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# The mbaMission Blog

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mbaMission Admissions Consultant
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mbaMission Admissions Consultant
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Own Kudos [?]: 336 [0]
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mbaMission Admissions Consultant
Joined: 25 Apr 2013
Posts: 4426
Own Kudos [?]: 336 [0]
Given Kudos: 1
mbaMission Admissions Consultant
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What to Do During the Last Two Weeks Before the GMAT [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: What to Do During the Last Two Weeks Before the GMAT With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.Application season will soon be here again, and many candidates are gearing up to take the GMAT. Are you aware that during the last seven to 14 days before you take the real test, your entire study focus changes? Most people have no idea and keep doing more of the same—trying to fix weaknesses and lift their scores. While that should be your focus up until the last week or two, if you continue to focus on weaknesses during the last length of time, you will not likely be able to maximize your score on test day.Why? You have been studying an enormous number of things, right? (Sometimes, it seems like it will never end!) Toward the end of our study time frame, we have to take time to do two very important things: build a game plan and conduct a comprehensive review.To learn how to construct a game plan, take a look at the first part of this article: “The Last 14 Days: Building Your Game Plan (Part 1).” That article contains a link to the second half, which discusses how to conduct a review of your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your timing and other strategies.Ideally, you will take a full 14 days for this process, but you can compress the activities into seven to ten days if need be. Just do not try to do it all in seven days; you will have to cut down on the amount of review you do to avoid tiring yourself out before Game Day.Good luck and happy studying!
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Professor Profiles: Barry Nalebuff, Yale School of Management [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Barry Nalebuff, Yale School of Management 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. Today, we profile from the Yale School of Management (SOM).Perhaps best known as one of the founders of Honest Tea, Barry Nalebuff is the Milton Steinbach Professor of Management at the Yale SOM. An expert in game theory and strategy, Nalebuff has been a professor at the SOM since 1989. A second year told mbaMission that in the classroom, Nalebuff “is a favorite for his sharp wit and insights.” Nalebuff is also an accomplished author with more than 300,000 copies in print. His book The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008), for example, explores how almost all interactions—business and personal alike—have a game theory component.Nalebuff and Adam Brandenburger, a professor of business economics and strategy at NYU’s Stern School of Business, developed the concept of a new business strategy called “co-opetition,” which they write about in the book Co-Opetition: A Revolutionary Mindset That Combines Competition and Cooperation: The Game Theory Strategy That’s Changing the Game of Business (Crown Business, 1997). The book’s listing on Amazon.com describes co-opetition as “a business strategy that goes beyond the old rules of competition and cooperation to combine the advantages of both. Co-opetition is a pioneering, high profit means of leveraging business relationships.”A first year noted in a Yale SOM Community Blog post, “Prof. Nalebuff never misses an opportunity to illustrate the ways in which companies can cooperate to grow the PIE (potential industry earnings). Of course, he then always reminds us that these same companies should compete aggressively to secure the biggest piece of that newly expanded PIE.”For more information about the Yale SOM and 15 other top-ranked business schools, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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Be Mindful of Arrogance in Your MBA Application Essays [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Be Mindful of Arrogance in Your MBA Application Essays Business school candidates often fret about striking the right balance between confidence and arrogance in their application essays. For example, you might have difficulty choosing the better choice from between the following statements:Example 1: “At the Stanford GSB, I will take advantage of the newly designed curriculum to…”Example 2: “At the Stanford GSB, I would take advantage of the newly designed curriculum to…”Or between these statements:Example 1: “After completing my MBA at Harvard Business School, I will pursue a career in…”Example 2: “After completing my MBA at Harvard Business School, I would aspire to a career in…”In each set of examples, the choice is essentially between certainty (“I will”) and diplomacy (“I would”). You might ask yourself whether the first option in each set of examples is too presumptuous or the second one too weak. In fact, neither is definitively “right”; each candidate must choose an approach that is consistent with his/her personality. However, maintaining consistency is vital. Choose one approach and carry it throughout your essay(s)—mixing the two styles is distracting to the reader and can seem sloppy.