preparation you need, particularly if you plan to have a specific focus such as operations, IT, marketing or finance, for example. Even more specifically, some schools have carved out a niche, say in the energy field or health care. You would be wise to conduct a thorough due diligence effort to make sure the professional fit is right before applying.
Finally, you must take a hard assessment of your core profile to make sure you fit from the perspective of competency.The last thing you want to do is to face the outright rejection from a school where you simply are not qualified based on their admissions requirements. So if you have a 500 GMAT, a degree from a top 300 state college and a spotty work record of 12 months, it’s unlikely the top 10 is in the cards for you. This is known as “academic fit.” Confidence is a great quality, but blind overconfidence is only going to end up wasting your time.
One of the best ways to ascertain fit is to visit the school.There is truly no substitute for an in-person class visit, or a chat with current students or faculty. Some schools will even give you kudos for taking the time to visit, and still others will allow you to schedule an actual interview while you are there. Take full advantage of every opportunity to assess which school is the right fit for you. If you do, you will be much happier during your program and much more satisfied down the road. Remember the people you go to school with will be your friends and business contacts for life! And there’s also the decision of which sweatshirt you want to be wearing out there in the real world.
If you are in the midst of this process, congrats and best of luck.  If you are just starting out on your admissions journey, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com for a free consultation.

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How to Select the Right MBA Program Based on Your Fit

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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

Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog

Download "How To Apply" Guides | INSEAD | Columbia | Harvard | Wharton

Kudos [?]: 218 [0], given: 220

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Should I apply Early Action / Early Decision? [#permalink]

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New post 30 Aug 2016, 05:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Should I apply Early Action / Early Decision?
Deciding when to apply to school can often get applicants mentally twisted, as they attempt to inject strategy into the process.We will speak more specifically to this decision in another post, but at this time of year, it makes sense to first talk about early action.  More and more schools it seems, have an early action option which throws yet another wrench into the round one vs. round two vs. round three discussion. 
Early action is simply a special status application round whereby the schools provide “preferential consideration” to applicants who 1) apply early according to a specific deadline imposed by the admissions committee and in some cases, 2) promise to drop the pursuit of other schools if they are admitted.Why do they do this?It is a simple matter of yield.  Yield a dreaded figure for most business school admissions offices because it’s the number of applicants who are offered admission who actually end up enrolling at the school.  The flip side of yield, however is the number of student who decline the offer and leave their seat to be potentially filled by someone else.  Granted, this is not as much of a problem for schools like Harvard, Stanford and Wharton, who seem to have no trouble at all getting folks to enroll (for some reason), but even at these super elite schools, there are people every year who are admitted but end up turning them down. 
For some schools, yield is a sizable headache, particularly schools in the top ten but often found bouncing around in the bottom of that coveted group.  Despite being top schools in their own right, believe it or not, they are often used as safety schools for the most qualified applicants.  So if someone has a bullet-proof profile and applies to Wharton, Harvard and Duke, when they get the call that they got into HBS and Duke, they often choose HBS and drop Duke.  This happens enough to some schools that they have to scramble each year with their waitlist to fill every seat before the semester begins.  In order to combat this problem, many have started using the early action offer in an attempt to avoid this stress.  By bringing in a certain number of guaranteed students early in the process, they begin the admissions season with the assurance of a core group of students whom they know are very unlikely to change their minds (mostly because beyond the promise comes the requirement of paying a hefty deposit to hold their spot). 
So should you apply early action or not?  There are two important questions to ask yourself first: 1) Would you be happy going to this school even if you were accepted by another school?  2) Could your core profile and application benefit from a bit of extra consideration, without which, you’d be more concerned about your chances of admission?  If the answer is yes to both questions, or even if the answer is yes at least to #1, then early action may be a good option.  
If you are interested in any of our consulting services, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com. We're here to help and we do it at a higher level than anyone out there.Permalink
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

Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog

Download "How To Apply" Guides | INSEAD | Columbia | Harvard | Wharton

Kudos [?]: 218 [0], given: 220

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Tackling the “other” questions inside the business school application [#permalink]

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New post 02 Sep 2016, 00:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Tackling the “other” questions inside the business school application
With the release of the 2016 HBS application, it is clear that shortening the number of essays is a trend that is here to stay for now. With only one essay on the HBS application again this year, it is becoming more important than ever to not only communicate effectively and concisely, but also to leverage the balance of the application (and of course the interview) to stand out from the crowd.One result of the decreasing essay trend is an expansion of in-application short answer questions.  Just a few years ago, there were few or none of these questions, but schools have since moved several opportunities to share your story outside of the formal essay section and into the application itself.  So just how do you go about preparing to answer these short questions?  The preparation is remarkably similar to how you should be approaching the main essays.
Sounds simple, but you must always be thinking of how you look compared to someone else with the exact same background, cultural experience and involvement because trust us, they are out there.Everyone thinks of themselves as unique, but when you are placed into a pile with other folks who work in a similar industry, you suddenly are not so unique anymore! The challenge comes when you are limited to just a few sentences (or even characters in some cases) to get your point across.  There’s no room for dramatic storytelling or elaborate embellishment, but you still need to explain why something mattered to you or how it has shaped you.
You will need to be able to selectively draw from your basket of experience to answer your short questions in a way that presents the right amount of balanced evidence.  The key word is balance.  Business schools like to admit candidates with the “total package,” that is, they possess a broad offering of skills and experience.  It’s not enough to just be the best darn leader your company has ever seen.  If you can’t work well in teams, schools will pass on you.  Are you mature with great strengths in teamwork, but lack the creative spark of innovation?  Schools may pass.   
Sometimes, when you work to examine how you are balanced, you will end up revealing an area where you need to go out and bolster your experience further.  That’s why it’s good to do this early in the application process.  Ultimately, the information you offer in the short answer questions is just as vital as the info in your essays.  Don’t be fooled into thinking these are throwaway questions.  The ability to concisely and completely answer a question with a very limited word restriction is an exercise in restraint and economy that demonstrates a very valuable skill in itself to the admissions committees.  Don’t blow your chance to impress them!
We are adept at drawing out your best approach to discovering exactly what will resonate with the adcoms because we have seen what works and doesn’t work. Knowing how to draw this out is very different from telling a school “what they want to hear,” which is a horrible approach to b-school applications.Give us a chance to help bring out the best you have to offer. If you are interested in any of our consulting services, please 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

_________________


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

Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog

Download "How To Apply" Guides | INSEAD | Columbia | Harvard | Wharton

Kudos [?]: 218 [0], given: 220

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Use a matrix approach to show balance across your MBA application [#permalink]

