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Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog

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Tuesday Tips: Cornell Johnson Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips [#permalink]

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New post 09 Aug 2016, 21:01
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Tuesday Tips: Cornell Johnson Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips
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Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management is a flexible MBA program housed within an Ivy League campus. Cornell Johnson offers multiple full-time options, including a one-year MBA, executive programs and a tech focused program.

Cornell Johnson has multiple joint degree programs as well from a JD-MBA to MBA-MD. Whatever your goals and background Cornell has a program that can help you achieve your goals.

When approaching this set of Cornell essays it will be useful to set an application strategy. Identify the program you are most interested in and do substantial school research. Then examine your background and goals to see what is most important to explain as part of your story.

Next, add the layer of personal background and experiences – consider what makes you truly unique. Finally, make sure you have solid academics, work experience and extracurriculars. If you identify any holes in your profile or story, take the time to fill them prior to starting your application.

CREATING IMPACT

At Cornell, we value students who create impact. Please indicate the opportunities for impact that you have identified through engagement with our community and describe how these interactions have influenced your decision to apply to Johnson. (500 words or fewer)

This year Cornell has replaced a standard careers goals question with a question about your fit with Johnson. The framing of the question brings in a core value of the program, creating impact, and asks you to imagine how you might create impact at Johnson based on your research into the program.

The first step in answering this question is to do your research. Ideally you will have an opportunity to either visit Johnson or to attend an admissions event in your city. If neither option is available to you, reach out to your network to see if you can meet current students or alumni of the program.

When you meet members of the Johnson community, make sure you ask about the unique opportunities on campus to contribute, whether through social clubs, volunteering, professional clubs or academics. Johnson offers groups for interests ranging from cooking to ice hockey, and has professional clubs for every possible career path.

Once you have identified opportunities for you to contribute to campus life at Johnson, ideally you can support your story with evidence from your past experiences.

For example, if you want to bring new speakers to the Johnson Marketing Association because you have contributed to your young professionals group at work, explain that you have successfully organized events featuring major speakers for a large group of people and can bring that skill to create impact for your peers at Johnson.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

You are the author of your Life Story. Please create the Table of Contents for the book in the space provided or upload it as an attachment. We value creativity and authenticity and encourage you to approach this essay with your unique style. Alternative submission formats may include a slide presentation, links to pre-existing media (personal website, digital portfolio, YouTube etc.), as well as visually enhanced written submissions.

Maximum file size is 5 MB. If you choose to submit a written Table of Contents, please limit your submission to 500 words or fewer. Please limit multimedia submissions to under 5 minutes

This essay is an opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are on a personal level. Think about highlighting areas you may not have been able to touch in the previous career focused essays, and demonstrate your unique personal attributes or community involvement.

If you have a consistent theme of involvement in a charity or activity this is the perfect opportunity to demonstrate why you became involved and what you have done over the years.

When structuring the story, think of this essay as a way to communicate a narrative theme of your life to the admissions committee. What are the key moments that are meaningful to you? Were there pivotal experiences with your friends, family, hobbies or interests that led you to become the person you are today?

This essay can be delivered in any of the media specified above (video, slide presentation, website) and you should tailor the format you use to the message you want to send. Though a creative format can impress the admissions committee, substance is always the most important part of the essay. Make sure you are highlighting unique, individual qualities that will make the case for admission to Cornell.

OPTIONAL ESSAY

Complete this essay if you would like to add additional details regarding your candidacy. For instance, if you believe one or more aspects of your application (e.g., undergraduate record or test scores) do not accurately reflect your potential for success at Johnson.

If you are reapplying for admission, please use this essay to indicate how you have strengthened your application since the last time you applied.

This optional essay allows for either an explanation of any weaknesses in your application or additional information that may bolster your application. If you have a poor GPA or GMAT, concerns with your undergraduate record, or were unable to provide a recommendation from a current supervisor, this is the place to offer explanations, not excuses.

Quickly describe the situation and what may have contributed to the issue (illness, family difficulties, etc.) without editorializing. Focus the balance of your essay on looking forward: what have you done in the recent past to demonstrate your skills and intelligence?

If you are a reapplicant this is the ideal place to explain what you have done since your last application to strengthen your case for admission. If you have a new GMAT score or took classes in calculus or statistics you have a solid case for improved academics. A promotion could signal career development and leadership.

Even if you don’t have a clear cut development to describe you can use this space to explain how you have improved your thinking, career goals, or fit with Cornell.

Stuck on the Johnson Cornell essay questions? Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn how we can help.

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Developing ‘Brand You’: The Way to Drive Home Your Main Points [#permalink]

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New post 10 Aug 2016, 08:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Developing ‘Brand You’: The Way to Drive Home Your Main Points
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As part of our month-long anniversary celebration, I’d like to highlight some of my favorite blog posts from along the way that I think will really resonate with applicants who are gearing up for submission this fall. 
Enjoy!


Think for a moment about the audience for your business school application: you will be spending hour upon hour writing a magnum opus may be read by just one person, or a select few at most.

These people have dozens of applications they need to get through each day and even the most diligent may at times miss some points in your essays. That’s why you need to make things as easy as possible for the admissions committee members by making sure they can’t miss who you are and what you can add to the class.

The best applications feature three or four aspects of the applicant’s character and experiences that anyone reading the essays can’t help but identify. These three or four traits combine to form “Brand You.”

We all know the power of brands. Companies spend tons of cash to make sure you know how they deliver value and what they stand for. While there are many more subtle facets to their full corporate identities and many nuances to their product/service offerings, firms need to make sure that customers have a complete and unambiguous understanding of a limited list of characteristics.

Take, for instance, this list of traits for a few well-known companies:

1. Low prices everyday, huge selection, one-stop shop

2. Great place to hang out, socially responsible, respect for employees

3. Great design, simplifying the complex, cool

4. Irreverent, youth-oriented, influencing lifestyles

5. Fun, family, fantasy

Even from just these short descriptions, you can probably guess which companies we’re referencing (answers below). That’s because these messages have been pounded into your head through repetition, multiple interactions with the firm or exposure to marketing messages.

Similarly, candidates need to make sure the people who read their applications make no mistake about the core of their character and experiences. Certainly, all applications end up covering more than three to four points if they capture the wonderful complexities of us as humans. But if we give equal weight to 20 traits, we water down the main things the admissions committee needs to know about us.

Sure, a candidate wants to be known as a “natural leader, intellectual, creative, driven, community-minded, responsible, action-oriented, nurturing, committed, rigorous, internationally-focused, physically fit, welcoming, laid back, institution-building and adventurous,” but ultimately, we really don’t know what this person stands for.

People “branding” themselves like this have made choices on what they want to emphasize:

“A behind-the-scenes leader, creative problem-solver, and passionate about international development.”

“A great motivator, cutting-edge thinker on financial markets and committed to education.”

“Dedicated to environmental causes, a skilled negotiator, a committed mentor and family-oriented.”

Reinforce the main three to four traits through repetition; other aspects of your character and experience will come out naturally.

Just a few words can trigger our thoughts about a brand. Did you get these from the short statements above?

1. Wal-Mart

2. Starbucks

3. Apple

4. MTV

5. Disney

It’s never too early to start mulling over the general outlines and topics for your essays.  Paying attention to what makes a “great essay” long before you start writing will help you sort through your best concepts.

 

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
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USC Marshall Fall 2017 MBA Essay Questions [#permalink]

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New post 10 Aug 2016, 11:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: USC Marshall Fall 2017 MBA Essay Questions
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The application to the full-time MBA program at USC Marshall School of Business is now live, and here we share with you the essay questions, which remain unchanged for the 2016-2017 admissions season.