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: The Admissions Committee Wants a “Type [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: The Admissions Committee Wants a “Type” Many business school applicants believe that the MBA admissions committees have distilled their criteria for selecting candidates over the years and have in mind a specific “type” of individual they want. For example, within this world of stereotypes, applicants believe that Harvard Business School (HBS) is looking only for leaders, Kellogg is looking only for marketing students, Chicago Booth is looking only for finance students, and even that MIT Sloan is looking only for “eggheads.” Of course, these stereotypes—like most stereotypes—are inaccurate. Chicago Booth wants far more than one-dimensional finance students in its classes, and it provides far more than just finance to its MBA students (including, to the surprise of many, an excellent marketing program). HBS is not a school just for “generals”; among the approximately 950 students in each of its classes, HBS has a wide variety of personalities, including some excellent foot soldiers. So, at mbaMission, we constantly strive to educate MBA candidates about these misconceptions, which can sink applications if applicants pander to them.By way of example, imagine that you have worked in operations at a widget manufacturer. You have profound experience managing and motivating dozens of different types of people, at different levels, throughout your career, in both good economic times and bad. Even though your exposure to finance has been minimal, you erroneously determine that you need to be a “finance guy” to get into NYU Stern. So you tell your best, but nonetheless weak, finance stories, and now you are competing against elite finance candidates who have far more impressive stories in comparison. What if you had told your unique operations/management stories instead and stood out from the other applicants, rather than trying to compete in the school’s most overrepresented pool?We think that attempting to defy stereotypes and truly being yourself—trying to stand out from all others and not be easily categorized—is only natural. Of course, for those of you who are still not convinced, allow us to share a quote from Stanford’s former director and assistant dean of MBA admissions, Derrick Bolton, who wrote on his admissions Web site, “Because we want to discover who you are, resist the urge to ‘package’ yourself in order to come across in a way you think Stanford wants. Such attempts simply blur our understanding of who you are and what you can accomplish. We want to hear your genuine voice throughout the essays that you write, and this is the time to think carefully about your values, your passions, your hopes and dreams.”Makes sense, right?
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Post-Graduate Industries Among MBAs [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Post-Graduate Industries Among MBAs When many business school students enroll in their respective MBA programs, they have an idea of the industry in which they wish to work after graduation. Conversely, quite a few begin their studies with several prospective industries in mind. Where do MBAs actually land post-graduation? A recent survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) found that the majority of respondents—39% of the nearly 15,000 alumni from more than 1,100 graduate business programs—were working in an industry they had not considered prior to enrolling. Meanwhile, 36% had ended up in one of the industries they had considered, and only 26% were working in the exact industry they had chosen before business school. So, whether you are adamant about entering a particular industry after graduation or you fall into the category of “not quite sure yet,” be sure to keep an open mind. The business school experience molds your expectations of the future time and time again, and you may just end up on a career path you had not considered!
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Look Beyond Business School Rankings [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Look Beyond Business School Rankings We at mbaMission have tried repeatedly to persuade business school candidates who are evaluating MBA programs to downplay the various schools’ rankings, which can fluctuate wildly, and instead focus on fit, which is enduring. Now, as a new admissions season is about to begin shortly, we recommend that you accelerate and broaden your evaluation process.One way to look beyond rankings is to speak with MBA students. Even if you do not have direct access to students, reaching out to them in a targeted way—via email, club Web sites, and social media—can be quite easy. Do not feel as though you are being “pushy” when contacting students this way, because most take pride in their school and are open to speaking with candidates. They are a de facto part of the school’s marketing arm. For example, if you are interested in a certain program for its entrepreneurship offerings, you can get in touch with the individual(s) leading the entrepreneurship club to learn more about the program (and the club!). Of course, you should be respectful of each individual’s time and be well prepared for your conversation. If you are conscientious, you will be able to gain some great insight into the school’s academic environment and then have time to learn more about the atmosphere on campus. Networking now should enable you to begin narrowing your search and more effectively focus your limited “free” time over the next few months.
