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Stacy Blackman Consulting Representative
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HBS Deferral Option, Implications for Future Applicants [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: HBS Deferral Option, Implications for Future Applicants


Like all educational institutions, Harvard Business School is grappling with how to proceed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. International admits fear that visa issues may affect their ability to start when the term begins this fall.  Other admits have reservations about the prospect of an online or blended learning structure that may affect the entire first year. So, what’s a premier business school to do?

HBS Deferral Option
HBS has opted to offer maximum flexibility to admits whose MBA journeys have been hampered by the coronavirus. Therefore, it will allow deferrals to any Class of 2022 admit who wants one.  Admits must apply for the HBS deferral option between May 15-June 1. Depending on the number of deferral requests, some students might get deferred for two years instead of one.

“Our learning model depends on bringing together exceptional leaders with diverse backgrounds and perspectives,” MBA Director Chad Losee explains. If that means enrolling a smaller class than the typical 930, he says they might do so.  However, Losee previously noted that HBS has maintained a larger than usual waitlist this season.

Implications for the 2020-2021 Admissions Cycle
Upon hearing about the HBS deferral option, the number-one question on future applicants’ minds is: Will there be fewer spots available in upcoming classes?

At the moment, HBS has no clear-cut answers. But Losee notes that the university is focused on addressing the issue. “We are working hard to balance doing right by those we have admitted this year and preserving the opportunity for you to enroll in the future,” he explains.

For now, the admissions team will wait to see how many admitted applicants request a deferral. Once that happens, they can give thought to the overall class size that HBS may be able to accommodate for the Classes of 2023 and 2024.

“The pandemic is teaching us that the world needs leaders who know how to innovate (…) and lead others,” Losee writes. “I invite you to consider how HBS can help you make a difference in the world and hope that you will choose to apply.”

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COVID-19 Impact on Wharton MBA Class of 2022 [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: COVID-19 Impact on Wharton MBA Class of 2022


This week, the Wharton School introduced a deferral option for some members of the MBA Class of 2022. In a letter addressed to the class, admissions director Blair Mannix discussed the COVID-19 impact on Wharton admits as well as adjustments to its MBA Pre-Term.

The round 2 deposit deadline of May 4, 2020, still stands.  Mannix says Wharton will prioritize deferral requests from international students who cannot start the program due to visa issues.

Other admitted students may receive a deferral on a case-by-case basis. Mannix mentions illness, family circumstances, and other factors outside of their control as reasons that could qualify for the deferment.

As for the MBA Pre-Term for the Class of 2022, Mannix says the event will happen virtually in August. However, Wharton has reduced the fee to $850 (from $2,000) to reflect the new format, she says.

This decision regarding Pre-Term has no bearing on whether the fall term will be virtual, Mannix clarifies. That determination will come down directly from the University of Pennsylvania. However, the likely scenario for instruction in the fall will consist of a combination of in-class and virtual teaching, she adds.

Also, Mannix stresses that prior admissions decisions remain in effect. Wharton will not reconsider any previously submitted applications. (Kellogg recently left the door open to reconsider previously denied applicants from earlier this season.) However, Mannix encourages dinged applicants to reapply next season.

The world needs future leaders who are ready to lead.
Like other peer business schools, Wharton hopes admitted students will take the leap to begin classes this fall despite the uncertainties. The lasting COVID-19 impact on Wharton may end up serving as an inspiration for future leaders.

As Dean Geoffry Garret wrote on LinkedIn just over two months ago, successful organizations require a new style of leadership. His hope? That future leaders will strive to be real. Not heroes. The business community needs leaders who are, in his words, “more committed to a clear set of core values that govern how they choose to help us navigate this new uncertain normal.”

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Snapshot of a Successful MBA Application Process [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Snapshot of a Successful MBA Application Process

Sometimes, it’s instructive (not to mention, fun!) to take a granular look at the successful MBA application process of an actual SBC client.

Today, we’ve asked SBC consultant Kim (pictured) to share some of the details of an applicant she worked with during the 2019-2020 admissions season.

Let’s take a look at the particulars of this client case study.  Who knows, you may find similarities between her profile and your own.

Please note, we’ve anonymized some of the specifics of this candidate to protect her privacy.

Snapshot of a Successful MBA Application Process
Demography: Indian female, late 20s. First-time applicant

Education:  Top University of California school. Economics major

Exam score submitted: GMAT  730

Professional Experience: Worked at a Big Four accounting firm within their finance department on a smaller, niche team. Non-target firm and a traditional applicant who lacked specificity in her resume, profile, employer, and position.

Initially, her bullet points used a lot of industry and technical jargon. Also, she didn’t highlight outcomes or attempt to tell a story. Some MBA resume refinement was definitely in order.

Extra-Curriculars: She had strong extracurricular involvement. In her application, she showcased passion through community engagements at both her firm and through organizations that focused on supporting those in developing countries.

Post MBA Goals: Short term goal is to become a product manager in FinTech. Her long term goal is entrepreneurship through creating her own FinTech/social impact firm with a focus on financial literacy.

