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mbaMission Admissions Consultant
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Beyond the MBA Classroom: Kellogg Students Embark on KWEST [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Beyond the MBA Classroom: Kellogg Students Embark on KWEST

A recent Kellogg KWEST trip; via kellogg.northwestern.edu

When you select an MBA program, you are not just choosing your learning environment but are also committing to becoming part of a community. Each Thursday, we offer a window into life “beyond the MBA classroom” at a top business school.

Each year, incoming Kellogg School of Management students gather for the four-day Kellogg Worldwide Experiences and Service Trips (KWEST), during which they engage in volunteerism and tourist activities alongside the veritable strangers who will soon become their friends. More than 85% of each incoming class typically participates in KWEST. Voyages occur throughout the United States and internationally; in recent years, trips and activities have been organized around the world, including cycling in the Netherlands, beer tasting in Germany, zip-lining and surfing in Nicaragua, and meeting with a U.S. ambassador in Denmark/Austria. Other locations have included Argentina, the Canary Islands, Iceland, Romania, and Turkey. Some students even participate in a mystery trip: they do not learn their destination until they check in at the airport!

During KWEST, students are not expected to discuss their work experience or academic/professional plans. Instead, students get to know each other on a more personal and intellectual level, returning to campus well acquainted and, ideally, even bonded.

For in-depth descriptions of social and community activities at Kellogg and 15 other top MBA programs, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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Diamonds in the Rough: Emory University’s Goizueta Business School [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Diamonds in the Rough: Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

Emory University’s Goizueta Business School

MBA applicants can get carried away with rankings. In this series, we profile amazing programs at business schools that are typically ranked outside the top 15.

Named after late Coca-Cola CEO Roberto C. Goizueta, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School is deeply rooted in a legacy of global business leadership. Goizueta’s MBA program offers one- and two-year formats, strives to maintain an intimate learning environment, and affords its students the benefits of being located in a significant global commercial hub. One of the program’s notable advantages has been its success in attracting recruiters: in fact, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked Goizueta first for employment in 2012. The school’s recruiting strengths seem to be reflected in its latest employment report as well—95% of the Class of 2015 received job offers within three months of graduation and accepted positions with such major companies as Accenture, Barclays, Deloitte, Delta Air Lines, General Electric, Goldman Sachs, Johnson & Johnson, McKinsey & Company, and Wells Fargo.

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Friday Factoid: Sustainability at UCLA Anderson [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Friday Factoid: Sustainability at UCLA Anderson
Applicants to the UCLA Anderson School of Management may be well aware of the school’s strengths in media and real estate, but they might be surprised to learn that Anderson also offers a cutting-edge multidisciplinary program for students interested in environmental sustainability. The school’s Leaders in Sustainability (LiS) Program is a certificate program that allows Anderson students to take courses at different graduate schools within the university network, thereby offering them opportunities to address issues of environmental sustainability in an interdisciplinary manner. Students must apply to the program, which typically has more than 190 participants from graduate programs across the university.

Students in the LiS program must take four classes, including the LiS core course and three sustainability-related courses—one of which must be taught outside the students’ primary graduate school. In total, the greater university offers more than 50 sustainability-related courses that Anderson students may choose from, ranging from “Green Energy and Entrepreneurship” to “Management in Public and Private Nonprofit Sectors” to even “Water Law.” In addition to completing the program’s required four courses, LiS students must complete a project related to sustainability and may do so individually or as part of a team with students from at least two other graduate schools within the university.

For a thorough exploration of what UCLA Anderson and 15 other top business schools have to offer, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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Human Ventures Co-Founders Discuss Working with “Good Humans” via Thei [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Human Ventures Co-Founders Discuss Working with “Good Humans” via Their Start-Up Studio

Heather Hartnett and Megan O’Connor, Co-Founders of Human Ventures

Today, many aspiring MBAs and MBA graduates want to join start-ups or launch such companies themselves. Is entrepreneurship as exciting as it seems? Is it really for you? mbaMission Founder Jeremy Shinewald has teamed up with Venture for America and CBS Interactive to launch Smart People Should Build Things: The Venture for America Podcast. Each week, Shinewald interviews another entrepreneur so you can hear the gritty stories of their ups and downs on the road to success.