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How to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Problems [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Problems With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.Did you know that, on any particular problem, roughly 80% of your learning comes after you have picked the answer? Turns out, we do not learn much while in the process of doing a problem, especially when the clock is ticking. We are just trying to remember (and use!) everything that we learned before we started working on that problem.Afterward, though, we can take all the time we want to figure out how to get better—that is where we really learn. Did I understand what they were asking? Did I know how to do the math or reasoning necessary to get to the answer? Is there a more efficient way to do that work? Did I make any mistakes or fall into any traps? If so, which ones and why? How could I make an educated guess?In a nutshell: if you are not spending at least as long reviewing a question as you spent doing it in the first place, then you are not maximizing your learning.Take a look at this article: How to Analyze a Practice Problem. It contains a list of questions to ask yourself when reviewing a problem. Take note of a couple of things:– Yes, you still ask yourself these questions even when you answer the question correctly.– No, you do not need to ask yourself every single question for each problem you review; choose the most appropriate questions based upon how the problem went for you.Want some examples of how to do this? Glad you asked. Below, you will find links to articles containing an analysis of a sample problem for each of the six main question types. Happy studying!How to analyze the following:Sentence CorrectionCritical ReasoningReading ComprehensionData SufficiencyProblem SolvingIntegrated Reasoning Table
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Keep Your Parents Out of the MBA Application Process [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Keep Your Parents Out of the MBA Application Process When you are applying to business school, leave your parents out of the process! Although we hope this tip is an obvious one for most candidates, applicants who are a part of “Gen Y” or “The Millennials” may have parents who are accustomed to helping guide their children’s choices, having done so throughout the candidates’ high school and college years. These parents may naturally want to be involved in the MBA application process as well and are now leaving many admissions officers across the country shaking their heads.Of course, having a parent call to confirm whether an important document was received when an applicant is perhaps traveling or working abroad and/or cannot personally make such a call him- or herself is certainly not the same as having a parent call to ask why his/her child has not yet received an interview invitation. Unless the matter at hand is an entirely practical one, candidates have nothing to gain by having their parents act as their agents—in fact, quite the contrary. An aggressive parent can reflect badly on an applicant for a variety of reasons, the most obvious being that the parent’s interference suggests that the candidate lacks maturity and perhaps even the ability to make independent judgments and decisions.Think very carefully before you involve your parents in any aspect of the application process—except sitting at home and waiting to celebrate your great news!
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Boston University’s Public & Nonprofit MBA Can Help You Make a Differe [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Boston University’s Public & Nonprofit MBA Can Help You Make a Difference Because MBA applicants can get carried away with rankings, we profile amazing programs at business schools that are typically ranked outside the top 15.Since 1973, the Boston University Questrom School of Business (formerly the School of Management) has offered a Public & Nonprofit MBA (PNP), specifically designed to cultivate business management skills that can make a real difference in the world. Standing at 57th among U.S. MBA programs in the The Economist’s 2016 rankings, Questrom exposes PNP students to a robust general management core curriculum and also offers specialized courses and resources targeting the governmental, public, and private nonprofit sectors. In addition, the PNP program maintains partnerships with high-profile nonprofit organizations, through which scholarship opportunities, enrollment deferral, and application fee waivers are available to students interested in gaining work experience with these affiliations.
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Simple Word Replacements That Save Word Count in MBA Application Essay [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Simple Word Replacements That Save Word Count in MBA Application Essays 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 toReplacing 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 toThe 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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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: They Will Not Notice My Weakness! [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: They Will Not Notice My Weakness! Our clients frequently ask, “If I write the optional essay about my [low GMAT score, low GPA, bad semester in college, long stretch of unemployment, etc.], will it call attention to that weakness and overemphasize it?” In short, no. Writing the optional essay about a weakness will instead allow you to control the narrative and thereby better mitigate any negative effects of that weakness.The admissions committee very likely will take note of a low GMAT score or a low GPA and will be left with unanswered questions about that weakness if you do not use the optional essay to address the issue. Rather than putting the committee in the position of having to guess at an explanation, take control of the situation and grab the opportunity to explain the details behind the weakness.For example, let us say you have a weak GPA overall because you worked full time in your first two years of college, but your GPA from your last two years is much stronger. Not writing the optional essay means that you are hoping the admissions committee will take the time to search through your transcript, note the change in the GPA, and then examine your job history to learn that you worked full time during your first two years—then make the connection between your two years of full-time work and your subsequently lower grades during those years. On the other hand, if you use the optional essay to explain exactly what happened, you no longer have to simply hope that they will put in that extra effort and will know for sure that they are evaluating you using complete information. Likewise, they will not have to guess at the reason behind your low GPA, because you will have proactively filled in the story.The bottom line is that the admissions committee is made up of professionals whose obligation is to examine all aspects of your profile. They are not punitive, but they are also not careless and will certainly note any weaknesses like those mentioned here. At the same time, they are only human and are dealing with thousands of applications. Any way that you can save them time and effort by guiding them through the story of your application can only work to your advantage.