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New post 06 Sep 2016, 02:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Use a matrix approach to show balance across your MBA application
One thing we generally recommend to clients is to use a traditional matrix approach to ensure you are communicating a balance of core essentials to the MBA admissions committees.  If you use this approach, you will be much more organized as you apply and will also be able to quickly ascertain where you may be coming up short.  How does it work?Start by listing core competencies that you would like to showcase in your application.  Some suggestions for what adcoms are looking for: Leadership, Creativity, Intelligence, Maturity of vision/perspective, and Teamwork skills.  These are some of the critical areas that all business schools desire to see in their applicants.
Make a grid on a piece of paper with these attributes across the top columns.  Now on the left side of the grid, list the areas down the vertical rows that are covered by the short answer questions (by the way, this also works with the long essay topics).  For example, if there is a question in your application about your short and long term goals, write “short term goals” and “long term goals” in separate rows.  Make sure you skip some rows between each topic to give you space to fill in information about yourself.  
Now comes the easy part.  Simply revisit your experience in your mind, and jot down what you see as relevant or compelling information about each topic.  Don’t worry about whether or not you get everything exactly right, just stream your thoughts.  Once you have the rows filled in, go across the grid and check off boxes which you think are adequately demonstrated by that piece of information.For example, if your short term goal is to work in investment banking, and your background is analyst work in an investment bank, you can check off the “maturity” box as well as likely the “teamwork” box, since you probably worked in a team environment and your post MBA goal selection demonstrates a mature vision and plan (because it builds upon something you did in the past).   If you feel something is detrimental to a particular area, or does not demonstrate leadership, creativity, teamwork, intelligence or maturity, give yourself an X in that box.  
Of course by the end of the exercise, you will have a scorecard from which you can see where you are strong and where you are weak regarding these four critical areas.  If you don’t have any checks in the leadership column, for example, you should dig deeper into your experience to try and draw out examples of such.  Feeling like your information communicates immaturity in some way?  Try to tighten up your goals and plans or think of a situation you’ve had to handle which required wisdom.  Thinking your job was a bit independent of working with others?  Draw out examples of how you work in teams in your extracurricular activities. Sometimes, this exercise will expose an area where you need to go out and bolster your experience further.  That’s why it’s good to do this early in the application process.  Staying organized with a matrix approach can really help make sure you aren’t leaving anything critical out of your application!

If you are interested in any of our consulting services, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com. This is how we think about the process - from every angle. It's not enough to know yourself and the story you want to tell, you have to a disciplined approach to understanding the challenges, obligations, and desires of your audience as well. We're here to help with all that and we do it at a higher level than anyone out there.Permalink
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

Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog

Download "How To Apply" Guides | INSEAD | Columbia | Harvard | Wharton

Kudos [?]: 218 [0], given: 220

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Tips for reapplying to business school: Getting feedback, determining  [#permalink]

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New post 07 Sep 2016, 00:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Tips for reapplying to business school: Getting feedback, determining why you got dinged
If you have decided to give another attempt at a school where you were rejected, one of the most valuable things you can seek is feedback on why you didn’t make the cut last time.Some schools will actually provide this information if you ask for it, so don’t be shy about reaching back to them. If you are applying to a school in the top 10, you may not be able to get specifics from the admissions teams on why you didn’t get in due simply to the number of MBA applications they receive, but you can still seek this information from outside sources by confiding in a colleague or contact who has their MBA, or perhaps some insight into the process. At the very least, you should sit down with your application and try as objectively as possible to see where you may have come up short. If you have trouble finding such shortcomings, it may simply be the case that there were too many applicants similar to you in the pool last year, and the resulting mathematical odds did not go your way. If you find yourself at a complete loss for why you were rejected—call us. We can likely help you get to the bottom of it.
Assessing your weaknesses is critical in a reapplication scenario, since you may find favor this year with the very same admissions committee that rejected you in the past if you can somehow inoculate their concerns.Of course there are the obvious weaknesses such as a sub- par GMAT score or low GPA, or perhaps you went to a low-ranked state college (nothing you can do about that now of course except to maybe take a course or two at a better school). The tricky part comes in the more subtle components of the application. Perhaps your career vision was not clearly connected to what you did in your past, or maybe you failed to convey a passionate, compelling case for why you need the MBA. Often, it comes down to a failure of message. It could be that the overall picture you painted was not articulated in a way that captured the attention of the MBA admissions committee. How was the overall fit with your target programs? Was there something in your application that communicated a poor match with their culture or curriculum? These are the questions that can truly drive you crazy, since it’s largely guesswork, but they are vital to consider.
Once you have some clear thoughts on why you didn’t get in, you can then formulate a fresh approach to your current application.Don’t forget, that of primary concern to the admissions committees this time around will be what you have accomplished since the last application that now makes you a better candidate. If you can clearly articulate such achievements, you will at the very least give the admissions committees a compelling reason to consider letting you in this year.
If you are a re-applicant to top MBA programs, let us help you start off the right way. Email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.It's not enough to know yourself and the story you want to tell, you have to understand the challenges, obligations, and desires of your audience as well. We're here to help with all that and we do it at a higher level than anyone out there.

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Weighing the pros and cons of getting an MBA outside of the US [#permalink]

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New post 08 Sep 2016, 01:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Weighing the pros and cons of getting an MBA outside of the US
Heads up, today's post is for the Americans among us, as we have been getting a lot of questions about international MBA programs.If you are a US citizen trying to decide where you want to get your MBA degree, it can be tempting to think about schools outside the USA.  After all, the world knows no boundaries thanks to technology and a global marketplace. Right? Spending a couple of years in Spain, England or Asia also sound like nice places to see new things and meet new people while you sharpen your business acumen.  And since most programs at reputable business schools are in English, you won’t face the language barrier that may have stopped you otherwise.  Seems like a slam dunk? Read on ... 
While there may be many enticing reasons to matriculate outside the US, there are several factors to consider making sure it is a good decision.  First and foremost, you need to assess your short and long term career goals.  Do you plan to live and spend the bulk of your career overseas?  If so, this actually may be a good option for you, since the reputations of schools outside the US carry the most gravitas in the region where they are located.  Much like a top regional school in the US, many programs in Europe and Asia are best known by employers who are located nearby.  Certainly there are a handful of schools across the pond whose renown extends globally, but for the most part, just like in the US, these schools are limited and very selective.
Even if you can get admitted to an LBS or an IE, however, it still does not mean that it’s the best place for you to go to school.  Remember that business degrees are fairly sticky, meaning that graduates tend to stay and work within an 8 hour car drive of their chosen MBA program’s home base.    This means your post MBA network will be concentrated in a geographic region nearby the school.  If you plan to stay in this area, then getting an MBA nearby is a good plan.  If you plan to return to the US, however, it may not be as wise.   Additionally there are the economic differences.  Many people don’t realize that accounting standards are completely different in the US and elsewhere, which could make a finance career more challenging if you go to school in one place and work in another.  Finally, there are all the visa issues to think about.   If you can’t find a sponsor company or are otherwise unable to obtain the rights to work within the network of your chosen institution, you could be setting yourself up for challenges when trying to get a job.
Getting an MBA outside the US may seem glamorous, but it’s not the same thing as studying abroad.  It’s more akin to “going all in” on your chosen region.   If you plan to work in the US, even if it’s for an internationally established corporation, it might be just as beneficial for you to participate in a global study experience or even an international internship instead of committing your entire two years to a market where you don’t plan to work long term.
Weighing the pros and cons of a top international MBA program? We can help you vet your best options. If you are just starting out on your admissions journey, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com for a free consultation.
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Getting a job in the entertainment industry with an MBA [#permalink]

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New post 11 Sep 2016, 11:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Getting a job in the entertainment industry with an MBA
Working in the Entertainment Industry is the ultimate career goal for some. The Glitz, the Glamour, and the Gluttony beckon folks from far and wide to Hollywood, New York, Canada, London, and even Bollywood to work. It is a well-known truism that breaking into this super-fortified fortress of employment is not just difficult, it’s notoriously the most impossible industry in the world to catch a break and get your foot in the door. How can you find a way in?In the old days, nepotism ruled, and if your father or mother worked for a film studio, for example, then you had a shot.