Required MBA Essays
  • Please complete both sections in no more than 700 words combined:
  • What is your immediate short-term goal post-graduation from the USC Marshall MBA program? (please include industry and function information in your answer.)
  • How will USC Marshall enable you to develop or improve your skills in order to reach your goals?
2. Tell us about a time went you went beyond what was defined, established, or expected. (200 words)

3. Optional Essay: Please provide any additional information that you believe is important and/or will address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application. (250 words)

4. Reapplicant Essay:  Please describe any significant professional, personal, or academic growth since your last application to the USC Marshall School of Business. Discuss your specific professional goals and how the USC Marshall Full-Time MBA Program will help you achieve those goals. (500-700 words)

For more information, please visit the USC Marshall MBA admissions website.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Interested in a free 30 minute consultation with the Stacy Blackman Team? Sign up here: http://stacyblackman.com/contact

Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
MBA blogger, US News and Author, The MBA Application Roadmap

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#TBT I’ve Joined Forces with Beat The GMAT! [#permalink]

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New post 11 Aug 2016, 08:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: #TBT I’ve Joined Forces with Beat The GMAT!
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I love revisiting these moments during our history when SBC forged partnerships with other leaders in the MBA admissions industry, such as this valuable and enduring relationship I have with Beat the GMAT.

More than a decade ago, way back in Spring 2006, I shared this news on the blog:

I am happy to announce that I will be fielding questions related to MBA admissions on the Beat The GMAT! forum.

Beat The GMAT! was born over a year ago when Eric, the creator, decided to take the GMAT and blog his entire experience. The blog received such great feedback that he identified an opportunity to create a free GMAT prep community. The website is now maintained entirely by ads and donations, and all profits are given back to the community in the form of scholarships and services.

I think it is a great idea, and a valuable resource and am excited to be a part of this project. If I can answer any questions for you, please feel free to ask them on the forum, so the extended community can benefit from the information. And be sure to check on the Beat The GMAT! blogand forum for some valuable MBA prep information.

***

I’m just as excited by what we’re accomplishing here every day at SBC as I was in 2001, and I can’t wait to see how we grow and continue to help others reach their highest educational and professional goals over the next 15 years!

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Interested in a free 30 minute consultation with the Stacy Blackman Team? Sign up here: http://stacyblackman.com/contact

Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
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3 Unconventional Steps to Writing Great MBA Essays [#permalink]

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New post 12 Aug 2016, 07:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: 3 Unconventional Steps to Writing Great MBA Essays
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This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.
The essay component is arguably the most important piece of your business school application. After all, a compelling story can help counterbalance weaker aspects of your candidacy.

Before you start working on your MBA applications in earnest, first think through and articulate your career objectives, assess your strengths and weaknesses and make sure you have done as much research as possible on the business schools that seem like the best fit for you. Through our work with applicants, we’ve learned that it’s best to begin the brainstorming phase by sifting through an array of life experiences to see what emerges as a core strength.

But what can you do if you’re seriously stumped on what to write about? When you feel blocked, don’t panic. Inspiration is everywhere in your daily life. Try these unconventional approaches to help spark a great MBA essay.

1. Ask people around you for their insights: Sometimes it’s hard to see what makes each of us special, so ask a coworker, mentor or friend for inspiration. An invigorating or profound conversation with a good friend can really stir up new ideas and get your creative juices flowing.

To jump-start this process, gather friends and family and have them share what they think is most interesting and memorable about you. Ask what values they see you demonstrating in your life and career or in your personal choices.

Dig deeper and ask yourself how you would want your future classmates to see you. What are some of the personal stories you would share with a new friend?

What would your future professors want to know about you? How might you contribute while in school and after graduation?

2. Record your first thoughts: What do you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about? When you look back at your life, what will you admire and regret about your choices?

These are the kind of questions to ask yourself as you approach a variety of common MBA essay topics. Keep a notebook by your bed so you can record your first thoughts or dreams upon waking up – these might help you understand your passions.

Here’s another strategy to try: [/b]Set your alarm for an odd hour, wake up and read an essay question. Contemplate the first things that pop into your head.

Often, the act of doing something simple in a new way or just at a different time will get you out of your rut and allow you to see things from a fresh perspective. Take a new route to the office, switch up your workout schedule or skip the nightly Netflix binge and end the day with an intriguing novel instead. See whether these simple changes boost your essay ideas.

3. Keep a journal: In the weeks leading up to writing your application essays, keep a journal and jot down moments that impact you, such as a great meal, an amazing sunset or a funny video. Then when you begin to write, look through your notes and see where inspiration strikes.

For convenience, you may prefer to dictate your thoughts into your phone while you are out and about. Often, casual speaking tone translates into a more authentic and personable version once written on paper; this can be a great launching pad for the first drafts of your essays.

Another useful technique is documenting your life as it is now on a storyboard with various categories, such as personal, professional, extracurricular and academic. As a starting point, you may want to think about the choices that have led you to your current career path.

Focus on the inflection points that have inspired you – whether coursework in college, early exposure to running your own business or watching a family member pursue his or her dreams – to help clearly outline the reasons you have made certain life choices thus far.

Once you’ve tried one or more of these unconventional but effective exercises, you should start to develop a few intriguing ideas. Then no single piece of the MBA essay writing process should seem intimidating.

And remember to plan ahead and leave plenty of time for rewriting – truly great essays aren’t crafted overnight.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Interested in a free 30 minute consultation with the Stacy Blackman Team? Sign up here: http://stacyblackman.com/contact

Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
MBA blogger, US News and Author, The MBA Application Roadmap

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August ‘To Do’ List for MBA Applicants [#permalink]

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New post 15 Aug 2016, 10:01
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: August ‘To Do’ List for MBA Applicants
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The summer may be winding down, but MBA admissions season is just ramping up. By August, all of the top MBA programs have announced their deadlines and essay questions, and applicants should have a solid set of schools they plan to target.

If you’re ready to start your application, one of your first decisions is whether to try for Round 1 deadlines, which are in September and October, or aim for Round 2 in early 2017. After you’ve made that decision, the two heavy-duty areas applicants need to focus on right now are prepping recommenders and brainstorming and drafting essays.

Ready to learn more? To read the rest of my August “To Do List” for applicants, click on over to Business Insider!

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Interested in a free 30 minute consultation with the Stacy Blackman Team? Sign up here: http://stacyblackman.com/contact

Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
MBA blogger, US News and Author, The MBA Application Roadmap

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Tuesday Tips: London Business School Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips [#permalink]

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New post 16 Aug 2016, 08:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Tuesday Tips: London Business School Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips
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London Business School is a close-knit program with an international focus, set in one of the most exciting centers of culture in Europe. Among one of the top-ranked programs in the world, LBS is equally valued by employers in both the US and Europe.

This year LBS has further refined the essays in the application to one career goals question and an optional question. To cover all of your career accomplishments, extracurriculars and personal attributes will require using other parts of the application like your resume and recommendations.

Make sure your resume highlights what you are most proud of at work and in extracurricular activities, and that your recommenders support those stories. Your recommenders can also talk about your leadership, ambition and teamwork.

Essay 1

What are your post-MBA goals and how will your prior experience and the London Business School programme contribute towards these? (500 words)



Self-awareness about your strengths and interests will help you refine what you truly want in your career. To take your research into your post-LBS options deeper it could be helpful to talk to colleagues and alumni who have MBAs in your field to identify various career paths. Make sure that your career goals are both realistic and aspirational. Think about the short term roles that may lead to your most ambitious longer term goals.

Your past experiences have certainly informed your post-MBA plans, and touching on those most relevant will be helpful to setting the background for your current pursuit of an MBA. To make this essay more than a rehash of your resume, think about explaining the rationale for your decisions throughout the essay.

Why did you pursue your past experience and what has been the impetus behind subsequent career choices? At this point, why are you choosing LBS? If space permits, you will want to discuss the question of timing – why you have made the choice to pursue an MBA at this time, and why you want to attend LBS now.

Essay 2

Is there any other information you believe the Admissions Committee should know about you and your application to London Business School? (500 words)

The formerly optional question from the LBS application is now required. This open-ended question is a great opportunity to touch on a personal story or add color to your career goals. This could be the ideal place to describe a unique background, experience or attribute that did not fit elsewhere in the application.