This special podcast episode features two guests: Heather Hartnett and Megan O’Connor, co-founders of start-up incubator studio Human Ventures. Their company differs from traditional incubators in their desire to work with “good humans”—individuals with positive characteristics and drive. Tune in to hear the full story behind Human Ventures, including these highlights:

  • What a “good human” actually means in theory and practice
  • How social impact comes into play at Human Ventures
  • How a female-driven start-up incubator differs from a male-led one

Subscribe to the podcast series to hear each episode first!

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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Have No International Experience! [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Have No International Experience!

In the past, we have addressed the prevailing MBA admissions myth that a “right” professional path exists for applicants to follow. Just as there is no ideal position to have pre-MBA, there is no ideal life experience either. International experience, for example, is not a prerequisite for admission to top MBA programs, so a lack of international experience does not suddenly disqualify you.

One could fairly say that admissions officers want a geographically and experientially diverse class and that most MBA candidates these days have some international exposure, either through travel or work. However, keep in mind that international exposure is not limited to physically being out of the country. If you are dealing with suppliers abroad or running a weekly conference call with a team in another country—even if you are an American dealing with this from the United States or an Indian managing these tasks from India—you still have international experience.

However, even if you are an American working for a U.S. company with a U.S.-based product or service and U.S.-based customers—as unlikely as that is these days—you are not applying with one hand tied behind your back. Again, there is no checklist at the admissions office. If you have not had the personal resources or the professional opportunities to gain international experience, you can still become a business leader—the two are not mutually exclusive. So, like all candidates, you will need to explain to the MBA admissions committee how your degree will help you achieve your dreams. Gaining an international education and international exposure through your MBA may just be a crucial step in reaching your goals.

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GMAT Impact: What to Do When You Do Not Have Much Time [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: GMAT Impact: What to Do When You Do Not Have Much Time
With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this blog series, Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.



Some time ago, I flew over to London to give an all-day workshop at London Business School there. The audience comprised about 35 students who had already been admitted to a weekend master’s program, but that admission was contingent upon taking the GMAT and getting a “good enough” score (as defined by the school). The students had only about a month or two to fulfill this requirement.

What can you do in a six-hour crash course? Not much more than an introduction and orientation—but even that is incredibly valuable in helping people get started and know what to expect.

So what should someone do who is in the position of taking the test in four to eight weeks and has not studied a ton yet?

First, take a practice test under 100% official conditions. I always recommend this first step for anyone, but this is especially crucial for someone with limited time. You are going to have to prioritize heavily, and you have no effective way to do that without good practice test data.

Next, identify the practice materials you want to use. You are going to need at least one source for official practice questions (perhaps the Official Guide 2016 Edition). You are also going to need some materials that help you get better in your areas of greatest weakness—for example, if you are struggling with word problems and sentence correction, then you are going to need some test prep materials that teach those specific areas.

When determining which question types and content areas to prioritize, remember two important things:

(1) All areas are not created equal. Struggling with Combinatorics? Great. Those are infrequently tested, so you can get away with just dropping that topic entirely. Struggling with exponents and roots? Those are much more common, so you are going to need to dig in there. Frequently versus infrequently tested areas can change over time, so ask an expert on an online forum at whatever point you need to figure this out.

(2) Timing is an enormous factor on this exam. Everyone has timing problems, ranging from mild to severe. I cannot tell you how many students I have spoken with who study for months but do not get much better on their practice tests because they have not been practicing timing. Everyone needs to deal with timing right from the start—and this is especially true for someone who has only four to eight weeks to take the test.