“We recommend a book called “Wannabe: A Would-Be Player’s Misadventures in Hollywood,” by Everett Weinberger.”

This was only exacerbated by the unions, exclusive clubs which still rule the film industry today. But what if your desire is to work away from the film set, and ultimately land a job deep behind the scenes, perhaps at the home office of a major studio, where all the accounting, finance and strategy work is done? Perhaps an MBA from a top school is the ticket? After all, the Harvard Business School directory is lousy with industry professionals, and other top schools have found tremendous success in sending alumni to Disney, Paramount, Universal and the like. I mean, somebody has to actually run the business behind the hullabaloo and brouhaha, right?
We have good news and bad news.The good news is, there are plenty of jobs for MBAs in the film industry, and studios do indeed have openings for applicants with a preference for MBAs. The bad news is, it’s just as competitive as the more “creative” roles in the industry and there is also plenty of resistance in the film industry in particular against the highly educated. Whether it be insecurity, intimidation or “they need to put in the blood sweat and tears like I did” attitude, the “biz” is replete with folks eager to reject newly minted MBA holders and thereby exact their revenge on a world, perhaps, where they had been rejected themselves at some point.
One thing we have seen very practically demonstrated through our own consulting clients, however, is that the better the school, the better the chances you have at landing a cushy job in the corner cubicle at Hollywood and Vine.The subtle nuances that make your story shine with the Adcoms will likely also be what will help you appeal to Entertainment Industry hiring managers. Demonstrating an extra measure of passion, creativity and even whimsy will provide the uniqueness that works both in MBA admissions and in Hollywood. Standing out means getting in—on both fronts. Never underestimate the power of a good school’s network, but don’t think that there is one specific school out there that will increase your odds of breaking in either. It’s way more about you than your school at the end of the day.
Another thought: The Entertainment Industry has expanded well beyond Hollywood since the digital revolution, so if you long for a career amongst the creative, don’t forget about gaming, podcasting, digital distribution and virtual reality, to name just a few of the myriad options out there.There has never been a better time to blend your MBA for a career in entertainment, just be wise in your course selection and build you own original qualifications check sheet, ideally leveraging coursework outside the MBA to prepare you for this unique world. Most MBA programs will allow for electives across the university—another good reason to aim for a top program, where the offerings will be both high quality, and known by recruiters. But getting that top MBA is the first step. If you want to read more about how to use an MBA to crack the Hollywood nut, we recommend a book called “Wannabe: A Would-Be Player’s Misadventures in Hollywood,” by Everett Weinberger, who tried to leverage his Ivy League education and MBA to get into the production side of film.
Want to understand all options, including those for an MBA in the entertainment industry? If you are just starting out on your admissions journey, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com for a free consultation.

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Can I get into Harvard Business School with a 650 GMAT? [#permalink]

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New post 15 Sep 2016, 14:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Can I get into Harvard Business School with a 650 GMAT?
Can I get into Harvard Business School with a 650 GMAT?Yes you can.But it becomes statistically less and less likely every year.  One thing is certain:  there’s lots of folks out there who have cracked the code on the formidable GMAT exam and scores continue to rise to stratospheric levels, pushing the average up, of course.  Most schools publish the percentages of each level of the GMAT who gain admission every year, but Harvard is an exception.  They keep this information close to the vest and will only say that the GMAT is “very important” in the admissions process and state their median GMAT score each year (it was 730 for class of 2015).   Based upon the published stats from other top schools, it’s safe to say that not very many applicants with a 650 are getting into HBS.  In fact, at other leading (top 10-ish) schools who do publish their percentages, fewer than 12% of the applicants have GMATs under 650 and fewer than 9% of admitted applicants have below that mark. 
This puts you in a tight spot indeed if you are trying to get in with a 650.  Not only are there very few applicants who are admitted with that score, there are far more applicants who achieved that score than those who achieved higher.  Simply put, you are a small fish in a very big pond, and the odds of catching a baited hook are low.
A more telling statistic in the case of HBS is their score range, which they do indeed publish and as of last year was 550-780.  So technically, you can get into HBS with only a 550 on the GMAT!  Don’t you feel relieved?  What the number doesn’t tell you is that the person who had the 550 also developed a cure for cancer, or built a post-atmospheric earth orbiting vehicle out of spare parts from their garage, or some other incredible feat.  If only HBS would officially publish an 80% range like other schools, we’d have a better idea at least of the extreme ends of scores for the remaining 20% (within which lies the 650).
The point, I guess is, the devil is in the details.Can someone get in with a 650?  Yes indeed someone can.  Can YOU get into Harvard with your 650?  It all depends on the story behind the score.  Focus on what you have achieved that is extraordinary and what you offer that is unique and different than the average HBS applicant (keeping in mind the “average” HBS applicant is pretty impressive), and at least you will have the best shot with that 650 that you can possibly have.  We would be happy to help you develop your story so it will position you as well as possible. 
If you would like to discuss your candidacy further during a complimentary consultation, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us online at www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.

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A show of hands at HBS -  who here has over a 750 GMAT score?

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Why MBA Candidates Should Ditch the Phrase "Safety School" [#permalink]

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New post 24 Sep 2016, 13:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Why MBA Candidates Should Ditch the Phrase "Safety School"
Today we are going to take the term "Safety School" and put it through the shredder.  Reasonable minds can probably disagree on what the term should mean, but what I want to do is explain why I personally do not believe that "Safety School" should be part of an MBA applicant's lexicon.  

“Put the right list of schools together and then attack that list in a way that gives you the best chance at results - so that you don’t have to resort to applying to sure bets.”

