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Stacy Blackman Consulting Representative
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SBC Launches a New Series: 21 Day Projects [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: SBC Launches a New Series: 21 Day Projects

Have you ever heard the notion that it takes three weeks to form a habit? I’m a firm believer in the cumulative effects of small actions completed each and every day, but I know that lots of us need a little nudge to get them going in the right direction.

In that spirit, we’re launching a new series called 21 Day Projects. Each day for three weeks, you’ll receive an email with actionable tips that put you one step closer to whatever goal you’d like to accomplish.

If you are struggling with the discipline necessary to achieve your goals, take on the Get More Done Project and you’ll be happy to learn that habits of top performers can be replicated.

When hundreds of applicants share the basics of your resume, how do you position yourself in a way that is unique, authentic and personal? The Develop Your Brand Project will show you how.

Whether you are angling for a new job, a promotion, a spot in an MBA program or just looking to broaden opportunities, it’s all about who you know. Our Up Your Networking Game Project is for those who love to network and even more for those who hate it.

A business school resume is different from the one you use for a job search. At the end of three weeks doing the Create Your Resume Project, you’ll have a document that can help to sell you throughout your MBA application process.

Some admissions directors say that the letters of recommendation comprise the single most important aspect of your MBA application. Spend 21 days with SBC, read an email each day from the Letters of Recommendation Project, and learn how to elicit the strongest and most compelling letters from those who write on your behalf.

No matter which area you need help focusing on, subscribe today and you’ll be shocked at how much you can achieve in just 21 days if you truly put your mind to it.

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Don’t Compare Yourself with Other MBA Applicants [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Don’t Compare Yourself with Other MBA Applicants
When you’re working on business school applications, it’s only human to want to compare your qualifications to others you know who’ve already graduated from — or are currently attending — a top program. You might think that their undergraduate schools, GPAs, GMAT scores and career paths may provide insight into what adcoms are looking for, and to some extent that’s true. Alumni of or current students at prestigious business schools do represent what those programs were looking for… in the year they applied.

The problem with comparing yourself to those who applied before you is that it’s truly like comparing apples to oranges. No two years are the same. The candidate pool last year is going to be different from this year’s. And you’ll only be directly competing for a spot against a slice of that pool anyway.

What will ultimately determine whether or not you get acceptance letters or dings is how the adcom views your qualifications versus those of candidates who are in similar demographic and industry/role categories. This year. Right now. Which is something no one has any insight into but the adcoms at each school.

Another problem with comparing yourself to MBA students or fellow MBA hopefuls is that you don’t know what you don’t know. Meaning, there is much more to a person than what school they went to, their past grades, their test scores and the company they work for.

You might not even be aware of their extensive community service involvement over the past several years or the volunteer hours they’ve dedicated to a cause that was deeply personal. They may have never shared the private stories they wrote about in their essays. You’ll also never have any idea what their recommenders said about them.

We know that it would be nice to get a better sense of your “odds of admission” by comparing yourself to others, and we know you might be especially tempted to do this after you’ve submitted your materials and have a lot of anxious time on your hands while waiting for interview invites. But unfortunately it just doesn’t work that way, because no two people are exactly the same.

On the bright side, you shouldn’t let yourself get discouraged if someone with the same “on-paper” qualifications as you didn’t get into their dream school in the past. You’re not them, so their outcome truly has no bearing on what will happen to you!

So when you feel the urge to start lining up your stats against someone else’s, remember this:



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time,

The team at Stacy Blackman Consulting

***Do you want to stay on top of the application process with timely tips like these? Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter and you’ll receive our expert advice straight in your mailbox before it appears on the blog, plus special offers, promotions, discounts, invitations to events, and more.

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Tuesday Tips: INSEAD Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Tuesday Tips: INSEAD Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips
INSEAD, “the business school of the world,” is a dynamic, diverse and highly international MBA option. INSEAD is looking for ability to contribute, academic motivation, leadership potential and international motivation. Along with the basic MBA questions most other schools ask, INSEAD is looking for significant exploration of your career goals and background. Along with career aspirations and leadership experience, an international focus is important to INSEAD.

Along with this set of essays, INSEAD has a required video interview, which has to be completed within 48 hours after your intake deadline. INSEAD admissions tells candidates that “The video should be seen as a unique opportunity for you to share your passions, your motivations and who you truly are. “ Visit the INSEAD admissions overview for detailed instructions on the video essay and other components of the application.

JOB ESSAYS
Job Essay 1: Briefly summarize your current (or most recent) job, including the nature of work, major responsibilities, and where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, clients/products and results achieved. (short answer)

INSEAD advises that the job essays are more short answer than full essay, and that candidates should feel comfortable answering in one line or twenty, depending on the depth of background and information needed to answer the question.

This question focuses on your current (or most recent) work situation. Though you may want to provide relevant context for your current role, make sure you are devoting most of the space to describing the details of your day-to-day responsibilities and oversight. If you are lighter on supervising others or managing a budget, you have the opportunity to highlight some key responsibilities and results.

Job Essay 2: What would be your next step in terms of position if you were to remain in the same company? (short answer)

Once you have described what you do at work currently, INSEAD asks for you to imagine what you will do in the future. Because you are ambitious enough to be applying to an MBA program like INSEAD, you are likely on a serious career track in your current company. If your boss has already talked to you about the next step this is an easy question to answer.

If you have not explicitly discussed promotion at work, what would be the next role you would ideally pursue? If you are pursuing an MBA because you want to make a career change or because the next step at your current company is undesirable for other reasons, this may be a place to describe what that next step would be and why you do not wish to pursue it (with more context provided in the long term goal section).

Job Essay 3: Please give a full description of your career since graduating from university. Describe your career path with the rationale behind your choices. (short answer)

This essay will likely be the longest of the set of job essays. INSEAD is seeking to understand your career trajectory and how you have grown and progressed through your career. Think about the choices you have made in your career, and how your past experiences have combined to provide you with your current skill set.

Even if you have a fairly straightforward career path you can take the opportunity to comment on some of the learnings from each position to create the story of your past, present and future plans and build an overall career narrative.