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Dean Profiles: R. Glenn Hubbard, Columbia Business School [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Dean Profiles: R. Glenn Hubbard, Columbia Business School Business school deans are more than administrative figureheads. Their character and leadership often reflect an MBA program’s unique culture and sense of community. Today, we profile R. Glenn Hubbard from Columbia Business School (CBS).Glenn Hubbard was appointed dean of CBS in 2004, having been at the school for nearly 20 years and having served as the Russell L. Carson Professor of Finance and Economics, the school’s senior vice dean, and codirector of the entrepreneurial program. He is also well known for having been an economic advisor to Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign in 2012 and a leading designer of the 2003 Bush tax cuts, which he helped implement while serving as chairman of the U.S. Council of Economic Advisers. More recently, he became a member of the U.S.–China Economic and Security Review Commission.After being criticized for his ties to the financial services industry in the 2010 documentary Inside Job, Hubbard has made a more concerted effort to bring professional responsibility to the fore of the CBS curriculum and to require faculty to fully disclose their professional activities outside of teaching. While many business schools responded to the financial crisis by adding standalone ethics courses to their curricula, Hubbard told the Wall Street Journal in 2011, “I don’t think students pay attention to [ethics] the way they do when it’s integrated into your marketing course, into your operations course, into your finance class.” With the launch of a new flexible curriculum in 2008 and further curricular changes in 2013, the school has reportedly worked to incorporate this integrated approach to teaching ethics directly into its core components. The updated curriculum also engenders what Hubbard has promoted as the three most essential directives for business students: “analyze, decide, and lead.”Hubbard is often the good-natured subject of student sketches in the CBS Follies comedy show and has been known to even make a personal appearance now and then. Videos from past Follies in which the dean has featured can be found on YouTube, including a musical parody of “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, in which Hubbard covets Ben Bernanke’s 2006 appointment as chairman of the Federal Reserve.For more information about CBS and 15 other top-ranked business schools, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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Why You Should Consider Chicago Booth for Marketing [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Why You Should Consider Chicago Booth for Marketing You may be surprised to know that Chicago Booth is making inroads into an area that its crosstown rival (Kellogg) is known to dominate: marketing. Through the James M. Kilts Center for Marketing—named for the Chicago Booth alumnus who was formerly CEO of Gillette and Nabisco (and is now a partner at Centerview Capital Holdings, LLC and executive chairman of Conyers Park Acquisition Corp.)—Chicago Booth offers students approximately 15 marketing electives. In particular, the school is growing its experiential opportunities in the marketing field, with students recently taking part in marketing management labs (semester-long consulting projects) at Abbott, Barclays, and Honeywell. Further, professors in the department saw opportunities for increased practical involvement and created “hybrid” classes that involve a lecture component but also allow students to work on shorter-term consulting projects.Students can also participate in “day-at” visits to major marketing firms and companies such as PepsiCo, Wrigley, and Kraft. Although Kellogg’s reputation for excellence in marketing is firmly intact, we have to assume that the folks in Evanston are occasionally glancing over their shoulders to see if Chicago Booth is gaining any more ground.For a thorough exploration of what Chicago Booth and 15 other top business schools have to offer, please check out the