First, the term is used incorrectly about 90% of the time.When applicants say "safety school," what they often mean is "a school that is really good but that hopefully I have a better chance to get into."  If you are using the term this way, just as a shorthand, that is fine but make sure that it's clarified with anyone you are working with, such as your consultant.  The real use for "safety school" should probably translate more or less to "a sure bet."  With college applicants - due to the pressure to be enrolled on an exact timeline (following high school graduation, of course) - a "safety school" is a very real thing; you simply have to pick some programs that you are sure to get into.  Often this means a program from that student's home state, sometimes with sheer numerical thresholds (lacking holistic admissions processes).  If you go to school in California and have a certain matrix of GPA and test scores, you can feel "safe" about getting into certain Cal-State programs.  That's a safety school.  Ross and Duke Fuqua are not safety schools.  Now, what if you are using the term in the right way?
Second, if the term *is* being used correctly, it means you should not apply to that school.Look, getting an MBA is not going to college.  The ROI is only really there if going to this school elevates your path and builds your credentials.  If you attend a school that you were sure to get into all along, there's no way that program is taking you to new heights.  It's paradoxical to approach it that way.  Now, there might be the minute possibility that an elite applicant would uniquely benefit from a low-ranked regional school, thus creating the rare situation where a school is both completely safe and also appropriate to attend, but we're talking once in a blue moon here.  The reality is that the schools you want to attend are not going to be sure bets and, alternativelythe sure bets are not going to be schools you want to attend. 
Third, the use of the term creates an attitude that permeates the application and impacts results.Guess who is always the very first to figure out when you view a school as a "safety school"?  The person reading your file!  If you view UCLA or Darden as a safety school, they are going to figure that out in about five seconds.  And if you are a great applicant - an amazing applicant, even - and they feel like they are your fifth choice, you probably won't get in there.  It is absolutely not uncommon for people to get "weird" admissions decisions or results that "don't make sense."  They feel this way because they get into Wharton and dinged at Yale.  Or they get into MIT and denied at Haas.  Or in at Columbia and waitlisted at Duke.  How can this happen?  That's a refrain we hear all the time.  Well, it can happen because all of these schools are elite, they are all looking for different things, and - most of all - they are going to engage in a certain amount of yield protection.  Ever wonder how some of these programs have yield rates (the number of admits who ultimately enroll) up around 60 or 70 percent?  It's not because the campus is so breathtaking that nobody can ever say no - it's because admissions officers are good at sussing out who is more likely to actually attend.  "Will this person actually enroll?" is often a tie breaking question in admissions committee and its an omnipresent consideration for readers as they go through files.  The point of all this is that if you treat a school like it's a "safety," your essays will almost certainly reflect that attitude, and that might ultimately lead to you squandering the very strong mathematical odds you were banking on in the first place.  
What we encourage instead of putting "safety schools" on your list is to instead use a two-step approach for creating a strategic list of schools: 1. Seek safety in numbers, not schools.  Rather than trying to find sure bets, simply make sure you have plenty of bets on the board.  You have multiple rounds to work with and many schools are shrinking their essays, so applying to five schools should be well within reach for each candidate.  Make sure to have a list 5-6 schools deep, so that you can diversify your bets and give yourself more chances.  If you are qualified, you structure your essays correctly, and you hit the DNA of all five schools (this is of paramount importance), the chances that you will go 0-for-5 are low, even if you pick five schools that you actually want to attend (imagine that!).  Those odds will be better still if you...
2. Run a selectivity filter over your entire list.  There are a lot of fantastic business schools, both in the U.S. and abroad.  Our advice to clients is to use the whole of that list to balance out your own mix of schools in a way that features some varying levels of selectivity.  How hard a school is to get into should not govern your choices completely, of course, but it's a good thing to lay over the top.  We say: pick 10 you would love to attend, then pull your 5-6 based on tiers of difficulty.  You will be surprised when you sort things by selectivity that you get surprising results.  NYU is much harder to get into than Booth, for instance (they have the same number of apps each year, but Booth has almost 200 more students in the class), so while Booth makes a great 4th or 5th choice on an elite candidate's list, NYU does not (even though Booth is "better" by almost every measure).  Haas is very small and in a very popular location, so is therefore very, *very* selective - it is not an ideal program to "toss onto the list" at #5 or #6 just because it is ranked below the first four schools on your wish list.  And it goes without saying that a list with only HBS, Stanford, Wharton, and MIT is basically setting the highest degree of difficulty possible.  It might still be someone's list, but it's sure not very "safe."  
In the end, you want to approach all of this with a word we keep using in so many posts - respect.  Be respectful of all these schools and know they have pride and passion for their programs, such that they won't respond to you if you believe you are too good for them or somehow a slam dunk for their school.  It's going to bleed through your essays and they will ding you just as readily as Stanford or HBS.  So take the time to find five or six schools you really want to attend and that offer varying chances of success and then throw yourself into pursing each one of them with gusto.  You will appreciate each one more, they will certainly appreciate you far more, and, in the end, you will ultimately have only choices you actually want.  And that's the entire goal in the first place.  
If you are prepared to not say the words "safety school" on a free initial consult, we want to chat with you!  :) Email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com and we can get you started with a comprehensive package that puts the right list of schools together and then attacks that list in a way that gives you the best chance at results - so that you don't have to resort to applying to sure bets.  

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MBA applicants really should avoid applying to their safety schools.

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Most Common Mistakes on Round 1 MBA Essays [#permalink]

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New post 27 Sep 2016, 23:02
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Most Common Mistakes on Round 1 MBA Essays
I just saw a whole lot of MBA essays over the past few months and now that Round 1 is (mostly) finished, I thought it would be an interesting exercise to jot down the most common mistake I saw for each of the most common essays I worked on with clients.  Round 2 clients can get a leg up by simply avoiding these traps.  
 HBSAs we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?Most common mistake:Trying to dazzle the reader, rather than engage the reader.  This essay is a golden chance to draw a reader in, build on an impressive resume, and make them fall in love with you as a complete person.  Far too many candidates follow their intuition to the wrong place, trying to prove how smart or impressive they are. 
GSB Essay 1 What matters most to you and why?  Most common mistake:This one is an either/or situation, where the candidate fails to either be generous in attributing where their values come from (a stunning number of people fell into this camp this year) or they fail to pivot towards making an impact at some point in the essay.  Anything that matters most to you should offer both the chance to praise others (for teaching this to you) and also show how you impact the world.  Otherwise you have picked the wrong topic. 
GBS Essay 2Why Stanford?Most common mistake:  Candidates writing about themselves (or their business ideas, industries, societal problems, etc.) instead of Stanford.  Yes, you want to quickly state your goals for context, but be sure to really identify Why GSB.  If you just write more about yourself in this essay - after they gave you a whole 750-word essay for that - you will miss the mark completely. 
Wharton Essay 1 What do you hope to gain professionally from the Wharton MBA? Most common mistake:Overreaching on the short-term goal and/or not hedging with an alternative path.  Shooting the moon on your immediate post-graduation goal is not the play at Wharton, where a career services professional runs the admissions office now.  