Last step: Start working! Tons of resources are available on the Manhattan Prep blog to help you in your studies, but I will point you toward two particular article compilations that should be the most helpful. Both articles were written as comprehensive articles for people who have months to study, so you will once again have to prioritize and cut out things for which you just do not have time—but these will provide you with the best starting point from which to make those decisions.

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Monday Morning Essay Tip: Simple Word Replacements That Save Word Coun [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Monday Morning Essay Tip: Simple Word Replacements That Save Word Count
One element of MBA application essays that can be challenging—no matter how skilled the applicants are as writers—is staying within word limits. Sometimes, cutting just a few words is all that is needed to avoid exceeding the maximum. However, after looking at a draft multiple times, identifying the opportunities to do this can be difficult. Here are a few common phrases that can be shortened without negatively affecting a sentence’s meaning and that in many cases may even improve the text:

  • be able to
Replacing variations of “be able to” with simply “can” in the present tense or “will” in future tense constructions can easily save you two or three words.

Because of my strong organizational skills, I am able to accomplish more work in less time. (16 words)

*Because of my strong organizational skills, I can accomplish more work in less time. (14 words)

With this latest round of funding, my venture will be able to expand into new districts. (16 words)

*With this latest round of funding, my venture will expand into new districts. (13 words)

[*]decided to[/list]
If something you mention occurred because of a decision you or someone else made, you can bypass discussing the decision part of the process and focus exclusively on describing the resulting action. Avoid using “decided to” and make your action verb the primary verb of your statement.

Once I saw the numbers, I decided to call a meeting. (11 words)

*Once I saw the numbers, I called a meeting. (9 words)

My supervisor decided to promote me first. (7 words)

*My supervisor promoted me first. (5 words)

 

[*]despite the fact that[/list]
This wordy phrase can and should be replaced with simply “even though.”

I was passed over for the promotion despite the fact that I had committed more hours to the project. (19 words)

*I was passed over for the promotion even though I had committed more hours to the project. (17 words)

 

[*]in order to/in order for[/list]
Very simply, “in order” adds nothing to the clarity or meaning of the phrase that follows it. Use just “to” or “for,” as appropriate.

We had to wake up three hours early in order to get to the site on time. (17 words)

*We had to wake up three hours early to get to the site on time. (15 words)

I knew that in order for my team to stay on budget, we needed to find a new distributor. (19 words)

*I knew that for my team to stay on budget, we needed to find a new distributor. (17 words)

 

[*]prior to/in advance of[/list]
When discussing something that occurs ahead of something else, simply use “before.” “Prior to” and “in advance of” confer no special or additional meaning and can sound affected, in addition to being wordy.

Prior to leaving for the airport, I called to confirm my flight. (12 words)

*Before leaving for the airport, I called to confirm my flight. (11 words)

The club officers contacted all the contracted sponsors in advance of the conference. (13 words)

*The club officers contacted all the contracted sponsors before the conference. (11 words)

These simple changes can tighten your writing and save you a few words—sometimes, that is all you need!

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B-School Chart of the Week: March 2016 Social Currency Rankings [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: B-School Chart of the Week: March 2016 Social Currency Rankings
Rankings come in all shapes and sizes, but can any ranking truly capture social cachet? For a different perspective on the value of an MBA, we turn to the New York Times society pages, where the editors select and profile promising couples. Each month, we dedicate one B-School Chart of the Week to tallying how alumni from top-ranked business schools are advancing their social currency ranking.



March was a fairly quiet month for MBA weddings. Perhaps many couples are waiting to have a traditional June ceremony? Nevertheless, two Harvard Business School (HBS) alumni tied the knot in the third month of the year, as HBS graduate Adam Plotkin married Adam Abrahams, while fellow HBS alum Anna Stetsovskaya married John Hamilton, a JD/MBA dual-degree student at Stanford. Other March MBA brides and grooms included graduates from the New York University (NYU) Stern School of Business and the UCLA Anderson School of Management. Now that spring has (almost) sprung across the United States, warmer-weather MBA weddings are on the way!