If you can’t think of a topic, consider using a story that illustrates your passion for London or an aspect of LBS culture. To inform your story, make sure you have done as much school research as possible. Ideally you have visited the school or attended an admissions event, or at a minimum, spoken to current or former students.

Because this essay is required, we would recommend using at least part of it to cover a positive aspect of your application instead of explanations of weaknesses, but taking a paragraph to address an issue like a low GPA or GMAT score may be a good use of this essay.

Challenged by the LBS essay questions? Contact us to learn how Stacy Blackman Consulting can help.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Interested in a free 30 minute consultation with the Stacy Blackman Team? Sign up here: http://stacyblackman.com/contact

Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
MBA blogger, US News and Author, The MBA Application Roadmap

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Tuesday Tips: Chicago Booth Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips [#permalink]

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New post 16 Aug 2016, 12:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Tuesday Tips: Chicago Booth Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips
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The Chicago Booth School of Business is consistently rated in the top echelon of MBA programs in the United States and is known for a strong intellectual community. This application is designed to evaluate candidates on their ability to handle the Chicago curriculum, contribute to the community, and grow in their careers.

Academic ability will largely be communicated through your GPA/GMAT, transcripts and other fixed data points, though intellectual curiosity can be demonstrated in the essays and the interview.

Along with academics, Chicago will be looking for demonstrated leadership, team building skills and community involvement, as well as your fit with Chicago Booth and the perspective you will share with your classmates.

It will be important to strategically work in leadership and work accomplishments into your application. If you choose an image from the options that focuses on professional topics you can work some of your own work examples into the essay.

If you decide to focus on some of the community or academic topics, you can use your resume and certainly the interview to describe your work accomplishments and goals.

ESSAY QUESTION

View this collection of shared Booth moments. Choose the moment that best resonates with you and tell us why.

Presentation/Essay Guidelines:

• Choose the format that works for you. Want to illustrate your response visually? Submit a slide presentation. Like to express yourself with words? Write a traditional essay. Use the format that you feel best captures your response, the Admissions Committee has no preference.

• Determine your own length. There is no prescribed minimum or maximum length. We trust that you will use your best judgment in determining how long your submission should be, but we recommend that you think strategically about how to best allocate the space.

Technical Guidelines:

• File Size: Maximum file size is 16 MB.

• Accepted Upload Formats: Acceptable formats are PDF, Word, and PowerPoint. We strongly recommend converting your piece to a PDF file prior to submitting.

• Multimedia Restrictions: We will be viewing your submission electronically and in full color, but all submissions will be converted to PDF files, so animation, video, music, etc. will not translate over.

The new Chicago Booth essay question gives you a set of photos and text describing and depicting a range of student activities at Booth – from students in India as part of a Global Social Impact Practicum to an MBA sailing race – and asks you to choose one that resonates with you.

Your first step is to do as much school research as possible on Chicago. Visit campus. Attend events. Speak to alumni. Read the admissions blog. Whatever you are capable of doing to experience the community for yourself before starting your application will be invaluable as you set pen to paper.

Chicago Booth’s open-ended essay format is daunting for most applicants. Whether you choose to write an essay or prepare a presentation, take a step back from the unique format and think about the question strategically. The format’s open-ended setup simply gives you the freedom to express who you are in words, images, graphics or some combination.

Keep in mind what Chicago Booth represents in the image you choose. Booth is a school with a tradition of intellectual rigor, non-conformity, and innovation. When discussing the image that resonates with you about Chicago Booth you can share almost anything from any context, from work to home to extracurricular activities.

It’s also important to explain why your chosen image resonates with you and to bring in important elements of your application strategy. Maybe the image of GrubHub founder Matt Maloney on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange resonates with you because you dream of an entrepreneurial career, and you can use the essay to describe more about your career goals.

If you decide to write an essay response, you have enough space to tell a story that describes something new about yourself. If you decide to prepare a PowerPoint in response to this essay question, refine your story to its key elements.

To keep a visual essay interesting and high-impact, consider how you will format. Can you use photos? Drawings? If you use words, keep them clear and focused. Take every point up a level, so you are communicating a vision rather than a thesis.

Optional Essay:

Is there any additional information that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? If so, please address in an optional essay. (300 word maximum)

This optional essay is a flexible question, allowing you to provide the information you need to put forward the best possible application. If you have any areas that need to be explained in your profile, such as academic issues or gaps in work experience, this is the ideal place to add more detail.

Because the essay is open-ended you can also use it to add any additional information you wanted to inform the admissions committee about. Anything from an interesting personal background to meaningful extracurricular could be relevant context to add to a successful application.

Contact Stacy Blackman Consulting to learn more about how we can help you approach your Booth application.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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5 Ways to Prepare for the 1st Year of Business School [#permalink]

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New post 17 Aug 2016, 08:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: 5 Ways to Prepare for the 1st Year of Business School
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This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.
Throughout the business school application process, MBA candidates spend ample time filling out applications, writing essays and even honing interview skills to successfully gain admittance to their institution of choice. But it is equally important to prepare for the first year of coursework, which will have a long-reaching impact on your job prospects.

Whether you’re just starting to complete applications or you are about to embark on your first days as an MBA student, here are five ways to successfully prepare for your first year of business school.

• Attend all orientations and meet-and-greets: [/b]I can’t overemphasize the importance of choosing a school that instantly gives you a sense of community. [/b]One of the best ways to make the program feel like a perfect fit is to attend as many social mixers and orientation events that are planned for incoming students.

Welcome Weekend and other preterm social events are prime opportunities to begin connecting with your future cohorts. If you’ve participated in the MBA forums or followed other MBA applicants’ blogs, then you may already have a head start on building relationships with your class.

By spending time on campus weeks before the semester begins, you’ll also have time to familiarize yourself with the many resources available to students. This will give you an additional comfort level and allow you to adapt more quickly and focus your attention on other exciting opportunities that come your way.

If you live halfway around the world and aren’t able to come to campus early, find out if your program hosts a Facebook group for your class so you can start connecting with fellow students. If it doesn’t, offer to help set one up.

In the highly competitive MBA world, it’s common for first semester students to go through periods of self doubt. But in reality, the introvert has a natural advantage in making allies at b-schools. Extroverts who need to be heard will naturally seek out good, thoughtful listeners.

When introverts think about building their friendships and network during b-school, they should take the long view. While extroverts may make the strongest first impressions on their classmates, it’s the introverts who often make meaningful and lasting connections with less effort. Besides, many of the introvert’s skills – among them team building and problem-solving – are key to successful businesses.

Maintain and build upon your existing network: The process of connecting with your new cohorts is the first step in building your existing network. But don’t forget to tend to your existing network once you’re admitted, though.

If you’ve stayed in touch with your favorite college professor or know anyone in your network who has gone to business school, this is the ideal time to reconnect and inform them of your own MBA plans. Ask for their advice on how to maximize your business school experience, and let them know your professional goals and the companies you’re interested in. You never know when a mutual connection can give you a leg up in recruiting.

• Prepare for recruiting season:[/b] The summer before business school is a great time to make a list of interesting companies that recruit at your campus. Research contacts at your target companies to see if you can arrange an informational interview.

If you revised your resume as part of your MBA application, now it’s time to go back and make sure the professional version of your resume is up-to-date. Take a look at your social media accounts, including your LinkedIn profile, to ensure each represents your passions and abilities in a professional way.

Once you have your shortlist in hand, set up a Google alert with each company name so that you’ll automatically receive news updates that will provide great material for your interviews with recruiters.

Try not to get too attached to one company, though. Competition is fierce, and recruiters will interview dozens of equally bright and qualified students for just a few available spots.

• Brush up on quantitative skills: [/b]A fair number of soon-to-be first-year students lack some basic quantitative skills. Many top MBA programs offer math camps for accepted students during the summer as a refresher of critical concepts.