Job Essay 4: Discuss your short and long term career aspirations with an MBA from INSEAD. (short answer)

By essay four you have covered your current role at work, your hypothetical next step at your company and how you arrived at this place, now you can bring the story together to explain what you are pursuing an MBA from INSEAD.

While the best candidates for an MBA might be able to succeed without one, typically a top tier MBA like INSEAD is an accelerator for your career – introducing you to a broader network than you would otherwise have, expanding your skillset into new functional areas and exposing you to people from around the world.

Think about how you plan to use your MBA to advance your current career (or change paths entirely). If you did not attend INSEAD, how would you achieve your goals otherwise? Think of this essay as a thought experiment to show that you can plan two routes to one goal, while perhaps demonstrating the superiority of the MBA path.

Optional Job Essay: If you are currently not working or if you plan to leave your current employer more than 2 months before the programme starts, please explain your activities and occupations between leaving your job and the start of the programme.

If you are not employed at the moment, you will want to answer this question to show how you are utilizing your time without full time employment. Ideally you are currently involved in an activity that is going to further your career or personal goals at this time. The best answer is one that shows you are self-motivated and do not need paid work to continue developing yourself.

For example, perhaps you are volunteering in a non-profit that is related to your career goals. Maybe you are working with a friend on a start-up. Or you are consulting and building contacts in your industry.

If you are out of work only briefly or planning to take just a few months off before school starts, it’s also perfectly reasonable to be pursuing travel or other activities that develop your international awareness and perspective. However, make sure that your activities can tie back to your long-term goals or other key aspects of your application strategy.

MOTIVATION ESSAYS
Essay 1: Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (approximately 500 words)

Strengths and weaknesses are a common topic for MBA applications and seek to reveal your level of maturity and self-awareness. This is an opportunity to highlight some of your skills and attributes that demonstrate leadership, teamwork or other qualities that will drive your future career success.

Examples aren’t explicitly required, but consider that the admissions committee is reading a number of essays and therefore concrete examples can help you stand out and lead to a memorable essay.

When describing weaknesses, you will want to focus on those weaknesses that you have taken concrete steps to address, or that have been a route to learning more about yourself. Often strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same coin, in which case you can even tie your key weaknesses to your key strengths.

Because it is often difficult to write about one’s weaknesses without sounding overly humble or even as if you are positioning a weakness as a strength inappropriately, this is an especially important essay to share with others to seek feedback on tone and impact.

Essay 2: Describe the achievement of which you are most proud and explain why. In addition, describe a situation where you failed. How did these experiences impact your relationships with others? Comment on what you learned. (approx. 400 words)

This essay is an opportunity to showcase one of your most important achievements. Impressive achievements that stand on their own are great, but you will want to pay equal attention to explaining why these accomplishments are valuable to you. If you concisely explain the accomplishment and how you were able to bring it to fruition, you will have room to provide the context for your personal pride in the accomplishment.

If you don’t have an achievement that you think is incredibly impressive on its face, consider an example that demonstrates the activities you value. Remember, not everyone has sold a company or won an Olympic medal prior to business school!

The flip side of achievement is failure, and INSEAD wants to understand how you view both. When approaching any failure essay it’s important to use a real failure that has emotional resonance for you. An accomplishment framed as a failure will be easy to see through and will not demonstrate anything about your maturity or ability to grow.

Your failure should be real, and also something that led you to grow or learn. If you can describe how you have changed your approach as a result of the failure that is an excellent outcome.

The third part of the essay deals with how these experiences impacted your relationships and what you learned. Whether you were part of a team or the main impact was on a loved one, this part of the essay encourages you to step outside your own narrative of success and failure and think about how other people felt about your actions.

Most obviously a success likely led to happiness from a team or a manager, while a failure was disappointing to those around you. However, your particular achievement or failure could have led to a learning experience for your team, an opportunity for someone else, or a chance for you to be closer to another person through a team challenge. Think creatively about this aspect.

Note that your application to INSEAD ideally covers both the personal and professional. This essay could be an opportunity in this essay set to bring in a new angle on your profile through describing one of your most substantial accomplishments outside of work.

Essay 3: Describe all types of extra-professional activities in which you have been or are still involved for a significant amount of time (clubs, sports, music, arts, politics, etc). How are you enriched by these activities? (approx. 300 words)

Nothing is more personal than what you choose to do outside of school or work. What are the most meaningful pursuits you have spent your time on? You should both describe the main interests you have outside of your professional pursuits and explain why they are meaningful to you and why you spend time on them.

Ideally you can also explain how you will continue your involvement while at INSEAD and cite some specific clubs or groups where you see your interests contributing to the community.

Optional Essay: Is there anything else that was not covered in your application that you would like to share with the Admissions Committee? (approx. 300 words)

This essay is 300 words you can use for anything you would like to showcase and that you were unable to work into the rest of your application. Because INSEAD’s questions are quite thorough you may have covered all aspects of your candidacy and personal qualities in the other essay questions, in which case you can feel comfortable skipping this question (it IS optional). If you did not have a place for an interesting hobby, new aspect of your background to describe, or key accomplishment, it may be appropriate to use this space to tell that story.

It is far better to fully explain any issues in your application than to leave the admissions committee to guess what happened. If you have any challenging aspects to your candidacy like a low GPA or a failing grade in college, this is the correct place to address those concerns. Explain your issue clearly and focus most of the essay on the correction for the issue.

For example, if you had a disciplinary issue in college, spend most of the essay demonstrating that you learned from the experience and have been an ideal citizen ever since rather than focusing on the negative. Avoid blaming anyone else for your issue, and relentlessly show why this one incident is in your past and will stay there.

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The Bigger Picture: There is No Try [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: The Bigger Picture: There is No Try
Yesterday, I was speaking with a business partner who owed me some data. I had been waiting too long for the overdue analysis. As we were wrapping up the call, he said to me, “I will try to get that to you by the end of the week.” I laughed and asked, “But when will you get it to me?” He responded by repeating himself, “I said I’d try to get it to you by end of week.” I explained that I wanted to share the numbers with my team and was going to schedule a meeting to do so. I needed to know when he would actually get me the data, not when he would “try”.