Wharton Essay 2 Teamwork is at the core of the Wharton MBA experience with each student contributing unique elements to our collaborative culture. How will you contribute to the Wharton community? Most common mistake: Failing to "prove" a specific perspective.  Many candidates fall into the trap of just rattling off things they will get involved in at Wharton and/or saying they are a great teammate.  What Wharton is looking for is: "what specific angle or insight you bring to this place where we value knowledge?"  A great Wharton 2 not only articulates some interesting angles that you can bring to campus, but shows how you came about those insights.  
Booth Photo Essay View this collection of shared Booth moments. Choose the moment that best resonates with you and tell us why. Most common mistake:Failure to create a comprehensive theme.  The "respond to one of these moments" thing is causing people to fall way short of what a real, quality presentation needs to be and what it needs to convey.   You can't just put the photo on top and then have a few slides why you like it - use the photo to be creative in coming up with a theme that works off that, creates structure, and then moves through critical messages.  (Bonus: if you choose a photo of an individual, don't put the "Booth moment" on the title slide - put a photo of YOU and then introduce the photo.  Otherwise, the reader can't help but have the picture of the GrubHub guy or the Giving a Presentation guy in their mind the whole time.) 
MIT Cover Letter Prepare a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Senior Director of MBA Admissions. Most common mistake:Writing about your goals.  MIT doesn't care about your goals, so to use any of your precious 250 words on that is a massive wasted opportunity.  Probably no coming back from it, honestly. 
Columbia Essay 1 Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date.  What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them?  Most common mistake: Talking about what you can do, rather than why you want to do it.  Most people understand that they have to articulate WHAT their goals are and WHERE they want to pursue them (at Columbia), but in the middle, it is crucial to explain WHY you hold the goals you do - what motivates you, what inspires you, what gets you out of bed every morning and makes you want to pursue this as your life's work.  This is essential in any goals essay, but especially when they tell you point blank that they have a "clear sense of your professional path to date."  Yet so many candidates want to re-prove that case of "here is what I can do," even when the school is explicitly saying don't do that. 
Columbia Essay 2 Columbia Business School’s students participate in industry focused New York Immersion Seminars; in project based Master Classes; and in school year internships.  Most importantly, our students are taught by a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners.  How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business.”  Most common mistake: I see a lot of errors on this one, but the most common is to misfire on the examples they give right in the question.  Some people simply parrot back Immersion Seminar,s Master Classes, in-year internships, and blended faculty (both academics and practitioners).  Others fail to cover those things at all.  Ideally, you can build at least part of your case for "Why I want to go to Columbia and have NYC as my classroom" around the things they are proudly mentioning - but in doing so, you have to go deeper and more specific.  Name a Master Class.  Highlight some faculty members.  Show some passion and spark.  
Columbia Essay 3CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level.  What will people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you?  Most common mistake: Forgetting to address "pleasantly."  There needs to be some benefit to the people in your Cluster; some value to CBS.  If you just talk about something surprising, but fail to share how you will bring this with you and benefit others, you are only handling half the question.  
If time allows, I will try to hit a few more schools and run down other common mistakes in the essays.  For now, good luck with your Round 1 results and to Round 2 clients, give us a call soon if you want to work with us on your apps. 
If you are interesting in working with us for Round 2, we are offering some promos through October, so email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.  


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Monday MBA Resource: Knowledge@Wharton Podcast [#permalink]

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New post 03 Oct 2016, 11:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Monday MBA Resource: Knowledge@Wharton Podcast
Trying something new for Mondays, which is to pass along my favorite MBA resource that I found that weekend.  It's a good way to start the week, a way to get great tools out into the MBA community, and, quite frankly, a good for me to remember these items myself so I can show them to future candidates and corporate clients.  Today's Resource is the Knowledge@Wharton podcastWho Hosts It: Wharton's business journal Knowledge@Wharton puts these on.  The host is Dan Loney, who is a total pro as a broadcaster and does a great job on this.  
What It Is: A podcast that puts up 3-5 episodes a week covering topics that cover a broad range of areas that would be interesting to just about anyone connected to the MBA experience.  They can range from more "skill" or "self-help" type topics (such as "The Right Way to Take Risks - in Business and Life") to more hardcore informational topics ("The Private Equity Outlook in Latin America, India and Africa").  They run about 20-25 minutes in most episodes and are almost always centered around interviews with several guests.  It might be an author with a new book out, a professor wanting to highlight a key issue, or just the podcast reacting to a hot-button issue (such as the EpiPen price scandal).  
Why You Might Benefit: I'm thinking largely of my clients here, so from that POV I think the biggest benefit is it does two things at the same time: A) broadens your talking points (I work with almost all PE clients, for instance, and I find it helps me to hear about Healthcare, marketing, etc. - I can only imagine how true that would be for an actual client who is inside a myopic industry or company), and B) takes you into little deep dives on hot topics.  It all has a way to moving the brain away from "my life, day to day, what I'm focused on for work and play" and towards the wide-ranging topics and conversations of business school. Could be very helpful in an interview setting and definitely would be a good way to "reprogram" your brain before classes start in year one. 
Where You Might NOT Benefit: Don't allow these dips into industries and hot topics impact your essay writing.  Readers won't to know about you, what you care about, who molded you, your passions, etc.  They don't want you to dive deep into EpiPens or changing food patterns among buyers.  My only concern in recommending this podcast to b-school applicants is they might lean into an already prevalent tendency to wax poetic about industries and business problems, rather than talk about themselves.  So don't do that!  
My Favorite Episode To Date: How Millennial Consumers Will Transform Healthcare
Here is the iTunes link to subscribe.  If you are looking help with your applications, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.  We have seen what the competition is doing and we can say without a doubt that we go deeper, more strategic, and generate better results with our methods.  Line up a call and find out for yourself.  

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Monday MBA Resource: "Happy Ambition" by Ben Casnocha [#permalink]

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New post 10 Oct 2016, 13:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Monday MBA Resource: "Happy Ambition" by Ben Casnocha
Time for another edition of Monday MBA Resource, where we share the things we are reading, watching, and listening to that might be helpful to people in the MBA community.  Some are more focused on applicants, others are better for students, some for both - but all of them offer great insights that are worth soaking up.  Last week we broke down the Knowledge @Wharton podcast and people seem to really be enjoying it. Let's hope we can keep it up with this next entry, which is the article: "Happy Ambition: Striving for Success, Avoiding Status Cocaine, and Prioritizing Happiness" by Ben Casnocha. Who Wrote it: Ben Casnocha is the co-author of The Alliance (he wrote this with LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman and Chris Yeh) and the co-author of The Start-Up of You (also with Reid Hoffman).  He writes, speaks, starts businesses ... basically has a lot of different perspectives to draw from.  
What It's About: At its core, this is about the psychological reasons we all work so hard, but what I love is that it goes another level - it proposes that there is a way we can recognize this is happening and change the pattern.  I find that many articles merely point out cognitive biases or psychological tendencies, without offering much guidance on how to identify it happening or, better, reverse it.  And make no mistake: some of these are challenging ideas.  Avoid working too hard by launching more ventures?  Physically move?  Seek out the less elite situation?  If you give this article a chance, you will be surprised at what starts to make a whole lot of sense.  (It may also validate some of the choices you have already made but weren't sure about, which can be equally valuable.) 
Who It Benefits: Honestly, I think this one is for everyone.  Current applicants may realize (like some of my clients did in past years) that a school like Booth is better for them than HBS, just from reading this.  Or a current MBA might see a new job path open up or a different firm become viable, purely from shifting perspective.  I had a client a few years ago who desperately wanted to go to HBS, but wound up at Booth for $ reasons - and is so incredibly happy to be there.  It was much better for him, which is something he sees clearly now.  But it took financial reasons to force that on him.  Imagine if we could all see those options more clearly on our own? 

If you are looking help with your applications, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.  We have seen what the competition is doing and we can say without a doubt that we go deeper, more strategic, and generate better results with our methods.  Line up a call and find out for yourself.  
 