Review the course syllabus online and purchase textbooks in advance, if you can. If you have any weak spots in this area, sign up for the math camp early so that you’re ready to hit the ground running once classes starts.

A growing number of students – even those with a finance background – have realized that these additional learning opportunities provide valuable time to network and bond with their future classmates before the rush of classes and recruiting hit in the fall.

• Ramp up your reading habits: First-year business school students read hundreds of pages a week to prepare for class discussions. If you haven’t had time to read anything longer than a Wall Street Journal article in the past couple years, now is the time to ease back into the practice to minimize fatigue.

If you don’t like to read, that’s all the more reason to start exercising those latent muscles now. An added bonus of extra reading is that you’ll likely become a much more interesting MBA student and potential summer hire to recruiters as a result.

Image credit: Flickr user Richard Foster (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Confessions of an MBA Consultant: White Spaces [#permalink]

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New post 18 Aug 2016, 08:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Confessions of an MBA Consultant: White Spaces
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As part of our month-long anniversary celebration, I’m highlighting some of my favorite blog posts from along the way that I think will really resonate with applicants who are gearing up for submission this fall. 
Enjoy!
I’d rather listen to Celine Dion on a loop, I think to myself, knowing there has to be a torture less painful than listening to a business school applicant recite his resume line by line.   Getting to know a new client is ordinarily a pleasure, unless he or she drones on about “what” they’ve done rather than why.

“Minnesota,” says today’s candidate, Alan.   “Mendota Heights actually,” he explains. “It’s a suburb of…”

“Minneapolis,” I chime in.

“Right, Minneapolis. Then I went to Penn undergrad.”   He stops, bites his lip, then continues.   “Well, after a year at…” he says rushing and apologetic. “Then I went on to a mid-level firm in…”

Chicago, I guess to myself, without looking at his resume.

“San Francisco,” he says.   Same thing, I think.   “So?” he asks.

“So what?” I reply.

“So what are my chances of getting in to…?”

EVERYONE WANTS TO KNOW IF THEY CAN GET INTO THE SCHOOL OF THEIR DREAMS
“Harvard and Stanford,” I interject, knowing full well this kid isn’t planning on going home with an MBA from the University of Burbank.   In more than ten years as a B-school admissions adviser, I’ve been asked thousands and thousands of times some version of: “What Are My Chances? Am I Going To Get In? What’s It Going To Take?”

Much of the time, even top candidates like Alan are not going to get in. Not because they are unqualified or didn’t deliver when it comes to their GPA and GMATs, but because they are clinging to the notion that a perfect score will make them the perfect candidate. They believe they are “what” they’ve done, not why.  As Alan’s adviser, it’s my job to get him ready. That means it’s my job to tell him the truth.

BUYING A WINNING LOTTERY TICKET IS THE ONLY THING WITH WORSE ODDS
The truth is, the only thing with worse odds than admission to Harvard Business School is buying a winning lottery ticket. With the competition being so fierce, you have to be more than a resume.

Sitting in front of Alan, the banker from Minnesota, I know nothing more about him than when I didn’t know him at all. He didn’t need to take three airplanes to meet me only to tell me what I could find out on a Google search and neither does the dean of admissions of any graduate school.

We want to know who you are, not what you did. You’re not being asked to talk about yourself for any other reason than to help a school learn why you made the choices you did. What those choices were is hardly relevant.

THE REAL STORY IS NOT IN THE WHAT OR THE WHEN; IT’S IN THE WHYS
By skipping over the “why’s”: why did Alan leave his first choice university, why did he choose a West Coast firm instead of the more typical Manhattan bank, why B-School when it sounds like he’s already doing just fine, Alan relegated himself to being just a bunch of categories on a piece of paper: Background. Education. Work Experience.

But what about the transitions that got him from his education to his work experience? These transitions give a director of admissions insight into how you think, what kind of student you’ll be and, more importantly, what kind of impact you’ll have on the world of finance post B-school.

Again, I ask Alan the question he’ll get asked over and over by every interviewer: “Tell me a little bit about you.”   “Mendota Heights,” he repeats. “It’s a suburb outside of Minneapolis, but my parents wanted me to go to …”

I stop him.

FILLING IN THE WHITE SPACES
“Tell me about the white spaces,” I say.

“White spaces?”

“Yes,” I say. “Tell me about the white spaces on your resume,” repeat, as I take his resume, tear it up and throw it in the trash.   He smiles, finally understanding what I’m getting at.

AN MBA CANDIDATE COMES TO LIFE
By learning that Alan graduated at the top of his class from Minneapolis’ most prestigious private boy’s school as a son of one of the teachers, I get a picture of a hard driving outsider, determined to succeed. By learning that he left his first choice university because it was just too small for this small town native itching for more, I see a future leader willing to take risks.

And by choosing to get his work experience at a West Coast firm, I learn of Alan’s desire to think out of the box and not just “follow the pack.”   By telling me why, Alan becomes so much more than another set of scores on paper. He becomes a well-rounded candidate who stands out in a crowd.

It’s very rare that you’re going to have the highest GPA from the best university with the best GMAT score. And if you do, there’s probably going to be someone who rates as well, if not better “on paper.”

Like Alan, you are not just your resume. You are the white spaces in between.  You are the transitions that got you from A to B and that will get you from B to B-school.  So celebrate who you are, if you want an admissions director to do the same.

Photo credit: Eric at Flickr(CC BY-ND 2.0)
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Does an MBA Pay Off? Ask Paul Ollinger [#permalink]

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New post 19 Aug 2016, 08:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Does an MBA Pay Off? Ask Paul Ollinger
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Sometimes, applying to business school can seem like such an uphill slog that you really need to disconnect from the process from time to time in order to recharge and remember that there are other people in your life that you’ve probably been neglecting, and other interesting things you could be doing in addition to brainstorming MBA essays and filling in data forms.

If you’re looking for something to occupy that down time, you should check out the new book by Tuck School of Business grad Paul Ollinger, “You Should Totally Get an MBA: A Comedian’s Guide to Top U.S. Business Schools.”

Ollinger has graciously allowed us to post some excerpts of his book on the blog. Here, we’re sharing a chapter that will answer a burning question for many professionals wondering whether going to business school is a wise financial decision.

Chapter 5: Does An MBA Pay Off?
Me: Hell yes it pays off.

You: Is that a guarantee?

Me: Yeah, man. Haven’t you been paying attention?

You: So it will absolutely, positively have a positive financial ROI?

Me: Well… While attaining an MBA will move you down the road to enlightenment, getting an MBA is still really, really expensive. You might logically ask yourself, “What’s the ROI on enlightenment?” Excellent question!

Now you’re thinking like an MBA. Let’s do the math. For our purposes here, we’ll assume that you are going to HBS (hey, you deserve it).

Investment:

  • HBS first year tuition for Class of 2017 = $61,225
  • HBS books, materials, fees = $7,655
  • Total for first year = $68,88011 We will assume that tuition and fees increase 5% for year two, so that:
  • Total tuition and fees for second year = $72,324
  • Two year total = $141,204
Yikes! That’s a lot of dough. And like the guy selling knives on late night TV says, “But wait—there’s more!” The average HBS grad walks out with about $84,000 in student debt, and that debt costs money. The price is the interest that you pay until you pay it off.

If you have the means, you can pay it off more quickly, but let’s assume it takes you a decade to knock it all out:

  •  Student loan interest: 6% * $84,000 * 10 yrs = approx. $27,908
  • $141k in tuition/fees + $28k in interest = $169,000
And we’re still not done. Because you won’t be working during your two years at HBS you have to factor in your lost wages in the calculation. Let’s say you make $85,000/year at your good preMBA job.

Including your foregone income of $170,000, the total cost of getting a Harvard MBA (or one similar) is about $339,000. Holy crap. Enlightenment is expensive! Is it really worth $339,000?