Target Schools: Chicago Booth School of Business, Kellogg School of Management, UC Berkeley Haas School of Business

Interviewed at: Booth, Kellogg, Haas

Accepted at: Booth (with scholarship), Kellogg (with a significant scholarship), Haas

What did this applicant do well?
An MBA resume differs from a traditional CV. We spent a lot of time focusing on MBA resume refinement. That meant highlighting both the specificity of her achievements and leadership and understanding of her key differentiators.

For example, she was the youngest employee to lead a training program abroad. She was also promoted fairly quickly and had managed a small team. Finally, she co-founded an NGO to assist those in need by supplying them with essentials.

Next, we focused heavily on crafting her post-MBA goals. To do this, we emphasized her professional experiences and extracurricularinvolvement. Both of these areas had provided her with experience, leadership abilities, and a real passion for FinTech and social impact.

The applicant also did significant networking with the business schools to which she applied. This included attending events, talking to current students and alums, reading school blogs and admissions emails, etc. In her application, she conveyed a strong understanding of how the classes, student clubs, activities, and conferences of each specific MBA program would help her attain her post-MBA goals.

She also wrote engaging and compelling essays that dug deeper into her goals. For instance, she laid out why she felt the specific school/program best suited her, as well as showcased her strong leadership abilities through concrete examples.  Finally, we practiced interviews with STAR frameworks and continuously worked on feedback.

What, if anything, could she have done better?
In retrospect, she could have spent more time and focus on the Berkeley-Haas application (it was at the bottom of her list). Although also admitted to Haas, she spent much more time crafting both the Booth & Kellogg applications and essays by comparison.

***

Thanks, Kim, for sharing this successful MBA candidate profile with our readers! If you would like to learn more about how SBC can help make your MBA dreams a reality, get in touch for a free 15-minute consultation today!

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Does Your Digital Body Language Send the Right Message? [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Does Your Digital Body Language Send the Right Message?


“Fresh ideas from the Blacklight”
SBC’s Weekly Newsletter for Professionals
The coronavirus outbreak has made working from home the new normal for many professionals. That means emails, messaging apps, phone calls, and video chats will serve as our lifelines to the office for the immediate future. Here are two things to remember about your digital body language and virtual communication as we navigate these uncharted waters together.

Send the Right Signal
Now more than ever, we must become mindful of how influential our digital body language can be. It covers everything from group chat emojis to how you announce yourself in conference calls, explains Shama Hyder, founder, and CEO of Zen Media.

In her recent piece for Inc., Hyder notes that “our digital body language is critical for establishing and maintaining good rapport, contributing to high morale, and just generally creating a positive work environment for everyone at the company.”

For now, over-communication is the order of the day, Hyder says. Open, frequent, and effective communication prevents things from falling through the cracks. Hyder also thinks people used to working together in person might struggle with nailing the right tone in instant messages, emails, texts, and other online written communication.

“Uncertainty is everywhere, and employees may be much more ready to jump to unpleasant conclusions than they would be otherwise,” Hyder warns.

Make Up for Missing Body Language Cues
Erica Dhawan, a leading authority on 21st-century collaboration and connectional intelligence, echoes those concerns. She says we should keep two things in mind to use our digital body language effectively. First, realize that brevity can cause confusion. We need to be conscious of how we’re communicating, and if we’re clear, Dhawan explains.

We’ve seen in the data is that there’s an immense amount of misunderstanding, anxiety, and confusion because we don’t have the context of the stare, the nod, or the shake that we’re used to in human body language.

Second, we need to realize that timing is everything. If you send emails to your team late at night or on the weekend, are you signaling that you expect them to be “on” at all times? If that’s not your intention, consider hanging on to those messages as drafts. You can send them Monday morning instead.

Tuning in to and adapting your digital body language can have a profound effect on your professional and personal relationships. This LinkedIn Learning course by Dhawan is a great place to start if you need help in this area.



Add a Personal Touch to Virtual Meetings
We’re facing an extended period of self-isolation. That means we’re going to crave human connection more than ever—especially those of us who live alone. Here’s a simple but beneficial habit to start incorporating now.

Whenever you call for a virtual meeting or plan to give a presentation to the team, build in time at the beginning for casual interaction. Adding a social element goes a long way toward replicating the comradery of face-to-face encounters. Slack’s ultimate guide to remote meetings has this sage advice:

Check in with everyone attending. Spend a few minutes having small talk as a group about what’s going on with work or at home. This will build rapport and help people feel more connected to each other at this crucial time. Also, it will boost engagement in the topic at hand once you get down to business. If you don’t do some ice-breaking first, you risk harming relationships.

We’ll be back next time with more practical tips on how to boost your virtual meeting and presentation skills. These will come in handy right away, but will also serve you well when life finally gets back to normal.

***

Did you enjoy this post about digital body language and online etiquette?  It originally appeared on the Blacklight, our weekly newsletter for professionals. At the Blacklight, we aim to illuminate with every dispatch that lands in your inbox. If you’re thirsty for guidance to help you slay it at work or as a student and move your goalposts closer, sign up today!

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COVID-19 Won’t Spike MBA Deferrals at Tuck School [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: COVID-19 Won’t Spike MBA Deferrals at Tuck School

Don’t expect to see a raft of MBA deferrals at Tuck School of Business due to the COVID-19 crisis. In a recent update on the Tuck 360 Blog, admissions director Luke Anthony Peña explained why—unlike Harvard Business School—the team has decided against offering admits the choice to postpone their start dates.