When my sister tells me, “I will try to show up at your party….”

When my daughter says she will try to clean up her room…

When a friend texts saying that she will try to give me a call tomorrow…

I know what this means.

It means that they might try, but they probably won’t, and they definitely will NOT show up, clean up or call me up.

I know that we have all been taught to try our very best, but sometimes trying isn’t enough. Sometimes you need to go the Nike way and just do it.

This became clear to me many years ago when I heard Yoda say, “Do or do not. There is no try.” He really is so wise, isn’t he? He’s my hero.



With many things in life, you can do it, or not do it. Period. No one cares if you tried. Although I do sometimes call out friends and an occasional business colleague, I am more likely to leverage this wisdom internally. I never say that I will try to do something. I make a decision. Is this something that I want to commit to? Yes or no…and then I commit…or not.

I admit to being a bit of an organizational nerd. I have ongoing lists of professional and personal tasks that need to get done every single day. The title of my to do list? “Do or do not. There is no try.” It’s my to do list, not my try list. So, if I say I am going to do it on that particular day, I do. It’s simple; it takes the decision making out of the equation.

Over the next week, listen to yourself. Do you catch yourself saying that you are going to try? What do you really mean by that? Would it be possible to turn your intention into action by simply omitting the word try and making a commitment to yourself and to others?

Oh, two more things:

  • If you want to see Yoda in action in a video we made, go here and wait until the end of the 30 second video.
  • I have launched a series of “21 Day Projects” to capitalize on the concept that new habits can form in just three weeks. Or, at the very least, you can get a lot done in that time.  If you want to receive tips like these to help you get more done, check out the “Get More Done” 21 Day Project.

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Political Climate a Factor Noted in GMAC’s 2017 Application Trends Sur [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Political Climate a Factor Noted in GMAC’s 2017 Application Trends Survey

Nearly 3 in 4 (73 percent) graduate business programs with 201 or more class seats report increased application volumes this year compared to 39 percent of the smallest programs (50 or fewer class seats), according to a new application trends survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). The growth among the larger U.S. programs is driven by a resurgence of domestic applications, offsetting declines in international applicants.

Regardless of class size, a majority of programs in Europe, Canada, East and Southeast Asia, and India report growing volumes in 2017, while fewer than half the programs in the United States are growing — with the exception of part-time lockstep MBA and Master in Data Analytics programs.

“Demand for graduate business education remains strong, especially among the largest programs, which tend also to be the most well-known programs with brand recognition,” said Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO. “While non-U.S. programs are thriving, a strong economy and a disruptive political climate are likely contributing to the downward trend in application volumes among smaller U.S. programs this year.”

U.S. Political Climate Impacts International Application Volumes
Recent political events in the U.S. appear to have impacted application volumes from international candidates in 2017. Programs in Europe and Canada are about twice as likely to report growth in international applicants compared with the U.S. Across all program types, just 32 percent of U.S. programs report growing international application volumes in 2017 vs. 49 percent in 2016.

Conversely, seventy-seven percent of Canadian programs report increases in international applications (46 percent in 2016), as well as 67 percent of European programs (65 percent in 2016). Despite the Brexit vote, about two-thirds of programs in the United Kingdom have seen international demand grow.

Overall, the 2017 report findings show that international applicants represent 57 percent of U.S. application volumes, 70 percent of Canadian volume, 89 percent of European volume, 20 percent of East and southeast Asian volume, and less than one percent of Indian volume.

Domestic candidates remain an area of strength for the larger, well known U.S. programs. Sixty-nine percent of programs with class sizes of more than 200 report growth in domestic applications, offsetting the fact that only 38 percent of programs similar in size report growth in international applications.

Women Make Gains in Applicant Pool
The results of the GMAC Application Trends Survey Report 2017 show that women are increasing their representation in the graduate business school pipeline. Today, women represent 42 percent of the total applications received by participating survey programs, up from 37 percent in 2013.

Most program types have experienced an increase in the representation of women in the application pipeline. Specifically, among MBA programs women represent 39 percent of applications, up from 33 percent in 2013. More MBA programs report growth in female applicants (44 percent) compared with business master’s (39 percent), whereas the growth rate is similar for men — 40 percent for MBA and 39 percent for business master’s.

GMAC conducted its 18th annual Application Trends Survey from early June to mid-July 2017. The survey findings are based on a record number of responses from 351 business schools and faculties located in 40 countries representing 965 graduate management programs, including MBA, non-MBA business master’s, and doctoral-level programs.

Participating programs received a combined total of 466,176 applications during the 2017 application cycle. Ninety-two percent of all participating programs report that the applicants this year are similarly or more academically qualified than candidates last year.

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Chicago Booth Announces $75M Alumni Gift [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Chicago Booth Announces $75M Alumni Gift

University of Chicago Booth School of Business announced today that alumni Richard and Amy Wallman have made a $75 million gift to the University, building upon their legacy of philanthropic support of students and faculty.

In recognition of this gift, Chicago Booth will name its academic high honors distinction after the Wallmans. This group of top students will be known as the Amy and Richard F. Wallman Scholars at Chicago Booth. The designation will be permanently bestowed upon graduating MBA students who earn high honors at Booth, as well as all alumni who have already achieved this distinction.

The school plans to use the gift to support a number of initiatives, including scholarships for students in the Full-Time, Evening, Weekend, and Executive MBA programs. This will allow Booth to recruit from a broader and more diverse set of students and offer expanded financial assistance.

“We have great affection for the University of Chicago – the Booth School of Business is world class, and we hope our gift makes it even better,” Amy Wallman said.

“The Booth School is very special to us not only because we met there,” Richard Wallman added, “but also because we have sponsored 26 scholarship recipients over the years and are delighted to have had a modest impact on these students’ lives.”

After earning her MBA from Chicago Booth in 1975, Amy Wallman began her career at EY and retired as an audit partner in 2001; most recently, she was director at Omnicare from 2004 to 2015.

