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Yale School of Management Essay Analysis, 2019–2020  [#permalink]

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New post 11 Jul 2019, 13:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: Yale School of Management Essay Analysis, 2019–2020
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The Yale School of Management (SOM), like Harvard Business School, takes a bit of a “go big or go home” approach with its application essay question in that it poses just a single query to its applicants, giving them only one shot to make their desired impression on the admissions committee. The Yale SOM prompt is less open-ended, however, and requires candidates to focus on a significant past commitment and its underlying reasons and value. It also limits applicants to 500 words, so you will need to be clear, direct, and rather succinct in your response, without much preamble or extraneous text. Read on for our full analysis of the Yale SOM essay question for 2019–2020.

Describe the biggest commitment you have ever made. (500 words maximum)

In a Yale SOM blog post about the school’s essay prompt when it was originally introduced, Assistant Dean for Admissions Bruce DelMonico noted that the “seemingly simple and straightforward question” was composed with assistance from one of the program’s organizational behavior professors. Yale’s admissions committee clearly takes the application essay seriously and is thoughtful about the types of behaviors it wants to see in the school’s students. In an online Q&A session with several leading admissions officers we hosted last year, Bruce declared himself “agnostic” about whether applicants should discuss a personal commitment or a professional one, noting that he wants to gauge the level to which candidates commit themselves, rather than the context of the engagement: “We don’t have a preference for professional or personal accomplishments. . . . We are not making value judgments about what that commitment is, but it is more about how you approach that commitment, how you have demonstrated that commitment, and what sorts of behaviors underlie that commitment.”

You may initially think this prompt is rather narrow in scope, allowing you space to share the story of just a single professional or community project and nothing more. Although you can certainly discuss your dedication to a particular project or cause, you are definitely not restricted to this approach. Consider this: you can also be committed to an idea (e.g., personal liberty) or a value (e.g., creating opportunity for others), and approaching your essay from this angle instead could enable you to share much more of and about yourself with the SOM admissions committee. For example, you might relate a few anecdotes that on the surface seem unrelated—drawing from different parts of your life—but that all support and illustrate how you are guided by a particular value. Or, to return to the example of personal liberty as a theme, you could show how you take control of your academic and professional paths, adhering steadfastly to your values and vision. Whatever you choose to feature as the focus of your commitment, your actions and decisions, manifest via a variety of experiences, must allow you to own it as a genuine part of who you are as an individual. Identifying a theme that you think no one else will ever use is not your goal here; presenting authentic anecdotes that powerfully support your selected theme is what is important.

If you elect to focus on a single anecdote, the commitment you claim must be truly inordinate. Being particularly proud of an accomplishment is not enough to make it an effective topic for this essay. You need to demonstrate your constancy and dedication in the face of challenges or resistance, revealing that your connection to the experience was hard won. Strive to show that you have been resolute in following a sometimes difficult path and have doggedly stayed on course, citing clear examples to illustrate your steadfastness. Nothing commonplace will work here—you must make your reader truly understand your journey and leave them more impressed by your effort than the outcome.

Within its application, the Yale SOM also poses the following question:

How did you arrive at these career interests? How have you or how will you position yourself to pursue them? (250 words maximum)

Although this is not presented by the school as an official essay question, its length (at 250 words) and topic lead us to feel a little guidance might be helpful with this submission. Here, the admissions committee is essentially asking for context for your professional aspirations, which typically involves some level of information about your work history, and wants to learn how you expect to use the Yale SOM experience and degree to move your forward on your path to achieving your goals.

Keep in mind that the admissions committee will already have your resume on hand to review, and this should provide the basic information as far as your previous positions/titles, responsibilities, and accomplishments. What the school is looking for here is the more personal side of the story—what has motivated you along the way and is motivating you still, prodding you to pursue an MBA as part of your efforts to continue on your chosen professional path. In an application tips blog post, Kate Botelho, associate director of admissions at the Yale SOM, offers this advice when considering your response: “You may want to think about the answers to questions such as ‘How did these interests develop?’ ‘What kind of exposure have you had to them?’ ‘What steps have you already taken to explore these interests?’ ‘What enables you to pursue them successfully?’”

Given that this prompt essentially covers some of the elements found in a typical traditional personal statement essay, we encourage you to download a free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which offers in-depth advice on how to address these sorts of topics and provides examples.  

Optional Information:

If any aspect of your candidacy needs further explanation (unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic performance, promotions or recognitions, etc.), please provide a brief description here. (200 words maximum)

Yale’s optional information prompt invites you to address any potential problem areas in your profile if you feel you need to. The use of the adjective “brief” clearly conveys that the school wants you to focus on imparting key information rather than offering a detailed and long-winded explanation of the issue in question. This is absolutely not an opportunity to share another cool story or otherwise try to impress or pander to the admissions committee. If you do not truly need to explain an issue or a perhaps confusing element of your candidacy, we do not recommend that you submit an option essay; if you do have issues to clarify, keep things concise. In our free mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities, with multiple examples, to help you mitigate any problem areas in your profile.