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Responding to your HBS decision (2016) [#permalink]

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New post 10 Oct 2016, 22:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Responding to your HBS decision (2016)
This Wednesday (October 12) is one of those days on the calendar that tend to stop everyone in their tracks and dominate the headlines.  Nevermind that the Duke Fuqua or Dartmouth Tuck deadlines are right around the corner - no, it's all about the final HBS Round 1 notification deadline.  Interview or ding?  Rather, interview or ding or deferral, as that appears to be a popular option this year as well.  Let's make sense of things and offer some advice on how to respond from here.  We'll group it result-by-result.INTERVIEWIf you got an interview, congratulations.  You probably found this out last week, as for the second year in a row the "three notification dates" was a bit of a misnomer.  My best guess is that the majority of the interview invites went out last week, just as they did on the first date last year.  I don't know why HBS is going through the charade of doing it this way, but by next year, everyone will basically know that if they didn't get an interview on the first notification date, they are just waiting to see if it's a deny or a deferral.  Now, if you DID get an interview, obviously I don't need to tell you to feel good about it because you already do.  You are halfway (or better) home to an admit from HBS and you got some validation very early in the process.  That said, there are a few things I find myself telling many clients, so they are worth posting here. 
1. Don't change your plans.It's one thing to lock up an admit to Sloan or Columbia and let that change your plans (get more aggressive with top schools and so forth), because it's an admit - it's a bird in hand.  An interview is obviously not an admit.  Even if you are amazing in interviews, even if you have the charisma of Brad Pitt, don't change a thing about what you are doing.  Stick to whatever plan you laid out for yourself at the beginning. 
2. Bunch your prep.What I mean by this is first set your interview date and then set up your prep to take place within a window fairly near that date.  You may be excited about getting an interview, but it does no good to race off and practice and do mock interviews 3-4 weeks before the actual interview.  Any refinement will be lost at that point.  You want to set up your prep work about 7-10 days before the real thing - close enough to keep it fresh, but far enough out that you can incorporate any feedback. 
3. Own your goals; get to know HBS.If you were a client of mine, you probably do own your goals and you know exactly why you want to go to HBS.  However, due to the open-ended nature of the essay this year, many applicants might not have done those things.  If you walk into an HBS interview and don't know exactly what you want to do with your life (and why) and if you don't have a really deep and detailed understanding of HBS and what makes it special, you are at a severe disadvantage.  In many ways, if you did not build up to this point with a good consultant or at least good advice, you are kind of starting from scratch.  
4. Start thinking about the post-interview writing assignment.This is not something that you want to be too polished (HBS has gone to great lengths to make sure you know this, to the point where I joke that you should make an intentional grammar error just to make it look nice and scruffy), but you do want to it to be well thought out.  Think about what you might cover in the interview and what you have said so far in your app, and what might be left for you to say.  Consider the talking points you want to bring with you to HBS and then, when the interview is over, you will be able to see which ones are left and you can build upon something unsaid to bring real depth and meaning to a tricky assignment. 
DEFERRALIf you got a deferral, well, I hope you like limbo, because you are now going to be just hanging out for about 3-4 months as you wait for HBS to collect its Round 2 wave and see what it has.  The pragmatist looks at what HBS is doing and thinks "they must have had a huge Round 1 application haul; they clearly want to see what they have before they commit too many spots, while also making sure they don't punt away some great candidates."  The cynic looks at what HBS is doing and says, "Boy, they really think they are something; they have no respect for their applicants."  The strategist looks at this and says, "Okay, how does this fit with what HBS is doing more generally?" 
On that front, I would say do this: convert the word "limbo" to "ambiguity" and then read literally anything I have written about HBS in the past two years and you will see where I am going with this.  HBS wants to see how you deal with ambiguity!  That's the name of the game.  They have added post-interview assignments, they have made the essay open-ended, and now they have used an aggressive deferment strategy.  All of those things create massive amounts of ambiguity for the applicants and I honestly believe the are taking note of who handles it well.  
So … what should you do? 
1. Keep your spurs from jangling.See above - they are trying to measure how well you deal with all of this, so the best thing to do is stay low and stay cool.  If they deferred you, they clearly like you and were very interested.  They just either don't want to overcommit too many spots too early or they want to see how you handle things.  If you leap at them like a cougar, you are toast.  If you hang back and play it confident, your chances seem pretty good.  (Note: I have said the same thing to waitlisted HBS clients in the past, to great effect.)  
2. Call in those favors, so long as the favor is handled correctly.This is for the "should I have so-and-so call and put in a word?" question.  The answer is almost always "yes … as long as it is done right."  What does "right" mean?  It means respectfully. 
"Hi there, Adam Hoff here, CEO extraordinaire.  I wanted to give you a call on behalf of John Doe, who is currently deferred.  Look, I don't want to presume anything and I would never in a million years pretend to know who should or should not get into HBS, nor am I trying to influence the way you do your job.  This call is for me.  I just know that I feel so strongly about John that I'd be kicking myself if I didn't pick up the phone." That is how to do it, basically.  It's all about proper deference and deep passion.  If someone can't say they words "I'd be kicking myself if I didn't put in a word for him/her" - meaning they don't feel that strongly about it - then don't ask them.  "Hey there, I'm calling on behalf of … let's see here … oh, right, John Doe, who is one my cousin's top associates at blah-blah-blah private equity…" is not the right way to do it.  If it feels like that person is just doing someone a favor and peddling influence, it will either not work or it will harm your chances (because it offends the person on the other end of the phone).
To summarize: only have someone place a call if they really are so passionate about it that thy would hate themselves for not doing it, and then make sure that they call in a really respectful way.  
DINGEDIf you've been dinged, I am honestly very sorry.  HBS was a lot of work this year and if you did the essay right, there was a lot of "you" on the page.  It's difficult enough to be rejected, but when you've really put yourself out there, it's even harder.  That said, there is a game plan for this as well: 
1. Remind yourself of what you knew when you started.Which is that HBS is the second-hardest school to get into by the numbers and maybe the hardest in reality (when you account for who makes up these applicant pools).  HBS is often the dream, but it's rarely the reality.  I have been blessed to see a lot of client get the admit from Harvard over the past three years (and got some great interview news this year as well, by and large), but there are still lots of dings in that mix - and I'm only taking on top-flight people I truly believe in.  It's just the nature of the beast.  You can't let yourself feel uniquely victimized by this result, nor should you ever take it personally.   (Also don't play the "I can't believe I didn't at least get an interview" game.  They only interview about 18% of the applicant pool; ie, the acceptance rate at Wharton.  Besides, moral victories are pointless - they mean nothing.)
2. Do not waste any time trying to diagnose a "reason."Maybe you were too old, maybe your GPA was too low, maybe your work experience did not indicate enough leadership, maybe, maybe, maybe.  Honestly?  Who cares.  It doesn't matter.  There is a very low chance you will reapply to HBS and if you do, that won't be for about 11 months.  There is no use trying to figure out a "why" because there is nothing to do with that information.  
3. Keep your head up.Most of all, do not let this impact your overall strategy or how you feel about the road ahead.  A few years ago, I honestly considered ceasing the practice of taking on multi-school clients who had either Columbia ED or HBS as one of their schools.  Why?  Because those schools notify early and so if someone gets bad news, it can threaten future work.  There's no time in a breakneck process to stop and give someone 10 pep talks to get them to finish the race.  Luckily, I didn't have to make that call because my clients have proven to be mature, resilient, and resourceful.  That said, I still often to tell them to keep their head up.  Each school is its own thing, so your chances at Booth or Kellogg or Wharton or INSEAD or even Stanford have zero to do with a decision rendered by HBS.  Stick to your plan, stick to your guns, and see the whole thing to completion. 
Hopefully the above advice will prove helpful regardless of what camp you find yourself in. Good luck the rest of the way!
If you would like to learn more about how we can help you with making sense of your HBS admissions decision, and what your next steps should be, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.