Enlightenment is hard to put an exact number on, but wage growth isn’t. And this is where HBS has a dynamite return on average (we’ll get back to the assumptions we’re making a little later). If you go to HBS, you will not only get a bunch of crazy smart friends and a closet full of crimson hoodies, you’ll also get on average a very juicy pay bump and an accelerated career path.

Here’s what that might look like:

Return:

  • Base pay bump from $85,000 to $140,000
  • Signing bonus: $25,000
  • Summer internship income: $20,000
  • Career accelerator (4% raises v. 2% raises)
Let’s take a look at what that pay bump and career accelerator look like in action. Your MBA begins paying off in the form of increased income in your first year out of school. You make $55,000 more than you would have without it, and life is good. But wait—there’s more!

Because HBS has put you on an accelerated career path (and the steeper income growth trajectory that comes with it), your pay grows at a faster rate than it would have sans-MBA. So that annual pay differential continues growing as you relish your MBAness and continue to kick business world ass.

It is in this stream of MBA-powered increased income that we answer the question, “Does an MBA pay off?” You can see that over your first 10 years out of HBS, your income will be $750k more than it would have been had you never pursued that MBA. Using our friend NPV (Net Present Value), we then measure how much that stream of income is worth today, relative to the $369k that the MBA costs.

While the NPV is less than the $750k, and varies depending on your weighted average cost of capital, in both scenarios, an HBS MBA is a homerun, positive ROI fiesta de dinero! By the way, weighted average cost-of-capital is one of those great things you’ll learn about at business school.

And this is just for the first 10 years out of HBS. You will likely work for another decade or two beyond this, and in those prime earning years, that pay differential will—theoretically—be even more pronounced.

ON THE OTHER HAND… There are some really meaningful and impactful assumptions we’re making in the model above. And, to paraphrase the monetary philosopher Ol’ Dirty Bastard, assumptions’ll “bust yer ass.” So we should be aware of them, lest our assuming asses get busted.

First, remember that the average first year income for HBS alumni includes very non-average people making crazy money in consulting, investment banking, hedge funds and the like. If you are not committed to a career in one of these fields (or if you’re in these fields but below the mean earners in those fields), your income will likely be lower-to-much-lower.

This doesn’t mean that your HBS degree will have a negative ROI over the long run, but it just might take longer to break even. That’s worth keeping in mind. Second, these reported incomes are skewed way high by alumni living in New York, London, San Francisco and Hong Kong, i.e. the most expensive cities in the world. So while they may be making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, they may also be paying $4,000/month (or lots more) to rent a one-bedroom apartment.

You shouldn’t look at these average incomes and think, “I am going to live like a king on $175,000/year in Tulsa, OK!” ‘Cuz that’s probably not where you’re going to find these juicy pay packages. Third, you are a growing and evolving human being. Your interests, desires and passions will change over time. The career you find intriguing right out of business school might not float your boat 5, 10 or 15 years later.

Maybe you just decide that you’re not interested in doing [fill in the name of career] any more, and that you really want to [work with kids / do something for the developing world / become a stand-up comedian]. Or maybe the grind of an 80+ hour work week is something you can tolerate when you’re young and single but not when you’re older, married and raising children.

Or maybe some health issues present themselves and you need to hit “pause” on your career to deal with them. In any of these scenarios, the juicy comp packages and steepened earning curves pretty much fly out the window.

Fourth, the model above represents an uninterrupted, positive career trajectory. Due to the vicissitudes of the market, the economy and personal wackness, careers often do not maintain a smooth progression upward and to the right. If historical economic trends continue, you should expect some kind of ugly macroeconomic tornado to blow through every seven years or so.

Whether it’s dot-com bubbles busting, global mortgages imploding or Adam Smith’s invisible hand getting caught in the cookie jar, bad stuff that is way out of your control happens, and it’s going to affect your career. You get out of school and everything goes dandy for two years. Then in year three, the world explodes and you get fired/laid-off/made redundant from your job.

Maybe you saw it coming or maybe you didn’t, but that doesn’t really matter as you getting canned is the result of an industry-wide meltdown and no one—I mean no one—in your industry is hiring. So you sit on the sidelines for a whole year and log a goose-egg in the old income column. Meanwhile, you still got those big ol’ student loans hanging over your head, with the interest meter still running.

An MBA isn’t a Harry Potter invisibility cloak that hides you from nuclear macroeconomic meltdown. It also won’t give you x-ray vision or the ability to fly. Further, some people just aren’t down for the whole business school experience itself. The long hours, grueling workload and late night stress-busting parties don’t suit everyone’s lifestyle.

Prospective business school students should do their due diligence to make sure they know what they are getting into. Some MBA programs saddle their graduates with massive piles of debt without providing an income that enables the graduate to battle that debt monster.

A degree from a school ranked #50 might provide you with a leg up, but it will not do the same thing for a career that a degree from Wharton or Kellogg would. Even from the top schools, an MBA is a powerful credential, but it is only potential financial energy until you turn it into debt-slashing income through year after year of hard work.

Net: don’t pursue business school unless you can pay for it outright or you’re committed to paying back your loans. Enter the process with eyes wide open—these loans are big numbers that grow while you sleep. Their very existence will exacerbate the stress of any fluctuations in your career. Banishing them from your post-grad life might mean sticking with a job you don’t love for a lot longer than you otherwise would have…assuming that’s even within your control.

You may also be interested in:

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Why Do You Want to Go to B-School? [#permalink]

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New post 22 Aug 2016, 08:01
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Why Do You Want to Go to B-School?
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You’re going to be asked that question a lot over the next several months, so you need to come up with a good answer.  Actually, several different good answers, each tailored for distinct constituencies.

MBA Admissions Committees: Show them that you know appreciate the value of learning opportunities and have taken advantage of them.  Illustrate how the MBA program will be a better place to develop your skills and further your interests than your current job or even your likely next job would be.

Colleagues/Managers: There are many firms where young professionals regularly exit to attend MBA programs, and a fresh crop of MBAs cycle in every fall.  In other workplaces, some colleagues might view an exit as “giving up on the team.” You don’t want your MBA admission to cast a pall over your final months in your current job.

If you explain your MBA as an opportunity to prepare yourself for opportunities a decade or two down the road—rather than as a route to get a better job than you could get coming from your current position—they may be more supportive.

The Doubters: Last year, a couple of my clients recounted how alumni interviewers probed deeply on why they were applying, even going so far as to say to an entrepreneurially inclined individual, “You don’t need an MBA to do what you want to do.”

Candidates who may want to stay in the same field (or return to the same firm) after graduation and those who want to enter the not-for-profit or government sectors often hear the same stuff.  My would-be-entrepreneur candidate was prepared: she countered with a list of a half dozen world-renowned entrepreneurs from this particular MBA program.

The Haters: There are people who don’t see the value of business school at all (shocking, I know).  After all, business people usually don’t need accreditation like doctors, lawyers and some other professionals.  With these folks, you should be prepared to talk about why this will not just be a “two-year vacation” for you.

So, dear readers, how many of these scenarios have you already come up against?

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Tuesday Tips: Michigan Ross Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips [#permalink]

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New post 23 Aug 2016, 07:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Tuesday Tips: Michigan Ross Fall 2017 MBA Essay Tips
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Michigan Ross is a program that emphasizes learning both inside and outside the classroom, and is seeking candidates that are intellectually curious and able to accomplish their goals.

Ross is also a close-knit community and fit with the program is important to demonstrate in the application process. Visiting Ross or learning about the program through current students, alumni or faculty would be helpful before starting this set of essays.

The Ross admissions blog is an excellent resource for tips to approach these essay questions, and gives you a window into what the admissions committee is looking for.

Essay One: What are you most proud of outside of your professional life? How does it shape who you are today? (up to 400 words)

Last year Ross permitted either a professional or personal example for this essay. This year, Ross Admissions Director Soojin Kwon explains: “The motivation for adding “outside of your professional life” (to Q1, which asks what you’re most proud of) was to get to glimpse into the personal side of you. We’ll already have your resume and rec letter to give us a sense of your professional life. Besides, would you want to read thousands of essays about the time someone was a project manager and completed the project on time and under budget? (I hope you said “no”). Me either. (I’m going to assume you said “no”).”