For a thorough exploration of the Yale SOM academic program/merits, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, academic environment, and other key features, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guide to the Yale School of Management.

The Next Step—Mastering Your Yale SOM 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. To help you on your way to this high level of preparation, we offer our free Interview Primers. Download your free copy of the Yale School of Management Interview Primer today.
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Georgetown McDonough Essay Analysis, 2019–2020  [#permalink]

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New post 12 Jul 2019, 08:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: Georgetown McDonough Essay Analysis, 2019–2020
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Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business has made some substantial changes to its application essay questions this year, broadening candidates’ opportunity to present their strongest qualities to the admissions committee for evaluation. Applicants must still provide one 500-word written essay but now get to choose from three question options. Rather than being strictly required to discuss a single defining moment, they can write about leading outside of their comfort zone, a failure-as-learning-opportunity situation, or their personal brand within the context of the Georgetown McDonough MBA experience. The school’s video essay remains unchanged and allows candidates to creatively showcase their individuality and personality. Finally, although the school offers only one optional essay this season, rather than two, the prompt gives candidates the leeway to discuss anything they feel is necessary, so it should be sufficient to meet everyone’s needs. Our full essay analysis follows, in which we offer ideas and advice for addressing all the school’s prompts.

We want to hear your story. When responding to our required essays, be authentic and take time to reflect on your goals and past experiences. Craft a response that explains how these experiences led you to pursue an MBA.

Our goal at Georgetown McDonough is to craft a diverse class with people who have had varying personal and professional life experiences. As such, we want to give our applicants the opportunity to select one essay (from a list of three) that allows them the ability to best highlight their experiences, characteristics, and values that showcase the value proposition that they can bring to the McDonough community. Please select one of the following three essays to complete in 500 words or less and include the essay prompt and your first/last name at the top of your submission.

Essay Option One: It can be said that life begins outside your comfort zone. Describe a situation when you were asked to lead outside of your comfort zone. What leadership characteristics did you exemplify in this situation that allowed you to succeed?  

Although this is a brand new essay question for the school, it carries echoes of the standalone prompt from last year, which asked candidates about a challenge they faced and how they ultimately exceeded expectations. Here, the challenge now stems from being outside one’s comfort zone, and “exceeding expectations” is expressed as “success.”

As a business school student, you will regularly be pushed beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone. This will happen more often for some than others, of course, and in slightly different ways for each individual, but it will happen. McDonough wants to know how you draw on your strengths, skills, experience, and attitude at such times to meet the challenge and see things through to a positive conclusion. This is about revealing not only the leadership qualities you already possess but also your instincts in identifying the ones that are appropriate and helpful in a given situation and in applying them effectively.

We want to highlight the phrase “asked to lead,” which may influence your choice of story for this essay. The wording implies that in the incidence you are describing, someone has requested (or possibly even demanded) that you step up, rather than your having taken the initiative and volunteered yourself for the role. Perhaps the school is interested in the fact that someone either believed in your capacity to deal with the issue at hand, despite your unfamiliarity with some aspect of the situation, or recognized in you qualities they felt would be positively applicable, and this could shine an interesting new light on the admissions committee’s interpretation of your experience. 

Note that McDonough does not specify that the experience you share must be related to your workplace or career. Leadership does not need to have an official title attached to it, and it can be expressed in a community service or even family life setting just as much as in a workplace, so explore all the different areas of your life for possible stories. Then begin your essay by providing some narrative context that sets the stage for the significant moment or experience. Clearly explaining how you approached, assessed, and ultimately prevailed is crucial, so go beyond simply describing the scenario and ensure that you detail the inner workings of your decision making as you and your team progressed toward your positive outcome.

The admissions committee does not ask what you learned from the experience, so we caution you against using valuable word count on this point. Instead, focus on conveying why you consider the incident “outside your comfort zone” (what was foreign or uncomfortable for you), perhaps why you in particular were chosen to lead, the skills you engaged and steps you took to guide your team to triumph, and your thought processes along the way. This way, the admissions committee will take away both a clear picture of what you accomplished and the aspects of your character that inspired you and helped enable your success.

Essay Option Two: “Failure is not something to be ashamed of, it’s something to be POWERED by. Failure is the high-octane fuel your life can run on. You’ve got to learn to make failure your fuel.” –Abby Wambach 

Describe a situation when failure has been your fuel. What was your failure (or when did you not succeed to your full potential), and how did you use this as motivation to move forward and be successful in a future situation? 

From what we could find in our research, Abby actually said “the highest octane fuel” (italics ours), making the core message here even more powerful—the school is interested in hearing how you extract motivation from situations that would naturally lead some people to lose faith or hope. The quote is taken from Abby’s 2018 Barnard commencement address, and just before it, she said, “Non-athletes don’t know what to do with the gift of failure. So they hide it, pretend it never happened, reject it outright—and they end up wasting it.” McDonough clearly knows that many of life’s greatest successes require “try, try[ing]again,” as the expression goes, and that is the attitude necessary to gain and accomplish the most, not just in business school but also in the world after graduation. This essay is your opportunity to reassure the admissions committee that you have the kind of stick-to-it-iveness and drive that will position you to realize your goals.