To be clear, Peña does not shut down the idea of allowing MBA deferrals at Tuck outright. The admissions team will consider all requests on a case-by-case basis, he explained.  However, Peña noted that Tuck School has a robust plan for instruction in the fall, either in person or remotely. Therefore, he said they do not expect to offer many deferrals.

“Given Tuck’s distinct scale, granting mass deferrals significantly changes our class composition, more so than if our community was larger,” Peña pointed out. Keep in mind, an incoming MBA class at Tuck School has fewer than 300 students. Meanwhile, that figure more than triples at HBS.

“Mass deferrals also dramatically reduce our available seats next year, and make applying for our Class of 2023 more artificially competitive,” he continued.

“We want to ensure this year’s class is strong and next year’s seats are attainable.”

Fairness and Equity Drive Round 4 Requirements
Unlike Kellogg School of Management, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, or CMU Tepper School of Business, Tuck will not waive the GMAT/GRE test score requirement for final round applicants.

“Fairness and equity are paramount to the integrity of our evaluation efforts,” Peña explained. “We required a complete application for all applicants in our first three rounds, and we made admissions decisions accordingly.”

“Changing or waiving application requirements now would introduce unfairness and inequity for candidates who applied earlier in this application year,” he added.

Also, Peña noted that the team would not reconsider any applications that were denied earlier in the cycle.

Waitlisted applicants from the first two rounds remain enthusiastic about joining the Class of 2022, he shared. They will continue to evaluate those candidates alongside later round applicants to fill the final seats in the class.

Finally, Peña said the team empathizes with admits who choose not to enroll this year. In such cases, they will work personally with those admitted students to encourage their applications, he added.

You can read more about MBA deferrals at Tuck and other COVID-19 admissions  FAQs here.

Photo courtesy of Tuck School of Business

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Introducing B-Schooled — the Stacy Blackman Consulting Podcast! [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Introducing B-Schooled — the Stacy Blackman Consulting Podcast!


The Stacy Blackman Consulting team is excited to announce the launch of B-Schooled, our MBA admissions consulting podcast! Our host, Erika Olson, is a Michigan Ross BBA and Harvard MBA who’s been on our admissions consulting team for over a decade.


Each Wednesday, she’ll be covering a different aspect of the MBA application and admissions process. Sometimes she’ll be joined by another member of our team—or Stacy herself!

Through B-Schooled, we’ll expand upon the insight and advice we offer on our blog and email newsletter. You’ll learn about how to pull together your personal-best business school materials, as well as make the most of your time once you enroll.

But we’ve got more than practical tips and applicant success stories to share. B-Schooled will also occasionally feature interviews with current business school students and recent graduates, as well as other key players along a typical candidate’s MBA admissions journey.

B-Schooled is available on most major podcast apps, including:

Apple Podcasts

Spotify

Stitcher

TuneIn

Our premiere episode, linked below, covers:

• What you can do to strengthen your candidacy between now and Round 1 deadlines in the fall, and

• One thing you should NOT worry about during these already-stressful times.

Please be sure to subscribe so that you don’t miss a thing. If there’s something you’d like for us to cover in a future episode, please email podcast@stacyblackman.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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UNC Kenan-Flagler Launches NC Business Next Program [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: UNC Kenan-Flagler Launches NC Business Next Program

Many new college graduates will encounter a grim job market due to the COVID-19 pandemic. With that in mind, the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School has introduced a unique program called NC Business Next.

This pilot program will offer spots in its upcoming MBA class to a small number of high performing college grads. These students can begin an MBA degree right away, without the typical three-to-five years of work experience requirement.

“Recognizing the difficult and uncertain career opportunities for new college graduates in North Carolina, we decided to launch an initiative that provides a route to career success for them,” explains UNC Kenan-Flagler dean Doug Shackelford.

Starting an MBA now will help students link their undergraduate studies to new leadership, communication, analytical, and business strategy skills. The program is open to graduates from UNC-Chapel Hill, other UNC campuses, and North Carolina residents from other universities.

“Students who graduate from college during an economic downturn struggle not just to get jobs, but also build the capabilities they need for long-term career success,” says Brad Staats, associate dean of MBA programs and an operations professor.

“Our MBA program – with its focus on applied knowledge, experiential learning and career skills – will help them address this gap. In the unusual circumstances caused by the COVID-19 crisis, we have the ability to offer this opportunity to a select group this fall and help develop a new generation of talented leaders for North Carolina.”

Evaluation Requirements for the NC Business Next Program
NC Business Next is open to graduates from all undergraduate majors. The admissions team will evaluate applicants on the following criteria.

    outstanding academic performancequantitative strengthletters of recommendationdemonstrated impact through leadership activitiesinternship and part-time work experiencemotivationinterviewsGPAstandardized test scores
Working with career and leadership coaches, students will receive strong support, says Melissa Hlavac, associate dean of MBA programs. In spite of the fact that UNC Kenan-Flagler doesn’t typically accept students with limited work experience, Hlavac thinks this won’t impede their future success. In the past, such students, often in dual-degree programs, have done very well, she says, both in initial placement and long-term career achievement.