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Mission Admission: Begin with One MBA Application and Start Early [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Mission Admission: Begin with One MBA Application and Start Early
Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.



MBA candidates often ask us whether they should complete one application before moving on to the next or whether they should attack all of their applications at once. Although this question has no definite “right” answer, we generally advise candidates who start early to make significant progress on their first application before beginning the second or third.

Why? Simply put, business school candidates can learn a tremendous amount from the process of completing their first application, and this can prevent them from repeating any mistakes two or three times. By mistakes, we mean errors not just in terms of grammar and style, but also in terms of approach. For example, once an applicant starts writing, he/she might discover that achieving the right “balance” in his/her essays is difficult or that conforming to stringent word counts is tougher than expected. In this case, the candidate would benefit from “battling” through the first few essays and using them as an opportunity to refine his/her message and approach, rather than attacking multiple essays at once. After working through these issues and having completed a full set of essays, the applicant can then move forward with the next application(s) and can do so with confidence that he/she is not repeating the same mistakes.

This is a simple recommendation, but if followed, it can save an applicant a tremendous amount of time, especially those candidates who intend to start early and make steady progress.

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Professor Profiles: Katherine Schipper, Duke University Fuqua School o [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Katherine Schipper, Duke University Fuqua School of Business
Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Each Wednesday, we profile a standout professor as identified by students. Today, we focus on Katherine Schipper from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business.



Katherine Schipper is the Thomas F. Keller Professor of Business Administration at Fuqua and has typically taught the MBA program’s core accounting course, “Financial Accounting.” She previously served in several roles for the American Accounting Association and is currently the president of the International Association for Accounting Education and Research. Schipper was editor of the Journal of Accounting Research for many years and was a member of the Financial Accounting Standards Board from 2001 to 2006, before joining Fuqua. In 2007, Schipper was the first woman inducted into the Accounting Hall of Fame.

A second-year student we interviewed who had taken the course “Global Institutions and Environment” with Schipper (co-taught with a fellow professor) said, “She was outstanding. It was amazing to have professors of their caliber teaching the first class we experienced at Fuqua.” Another second year told us, “I was really nervous about accounting, but she made it very accessible, and even occasionally fun.” When asked which professor impressed her most, a second year we interviewed named Schipper, praising her rigor in the classroom: “She held every single person to an impeccably high standard and set the tone for graduate level expectations.”

For more information about the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and 15 other top-ranked business schools, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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Beyond the MBA Classroom: Bring Your Spouse and Kids to UC Berkeley Ha [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Beyond the MBA Classroom: Bring Your Spouse and Kids to UC Berkeley Haas
When you select an MBA program, you are not just choosing your learning environment but are also committing to becoming part of a community. Each Thursday, we offer a window into life “beyond the MBA classroom” at a top business school. 

The Partners Club at the Haas School of Business at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, caters to the needs of MBA students’ significant others and children and is reportedly very active on campus. Beginning when students are just new admits, the club helps answer questions on everything from housing issues to community life, and throughout the academic year, the club organizes game nights, dinners, happy hours, and other social events for the partners. Haas partners are also invited to attend all student social events and club activities. Said one second-year student in a 2010 online student chat, “Honestly, I think partners have the best time in business school—they get all the fun without those pesky classes!”

For in-depth descriptions of social and community activities at UC Berkeley Haas and 15 other top MBA programs, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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Diamonds in the Rough: Simon Business School [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Diamonds in the Rough: Simon Business School
MBA applicants can get carried away with rankings. In this series, we profile amazing programs at business schools that are typically ranked outside the top 15.