Richard Wallman graduated from Booth in 1974 and began his career with the Ford Motor Company. He served as the chief financial officer and senior vice president of Honeywell International Inc., a diversified industrial technology and manufacturing company, and its predecessor AlliedSignal, from 1995 to 2003. Richard Wallman also served in senior financial positions with IBM and Chrysler Corporation.

“The transformative gift from Amy and Richard is a testament to their generosity and the endorsement of Chicago Booth’s enduring strengths, in our programs and our extraordinary faculty,” said Booth Dean Madhav Rajan.

“Maintaining and extending Booth’s prominence in research and enhancing the impact of our ideas on the world by training tomorrow’s leaders is essential for our continued success. The Wallman Scholars will be recognized as preeminent in this cadre of future leaders, modeling the potential and the spirit of their benefactors. I look forward to working with the Wallmans in using their gift to make the greatest impact,” Rajan added.

Funds from the gift also will be used to enhance Booth’s co-curricular programming, faculty research, and emerging priorities at the discretion of the dean.

“Amy and I were so impressed with Dean Rajan’s vision for the school; we hope our gift will help advance that vision,” said Richard Wallman.

“This is a unique opportunity to make a difference in the careers of Chicago Booth students for generations to come and express our gratitude to those who have helped us,” Amy Wallman said. “Our parents were great role models to both of us; they gave us the confidence that we could accomplish anything.”

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UVA Darden to Open Facilities Near Washington, D.C. [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: UVA Darden to Open Facilities Near Washington, D.C.


The new Darden School facilities in the Washington, D.C., area will occupy the top two floors of 1100 Wilson Boulevard in Rosslyn, Virginia.

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business has announced that it will open new facilities in the Washington, D.C., area. The new 40,000-square-foot space housed on the top two floors of a 31-story building with expansive views of the capital region and slated to open in spring 2018, was made possible by a $5 million gift from Sands Capital Management Founder and Chairman Frank Sands Sr. (MBA ’63) and CEO and Chief Investment Officer Frank Sands Jr. (MBA ’94). The 31st floor will be named the Sands Family Grounds in their honor.

“The Darden School is a special place and has been enormously influential in my life and the life of my father,” says Frank Sands Jr. “We believe Darden is poised to be an influential and positive force at the intersection of business, public policy and leadership, and our family is thrilled to play a role in helping to establish and grow the School’s presence in this critical region.”

To extend Darden’s educational experience, the space will include two tiered classrooms, flat classroom space, learning team rooms, open-study areas, a boardroom, conference rooms and office space. A large ballroom with views of the National Mall will serve as a food service and conference space. The Darden facilities will also include access to a 5,000-square foot rooftop terrace offering sweeping views of the area.

“The D.C. area has the highest concentration of both Darden and University of Virginia alumni, and we are grateful for the groundswell of support we have received across the region,” says Professor Greg Fairchild, associate dean for Darden’s Washington, D.C., area initiatives. “We’re building on existing relationships and forming new ones as we seek to cement Darden’s role as the preeminent graduate business school at the nexus of business and public policy.”

Head over to the UVA Darden newsroom for more details about this new space.

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3 Signs Your MBA Application Should Wait Until Round 2 [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: 3 Signs Your MBA Application Should Wait Until Round 2


This post originally appeared on Stacy’s ‘Strictly Business’ MBA blog on U.S. News
Round one or round two – deciding when to apply for business school can weigh heavily on many applicants’ minds. In the world of b-school admissions, there’s definitely a lot of pressure for candidates to try to submit in the first round, when all the seats in the class are available and applicants are only compared against other early applicants.

You have numerous advantages if you apply in round one and receive an admission offer – from more time to prepare for school to the ability to start networking with your classmates early.

The most prepared applicants generally apply in the first round. If you have a solid application ready to submit in October, this is an excellent time to do so. But don’t expect your admission chances to increase just because you apply early. And don’t rush to apply if you aren’t ready.We advise clients to apply in the round that allows them to put together the best possible application. Here are three possible reasons you may be better off holding your application for round two.

1. You’re not fully convinced of your application’s quality. The admissions committee evaluates all facets of your materials, so make sure every element strongly supports your MBA ambitions.

Cast a critical eye over your admissions essays, making sure they succinctly answer the provided question. So often we review essay drafts in which applicants are so intent on positioning themselves a certain way or highlighting a particular achievement that they fail to adequately respond to what their target program has asked.

Pay close attention to editing errors, and make sure you have utter confidence in your test scores and letters of recommendation. It’s always better to wait than submit with only 90 percent confidence in your application.

A former client, Michael, was deep into his business school applications when, two weeks before round one deadlines, his primary consultant asked me to review his essays. He had great raw material about his distinct family background, impressive work achievements and extensive volunteer activities, but the essays needed more polishing to really shine.

Although Michael strongly preferred to apply in round one, we advised he wait and apply in round two. He took our advice and spent another three weeks editing and honing the focus of his essays. Fortunately, that extra preparation paid off, and Michael received an admission offer from Harvard Business School.

2. You’re considering taking one last shot at the GMAT. Even if all other aspects of your application are solid, a lower-than-average test score will stand out as a red flag at the most competitive programs.

If you’re extremely close to the score that your target schools generally require – say the average is 710 and you got 690 – think carefully before deciding to retake the exam. You may be better off focusing on your essays or coaching your recommenders instead.

However, if you’re not even in the ballpark, it’s time to buckle down and improve those test scores before applying. Applicants looking at ranked programs in the top 20 or 50 should check the average scores of admitted students to determine their personal target GMATscore.

Another case for delaying your application is if you’ve decided to take a college-level calculus or statistics class on the side and you want the grade to come in first to prove you can handle the quantitative component of the curriculum. Or perhaps you’re expecting a promotion to come through any moment and you want to use that in your application.

I always tell clients that great is better than now. Use the extra time to bump everything up and submit when all elements are as strong as possible.

3. You want to first experience the campus. Members of the admissions committee understand that it may be impossible for you to take time off of work – much less afford – to visit a campus that’s in a different time zone.

But if you have the means and opportunity, experiencing the school in person is the single best way to get a real feel for the learning environment and decide if it’s a good fit for you. Not only will the visit solidify your choice, but you’ll also be able to weave tidbits from that experience into your essays to demonstrate your serious interest in the program.