Students will participate in the Analytical Skills Workshop to bolster their knowledge of critical business topics before starting classes. In addition, they will partner with MBA Dean’s Fellows and receive peer mentorship and guidance for success in the MBA program.

How to Apply
NC Business Next applicants will apply using UNC Kenan-Flagler’s standard Full-Time MBA application (Round 4, 2020 entry).

The program’s priority application deadline is June 15, with admissions decisions made on a rolling basis. Meeting the priority deadline will also maximize your opportunities for fellowship consideration. The final application deadline is July 13.

Recognizing the reduced ability to prepare for and take the GMAT or GRE, applicants may request a GMAT/GRE waiver. Applicants will be considered for fellowships as part of the admissions process.

“One of UNC Kenan-Flagler’s strengths is having MBA and Undergraduate Business students taught by one faculty in the same building,” says Staats. “So we are uniquely prepared to serve this new group of talented individuals who will bring diverse experiences and perspectives to our community.”

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B-Schooled Episode #2: Interview with Nick, SBC Client and HBS Class o [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: B-Schooled Episode #2: Interview with Nick, SBC Client and HBS Class of 2020 Student


You don’t want to miss the second episode of B-Schooled! In it, our host — SBC admissions consultant Erika — has an all-encompassing chat with her former client Nick, who was accepted to both HBS and Stanford GSB and is about to graduate from HBS. They cover:

  • Nick’s “stats,” and what approach Erika and Nick took to his MBA application positioning
  • What Nick thought was the most important part of the process
  • Nick’s essay topics (and what Erika steered him away from including)
  • Nick’s advice for other applicants, particularly those with a military background like his
  • An in-depth description of Nick’s interview experiences with both Harvard and Stanford
  • Nick’s time at HBS, including the switch to virtual classes due to COVID-19
Listen here, or on any of the podcast apps listed below.

B-Schooled is available on most major podcast apps, including:

Please be sure to subscribe to B-Schooled so that you don’t miss a thing. If there’s something you’d like for us to cover in a future episode, please email podcast@stacyblackman.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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B-Schooled Episode #3: Don’t Be Joe or Jane MBA [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: B-Schooled Episode #3: Don’t Be Joe or Jane MBA
In this episode of SBC’s new podcast B-Schooled, we discuss the risks of trying to be a “Joe or Jane MBA” — the stereotypical business school candidate. You’ll come to understand why trying to mimic a friend, relative, or co-worker’s MBA positioning or strategy can backfire, even if they got into a top program.

Listen to B-Schooled episode #3 here, or on any of the podcast apps listed below.

B-Schooled is available on most major podcast apps, including:

Please be sure to subscribe to B-Schooled so that you don’t miss a thing. If there’s something you’d like for us to cover in a future episode, please email podcast@stacyblackman.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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Is Now the Best Time to Apply? Ross School AdCom Director Thinks So [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Is Now the Best Time to Apply? Ross School AdCom Director Thinks So


Several elite business schools have extended their Round 3 deadlines to accommodate MBA applicants affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This flexibility presents a conundrum for some b-school aspirants, who wonder, is now the best time to apply? What is the advantage of forging ahead with an application this late in the game? Or, should they wait for Round 1 in the fall?

MBA admissions director Soojin Kwon at the Ross School of Business believes now really is the best time to apply.  As Ross Dean Scott DeRue pointed out in a prospective student town hall last month, “It’s never a bad time to invest in yourself.”

In her latest blog post, Kwon speaks not only from the perspective of a business school student recruiter. She also considers the matter as, “a pragmatist, a former consultant, and a Ross MBA alum — all of which compel me to use a structured approach to decision making,” she explains.

Granted, we can’t predict the outcome of how this global pandemic will unfold. To help prospective applicants think beyond the standard pros and cons, Kwon thinks a matrix can help. Below is the one she shares in her post. “Take a moment to envision the scenarios in the inner squares based on your own work situation,” she advises.


Image credit: UM Ross School of Business
Is Now the Best Time to Apply?
Kwon does note one group for whom a late-round application is not advisable this year: international students. These applicants should hold off for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle to allow enough time for visa processing.  But despite all of the unknowns, Kwon believes those who earn an MBA degree in the next two years will ultimately benefit.

When we here at SBC think back to the economic crisis of 2008,  we are reminded that MBA grads from that era, in particular, moved into new careers that they felt highly passionate about.  The coronavirus will likely also spark MBA students’ passions and ingenuity to meet the needs of an altered world.

Regardless of what happens with the stay-at-home orders and the economy, two years from now, you’ll be better off by having earned your MBA degree and the experience, knowledge, skills, and connections that come with it, Kwon says.

In the case of Ross School, Kwon adds that this is an ideal time to apply because applicants will have two chances in one calendar year. Plus, they can apply twice with one application fee. (Those who are not admitted in R3 can apply again in R1 and Ross will waive the application fee.) In addition, they will have an easier reapplication process because they won’t need to submit new essays or recommendation letters.

The bottom line, says Kwon, is that “applying this year could lead to expanded career opportunities later.”