The full-time MBA program at the Simon Business School at the University of Rochester offers a broadly finance-oriented general management curriculum featuring particular strengths in analytics and accounting. Simon’s program is built on a foundation of nine core courses, including “Managerial Economics,” “Capital Budgeting and Corporate Objectives,” and “Marketing Management,” as well as a communication sequence.

Students complete their core with an assigned study team before exploring more specialized professional interests. The school’s elective courses represent a variety of industries and functions, such as entrepreneurship, consulting, and real estate. Students may choose among 11 optional career concentrations, ranging from Competitive and Organizational Strategy (which includes both a Pricing track and a Strategy and Organizations track) and Marketing (which includes tracks in Brand Management, Pricing, and Marketing Strategy), to such analysis-heavy fields as Business Systems Consulting and Computers and Information Systems. In addition, the Simon MBA EDGE Program provides students with opportunities for personal development in such areas as problem solving, communication, and leadership through involvement in activities including clubs, advisory boards, and other groups on campus, as well as case competitions and projects with area companies. The program aims to complement knowledge learned in the classroom and increase students’ value to potential employers.

Simon’s Ain Center for Entrepreneurship, Center for Information Intensive Services, and Center for Pricing offer curricular and research support to supplement the specific career concentrations. Simon is also home to more than 30 professional and social student-run organizations aimed at coordinating networking events and professional development resources to assist students in advancing their careers.

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Friday Factoid: Hit the Slopes at… Kellogg? [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Friday Factoid: Hit the Slopes at… Kellogg?

When you want to hit the slopes, you probably think of the Alps or the Rockies rather than Evanston, Illinois, home to Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management. Kellogg students may not do their skiing in Evanston proper, but a remarkable 750 or more first and second years participate in the school’s annual ski trip, which, according to students we interviewed, “remains the biggest of its kind. Like everything else at Kellogg, the trip is student run […] from logistics to marketing to sponsorship. […] First- and second-year students work together to make it an unforgettable weeklong adventure.” Participating students have traveled to such locations as Steamboat Resort and Telluride, in Colorado, where students stayed in mountainside condos. Those who wish to ski can avail themselves of three-, four-, or even five-day passes, while nonskiers can enjoy such activities as cooking classes, snowshoe lessons, and spa treatments (at reduced prices). The evenings feature theme parties, such as an annual ’80s party.

A first year with whom we spoke expressed how impressed she was with Kellogg’s ski club for “planning the best week of business school for 800 people!” She added that Northwestern Ski Trip is simply not to be missed: “It’s all of your closest friends, taking over a ski town for one full week with amazing parties and social activities—many of which are sponsored!”

For a thorough exploration of what Kellogg and 15 other top business schools have to offer, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.

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BobbyPin Founder Avi Millman Describes His Path from Retail to Scaveng [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: BobbyPin Founder Avi Millman Describes His Path from Retail to Scavenger Hunts to Location Sharing

Avi Millman, CEO and Founder of BobbyPin

Today, many aspiring MBAs and MBA graduates want to join start-ups or launch such companies themselves. Is entrepreneurship as exciting as it seems? Is it really for you? mbaMission Founder Jeremy Shinewald has teamed up with Venture for America and CBS Interactive to launch Smart People Should Build Things: The Venture for America Podcast. Each week, Shinewald interviews another entrepreneur so you can hear the gritty stories of their ups and downs on the road to success.

Avi Millman is no stranger to entrepreneurship. From Strayboots, a scavenger hunt app, to his latest endeavor, BobbyPin, Millman has planted enough company seeds to have insight on the field. BobbyPin offers an easy way to keep track of and share interesting locations around the world. In this podcast episode, he shares these details from his experiences, along with many more:

  • How he ended up selling tonic water from door to door
  • What drove him to move to the Virgin Islands after leaving retail behind
  • How the idea of Strayboots came to him while standing in Rome holding a guidebook

Subscribe to the podcast series to hear exciting entrepreneurial stories like Millman’s as they are released!