Unfortunately, for round one applicants, most business schools begin offering class visits after the first deadline has already passed – this is to allow new students to settle into the program first.

If you didn’t have a chance to visit in the spring but really want to see the school up close before making that final decision to apply, then holding your application for the second round makes perfect sense.

If any of these reasons fit you, your best strategy is to submit your application as soon as – but not until – you have it completely ready. Make sure all aspects of your application are the strongest they can possibly be, and never sacrifice quality just to get into round one.

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Surviving Your First Ding [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Surviving Your First Ding
Last week, Harvard Business School sent out its Round 1 interview invitations, along with “release” notices to the majority of applicants. That means thousands of MBA hopefuls around the world recently received their first big fat DING.

While some people are able to easily shrug off this unfortunate news, others have a tough time dealing with what they see as “rejection.” If you are one of the applicants who didn’t receive good news last week, we want to remind you why you should keep your chin up.

First off, all of the top MBA programs are notorious for being extremely selective. It may be that out of every 100 people who submit materials, only 7 to 12 are accepted. In other words, it’s very much a numbers game when you’re applying to such competitive programs. There are only so many spots for an overwhelming number of thoroughly talented candidates.

As such, a past dean of HBS used to kick off his speech to new first-year students by stating that the school could’ve easily added an additional 900 candidates to the graduating class who were equally qualified. His point was that while admitted students were certainly accomplished and deserving, a little bit of luck played into their outcomes as well.

That may be hard to accept for people who have always reached every single goal they’ve ever gone after. But it’s the truth. Once you’ve pulled together a strong application and hit “submit,” the process is out of your hands. You will never be able to do anything about who (or how many people) you were truly competing against for a spot, who read your application, or what kind of mood they were in that day.

The good news is that your results for a certain school are only the results for that school. They have absolutely no bearing on what you’ll hear from other programs. So there’s no need to panic or to question your approach. You should remain hopeful that positive news from another school may be right around the corner.

Remember:



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time,

The team at Stacy Blackman Consulting

***Do you want to stay on top of the application process with timely tips like these? Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter and you’ll receive our expert advice straight in your mailbox before it appears on the blog, plus special offers, promotions, discounts, invitations to events, and more.

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Duke Fuqua Welcomes Shari Hubert as Assoc Dean of Admissions [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Duke Fuqua Welcomes Shari Hubert as Assoc Dean of Admissions

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University has lured Shari Hubert from the Georgetown McDonough School of Business to serve as its newest associate dean for admissions.

Prior to Hubert’s position at Georgetown, which was her first in higher education, she was director of recruitment for the U.S. Peace Corps and has also worked with GE, Citi, BCG and Merck. Hubert earned her undergraduate degree in French from Dartmouth College in 1992, and her MBA from Harvard Business School in 2000.

“Shari stood out in an incredibly talented and competitive pool of candidates,” said Russ Morgan, senior associate dean for full-time programs, when announcing the news. “Shari is a terrific fit within our culture. She is a demonstrated collaborative leader with a track record of making the people around her better. Her former colleagues at Georgetown describe her as a perennial optimist.”

Morgan added, “I am confident that under Shari’s leadership our world-class admissions function will become even sharper, more focused and more innovative in attracting the very best students who will ultimately use business to change the world for the better.”

According to Fuqua admissions, when a new person joins the admissions team, they share with everyone in the office a list of 25 Random Things About Yourself. “As an admissions team, we already know the new hire’s professional and academic background, so learning these ’25 Random Things’ helps us get to know someone’s personality, background, special talents, and more.”

Duke Fuqua applicants do the same, and may be interested in learning more about the new associate dean of admission’s own random things.

Shari Hubert’s 25 Random Things:
  • My father is currently serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Uganda – very proud of him
  • I am a newly minted Auntie. My younger sister just had her first child – Charlotte “Charli”
  • I have a famous Aunt – she was the 1st mother on the Fresh Prince of Bel Air
  • I am a Virgo and totally live up to the definition
  • I was named after Shari Lewis of the “Shari Lewis and Lambchop” show
  • I had a near fatal kayaking accident in college – haven’t stepped foot in a kayak in over 25 years
  • I brought a pair of pink silk pajamas and a curling iron to a weeklong camping trip in the wilderness of Mount Moosilauke – clueless college student!
  • I consider myself a connector and enjoy coaching/mentoring young professionals
  • I love romantic comedies and action movies (Muriel’s Wedding and any of the X-Men, James Bond movies are among my favorites)
  • My favorite female actor is Meryl Streep; favorite male actor is Robert De Niro
  • My favorite music artists are Annie Lennox, Seal, Adele and New Edition– I have very eclectic tastes in music and shows
  • I enjoy Karaoke but am tone deaf
  • The most memorable place I’ve visited is Angkor Wat – very spiritual
  • The most beautiful place I’ve visited is the Amalfi Coast – breathtaking
  • I was recognized in March with a distinguished alumni service award by Harvard Business School at their annual African-American Student Union Conference – for my work helping young people pursue their dreams through the value of an MBA – very humbled and proud. LOVE MY JOB
  • I grew up in a single parent household with my mom. She was my hero – sacrificed her career to work as a full-time nanny to put me through college
  • I love Brussels sprouts and eat them every chance I get
  •  Despite my chosen career path, I am an introvert naturally. My Myers Brigg indicators are ISFJ
  • I still get butterflies when I have to speak in public or present to large audiences
  • My happy place is having a glass of wine, sitting on the couch after work getting caught up on my Netflix, Hulu and Sling TV shows (currently watching Handmaids Tale, Rake, House of Cards, Casual, Queen Sugar, Grace & Frankie, Ray Donovan)
  • I am an avid spinner
  • I have traveled to all but one continent – Antarctica is on my bucket list – hopefully will get there before the next iceberg cracks off
  • I am deathly afraid of horror movies and roller coasters
  • I am an early riser, go to bed early, and can fall asleep in any moving object even if I just drank a cup of espresso.
  • I could in theory become a vegetarian – love vegetables and crave them, but in practice I am held back because I love PORK even more
Hubert said she’s excited about being part of Duke and the unique community of Durham. “I have long admired Duke as a university, and The Fuqua School of Business, from my early days as a corporate recruiter, and more recently as a colleague in this wonderful world of admissions.”