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Snapshot of a Successful SBC Client [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Snapshot of a Successful SBC Client

Sometimes, it’s instructive (not to mention, fun!) to share a granular look at a successful SBC client and their MBA application journey. Today, we’ve asked SBC consultant Caryn (pictured) to reveal some of the details of an applicant she worked with during the 2019-2020 admissions season.

Let’s take a look at the particulars of this client case study.  You just may find similarities between her profile and your own. Please note, we’ve anonymized some of the specifics of this candidate to protect her privacy.

Snapshot of a Successful SBC Client
Demography: White U.S. female, 26-years-old.  First-time applicant

Education: Top 50 West Coast state school

Exam Scores Submitted: GMAT – 700 (V40, Q45, IR 6). Tried GRE instead for Round 2 application ( V158 Q162)

Professional Experience: She worked for four years in market research at a sports apparel company. She had interesting stories of leadership through project management and showed initiative through taking on roles beyond her existing position.  Good global experience as well, leading international efforts in APAC.

Extracurricular: She had strong involvement during undergrad in student government with multiple leadership roles on a large campus. In addition, she had a solid track record of mentorship that began in high school and continued throughout college and beyond (albeit lighter post-college).

Post MBA Goals: In the short term, she wants to pivot to brand management at a consumer packaged goods (CPG) company. Her long-term goal is to become a chief marketing officer (CMO) at a CPG company.

Target Schools: Round 1 Kellogg School of Management, Michigan Ross School of Business, Duke Fuqua School of Business (all with GMAT score submitted). Round 2 Harvard Business School (with GRE score submitted)

Interviewed at: Kellogg, Ross, Fuqua, and HBS

Waitlisted at: Kellogg

Accepted at: Fuqua (with a significant scholarship), Ross (with scholarship), and HBS

What did this applicant do well?
We spent a great deal of time upfront on strategy. We wanted to ensure that her goals aligned well with her background and interests. In addition, we developed a robust school research/outreach plan. She did significant networking with the business schools she applied to (attending events, talking to current students and alums, etc.).

She also wrote compelling essays that highlighted her strong personality and communication skills. Specifically, she emphasized her leadership roles throughout all aspects of the application, in both professional and extracurricular capacities. It was clear she’d be a terrific team member.

Finally, we prepped for interviews extensively. She had great interviews (most likely a highlight of her application).

What, if anything, could she have done better?
She could have switched from the GMAT to the GRE earlier in the process.  She had already committed a great deal of study time to the GMAT and remained laser-focused on seeing it through. However, even with continued practice tests, her scores were not in the ideal range.

Once she switched to the GRE, it enabled HBS to get comfortable with her scores. Plus, it potentially added to scholarship opportunities for her R1 schools. (She updated those programs with her GRE scores one month after submitting her applications).

***

Thanks, Caryn, for sharing this successful SBC client profile with our readers! If you would like to learn more about how SBC can help make your MBA dreams a reality, get in touch for a free 15-minute consultation today!

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Harvard MBA Essay for 2020-2021 [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Harvard MBA Essay for 2020-2021


In addition to the HBS deadlines, the Harvard MBA essay for the 2020-21 admissions season has been confirmed. As MBA Admissions Director Chad Losee recently explained, “Amidst all the uncertainty globally, we plan to minimize changes in our application process this year.”

Therefore, the essay question remains unchanged from the last admissions cycle.

Harvard MBA Essay for 2020-2021:
“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?” (no word limit)

The application will open up again in mid-June 2020, Losee added. Meanwhile, he encourages applicants to download the Application Guide to learn more about the requirements.

“The essay really is make or break for HBS,” shares one of the former HBS Admissions Officers on the SBC team. “So many applications have acceptable credentials up to that point of the application. It really is the essay that sets the overall application apart and earns it the interview.”

Check out our updated tips for the 2020-2021 Harvard MBA essay. And don’t hesitate to contact us to learn how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help with your Harvard MBA application.

Image credit: Michael A. Herzog (CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Tuesday Tips: Harvard MBA Essay Advice for 2020-2021 [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Tuesday Tips: Harvard MBA Essay Advice for 2020-2021


Harvard Business School has confirmed that the Harvard MBA essay question for the class of 2023 remains unchanged. According to MBA Admissions Director Chad Losee, “Amidst all the uncertainty globally, we plan to minimize changes in our application process this year.”  The admissions committee understands that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted plans, employment, and personal lives.

The Harvard MBA essay is challenging because it is open-ended. Therefore, you must remain disciplined while writing this essay. You will feel tempted to write a laundry list of everything interesting or impressive you have ever done with unlimited space. That urge could backfire. The admissions committee uses the essay to weed out those who aren’t a fit for HBS. On the other hand, a persuasive essay can move you into the interview round for a closer look.

First, think about who Harvard is looking for. The admissions committee writes that “Habit of Leadership, Analytical Aptitude and Appetite, and Engaged Community Citizenship” are the common characteristics of a successful applicant.

One of the former HBS Admissions Officers on the SBC team shared, “The essay really is make or break for HBS – so many applications have acceptable credentials up to that point of the application and it is the essay that sets the overall application apart and earns it the interview.”