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Columbia Business School Essay Analysis, 2016–2017 [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Columbia Business School Essay Analysis, 2016–2017
A famous quotation, though one of murky attribution, states, “If I had had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.” MBA essays used to be lengthy, but Columbia Business School (CBS) has helped lead the way in their gradually becoming shorter and shorter over the years. In fact, CBS was the first business school to incorporate a micro essay into its application. This year, CBS appears to be sticking with the “shorter may be better” theme, because the school has stipulated a minimum of 100 words for each of its essays in addition to setting a maximum, essentially telling candidates that they do not have to submit a long essay to get their point across. (That said, we suspect that no one—no matter how much time they may have to be that brief—will actually use the bare minimum.) However, in a twist, CBS has also increased the allowed word count for several of its essays: applicants have 33% more space for Essay 1 (750 words versus 500 last year) and twice as much for Essay 2 (500 words versus 250). Even the allowance for the school’s short-answer question has grown from 50 characters to—oddly—51, after having been reduced steadily over the past several years (from 200 to 100 to 75 to 50). These increases constitute a pretty significant change and one that will probably come as a relief to applicants, who quickly learn just how challenging trying to say everything they want to in a short essay can be. So, when you write your CBS essays, keep that famous quote in mind. Just because you have more room, you do not have to use it all—you just need to use the allotted space wisely. Focus on making every word count, rather than on trying to say “everything.”

Short Answer Question:

What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (51 characters maximum)

Examples of possible responses:

“Work in business development for a media company.”

“Join a strategy consulting firm.”

“Launch a data-management start-up.”

Reveal true goals, not what you think CBS wants.

This directive—which may sound a bit as though Yoda wrote it—is a mere 49 characters (including spaces and punctuation) and could be seen as a tribute form of essay analysis. Although we stayed within the character count, we do have more to say…

You can see now just how brief you need to be with CBS’s short-answer question, yet you must be sure to effectively convey your point within these strict limits. So, we want to emphasize the advice we gave in our example. Think about what you truly want to do with your career in the short term and state this directly. And do not misguidedly believe that admissions officers have a preference for specific professions or industries—they do not. The rest of your application must then provide evidence that your stated goal aligns with your existing skills and profound interests, especially after being augmented by an MBA education. This will show that your professed goal is achievable and lend credibility to your statement. If you can do this in 51 characters—and remember that we are talking about characters, not words—you will have answered this question quite well. Recognize also that because the first part of your answer is generally understood to be “I want to…,” you do not need to actually include those words.

Essay #1: Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals going forward, and how will the Columbia MBA help you achieve them? (100–750 words)

Did you not just write about your career goals for CBS’s short-answer question? Well, yes, but clearly the admissions committee wants to know more. This is your opportunity to elaborate on your aspirations, demonstrating why they truly make sense for you and extending your projection beyond that question’s “immediate post-MBA” time frame. Start by giving some context for your goals, because a declarative statement alone can often seem naïve, detached, or capricious, especially if some might view your intentions as adventurous. Declaring, for example, “I plan to ultimately become president of the New York Yankees” may be an audacious and eye-catching way to start your essay, but it will not be an effective one if you do not subsequently explain how and why this just might be an actual possibility once you have earned your MBA. (Do you have significant experience in the entertainment or sports industries already? Is your last name Steinbrenner?)

First, reveal that a crucial and legitimate connection exists between where you have been in your career and where you want to go, so that you do not appear to be merely expressing an unfounded “want.” For this essay, you have to provide more detail than you did in your 51-character short answer and show that you fully understand what someone in your target field or position does. Too many applicants write basic statements like “I want to join a start-up.” But what kind of start-up? Seed stage? Venture backed? In what position within the start-up? After all, a start-up is a business, not a specific job. Our point is that you must demonstrate that you have given your career path significant consideration and have educated yourself as to what your post-MBA career entails, why you are (or will be) properly equipped to perform your desired role(s) within it, and how it is the right fit for you personally. By showing that your long-term goals represent a well-founded yet aspirational progression from your short-term goals, you will communicate to the admissions committee that you have envisioned an ideal path for your career.