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Professor Profiles: Cameron Anderson, Haas School of Business [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Cameron Anderson, Haas 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. Today, we profile Cameron Anderson from the Haas School of Business at the University of California (UC), Berkeley.Cameron Anderson, who received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2001, came to Haas from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 2005. His teaching awards include Professor of the Year at Stern in 2005 and the Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching at Haas in 2008. He was also named a Bakar Faculty Fellow in 2010.A second year described Anderson’s “Power and Politics in Organizations” course to mbaMission as “easily one of the most sought-after classes at Haas.” Another second-year student we interviewed said the class “teaches students how to gain power and influence people without formal authority” and added that Anderson “teaches applicable skills based on academic research and case studies of great leaders from history. He uses assignments to force students to uncover their own tools of influence and develop strategies for acquiring power in our immediate careers after Haas. I think his class is popular because it’s academic, directly applicable, and introspective all at once.”For more information on the defining characteristics of the MBA program at UC Berkeley Haas or one of 15 other top business schools, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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The MBA Admissions Deadline Is Approaching, and I Do Not Have My GMAT [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: The MBA Admissions Deadline Is Approaching, and I Do Not Have My GMAT Score! With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.It will be that time of year again soon—business schools announce their application deadlines, and I hear from candidates who do not yet have the GMAT score they want. What to do?First, do a little research. What kinds of scores are posted for the schools to which you plan to apply? Check their Web sites; most will publish scores for admitted students. If you cannot find scores for a certain program, you can try checking various MBA ranking reports (though many require you to buy the information). How far are you from the goal?Next, consult the experts. First, talk to an admissions consultant (hint, hint, mbaMission) to gain help in deciding how far you really need to go with the GMAT. The general rule is that you would like to be at or above the average to be competitive for a certain school, but you may need to push higher (or you might get away with a lower score), depending on other aspects of your application profile. Be sure to discuss multiple scenarios: if I apply first round, can I get away with a slightly lower GMAT score? If I wait to apply second round, is the possibility of a higher GMAT score likely to make much of a difference? (Disclaimer: Of course, nobody can tell you whether you will definitely get into any particular school, just as nobody can tell you that taking the test again will definitely net you a higher score. As always, you take your chances!)When you have an idea of your “ideal” goal score, talk to some GMAT experts to see whether your desired goal score and your time frame are reasonable, given your starting point. If someone tells me that she just scored a 600 and wants a 720 in 30 days, that person has an “expectation adjustment” conversation in her near future, because not many people would be able to raise their score by 120 points (particularly to such a high final score) in only one month.Next, think about what resources would help you to learn better than you have in the past. Online forums? A friend who has already taken the test? A private tutor? A mix of all three? (I am not suggesting a course here, because I am assuming that we are talking about six weeks or fewer, in which case—if you are going to spend money—you might as well spend it on a tutor. That will give you much more targeted and customized help, which is crucial in such a short time frame. If you have more time, though, add “a course?” to the list of possibilities.)You may have to make a tough choice between going for your goal score while postponing your application and lowering your goal score while sticking to your application time frame. Either way, take advantage of the expert advice out there to help you with this decision.
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Immersion Weeks at Penn State Smeal [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Immersion Weeks at Penn State Smeal Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business is known for balancing traditional coursework with immersive learning. Smeal’s modular curriculum structure includes four seven-week modules during each of the two years of the MBA program. Beginning with “Concentration Week,” students participate in various seminars to learn more about the program’s seven available concentrations. The third module, for example, focuses on such themes as “Leadership Communications” and “Strategy.” The first year culminates in a capstone case competition, in which students work in teams to present business strategies to a panel. Smeal’s curriculum also includes a required international experience component, the “Global Immersion,” which takes place in the second year. Students travel to such countries as Chile, India, and China to visit international organizations across various industries.