Class of 2023 Harvard MBA essay question:
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? (no word count limit)

 A note on word count: HBS values brevity in essays. Don’t go overboard with a 2,000-word essay. Instead, focus on concise and clear writing and consider keeping it in the ~1,000-word range. Our clients have successfully composed essays anywhere from 500-1,300 words. If you find yourself on the upper end of that range, review and cut any unnecessary words.

Because there is no stated word count for the Harvard MBA essay, you have the flexibility to take extra space if you are telling a compelling story that needs it.

The goal of this essay is to know yourself, know HBS, and know how to match the two. Your task is to demonstrate your fit with Harvard Business School. First, evaluate all of the other aspects of your candidacy – what is the story your resume tells? What do you think recommenders will say? How does your transcript communicate your skills, accomplishments, and interests? Then, evaluate how to fill the gaps with the essay.

“At the end of the essay, the reader should feel so moved they want to meet you immediately – can’t wait to get to know you better, hear more of the story, ask you specific questions to learn more, be inspired, etc,” shared one of the former HBS Admissions Officers on the SBC team.

Learn more about current HBS students
Check out the incoming class profile for some idea of the “typical” HBS student. Keep in mind that both personal and career-oriented topics can work for this essay. In fact, most candidates tell more than one story in the essay. In the past, we have seen successful HBS essays demonstrate a core driving passion. HBS students are ambitious, motivated, and never dull.

Choose stories that show your management potential. HBS has always focused on leadership and loves candidates with a track record of leadership impact and future potential. Your goal is to demonstrate a success trajectory to indicate upper management potential. And, your path should show a passion for impact in both business and society.

In past years, Harvard MBA essay questions focused on accomplishments. Therefore, consider telling an accomplishment story in this essay. If your key achievements are not evident in your resume or transcripts, you can use this essay to explain them.

That said, this essay aims to discover who you are. “Be genuine,” advises the HBS admissions blog, and continues: “Yes, we want you to put your best foot forward, but be careful not to be so ‘polished’ that we can’t get to know the real you.” Especially at this time of global hardship, your story doesn’t need to be perfect. Embrace the challenges that you have overcome and tell your story. Remember that focusing on the lessons in your setbacks can be inspiring and revealing.

A note on what not to do
Many applicants feel compelled to include “why HBS” type information in the Harvard MBA essay. Unlike most MBA programs, HBS has never asked “why HBS” in an application essay question. If you feel strongly that you want to explain why Harvard is the right fit, focus on tangible differences like the Case Method learning style.

However, avoid lengthy explanations about how HBS is your top choice. Instead, use the space to provide detailed information about you and your strong candidacy.

Contact us to learn more about how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help you with your Harvard MBA application.

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B-Schooled Episode #4: How Important are Extracurriculars and Communit [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: B-Schooled Episode #4: How Important are Extracurriculars and Community Service
What should you do if you’re light on extracurriculars, volunteer work, and community service? And is it even worth it to try and beef up this aspect of your MBA candidacy during COVID-19 lockdowns … and when there are only a few months before Round 1 deadlines? This episode gives MBA applicants some tactical ideas for how to ensure they’re not just relying on their academic and professional achievements in their materials.

Listen to B-Schooled episode #4 here, or on any of the podcast apps listed below.

B-Schooled is available on most major podcast apps, including:

Please be sure to subscribe to B-Schooled so that you don’t miss a thing. If there’s something you’d like for us to cover in a future episode, please email podcast@stacyblackman.com. We’d love to hear from you!

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Wharton Application Deadlines for 2020-2021 [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Wharton Application Deadlines for 2020-2021


Is the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School on your shortlist of target b-schools? Then mark your calendar, because here are the Wharton application deadlines for the 2020-2021 admissions cycle!

Wharton Application Deadlines
Round 1
Application due: September 15, 2020

Decision released: December 16, 2020

Round 2
Application due: January 5, 2021

Decision released: March 25, 2021

Round 3
Application due: March 31, 2021

Decision released: May 11, 2021

Applications are due by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) on the day of the deadline.

Applications submitted after the deadline for Round 1 or 2 will get rolled into the next round. Wharton will not accept applications submitted after the Round 3 deadline.

Ultimately, by applying earlier in a round, you will have more time to schedule an interview. For this reason, Wharton recommends submitting your application as soon as possible.  Notably, some programs require you to apply during Round 1 or 2.

For more information on applying, please visit the Wharton School admissions site.  Meanwhile, if you need guidance on your Wharton MBA application, or wish to discuss your MBA plans, reach out for a complimentary analysis of your candidacy. We’re here to help!

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Insider Intel for Chicago Booth Applicants [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Insider Intel for Chicago Booth Applicants
Starting an MBA in this economic, political, and social climate shows a real strength of character.  These students have stepped forward to become change-makers, showing faith in the programs they’ve chosen. But more importantly, they have confidence in their ability to adapt to whatever the COVID-19 pandemic does to their learning environment and recruiting landscape.

We’re betting that the class of 2022 is going to share similarities with those who graduated in 2010 and 2011, following the global financial crisis. That is to say, innovative, adaptable, and hard-hustling. What happens in the fall is anyone’s guess. Yet the demand for an MBA from a high-profile school has never been greater.