Some of the personal attributes most valued at Ross include community engagement and interpersonal, communication and teamwork skills. When you consider topics for this essay you may want to write about an important extracurricular moment, a challenge you overcame, or an event in your life that highlights something unique about your background.

For example, if you have a track record of club leadership through college and afterwards that can be compelling evidence of your community engagement and leadership skills. On the other end of the spectrum perhaps you have spent time outside your home country for school or work and that has shaped how you approach your life and decisions.

Take note that this essay is really about getting to know you as a person, not as a collection of accomplishments. Your values and personal life will ideally shine through, as you explain what is most important to you and why.

“Why” is a crucial part of this essay, along with how your values have impacted your life. Finally, make sure that your values, as expressed in this essay, are aligned with how you want to be perceived by the admissions committee.

Essay Two: What is your desired career path and why? (up to 250 words)

Michigan Ross is interested to hear what you plan to do after your MBA and what is motivating that decision. Both traditional and non-traditional MBA goals are welcomed as long as you are sincere about the path you plan to take.

This essay is straightforward and Ross is not looking for extra explanation. Ideally you can describe your career path in a sentence or two and use the remainder of the space to elaborate.

Answering “why” you chose your career path is crucial. As you describe your career path make sure you explain what has led you to pursue it, and why it resonates with you. The answer doesn’t need to be elaborate or dramatic, but it should be convincing and real.

The question doesn’t ask “Why MBA?” or “Why Ross?” but you may want to address both questions. If Ross has unique resources that will help you achieve your goal, this is a great place to describe how you will use them.

Optional Statement: This section should only be used to convey information not addressed elsewhere in your application, for example, completion of supplemental coursework, employment gaps, academic issues, etc. Feel free to use bullet points where appropriate.

Take it directly from the Ross admissions director: “The optional essay should only be used if there’s something in your background that requires a brief explanation. It’s not the place to submit an essay you wrote for another school, or to tell us how much you love Ross.”

Think about anything that may raise questions while reviewing a resume, transcript or recommendations. Typically the kinds of gaps that raise questions are significant gaps in employment (more than a few months), anything below a C on your college transcript (particularly in quantitative coursework) and low test scores.

Stacy Blackman Consulting has worked with successful candidates to Michigan Ross for over a decade and can offer comprehensive strategic advice every step of the way. Contact us to learn more.

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Tuesday Tips: The University of Texas at Austin McCombs 2017 MBA Essay [#permalink]

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New post 23 Aug 2016, 12:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Tuesday Tips: The University of Texas at Austin McCombs 2017 MBA Essay Tips
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University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business is a globally recognized MBA program, located in the center of technology and creativity that is Austin. Programs like McCombs can provide an especially strong regional network if you are currently in Texas or plan to settle in Texas after your MBA.

When approaching these essay questions think about the reasons you are pursuing an MBA, particularly at McCombs. Thorough school research will help you come up with specifics, by taking to current or former students, visiting campus, or attending admissions events.

Essay 1. The University of Texas at Austin values unique perspectives and cultivates a collaborative environment of distinct individual contributions. It is the first day of orientation. You are meeting your study group, comprised of five of your classmates from various backgrounds. Please introduce yourself to your new team, highlighting what drives you in your personal and professional life.

Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.

• Write an essay (250 words)

• Share a video introduction (one minute)


For an open-ended essay with a creative option (the video) it can be daunting to think of a topic. Rather than focusing on how you are going to communicate, start thinking about what you want to communicate to the McCombs admissions committee by introducing yourself to your new study group.

The best essays will dive deep into your motivations and aspirations, perhaps getting into your cultural background, formative moments in your life and friends, family and colleagues who have influenced you. To identify one or two key stories you may want to tell, think about those pivotal moments of change in your life.

For many people the transition from high school to college and from college to work led to personal change. Others had formative childhood experiences or experiences that led to shifts in perspective like travel or living outside your home country. Any one of these moments could be a good way to illustrate who you are and what motivates you.

Once you have identified the content of your essay you can decide how to present it. A video could give you the opportunity to add elements of emotion, such as humor, that are harder to convey in writing. A video also allows you to include graphics, photos or other visual elements. If your story fits better into a written narrative you may choose the written essay instead.

Essay 2. Based on your post-MBA goals and what drives you in your personal and professional life, why is the Texas MBA the ideal program for you and how do you plan to engage in our community? (500 words)

This essay is your opportunity to demonstrate strong fit with the Texas McCombs program. As part of your homework before starting this set of essays you have learned as much as possible about the school, now you can bring in your own aspirations and goals to describe what you plan to be part of.

Some of the unique opportunities at McCombs include the Venture Labs, supporting your entrepreneurial dreams, and The MBA+ Program, with opportunities to work with influential companies through a variety of touch points. Austin is another unique benefit to the program that you may want to discuss in the context of your background and goals.

For example, perhaps you are interested in working for a major technology firm to learn product manager skills that you will then take into starting your own business. While at McCombs you can test ideas with the Venture Labs, and also consult for major companies like Adobe or HP to learn how large companies work. These experiences will certainly give you an advantage as your build your post MBA career.

Don’t forget the personal – Texas McCombs has an active and engaged student culture with many student organizations you may be interested in joining.

Optional Statement: Please provide any additional information you believe is important and/or address any areas of concern that will be beneficial to the Admissions Committee in considering your application (e.g. unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, or extenuating personal circumstances). (250 words)

This optional essay provides space for you to add your own context to any information that may hinder your admission prospects. For example, if you have a lower than average test score, any grades below a C on your transcript, academic probation or a significant resume gap, you can explain here. Keep your explanation concise and factual, and focused on context for the issue rather than excuses.

Stacy Blackman Consulting can provide personalized, strategic guidance for your Texas McCombs MBA application. Contact us to learn more.

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Weigh Being a Generalist, Specialist in Business School [#permalink]

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New post 24 Aug 2016, 08:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Weigh Being a Generalist, Specialist in Business School
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This post originally appeared on Stacy’s “Strictly Business” MBA Blog on U.S.News.
After the Great Recession hit in 2008, business schools started ramping up their menu of specializations to meet the demand of students eager to differentiate themselves as experts in a given area.

This expansion into concentrations has become a way for schools to innovate while they educate the next generation of business leaders. It has also become a way for them to distinguish their own MBA programs from other top business schools.

Unlike a master’s degree in finance or accounting or other specialty, an MBA is by definition a generalist program, which exposes students to many different disciplines – both hard disciplines like finance and soft like organizational behavior.

If you’re contemplating business school, think about whether you’d prefer a general management approach or one that offers majors or concentrations. Choosing to be a generalist or specialist at business school depends heavily on your end goals.

Advantages of being a generalist:[/b] Business schools want to fill their classes with students who will not only get hired after graduation but eventually run the firm.

Most applicants see business school as a way to grow as a leader and advance their career. The degree imparts a strong foundation of general business knowledge, allowing students to gain a greater understanding of how various departments operate.

Although students typically come to b-school with a clear career goal in mind for after graduation, an MBA program is actually an excellent time to explore a variety of subjects and experiences that may ultimately redirect your path. For long-term flexibility in the global marketplace, career-switchers need a breadth of courses to prepare them for the myriad management responsibilities they will encounter in whichever sector they end up.

The only potential drawback to a general MBA is that you may not acquire the depth of knowledge required for a particular position. However, that broader know-how and wider range of career opportunities that come from earning an MBA at a top program is almost always worth it.

Advantages of being a specialist:[/b] MBA specialization is a good move for individuals who know exactly what they want to do with their career and who want to build a stronger skill base in that area.

If you already know that you’re interested in an area like digital marketing, real estate, business analytics, social innovation, health care and so forth, then earning an MBA with a concentration can make you even more marketable. Recruiters like to see a strong focus on a particular field or functional area.