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Laying the Foundation for Your MBA Application [#permalink]
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 FROM mbaMission Blog: Laying the Foundation for Your MBA Application By being proactive and doing some advance planning, aspiring MBA candidates can remove a great deal of stress from the business school application process and substantially bolster their candidacy. We have several big picture recommendations for applicants to consider to help them be as competitive and prepared as possible when admissions season begins in earnest.Few candidates realize that starting to visit campuses as early as late winter or early spring is a great way to learn about and establish interest in specific schools. Campus visits are not just opportunities for you to “register” with a program’s admissions committee but are also a time for you to gain a deeper, firsthand understanding of various academic methodologies and social environments. Such visits can also prepare you to write far more targeted and informed essays when the time comes. After all, you can only learn so much about a school from its Web site.Another way to gain a deeper understanding of your target schools is by meeting with alumni or students, and you can begin doing this now as well. Students may be able to bring specific programs and classes to your attention that are not prominently featured on a school’s Web site or in its marketing materials but that may be quite appealing and/or relevant to you. Referring to such resources and offerings may also help you strengthen your case for attending that particular school. By meeting with students and alumni and by visiting classes, you will collect a variety of data points that will serve as a foundation for you to persuade the admissions committee that its school is ideally suited to you, in a way that few other candidates will be able to do.Many candidates have trouble honestly and sincerely articulating their post-MBA aspirations, and virtually every business school requires that candidates write an essay that discusses their short- and/or long-term career goals. So if you hope to enter a competitive field, such as banking or consulting, now would be a good time to conduct informational interviews or even job shadow an individual for a day, if possible. The admissions committees frown on vague goal statements or generic claims that lack a profound personal connection to a position and are therefore less credible. By connecting with and learning from people in the position and/or industry you are targeting, you will gain insight that will imbue your stated career goals with sincerity  and authenticity.A rather overt measure you can take to bolster your candidacy is stepping into a leadership role in your community, if you have not already done so. The earlier you take this step, the more time you have in which to create a track record and show that you are a substantive individual outside of the office. If you instead wait to start volunteering until the fall, your contributions will seem far less sincere, and you will not have sufficient time or opportunity to have the kind of profound experiences that lend themselves well to application essays. When identifying a volunteer activity in which to involve yourself, first and foremost, select an organization about which you feel legitimately passionate. If you are genuinely excited about the cause or organization you have chosen, you will be more committed to it, enjoy a more meaningful experience, and have a more heartfelt story to tell about it.Ideally, your community experiences will both complement and supplement your profile. They can reveal a true passion for your field (complementary) or shift the admissions committee’s perspective on you (supplementary) and help differentiate you from other applicants. For example, an accountant who volunteers with Junior Achievement shows a commitment to his professional path and his desire to give back in this area, thereby complementing his existing profile. The accountant who coaches soccer in his community offers a new window on his personality and abilities, thereby supplementing his profile.Although a solid commitment to any cause or organization will be helpful to your candidacy, the more esoteric the organization, the more distinct  and memorable your story. You should not volunteer for a completely obscure organization just to be different, of course, but if you are truly passionate about a less conventional cause or hobby—antiquities preservation, for example—you should consider volunteering in the field, thus increasing your opportunities to discuss this unusual interest. Regardless of the focus and nature of your volunteer/community activities, strive to make an impact and show true leadership in doing so. If you can accomplish this, you should be able to add a valuable new dimension to your application.Your personal achievements can also differentiate you from others in the applicant pool by offering a far more diversified and remarkable picture of you. Start focusing now on accelerating the timeline of any endeavors or goals you have been actively pursuing. For example, if you have been intending to publish a certain article and are close to completing a final draft, do the work necessary to finish it sooner rather than later. If you have been working toward earning your CFA designation and have only Level III of the exam left to pass, be sure to take that final test this year. If you can run 20 miles and have been dreaming of completing a marathon, do it this year. We are not suggesting that if you have never run a mile in your life that you start training for a marathon now, but if you are close to achieving a goal and would likely do so naturally after your applications are due, accelerate your timeline so that you are able to reach it before the schools’ Round 1 deadlines.Bolstering your academic profile through additional course work can be equally important. Many candidates fret about their poor undergrad performance and feel that they are powerless to change the admissions committee’s perspective on their academic aptitudes, but MBA programs are actually far more forgiving of previous educational issues than other graduate programs are. Most applicants’ academic experience is far in the past, and their GMAT/GRE score, references, and work experience are better indicators of their potential for success. This is not to suggest that poor grades do not matter, rather that poor grades can be mitigated.If you do not feel confident about your past academic performance, consider enrolling in additional course work immediately. In particular, if you did poorly in math courses (even if your overall GPA is quite high), the admissions committee may have some concerns about your ability to manage a heavily quantitative workload, so you should look into taking a calculus or statistics class. To show an aptitude for management studies, you might take an accounting, economics, or corporate finance class. But simply taking the course(s) is not enough—to effectively show that you have an aptitude for the work and that you take your academics quite seriously, you will need to get an A grade in any class you undertake.Even candidates who did quite well in undergrad might consider completing additional course work. Liberal Arts majors with 4.0s and no quantitative background can benefit from taking (and doing well in) a math class and a management class, which will allow them to confidently claim and support their competency to handle their coming studies.
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