[img]https://www.stacyblackman.com/wp-content/uploads/SBC-consultant-Meg-cropped-and-flipped-669x734.jpg[/img]
Today we’re welcoming [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com/consultant/meg/]Meg[/url], who has been with the SBC consulting team since 2017, with a Q&A specifically for Chicago Booth applicants. Meg served as a Senior Associate Director of Admissions at [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com/mba-application-advice/chicago-booth/]Chicago Booth School of Business[/url] in their full-time MBA program for over two years.

In addition to her role as an AdCom, Meg oversaw the planning and execution of Booth’s First Day. This event welcomed hundreds of admitted students and their significant others twice annually.  The Campus Visit Program, which brought hundreds of students to campus throughout the year, also fell under her purview.

These on-campus events allowed her to observe an abundance of prospective students. More importantly, she saw what it took for Chicago Booth applicants to get admitted into this prestigious full-time MBA program.

[b]Q: What were the biggest mistakes applicants made when applying to Booth?[/b]
A: The first mistake that comes to mind is when an applicant doesn’t directly answer the essay questions. The creative process is different for everyone. But you must take the time to respond thoughtfully to the question asked. Second, referencing another business school anywhere in your application always results in a ding against you.

[b]Q: You oversaw the campus visit program at Booth. Do you think making the trip is worth it for a prospective Chicago Booth applicant?[/b]
A: ABSOLUTELY. Think about visiting campus as a critical part of your application checklist. The COVID-19 pandemic has made in-person visits off the table for now. Regardless, it’s essential to show up in whatever way you can to learn more about the program, the institution, and the community.

The idea behind engaging (whether in-person or digitally) is that you develop a deep understanding of fit. It doesn’t matter how majestic the campus or how highly-ranked the program. If you don’t feel the connection and fit with the community, keep looking. You want to walk away from these visits and discussions feeling like you’ve found “your people.”

[img]https://www.stacyblackman.com/wp-content/uploads/Chicago-Booth-supplied-by-school-734x490.jpg[/img]

[b]Q: When an applicant asks you, “What are my chances of getting into Booth?”, what is your response? [/b]
A: The truth is that no one in the world, except for the Deans of Admissions at these institutions, knows your odds. Although it’s tempting to try to figure it out, it’s exponentially more productive to direct that energy toward your essays, engaging with the community, or your application.

[b]Q: Do you think there is an area Chicago Booth applicants tend to underrate or overrate the importance of?[/b]
A: Booth has a special community, and the same can be said for a lot of business schools. Applicants underrate the importance of knowing why that particular school is a fit for them. They have to go beyond the highlights they can read about online.

Be sure to have a deep appreciation for the unique qualities of whatever school you have targeted. Then, make sure to speak to those specific components in your application. This includes your essays, your interview, as well as in discussions you have with anyone connected to the school.

[b]Q: If you had to pick one thing, what did you love about working in Booth’s full-time MBA program? [/b]
A: There’s certainly a LOT to appreciate about a Chicago Booth MBA. Applicants will likely hear about Booth’s pay-it-forward mentality, their discipline-based approach to learning, or the fact that they happen to have [url=https://review.chicagobooth.edu/content/nobel-laureates]Nobel-prize winners[/url] teaching there.

For me, I loved the fact that the students were encouraged, even expected, to be involved in the growth of the institution. Booth is a place that values tension in the classroom. Every year, Donna Swinford (Associate Dean of Recruitment and Admissions) and her team put together [url=https://www.chicagobooth.edu/mba/mba-life/the-classroom-experience?sc_lang=en]classes of students[/url] who don’t think alike.

There are countless examples of diverse student groups uniting to lead initiatives that have ultimately made Booth a better place. The point is to have a diversity of thought. Booth students embrace the opportunity to learn and grow from each other’s unique perspectives. In doing so, they become better versions of themselves.

The post [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com/blog/intel-chicago-booth-applicants/]Insider Intel for Chicago Booth Applicants[/url] appeared first on [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com]Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting[/url].

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Focus on These 5 Areas for MBA Admissions Success [#permalink]
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FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Focus on These 5 Areas for MBA Admissions Success
[img]https://www.stacyblackman.com/wp-content/uploads/MBA-APPLICATION-JOURNEY-734x413.png[/img]

The MBA admissions process is rigorous and time-consuming. Therefore, having a strategy in place to guide you will go a long way toward helping you manage this experience. Admissions committee members evaluate MBA applicants across a host of components, so your goal is to maximize the impact of each one. Turn your focus to these five specific areas for MBA admissions success in the fall.

Remember, each touchpoint is an opportunity to tell the admissions office something new about yourself. As we recently shared with [url=https://find-mba.com/articles/your-guide-to-the-entire-mba-application]Find MBA[/url], it’s a good thing that the adcom will judge you on your entire package.  After all, we’re so much more than just our jobs, our grades, and our volunteer experience.

Focus Areas for MBA Admissions Success
[b]GPA[/b]
Your GPA is a significant element of your MBA application. Besides your admissions test score, it’s a clear signal of your ability to handle the academic rigor of business school.