In addition to clearly and logically presenting your goals, you need to demonstrate that you have dedicated just as much thought—or maybe even more—to why you want to study at CBS. Many applicants make the mistake of simply offering a litany of pandering clichés about the school, but because you are reading this essay analysis, you will not! Think carefully about what you need to learn to achieve your stated aspirations and then share which specific resources at CBS you believe will allow you to develop your skills and knowledge base to achieve them. You must convince the admissions committee that you understand how CBS is the missing link between you and your career goals.

Because personal statements are similar from one application to the next, we have produced the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which helps applicants write this style of essay for any school. We offer this guide to candidates free of charge. Please feel free to download your copy today.

For a thorough exploration of CBS’s academic program/merits, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, academic environment and more, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to Columbia Business School.

Essay #2: Columbia Business School’s students participate in industry focused New York immersion seminars; in project based Master Classes; and in school year internships. Most importantly, they are taught by a combination of distinguished research faculty and accomplished practitioners. How will you take advantage of being “at the very center of business”? (100–500 words)

CBS provides a long, example laden prompt for its second essay, and we want to be sure that you are not distracted or mislead by certain elements of it. Be assured that in answering this question, you do not need to specifically reference New York immersion seminars, master classes, or school-year internships. CBS is merely providing a bit of inspiration for you, but the admissions committee is ultimately interested in how you will define your relationship with the school’s resources and what New York City has to offer. The key is to focus on what you need from your educational experience and then address how this will be fulfilled or enhanced by the school’s proximity (beyond its campus) to numerous practical opportunities.

To effectively answer this question, many applicants will need to conduct some significant research about both Columbia and New York City’s abundant resources. However, you will need to go beyond offering a mere list of applicable resources. Instead, you must show that you understand how the resources you have identified align with your educational and/or professional needs and that you have an action plan for how you intend to integrate them into your MBA experience. So, for example, if you are interested in entrepreneurship, simply noting that you are aware of Manhattan’s burgeoning technology scene will not do much for you. You would need to explain how you expect to engage with that tech scene and why you believe doing so would be advantageous to you. The same goes for media, fashion, finance, and every other discipline, because New York offers something for them all. In the end, your job is not to inform CBS about the resources available on its campus or at its doorstep but to clearly convey how you will take advantage of the ones that matter to you personally.

Essay #3: CBS Matters, a key element of the School’s culture, allows the people in your Cluster to learn more about you on a personal level. What will your Clustermates be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (100–250 words)

Stop now and consider what the admissions officers will already know about you at this point from the other elements of your application they have reviewed thus far. They will probably have read your resume and thus gotten a sense of your career path to date. Your other essays should have provided an understanding of your goals and why you want to be at CBS and in New York City. The admissions committee may have had some brief glimpses into your personality through these avenues, but this essay is your overt opportunity—however brief—to provide a sense of your true character.

The key words in this question are “pleasantly surprised.” Although you certainly want to offer something surprising, you obviously do not want that surprise to be unpleasant. “Surprise” should not be understood as “shocked.” Do not think you need to totally revolutionize the admissions committee’s understanding of you in a mere 250 words (though if you can, that is fine).

Our point is that you should not worry if you have not climbed Mount Everest or launched a $50M venture capital–backed start-up. You are not expected to have spectacular achievement to share—CBS just wants to get to know you better by learning about an interesting aspect of your life. Whether you spent a month volunteering in Peru, helped put your sister through school, or are passionate about flamenco dancing, these are all suitable stories, and one is not necessarily better than the other. What is important is that you offer a narrative that engages the reader in your actions and showcases how you conduct yourself.