Hubert says she is already impressed with the instinct around Fuqua to bring out the best in others. “Personally, I have been pleasantly surprised to experience that ‘Team Fuqua’ is not just hype, nor is it only reserved for students, but is a way of being that is fully embraced by staff, faculty and alumni as well.”

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Elite B-Schools Report Decade of Ever-Climbing GMAT Scores [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Elite B-Schools Report Decade of Ever-Climbing GMAT Scores

US News & World Report recently shared interesting data revealing the rather dramatic increase in average GMAT scores reported at the top MBA programs over the past decade.

According to data the schools submitted to U.S. News in an annual survey, average scores at the Top Ten business schools went from 707 in 2006, to 718 in 2011, and 725 in 2016.

For instance, 707 was the average GMAT score for the 2006 entering class at Harvard Business School; it was 729 in 2016. Chicago Booth School of Business reported average GMAT score of 703 in 2006 and 726 in 2016.  And at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, scores soared from 702 in 2006 to 728 last year.

Notably, this significant increase is seen among the elite MBA programs only; outside the top ten b-schools GMAT scores have shown little fluctuation–hovering between 614-627.

If these numbers have you feeling either worried or dejected, remember that top MBA admissions departments stress that GMAT scores are only part of the equation when making admit determinations. In fact, Yale School of Management‘s assistant dean of admissions Bruce DelMonico told US News he’s concerned about qualified applicants becoming discouraged by the ever higher test scores.

“People see that number and they think if I’m not at that number I don’t have a chance, and that’s not at all the case,” he said.

“As an applicant, you do want to take the standardized test seriously, you want to do a good job. But I think the one thing that applicants tend to overlook is that these averages are just that,” he added. “They mean that there are people above and below. And especially when we report median scores, there’s the same number of people above and below.”

Click on over to the original article to learn more about how GPAs and test scores have steadily grown at elite schools over the past decade, and the greater implications for the MBA admissions landscape.

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4 Fail-Safe Ways to Research MBA Programs [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: 4 Fail-Safe Ways to Research MBA Programs


Before you start researching MBA programs, it’s crucial that you understand your own criteria and preferences to take your business school selection past the level of rankings.  Do you want to be in the city or in a rural setting?  What type of coursework are you most interested in?  Do you prefer a close-knit class or a large network?  Do you need to be near a particular location for personal or professional reasons?

Start by figuring out what schools will be a good fit for your personal goals. And your first order of business is gaining a better understanding of the schools that might interest you, so that you can then filter those down to the select few you will actually apply to. Here are four areas to focus on as you begin researching potential MBA programs.

Read, read, and read some more—Pore over the websites of all schools that interest you to learn about the curriculum, teaching methods, professional clubs, extra-curricular offerings, and student life.  Sign up to receive email announcements with admissions updates and information.

Many schools put out publications with their current research and events. These can help you see what is important on that campus right now. There may be specific research or programs that are of interest to you and could help further your career goals.

A great way to get a sense of the community at different business schools is to read their blogs posted by MBA students. While it’s helpful to read about school clubs on the official school website, you can get a real feel for the students involved by reading their own experiences. School-hosted student blogs offer a treasure trove of information that should spark your enthusiasm and lead to more varied questions for admissions representatives.

Attend MBA fairs—For many who are just embarking on their B-school journey, attending an MBA fair is a stellar way to meet admissions representatives from several programs. Applicants should approach an MBA fair with an open mind, ask good questions, and leave a positive impression on admissions officers. That means no flip-flops, please!

The most egregious fair faux pas is asking for information that can be found after a cursory glance at the program’s website, such as class size, deadlines, or average test scores. Instead, consider focusing on areas that are specific to your application—your work experience and post-MBA goals, or any potential red flags such as a layoff or low GPA—in order to gauge how they might view your application package.

Applicants tend to forget that schools cannot exist without great students, so these fairs are the schools’ opportunity to market themselves to applicants and get them interested enough so they apply to their schools. While candidates should act professional—since you never know whether you’ll forge an important connection at this type of event—applicants shouldn’t go overboard attempting to impress the schools. In fact, it’s the other way around. I say let the schools impress you.

Coffee chats with students and other informal information sessions hosted by adcomm provide even more opportunities to get a feel for the program before committing to visit in person. You’ll have the chance to ask questions and also meet current students and/or alums—a wonderful way to learn more about a school.

Watch, download, or tune in—Today’s current and future MBA students have grown up with social media, and many applicants use social media to connect with the schools. Visitors to school websites and social media channels want that insider glimpse of what life would be like for them as students.

From YouTube channels to podcasts, live webinars to lectures online, today’s business schools provide ample opportunities to showcase different aspects of their program to prospective students. For example, applicants benefit greatly from those live interactions during admissions webinars, where they can ask questions and get immediate answers to any questions or concerns they might have about the admissions process.

Plan your campus visit—With the average total cost of an MBA education at the most elite business schools creeping upwards of $300,000, it makes good sense to visit the campus to get to know a program beyond its ranking.

During a visit, you’ll observe the general routine of students, get a feel for in-class dynamics, and be better able to imagine yourself as a part of the community where you will spend the next two years.

Through the MBA admissions office, you can schedule a visit that typically includes an information session, the option of attending a class, and a chance to chat with a current student over coffee or a meal. As you sit in on a class, take note of the dynamic between the students and professor before and after class, as this can be an indicator of how close-knit and collaborative the community is.

In some cases, the admissions office may be able to put you in contact with a student with similar career goals, which provides an ideal way to learn more specifics about the program as it relates to your professional needs.

If you can stay for a few days, try to immerse yourself in the social scene and connect with students who are interested in the same activities you hope to become involved in. Often you’ll learn more about your fit with a particular school over these types of encounters than during an official admissions tour.

The more you know about the elements you believe to be an important part of the b-school experience, the better chance you have of whittling down your list of programs to the ones that more closely match your personal career goals.