Unfortunately, it is also one of the only components already set in stone. Keep in mind that a 3.5 or better undergraduate GPA is acceptable for most MBA applications. Check the mean standard for admitted students at your target programs to see whether you have a problem to overcome.

If you do have a [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com/blog/3-ways-to-offset-a-low-gpa-when-applying-to-business-school/]below-average GPA[/url] or low grades in quantitative/business classes, consider taking an online course this summer. Earning A’s in college-level quant courses will help convince the admissions committee that you can succeed in a challenging, fast-paced MBA program. Also, taking steps to shore up those weaknesses shows maturity and your ability to balance academics with work.

[b]Career Progression[/b]
When applying to a top-tier business school, show a clear path of professional growth in your application. The admissions team likes to meet potential students who have the drive to advance their skills and leadership abilities continually.

[img]https://www.stacyblackman.com/wp-content/uploads/man-in-black-suit-achieved-an-accomplishment-3779409-734x489.jpg[/img]

If this is a trouble spot for you, it’s time to get creative. Think of ways to add value and continue to develop your career. If an official title change is not in the cards in the coming months, find other ways to take on more senior responsibilities at work. Ask to join a high-level project. Take on a leadership role. If you have a new member on the team, volunteer to mentor that person.

Even within a flat organization with no title change, you can still [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com/blog/focus-on-career-progression-results-for-a-successful-mba-resume/]show career progression[/url] on your resume. Review your accomplishments and see how you can portray them in a way that reveals your professional growth. Each time your responsibilities grew, you can describe it in a bullet point with the date. For example:

[list]
[*]Directed a staff of three in servicing 45 client relationships of global corporations with a total of more than $25B in assets. (2019) [/*]
[*]Contributed to the growth of $34B business through a mix of market research, marketing, and client servicing. (2017-2018)[/*]
[/list]
The essays also provide ample opportunities to summarize career progress as well as to explain the structure of your organization.

[b]Admissions Test[/b]
Unlike your GPA, business school aspirants have a great deal of control over this aspect of the application. Try to get the test out of the way as soon as possible. Then you can focus your energy on the essays and recommendation letters during the summer months.

Explore your options and take a practice test. Consider taking a free or paid prep course, studying with a friend, or hiring a tutor if possible. These strategies can help you maintain discipline while studying. If English is not your first language, factor this into your plan as well. After all, preparation is essential for most candidates to excel on the test.

If you received a below-average score the first time, [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com/blog/retake-gmat/]plan to [/url]retake the exam.  Reflect on whether you genuinely gave it 100 percent the first time around. Admissions committees often look favorably upon applicants who try to improve their scores. A score boost can help clear the path for MBA admissions success.

[b]Recommendation Letters[/b]
The admissions committee pays close attention to the content of recommendation letters in support of your MBA candidacy. Therefore, you should only choose recommenders who will champion your business school aspirations. A lukewarm letter of recommendation could do more damage to your chances of admission than a lower GPA or test score.

Few applicants realize how much they can influence their recommenders to help them draft powerful, persuasive letters of support. While you should never write the letter yourself, you can guide your recommender to focus on key traits—leadership, communication skills, integrity, innovation mindset—that you wish to highlight.

[img]https://www.stacyblackman.com/wp-content/uploads/Highly_Recommended-2-734x309.jpg[/img]

Remind them of at least three compelling, work-related anecdotes that show how you contributed to a project, led a team, inspired others, communicated effectively, etc. Your recommenders can help you stand out from thousands of other highly qualified applicants by painting a clear picture of both the personal and professional you.

Recommenders need to do a lot of work on your behalf. Start identifying who you want to approach now and have a preliminary chat with them about your MBA plans. Once they are on board, begin assembling materials so you can guide them to write the [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com/blog/mba-recommendation-letter/]most effective letter[/url] on your behalf.

[b]Essays[/b]
While most schools have yet to publish their essays for the 2020-2021 season, you can get a good idea of the types of stories you will need by reading last year’s application. Knowing that you will have to describe a leadership experience may motivate you to take on a new leadership role – in or outside of work. Realizing that you will see questions about your level of community involvement may push you to step up your volunteering efforts.

It is also a good idea to [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com/blog/3-unconventional-steps-to-writing-great-mba-essays/]begin brainstorming[/url] your answers to two questions that will crop up in either essay questions or the MBA interview. First, what are your career goals? And second, why do you need an MBA now? Reflect on your background and what stories you could share. If you identify gaps, create a plan to fill them.

We recommend that candidates allocate two to three hours each time they sit down to work on their essays, especially for the first few drafts. Non-native English speakers may find they need to allow even more time for their applications, particularly on writing, revising, editing, proofing, formatting, and inputting essays. That said, applicants should also avoid the “marathon session.” Few people remain sharp or creative during eight hours of writing and editing.

June is right around the corner. Now is the time to launch into your MBA application journey with an eye toward MBA admissions success. Make this the year you take those vital first steps toward transforming your career.

The post [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com/blog/mba-admissions-success/]Focus on These 5 Areas for MBA Admissions Success[/url] appeared first on [url=https://www.stacyblackman.com]Stacy Blackman Consulting - MBA Admissions Consulting[/url].

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