You may feel that a natural part of this essay should tie directly to the CBS MBA program and explain how this aspect of your personality or life will allow you to contribute to the school or your cluster. However, you do not need to answer a question that was not asked. You therefore do not need to use any of your limited word count addressing this angle, though you may certainly do so if it is organic to your story.

Optional Essay: An optional fourth essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.

However tempted you might be, this is not the place to paste in a strong essay from another school or to offer a few anecdotes that you were unable to use in any of your other essays. Instead, this is your opportunity, if needed, to address any lingering questions that an admissions officer may have about your candidacy, such as a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT score, a gap in your work experience, etc. In our mbaMission Optional Statement Guide, we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay, with multiple examples, to help you mitigate any problem areas in your profile.

The Next Step—Mastering Your CBS Interview: Many MBA candidates find admissions interviews stressful and intimidating, but mastering this important element of the application process is definitely possible—the key is informed preparation. And, on your way to this high level of preparation, we offer our free Interview Primers to spur you along! Download your free copy of the Columbia Business School Interview Primer today.

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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Yikes, a Typo—I Am Done! [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Yikes, a Typo—I Am Done!

You have worked painstakingly on your application. You have checked and rechecked your work. You finally press the Submit button, and then you discover—to your horror—that you are missing a comma and you inadvertently used “too” instead of “to.” The admissions committee is just going to throw your application out, right? Wrong.

There is a fine line between a typo and pervasive sloppiness. If you have typos and grammatical errors everywhere, you send a negative message about your sense of professionalism and your desire to represent yourself—and thus the target school—in a positive way. If you have a minor mistake or too (oops, we meant “mistake or two”) in your text, you have an unfortunate but not devastating situation on your hands. Admissions committees understand that you are only human and, if you are a strong candidate, the entirety of your professional, community, personal, and academic endeavors will outweigh these blips.

Do not dwell on the mistakes. Do not send new essays. Just accept your own fallibility and move on.

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GMAT Impact: How Do Business Schools View the GRE? [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: GMAT Impact: How Do Business Schools View the GRE?
With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this blog series, Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.



Many business schools, including Stanford, Harvard, and Wharton, accept either the GMAT or the GRE. I have spoken with a couple of admissions officers about this topic, as well as several students who have had their own conversations with admissions officers about which test to take.

The general consensus seems to be that taking the GRE instead of the GMAT confers no major disadvantage, but some schools do (as we suspected) discount the GRE quant score a bit because they feel that the GMAT quant is more challenging. (And I think they are right about that.)

No one would discuss specifics, but here are some things I inferred. First, the discount is not enormous—my guess is that it is on the order of perhaps five to ten percentile points. If you, for whatever reason, find the GRE quant much easier than the GMAT quant, then it still might be to your advantage to take the GRE.

Second, so far, I have only heard top schools acknowledge doing this. Certainly, any schools could discount the GRE quant; my guess, though, is that everyone else is not as concerned about the small differences in score/difficulty level between the two tests. The top schools receive so many applications that choosing among all of the highly qualified candidates is extremely difficult, so they are even more concerned about making an apples-to-apples comparison (as much as they can).

Finally, no one expressed any concern about the verbal portion of the GRE; the schools seem to view the two tests as equally challenging in this area. (And, again, I agree with this assessment.) The GRE and GMAT do test somewhat different verbal skills, but vocabulary (GRE) is just as important as grammar (GMAT) in business communication, so neither test has an edge here. (Both tests address meaning in their vocabulary- and grammar-based verbal questions.)

What does this mean? If you are applying to a top school, you should have a slight preference for the GMAT over the GRE, but if you are really struggling with GMAT quant, then try a GRE practice test (under 100% official conditions, please!). If you find the GRE quant a lot easier (enough that you can score at least ten percentile points higher), then you may want to consider taking the GRE instead.

And be sure to check out our GMAT vs. GRE infographic for even more help deciding which test to take!

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