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Inside the HBS Admissions Process - Chad Losee and committee deciding who is in and who is out

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Booth MBA Interviews: Current Student or Alumni? [#permalink]

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New post 12 Oct 2016, 23:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Booth MBA Interviews: Current Student or Alumni?
Interview invites are starting to pour out and driving a lot of questions.  The HBS three-wave process finally concluded and left a few people happy, a few people (deferred) confused, and a lot of people sad, given the sheer numbers at play.  Less heralded, but still incredibly newsworthy, is the fact that Booth is already sending out interview invites as well.  Given the school's meteoric and ongoing rise up all the rankings and its ability to elbow into the "best of the best" conversation, it's crucial to give the Booth questions that come up just as much airtime as mighty HBS.  And today's question - and the most common question related to Booth interviews - is: Should I interview with a second year student on campus or with an alumni member off campus? There is no easy answer to that ... but the answer still makes your life easier.  Let me explain what I mean. 
First, breaking down interviewing on campus with a second year student.  My take on this is that you are likely to get a more consistent experience going on campus.  For starters, Booth has long used second year students as part of the admissions process.  They train  them, they monitor how things go, and they have a proven track record of getting strong performances out of these individuals.  Further, because it is on campus it has a more formal feel - you aren't going to be going to someone's office in Midtown New York or interviewing at a coffee shop.  This could be a negative for someone who is super nervous or a positive for someone who wants it to feel like other interviews they have done; I am not making a value judgement just noting the difference.  One thing that I do believe is a positive though is that current students are going to be more consistently excited about Booth and to be doing this task.  Alumni members may be still doing interviews out of volition and really not into it, but a current student literally just took this job on and would seemingly be pretty into it.  I think you get a more consistent experience there as well.  
Aside from a more consistent experience, you also of course have the "going to campus" part.  For someone near Chicago, that's an easy decision.  For someone further away, it gets tougher.  Have you seen the campus before?  If yes, maybe skip the expense here.  If no, maybe you can justify the expense because you know you will want to visit the school before enrolling anyway.  Or maybe it's a sliding scale: combination of wanting a more consistent interview experience + justifying the expense as needed research = go to campus.  It's different for each person in terms of what answer they arrive at, but those are the elements to consider. 
Next, interviewing off-campus with an alumni member. Obviously, this is the opposite information.  You are likely going to get more volatility here.  Everything from setting to mood to length.  Whereas the second year student is mostly going to operate from a playbook and stick to it, an alumni member is far more likely to take things in their own direction.  That can be bad if they are moody, flustered (maybe the day is getting away from them), or otherwise affected in their own life - and if they don't have a high level of professionalism.  This is probably an unlikely scenario and I rarely hear about it with Booth (more so with Columbia, to be honest), but it's at least in play.  Also in play is that it can go amazing.  The more casual, off the grid nature, can lead to a very long interview that is a blast for both parties.  
And, obviously, all the opposite travel and logistical considerations apply here. 
Does Booth "reward" going to campus? They do not seem to, no.  They certainly don't punish it, but when they say there is no difference in their eyes to doing it on or off-campus, I believe them.  It doesn't mean the experience is going to be the same (see everything above), but I truly don't think they are assigning more value to trekking out to Booth.  Some schools (NYU, Tuck) place an extreme premium on visiting, but Booth is not one of those schools.  
So what should you do? If I wanted to visit campus, I would to it on.  If I was very far away and not wanting to invest in that trip, I would do it off.  If I liked more formal settings and that mattered a lot to me, I would do it on.  If I liked the idea of chasing a really high upside "amazing" interview and was okay with riding out the flip side (an awkward one), I might prefer off.  Or maybe a combination of these.  Each person has to decide - and at the end of the day, having the confidence to review this intel and then make a decision is actually going to have more impact on getting in than which one of these you choose. 

If you are looking help with your applications, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.  We have seen what the competition is doing and we can say without a doubt that we go deeper, more strategic, and generate better results with our methods.  Line up a call and find out for yourself.  

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Why I like the Economist MBA Rankings [#permalink]

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New post 14 Oct 2016, 18:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Why I like the Economist MBA Rankings
The latest MBA rankings from The Economist are out and people are understandably freaking out about some of the odd placements that you can find in their list.  Poets and Quants has already done an impeccable job running all this down, so I am not going to try to repeat all the great work John Byrne already did.  But you should definitely check out the P&Q piece on it.  What I want to talk about is why I am happy P&Q ran that extensive post on those rankings (rather than dismissing them) and, indeed, why I am happy these Economist rankings even exist. Whenever you have rankings that are pretty out of the norm (naming HBS the #4 school, putting Stanford outside the top 5, etc.), it is common to see people just dismiss them.  Whether it is an EU bias, a weird methodology, an attempt to be contrarian, or whatever the case, clearly The Economist comes about their rankings very differently that what we are used to (and by that I pretty much mean the U.S. News & World rankings).  They also present us with a different hierarchy than what "many people" believe is true.  A lot of people in and around the world of business schools believe that HBS and GSB are the top two schools, that Wharton, Booth, MIT, Kellogg, and Columbia round out a top seven, that LBS and INSEAD can make a case in that mix, and that you then have a mix of Tuck, Haas, etc. rounding out a national list of about 15 schools or so.  And that is a perfect fine rubric and probably won't steer you wrong.  
HOWEVER.  It can be just as dangerous to assume, over generalize, or subscribe to group think as it is to miss the boat on the consensus.  Is HBS really the end-all, be-all?  I certainly like that program and know a lot of amazing clients who have gone there, but I also know people who were miserable.  Is GSB unassailable?  Many of my former clients think so ... others have told me in close confidence it was overrated and that they got their butts kicked by Wharton and Booth grads on readiness when they went and worked at elite firms after graduating.  I have literally never had a Booth client that wasn't ecstatic about the choice - based on client feedback, I would be crazy to pick any other school as the #1 MBA program.  Should anecdotal evidence (and a small sample size at that) trump more rigorous analysis and evidence?  Of course not.  But then along comes another set of rankings and it brings to light a few things: 
First, it is healthy to consider a new set of rankings because it reminds us that "best" is not always an objective standard.  "Best" can be contextual, it can be personal, it can be situation, and it can have elements of opinion.  
Second, seeing a list that goes Booth, Kellogg, Darden, and then HBS is a great reminder that there are quite a few elite schools out there.  It's not *just* HBS and Stanford.  It's not even HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth, and then a cliff.  Even I fall victim to this thinking, but then you see a list like this and you go "oh yeah, Kellogg is pretty fantastic."  Of course it is!  But if you list it underneath three or four other schools every single time it is listed, well, you start to forget.  In other words, by merely rearranging the order of these top national programs, the Economist does us a favor - even if their list is "wrong." 
Third, it provokes a closer examination of *all* rankings methodology.  Oh, you don't like their loosey-goosey reliance on "student feedback?"  Well, how do you feel about U.S. News placing a massive 25% percentage of its overall ranking on "peer assessment"?  Seriously, 1/4 of what makes up the Holy Grail of rankings is based on what a bunch of b-school deans think about the each other's schools.  Are you kidding me?  If you've ever wondered why the U.S. News rankings don't change much, it's because cognitive bias plays into it so heavily - of course people are going to vote the same schools the best year after year ... they just told each the other the prior year that these were the best.  Is that really a more rock solid approach than soliciting student feedback? 
Overall, I love moments like this so much because they remind all of us - including me - to take a step back and avoid being a slave to rankings.  If you work at a firm that says "go get an MBA from HBS or Stanford and you can come back here to be a VP," sure, fine, put that pressure on yourself.  But otherwise, don't get caught staring at the wrong kind of leaderboard.  If you are doing value investing, why not make Columbia your #1 choice?  They certainly have an amazing program.  If you want a tight knit culture out of the rat race and hands-on help with your job search, why not really push for Tuck?  If you picture a business plan competition when you visualize b-school, why wouldn't Chicago or MIT be your top two choices?  There is no rule we all have to crawl on our hands and knees towards Alston, Massachusetts, or Palo Alto, California.  And this ranking reminds us of that. 
If you are looking help with your applications, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.  We have seen what the competition is doing and we can say without a doubt that we go deeper, more strategic, and generate better results with our methods.  Line up a call and find out for yourself.   