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New Joint MSDS-MBA Degree at UVA Darden [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: New Joint MSDS-MBA Degree at UVA Darden

The UVA Darden School of Business has partnered with the UVA Data Science Institute to provide an opportunity for students to earn a Master of Science in Data Science and a Master of Business Administration in 24 months—rather than the 32 months that would be required if each degree were undertaken independently.

Students who pursue the new joint degree program will become coveted hires and indispensable leaders in a variety of fields, including consulting, finance, and technology, according to the school.

“This new dual degree represents an incredibly exciting development for the Darden School and prospective students,” said Raj Venkatesan, Darden professor and faculty lead for the dual degree. “There is a clear demand from students for this kind of analytics-driven curriculum and from organizations for employees who can harness the almost limitless power of Big Data to develop new business models. These graduates will be coveted hires and become indispensable leaders.”

The new dual degree, which began enrolling a limited cohort of students this summer, with a fuller launch planned in 2018, will deliver both the Darden curriculum of core and elective courses and the 11-month MSDS curriculum offered by the Data Science Institute over a two-year span. Tuition fees for the new program will be the sum of the standalone MBA and MSDS programs.

The Darden core curriculum provides students with an integrated perspective on general management in the first year, focusing on key themes such as finance, marketing, decision analytics, strategy, ethics, accounting and leadership.

Beginning in the final term of the first year, students choose from a diverse selection of more than 100 electives and begin to tailor the Darden education that most closely meets their interests and professional aspirations.

The MSDS curriculum, with core courses in computer science, statistics, and systems and information engineering, provides students of all backgrounds with a base in languages, computation and linear modeling before building on those skills to move to the practice and application of data science.

The program also addresses the ethical implications of data and analytics and culminates in a capstone project focused on a real-world data science problem. The capstone project will address a business problem and how data science can be used to address those challenges.

“This new program will change the way that top business leaders of tomorrow are thinking about data,” said Don Brown, director of the Data Science Institute. “This game-changing dual degree will give students a deep understanding of data science along with a top-ranked management program that will allow them to unlock new ways of questioning, answering and thinking about today’s top business challenges.”

Students must apply for admission to Darden first and then submit a supplemental application to the DSI. To be eligible for the dual degree, you must receive admission from both programs.

“Students from all backgrounds want to be equipped for jobs in technology and entrepreneurship,” said Sara Neher, former assistant dean for MBA admissions, now Darden’s assistant dean of Strategic Initiatives. “This new dual degree will be a way to differentiate yourself.”

The DSI supplemental application will be available on October 15, 2017.

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MBA Forums: Yay or Nay? [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: MBA Forums: Yay or Nay?
Is there anything more tempting to an MBA applicant than business-school-related message boards? We understand the allure — in fact, many of our consultants cop to obsessively scouring those sites and threads when they were pulling together their own applications.

But here’s something we all agree on now: browsing message boards can serve as a way to distract yourself from the agony of waiting for interview invites, at best. At worst, participation in these online conversations can subconsciously influence your application strategy and send you off in the wrong direction.

Who’s on these message boards? Mostly it’s other applicants, just like yourself. They are not adcom members and cannot judge your odds of being accepted somewhere, nor do they have any special insight into a certain school’s admissions process, as much as they might like to think they do.

Here are just a few of the types of posts you’ll find on b-school message boards:

“My father went to Wharton and talked with someone there who said…”

“My old co-worker who’s got the exact same profile as me got into Stanford, so…”

“I’ve crunched the numbers from this site and it looks like only people from Ivys with 730+ GMATs are getting HBS invites this year.”

“I have a friend who got a 650 on the GMAT and was accepted at HBS two years ago, so that must mean…”

“I have a friend at Kellogg, and she said…”

Now, really.

We challenge you to take a step back and ask yourself why you would ever let anything posted by a complete stranger worry you or stress you out about your own chances of being admitted to your dream school.

We’ve been advising MBA applicants since 2001, and we can assure you that nothing good has ever come from listening to — or comparing yourself to — other business school hopefuls. Use that precious time to beef up your resume, work on your essays, or do something else productive.

Remember:



 

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time,

The team at Stacy Blackman Consulting

***Do you want to stay on top of the application process with timely tips like these? Please subscribe to our weekly newsletter and you’ll receive our expert advice straight in your mailbox before it appears on the blog, plus special offers, promotions, discounts, invitations to events, and more.

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The Bigger Picture: Expect to Fail [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: The Bigger Picture: Expect to Fail
In a world where positive thinking and optimism rule, advising people to “expect to fail” seems doomed…to fail.

Allow me to explain.

A few years ago, my daughter was part of a Brownie Troop. Friends and family purchased cookies, but that was not enough. She wanted to walk through the neighborhood, knocking on strangers’ doors and offering them Thin Mints and Tagalongs. My heart melted; that was a such a sweet, almost old-fashioned idea. I reflected back on several poorly attended lemonade stands, when neighbor after neighbor zipped by without even a glance. I reminded her that our neighbors are not always the most friendly, “neighborly” people, and she should not be surprised when she gets turned down. My little eight-year old, oh so wise, scoffed that she did not expect EVERYONE to buy. But if she went down our entire block, surely SOMEONE would want to buy. So, she and my husband took off down the block and knocked on every door. The results surprised me. Most of our neighbors were kind and generous, and my daughter made a killing. Still, she took her failures in stride, and delighted in the successes. After every failure, she kept going until she hit the end of the block. She was prepared to fail, and being prepared and unafraid empowered her to cruise through those rejections instead of feeling crushed and embarrassed.

When I launched my first company, WebWisher, my partners and I expected to fail. We realized that we were young, still in school and knew very little. But we were excited about starting a business, we were having a ton of fun and we truly believed in our concept.  We failed over and over again. I lost track of the numbers of VCs that just stood up and walked out of the room mid-pitch. Trying to be kind, teachers, friends, parents and experts were blunt: they told us point blank that they did not believe in our idea and that it was not going to work. As three young women, we faced another level of skepticism; we didn’t look like sharks. We were introduced in a business plan competition as “The Spice Girls”. We were told to act demure in meetings. Yes, we were beaten down countless times, but we did not expect an immediate homerun. We expected the failures, and that removed a lot of the sting.