In today’s competitive job market, having that specialization on your resume, bolstered by a supporting internship or extracurricular activities, will help you stand out from the crowd. Students who specialize can also grow their niche network during the MBA program and then be ready to hit the ground running on day one.

Drawbacks of being a specialist:[/b] While specializing in a certain area of business is fine, know that it can be limiting.

One could even argue that you should just earn a degree in that specialty instead. Depending on the career path you have chosen after graduation, by specializing you could inadvertently pigeonhole yourself and narrow your job prospects, especially if you’re a career-changer.

A recent Harvard Business Review article detailed how Tulane Assistant Professor Jennifer Merluzzi and Columbia Business School Professor Damon Phillips studied the records of almost 400 students, who in 2008 and 2009 graduated from top U.S. MBA programs and then entered the investment banking field.

Among their findings, the researchers discovered that, “specialists were definitely penalized by the market. Not only were they less likely to receive multiple offers, but they were offered smaller signing bonuses. In some cases the specialists earned up to $48,000 less than their generalist peers.”

The classroom experience may also differ notably for specialists. Instead of classes with individuals who have multiple, diverse perspectives that enrich a traditional MBA experience, participants in the same specialization will likely have similar backgrounds and professional experiences from which to call on.

Ultimately, when you’re running a company, chances are you won’t be pulling together the financial models or balancing the books. Understanding those aspects is important, but you don’t need to be a master – ideally you will hire others to do the deep dive.

My friend and executive at a Fortune 100 company, who has thousands of employees reporting to him, once explained his role to me. He said, “I know what needs to be done and I get people to do it for me.”

Whether you choose to pursue a general or specialty MBA, pay close attention in all of your classes – even the areas you would plan to outsource when you have the budget.

Image credit: EIO on Flickr(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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What Burning Man and B-School Have in Common [#permalink]

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New post 25 Aug 2016, 08:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: What Burning Man and B-School Have in Common
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As part of our month-long anniversary celebration, I’m highlighting some of my favorite blog posts from along the way that I think will really resonate with applicants who are gearing up for submission this fall. 
Enjoy!
I’m devoting today’s post to Burning Man, the late-summer ritual that draws over 60,000 participants to the Black Rock Desert in Nevada every year.

For the uninitiated, here’s how Burning Man works: Each year, participants build an entire city from scratch and live in it for a week. People work together to build elaborate camps and villages—their themes and functions varying widely. You can find open mic lounges, yoga and meditation spaces, collaborative art installations and just about anything else imaginable.

While Burning Man is unique on many levels—it is the self-described “annual art event and temporary community based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada”—one of its most fascinating rules is that nothing can be bought or sold, with the exceptions of ice and coffee. No one receives any financial compensation for his or her efforts.

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Then, at the end of the week, all the camps are burned or completely dismantled. One of the rules of Burning Man is to leave the desert exactly as you found it.

On the surface, it would seem that there is very little overlap between the cultures of Burning Man and business school. The former’s participants are largely stereotyped as hippies and artists running off to escape the constraints of society for a week, while MBAs are seen as leaders of the types of industry and societal structures that Burning Man participants are trying to flee.

However, a closer look reveals that there is more in common between the two than one would think. In fact, aspiring MBAs can learn valuable lessons from the Burning Man community:

1. Self-sufficiency is key.

Because Burning Man has no vendors (there’s no money, remember?), attendees must make sure they come in with ample provisions for the week—food, water, gear and clothing—enough for 100- degree days and near-freezing nights. Participants must be prepared for anything.

Similarly, many MBA grads describe the time they spent in B-school as the two most intense years of their lives. Admissions committees are well aware of this. When reviewing applications, they will look for candidates whose stories demonstrate resiliency. They will also want to ensure that you have a realistic understanding of the drive and dedication it will take to succeed in their program.

2. Your leadership skills will be tested.

Time and again, aspiring MBAs tell me that one of the main reasons they want to get in is so they can improve and refine their leadership skills. Burning Man is nothing if not a week-long leadership intensive.

Consider this: How can you get people to work for you when you can’t offer them the usual forms of compensation like money and promotions? How can you get them to build something that will be completely dismantled at the end of the week?

The camps and projects that succeed at Burning Man have one thing in common: leaders who clearly express their vision and create a positive shared experience for their fellow participants.

3. Teamwork is key.

At the same time, it’s important to know when to step away from leading and become part of the team. That’s essential to the Burning Man experience, where the point isn’t simply to build your own structure but to participate in others’ camps and villages as well.

Understanding the importance of collaboration and teamwork is vital to growing and learning at B-school.  Make sure that your application contains examples of your ability to play both roles—leader and team member—effectively.

4. Creativity counts.

At Burning Man, people express their creativity through their appearance and by being problem solvers—for example, figuring out how to anchor installations against high desert winds. While you won’t have too many opportunities to wear tutus and animal costumes at B-school, you will be asked to apply creative thought to problems.

The admission committee will look for evidence in your essays and your interview responses that show you have a unique perspective that will add something new to the classroom.

5. Be an individual but participate in the collective.

Every year, Burning Man has a theme. Participants can interpret these themes however they like, and part of the fun is seeing the variety of installations and spaces that spring up according to themes like “Rites of Passage” and “American Dream.”

Like Burning Man, all MBA programs have their own unique culture. The key for your application is to speak to the individual attributes that make you a great candidate, conveys your understanding of the school’s culture and reveals how you will be a great fit there.

Image credits: Flickr users Bexx Brown-Spinelli(CC BY-ND 2.0) and Aaron Logan (CC BY 2.0)

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Alumni Gift Launches NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program [#permalink]

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New post 26 Aug 2016, 12:00
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Alumni Gift Launches NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program
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New York University Stern School of Business has announced the establishment of The NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program with a $1 million gift from technology executive and alumnus David Ko and his wife Jennifer Ko.

With this gift, Stern MBAs will have the opportunity to apply to this new immersion program in lieu of a traditional summer internship and benefit from financial support, mentorship, workshops and access to NYC and Silicon Valley tech companies.

The launch of this program coincides with David’s appointment to Stern’s Board of Overseers and extends the commitment to education that he and his wife initiated in 2012 with the establishment of the Jennifer and David Y. Ko Family Endowed Undergraduate Scholarship at NYU Stern.

“We are grateful to the Ko family for their generosity and to David for his decision to get more deeply engaged with his alma mater and help us continue creating innovative new student experiences,” said Peter Henry, dean of NYU Stern.

“The NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program is an extraordinary opportunity for MBA students who come to Stern to set their entrepreneurial ambitions and dreams in motion.”

Incoming full-time MBA students will apply in Fall 2016 for consideration to become the first NYU Stern Venture Fellows. The program will start in Summer 2017 under the administration of Stern’s W.R. Berkley Innovation Lab and Office of Student Engagement.

It will provide each Fellow with a $10,000 stipend, a prototyping fee, workspace and access to a multi-week summer program featuring a “Silicon Valley Immersion Week” that includes company visits and access to VCs, mentors and Stern alumni.  Fellows will continue to receive mentorship support in their second year at Stern and can opt to earn course credit through a faculty-supervised independent study in which they can focus on their start up.

“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to help Stern MBAs transform their ideas into viable businesses through the resources that will be available to them from the NYU Stern Venture Fellows Program,” said Ko.  “My goal is to provide aspiring entrepreneurs with early, firsthand access to leaders in the Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley tech communities and help them get a jumpstart.”