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Monday MBA Resource: The Charisma Myth by Cynthia Fox Cabene [#permalink]

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New post 18 Oct 2016, 10:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: Monday MBA Resource: The Charisma Myth by Cynthia Fox Cabene
Time for another edition of Monday MBA Resource, where we share the things we are reading, watching, and listening to that might be helpful to people in the MBA community.  Some are more focused on applicants, others are better for students, some for both - but all of them offer great insights that are worth soaking up.  Two weeks we broke down the Knowledge @Wharton podcast and people seem to really be enjoying it.  Last week it was one of my favorite articles in years: "Happy Ambition: Striving for Success, Avoiding Status Cocaine, and Prioritizing Happiness" by Ben Casnocha.  Let's hope we can keep it up with this next entry, which is the book: THE CHARISMA MYTH: HOW ANYONE CAN MASTER THE ART AND SCIENCE OF PERSONAL MAGNETISM by Olivia Fox CabeneWHO WROTE IT:Olivia Fox Cabene is an executive coach to Fortune 500 CEOs, a lecturer, and a writer.  She is an expert at teaching crucial, next-level behaviors to people in powerful positions.  She uses strong behavioral science principles, but also draws from her diverse background - she has dual citizenship (American and French) and speaks four languages.  
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: From her website, which sums it up quite well: 
"For the first time, science and technology have taken charisma apart,  figured it out and turned it into an applied science: In controlled laboratory experiments, researchers could raise or lower people's level of charisma as if they were turning a dial.
What you'll find here is practical magic: unique knowledge, drawn from a variety of sciences, revealing what charisma really is and how it works.  You'll get both the insights and the techniques you need to apply this knowledge. The world will become your lab, and every person you meet, a chance to experiment."
WHO IT BENEFITS: Honestly, as with last week, I think this one is for everyone.  Not only does this book actually work in the intended way - boosting levels of personal magnetism - but it also has a way of helping reframe life around us.  I know for me, reading this book helped me a great deal in being more present ("be where your feet are" is how I heard one baseball manager put it), slowing down to appreciate life as its happening, and to cut my "staring at screens" technology addiction.  And make no mistake: this book really does help you ramp up your own level of charisma.  For MBA applicants, students, and alumni members, that is huge.  How you come off to people - how much power your project and how much you own the space, jump off the page, create a spark, etc. (pick your cliche) - makes a huge difference.  I have been recommending this book for several years running to my clients as "long game" interview prep, because I think it can help transform the way people present in that setting.  But really, truly, this is a great book for everyone. 
IF YOU WANT A TEASER: Not convinced? Not a big book fan?  At least listen to this podcast episode

If you are looking help with your applications, please email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com.  We have seen what the competition is doing and we can say without a doubt that we go deeper, more strategic, and generate better results with our methods.  Line up a call and find out for yourself.  

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The Optional Essay — When to use it, and when to lose it. [#permalink]

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New post 24 Oct 2016, 11:01
FROM Amerasia MBA Blog: The Optional Essay — When to use it, and when to lose it.
Many schools have become extremely restrictive on how many essays they allow you to submit.The crushing numbers of applicants has forced schools to streamline the evaluation process and they simply do not have the staff or time to read 1000 word essays from everyone. Of course, whether you're applying there or not, you likely know that Harvard, as an extreme example, actually has no required essays as part of their application! They allow you to submit one essay if you like, but it's not technically a requirement for consideration as an MBA applicant. While we don't recommend you submit to HBS without leveraging the essay, this approach from schools highlights the fact that every word does indeed count.
Fortunately, other schools are more lenient when it comes to making your case for admission, and the Optional Essay is a good example of how schools want you to have an opportunity to make the best case possible.But when should you use it? Many schools suggest it be used to discuss anything unusual in your history, such as an arrest record, an abnormal gap in your work history or why you did not get your boss to write you a recommendation. Certainly the most common use of this essay is to apologize for past sins as an undergrad in your GPA or a significantly lower GMAT score than average. This is admittedly an overused area for optional essays.
From a GPA/GMAT perspective, it typically makes sense to use the optional essay only if your combo GPA/GMAT would be viewed as a significant weakness.Certainly if both are low, and the circumstances that resulted in a low GMAT and a low GPA are interesting or valid, you can explain it in a very succinct fashion. But if you went to a tough or highly ranked undergraduate school and had a GPA or equivalent of 3.0 or more, and a GMAT score that is well into the school's 80% range, you may consider making no apology in the optional essay. If you are still feeling a little uneasy about your metrics, instead of talking about them directly, simply highlight in other areas of the application things which address your ability to handle the b-school curriculum. Often, this is better than speaking directly to a score or GPA.
Beyond this, you should simply step back from your application and ask yourself if there is anything that jumps out as particularly disconcerting.Are you applying with only a year's worth of professional experience, for example? Or did you change jobs five times in three years? Sometimes addressing such anomalies in a simple, straightforward way is the best use of an optional essay. Your mission is to inoculate any obvious concerns the admissions committees might have based on your core qualifications. Whatever you do, just don't use it as an additional effort to argue your case. If you simply build upon the arguments in the rest of your application, you may be viewed as inept.
To find out more about your options and how we can help you with your business school application, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com or contact us via www.amerasiaconsulting.com/contact.

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Your options on the optional essay are many. Choose wisely.

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_________________


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

Schedule a Consultation | Twitter | Blog

Download "How To Apply" Guides | INSEAD | Columbia | Harvard | Wharton

Kudos [?]: 218 [0], given: 220

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