I am not advising anyone to aimlessly chase ambitious goals without believing in them. Knowing that you will eventually succeed is what propels you out of bed and pushes you to keep chasing the dreams. In the big picture, you pursue your goals with determination because you know you can make them happen. But day to day, challenge to challenge you should expect to fail, and fail spectacularly, over and over and over again.

Chances are, you are going to be rejected much more than you are accepted; you are going to fail much more than you succeed. Plan to succeed but expect to fail.



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Interview Advice from MIT Sloan Admissions [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Interview Advice from MIT Sloan Admissions

It’s MBA interview season at MIT Sloan School of Management, and Dawna Levenson, Director of Admissions, has some tips to help nervous applicants prepare for the experience. In a  recent post on the admissions blog, Levenson noted that the MIT Sloan adcomm plans to interview around 20–25% of the Round 1 applicant pool. As a reminder, those who receive an invitation will need to submit an additional 250-word essay about the school’s mission statement, asking applicants to share how your experience and your goals align with the mission of the MIT Sloan School.

In this video, Levenson explains that she thinks of the interview as having three components. The first portion is dedicated to your interviewer clarifying any remaining questions about your application, whether that might be a gap in employment history, gaps in education, or anything else that needs further explanation.

The next part of the interview will focus on behavioral questions, when you’re asked to reflect on how you handled particular situations in the past. For example, “Tell me about a time when you were part of a team working on a project and the project started to not do so well. How did you recognize that and how did you turn it around?”

Finally—and Levenson called this perhaps the most important part of the interview—comes the opportunity for you to ask questions of your interviewer.  These questions should be personal to you, the director stressed—not questions whose answers can easily be found on the school website.

Unlike other business schools that have a blind interview process, MIT Sloan interviewers are all members of the admissions committee—not alumni or students—and therefore will have reviewed your application before meeting you. Levenson advises candidates to come armed with stories and experiences not already touched upon in the application or essays.

Applicants should have a well-rounded suite of examples ready to deliver as answers, but also have a level of detail and depth for each of their examples that will satisfy a more inquisitive admissions interviewer.

In addition to this focus on the quality of an applicant’s answers, the admissions committee is also probing deeply on your potential fit. Here, you need to combine your research and a clear understanding of your profile strengths to deliver answers that are nuanced and impactful.

It should go without saying, but dress professionally, and be mindful of the fact that the adcomm pays attention to every interaction you have with the school, from your application to the day of your interview, to the thank-you note you send afterward, and all of it will help Sloan evaluate your fit with the school.

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Early Career Applicants: Know the Right Time to Get an MBA [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Early Career Applicants: Know the Right Time to Get an MBA


This post originally appeared on Stacy’s ‘Strictly Business’ MBA blog on U.S. News
Prospective business school applicants always want to know when it’s best to pursue an MBA, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.

In the past, business schools required applicants to have a standard four to six years of job experience prior to applying. Now, many programs welcome candidates straight out of college, and the trend is definitely moving toward the lower end of the work experience spectrum.

If you have fewer than three years of work experience under your belt after college, you may find yourself questioning whether now is the right time to pursue an MBA. Early career prospective students should ask themselves these three questions before applying to business school.

1. Do I bring enough work and life experiences to the table? This is perhaps the most critical question from the admissions perspective when weighing admit decisions.

Focus on the quality of your experiences, not quantity. There’s a reason why the class of 2018 profiles of many elite business schools include students who are skydivers, fashion bloggers, synchronized swimmers, volcano climbers and pie-eating contest winners. Can you imagine the classroom and group discussions among such a diverse and intriguing cohort?

Complete an unflinching assessment of your professional and life experiences and ask yourself whether you bring enough to the table to actively contribute and enhance the learning environment that will include more experienced and accomplished peers.

Can you step into the MBA classroom with a solid understanding of how businesses and organizations work? Has your professional experience been sufficient to help you crystalize your career goals and understand what you want to do with the rest of your life?

If you can answer yes to all of the above, use your MBA application essays to demonstrate those key lessons you’ve learned and show how, despite the short time frame, you’ve progressed in both knowledge and management experience.

2. Will more time on the job benefit me or my MBA candidacy? To answer this question, you’ll need to decide first whether another year or more of work experience will significantly strengthen your profile and make you a more competitive candidate.

Second, you will need to determine whether the costs associated with delaying a full-time MBA program create a larger opportunity cost, not only in foregone salary but also in lost career momentum, especially for those coming from fast-moving high-tech industries.

Maybe you’ve maxed out at your current level and are ready for a career boost that only business school can facilitate. Or perhaps you could benefit from another year in the workforce, taking on more responsibilities, earning promotions and using the time to further bolster other aspects of your candidacy.

When it comes to impressing MBA admissions committees, candidates need to show off their leadership abilities, exhibit their comfort in team-based environments and demonstrate career progression. Make sure you can compete on solid footing in each of these areas with the rest of the applicant pool.

3. Can I clearly demonstrate how an MBA will help me reach my career goals? As an early career candidate, you’ll need to convince the admissions committee on why the timing of entering the MBA program makes sense for your career and life plans.

A desire to pivot to a new career is what sets many applicants on their MBA journey. However, younger applicants often haven’t yet landed on a firm path, so those with limited professional experience must clearly articulate their short- and long-term professional goals and convince the admissions committee that an MBA is critical to helping them reach those goals.

Think about what you want to gain from an MBA program and also what you can contribute. You may be 23 years old but have highly focused career goals and ample insight to share, both of which would give you an advantage over an unfocused 28-year-old who is pursuing an MBA to pass the time.

Though younger candidates may not have the years of formal work experience under their belts, many have gained valuable skills through internships, community service, entrepreneurial ventures or extracurricular activities. Early career candidates who are motivated, talented and have a proven track record of leadership have a great chance of admission into a top MBA program.

The bottom line on timing your MBA plans is that you should only go for the degree when the timing feels right for you.

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Early Career Applicants: Know the Right Time to Get an MBA [#permalink]
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