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
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Re: Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog [#permalink]

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New post 27 Aug 2016, 09:13
Hello

I am looking forward to apply in international MBA programs for fall 2017 session. Could you please give me insight which programs I should choose for a career in management consulting post MBA.
My Profile:
Nationality/Gender/Age - Indian/M/27
GMAT- 720 (50,38)
Academic qualification - BTech, IIT Roorkee
CGPA - 8.43/10
10th- 88%
12th- 88%

Work experience:
A total of 6.5 years experience in manufacturing an engineering sector.
Currently working as Senior Engineer in engineering department of the one of India's largest manufacturing company. This is a public sector company as well.
~6.5 years experience in thermal power plants set up, plants operations, manufacturing of various components and selection of their materials.
- Consultant to Design group for material selection
- Responsible for quality control of incoming material.
- Vendor development and material inspection.
- Review various metallurgical processes like steel making, forging, casting, weld repair, heat treatment.
- Part of material management team.
~ Done number of projects as a leader as well as member to enhance productivity or to save money for the company.
~Done a course on project management

International Exposure:
Did internship in Germany for 3 month during BTech
Worked with people from diverse nationalities and ethnic backgrounds.

Extra –Curricular activities/Achievements:
Published a research paper in an International journal of high impact factor
Won various awards in paper presentation contest during BTech
Received DAAD scholarship to pursue internship in Germany
Organized various events during college festivals.

Post MBA plans:
Work in management/strategy consulting


Kindly evaluate my profile and let me know which schools Should I target. I have shortlisted some colleges like Emory, Hass, Darden, Anderson, Tuck. Pls tell me what are the chances in these colleges and some practical colleges as well. I will also be applying for indian clgs like ISB and IIMs.



Look forward to hearing back
Thanks
Panbhl

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Make the Most of Your MBA Essays [#permalink]

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New post 29 Aug 2016, 12:01
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Make the Most of Your MBA Essays
Essay-writing is a funny thing. Before you dive into your MBA applications, 400 or 500 words can seem like the equivalent of a doorstop-size Russian novel. But once you really get going on your first drafts, you quickly realize just how little space you have to work with.

We’re familiar with the pit that can form in your stomach when you’ve written the perfect essay—but it’s more than three times the word-count limit. How do you decide what stays and what goes?

First, cut out basic information that’s already established on your resume. You don’t need to explain what your firm does or rehash what your specific job responsibilities are or what city you were in at the time.

Second, look for sections where you might come off like you’re lecturing the reader. The admissions committee doesn’t need a speech about your industry or what your product does or how you think the world should work, they just need to know how you contributed to a specific project or why you want to do what you want to do post-graduation.

They also don’t need to be educated on their own MBA program, so watch out for sentences that read like they were ripped from a school’s website. This is an easy trap to fall into when crafting “Why School X?” responses. Stick to how a certain class or club is relevant to your goals—no need to describe what the class is about. They already know!

Sometimes the story you choose is the word-sucking culprit. For prompts that ask you to describe specific achievements, it’s best to pick an easy-to-explain example that doesn’t take eighty percent of the essay to set up.

If you can’t succinctly summarize a situation that you helped to improve, you might want to find another anecdote that will let you spend most of the word count describing your contributions and successful results. Long setups don’t tell them anything about you.

Also be sure to keep this sage writing advice in mind: “show, don’t tell.” If you’ve done a good job of describing a time when you displayed leadership, then there is absolutely no need to add a sentence like this: “I really stepped up in this situation and went above and beyond to lead my team.”

Finally, you might need to bid adieu to descriptive words. As Stephen King said best, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Keep it simple!

If all else fails, take a break. Step away from the essay for a few days, and then revisit it with fresh eyes. You’re likely to find some words or sentences that aren’t critical.

On that note, remember:

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
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Tuesday Tips: Kelley School of Business at Indiana University 2017 Ess [#permalink]

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New post 30 Aug 2016, 09:01
FROM Stacy Blackman Consulting Blog: Tuesday Tips: Kelley School of Business at Indiana University 2017 Essay Tips
ImageKelley School of Business at Indiana University is a top-tier business school with an innovative program. From the moment you decide to attend Kelley you will be focusing on your career and leadership development.

You’ll receive personalized coaching, leadership training, and real-world industry projects within the first year of your MBA. Kelley’s program is unique and close-knit, so your fit with the program and your desire to participate fully will be important to the admissions committee.

Essay 1

Please discuss your immediate post-MBA professional goals. How will your professional experience, when combined with a Kelley MBA degree, allow you to achieve these goals? Should the short-term goals you have identified not materialize, what alternate career paths might you consider? (500 words)

Entering Kelley with a crystallized career vision and an idea of how you will accomplish your goals will help you take full advantage of the program. Kelley’s curriculum is tailored to help you reach your career goals.

For example, students can specialize almost immediately by choosing one of the first-year Academies in your industry area of focus. Think about these opportunities at Kelley when you answer this career goals question, and specifically how you see yourself using the tools available.

The second half of this question deals with your flexibility around your career goal and your ability to handle change. The business world changes constantly and your ability to recognize opportunity, even outside your anticipated career goals, will be crucial to success. Think about the core elements that are important to you in forming your career goals.

Perhaps you are passionate about a specific industry, but you could imagine pursing either a strategy role or a finance role in that industry. Or perhaps you love marketing and are more flexible about the industry where you practice your craft. Showing that you can capitalize on change and opportunity while staying true to your core values and interests will position you well in this set of essays.

Essay 2

Please respond to one of the following short essay prompts. (300 words)

a. My greatest memory is…

b. I’m most afraid of…

c. My greatest challenge has been…

d. I’m most proud of…


This essay seeks to understand your core personal motivations. Beyond career, what have been formative moments in your life? The story you choose to tell in this essay will be revealing to the admissions committee and will show your personality and values.

Think about the moments in your life when you have changed or matured. Was there an experience that led you to learn more about yourself? Perhaps you interacted with someone who challenged you, or inspired you. Or you may have traveled outside your comfort zone, either literally outside your home country, or in a transition like leaving home for college.

Option b, “I’m most afraid of…” is the one prompt that does not specifically call on a past experience. However, it’s likely that your fear has its roots in a formative moment in your life.

Once you have a story to tell, make sure you are explaining why this moment is important to you. You can either narrate your thoughts, reactions and opinions as you retell the story, or take time at the end of the essay to reflect upon what you learned and why it was important to you.

Essay 3

Please share with the admissions committee an interesting or surprising fact about you. (25 words)

The admissions committee has read your career goals, read about a pivotal experience and likely has reviewed your resume and application fact sheet. This fact is one that didn’t come up in any of those demographic or background data sheets in your application.

Perhaps you were a competitive swimmer in high school, but didn’t pursue it in college. Or your grandmother was from Sweden and taught you traditional cooking techniques that no one else in your life knows.

If you are struggling to come up with an interesting or surprising fact, this is a great question to poll friends and family about. You will want to use something that is unique about you, and that most other applicants would not be able to say.

Your friends and family likely know the elements of your background and personality that go far deeper than your resume or application fact sheet.

Optional Essay:

Is there anything else that you think we should know as we evaluate your application? If you believe your credentials and essays represent you fairly, you shouldn’t feel obligated to answer this question. (300 words)

Kelley’s optional question is open-ended, allowing you to add almost any story or additional background data you would like. Before you take full advantage of the extra space, make sure you are truly adding to your application. If you have done the work on a comprehensive resume, excellent recommendations and finely honed essays you likely don’t need this space.

If there is anything to explain in your application, definitely use this space to do so. That may be a poor grade in a quantitative course in college, academic probation, or the lack of a recommendation from a current supervisor. Whatever you need to discuss, make sure you are focused on explanations rather than excuses, and you provide solid, recent evidence that you have done better since the event.

Struggling with the Kelley MBA application? Stacy Blackman Consulting can help.Contact us to learn more.

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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Interested in a free 30 minute consultation with the Stacy Blackman Team? Sign up here: http://stacyblackman.com/contact

Stacy Blackman | Stacy Blackman Consulting Inc | http://www.StacyBlackman.com | +1 323.934.3936
MBA blogger, US News and Author, The MBA Application Roadmap

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Tuesday Tips: Kelley School of Business at Indiana University 2017 Ess   [#permalink] 30 Aug 2016, 09:01

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