Note that the school does not ask how you would use the experience but instead how you did. So for this essay, you will need to discuss at least two situations to fully respond to the school’s query. The first is the failure that provided your subsequent incentive—your “fuel.” The second is an experience in which your behavior was motivated by the first. And this second experience needs to be one you actively pursued by choice, not one that came your way as a matter of course. Your goal is to clearly convey that you are not easily deterred by setbacks but that you instead use them as learning tools or stepping stones on the path to your desired outcome. And even though the school does not specifically ask what you learned from the failure, learning is intrinsically part of the improvement and growth process, so some inclusion of this should likely be part of your response.

The failure you discuss in this submission could be an individual one or a team one, and the scale or scope of the situation is not as important as how affecting and influential it was for you personally. You must present a complete narrative that shows momentum toward a positive outcome, presents the inflection point at which the situation turned, and explains how the original plan ultimately failed, all the while revealing your particular role in the failure. Leap directly into the action of your story and immediately convey what was at stake in the situation. After all, the opportunity for true failure exists only when you have something to lose. Next, briefly explain how you failed, and demonstrate what you took away from the experience. Then, explain how those takeaways inspired you to pursue another goal and proved crucial in your attainment of it.

Essay Option Three: Your personal brand reflects your values and beliefs, and impacts your relationships and community. Describe the personal brand that you will bring to business school using examples or experiences that support how you’ve developed it. How do you believe your personal brand will strengthen the McDonough community? As you complete your MBA program, how do you hope to see your personal brand evolve through the transformative experience of business school?

The use of the phrase “personal brand” in this prompt may initially be intimidating to some applicants, but this query is really not as specialized as you might think. Your personal brand is essentially made up of your strongest, most representative characteristics, so this question is basically asking you who you are as an individual, what you will contribute to the school, and what you expect to gain (personally, not professionally) from being a McDonough MBA student. This is a lot to include in just 500 words, but if you focus on hitting all three points in a targeted and concise manner, you should be able to craft a compelling essay response.

Start by making a list of your key characteristics, values, and interests. Do not concern yourself with trying to single out the “right” ones but rather the ones most representative of who you are. A good brainstorming tactic is to imagine meeting someone for the first time and the process of getting acquainted. What kind of information would you want to know about this person, and what facts about yourself would you be most eager to share, as a way of conveying who you are and making a connection? Take some time to delve into your personality in this way. At the same time, keep in mind what the admissions committee will already know about you from the other portions of your application, to avoid missing an opportunity to share something new. In addition to focusing on the elements of your personality that you feel are most distinct and revelatory of who you are as an individual, think about which ones mesh best with the McDonough experience and would allow you to contribute to it. Authenticity is key to your success with this essay, whereas transparent or disingenuous statements will imply that you are incapable of (or resistant to) engaging in critical self-evaluation. The admissions committee understandably also requests that you provide some context for the representative qualities you share by discussing how they have developed.

In addition, and without posing the question directly, the school wants you to explain “Why Georgetown McDonough?” The admissions committee wants evidence that you have researched its MBA program thoroughly enough to have pinpointed resources and offerings that directly align with your interests and needs—and not just academically and professionally. This is the part of our essay analysis in which we once again repeat our advice about getting to know a school beyond its website and published materials. Visit campus and connect with students and alumni. Identify clubs, events, trips, and other extracurricular opportunities at the school that speak to (1) who you are as an individual now and (2) who you want to be by the time you graduate. Then clarify how your particular strengths will allow you to enhance the offerings in the first category and explain the resources or experiences you believe are vital to you in developing into the person you are striving to be.

Because this prompt touches on some of the components of a traditional personal statement essay, we encourage you to download a free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide. This document provides in-depth guidance on how to consider and respond to these sorts of questions, along with numerous illustrative examples. Please feel free to claim your complimentary copy today.

Video Essay:  We ask that you introduce yourself to your cohort in one minute or less. The Admissions Committee would like for you to appear in person during part of your video, and we strongly encourage you to speak outside of the experiences we can read on your resume. Use this video as an opportunity to bring life to your application. For more instructions, view our Video Essay Guide.

  • [b]You may use your phone, computer, or other means to record the video, but please ensure all audio and visual components are clear. We recommend a well-lit room and minimal noise distraction.[/b]
  • [b]Upload your video to an accessible website (such as Youtube, Vimeo, Youku, or Tudou), and submit the direct video URL into your online application.[/b]
  • [b]Please note that all videos must remain active and accessible to the admissions committee online for a minimum of five years for record retention purposes.[/b]
  • For your privacy: Do not include your name in the title of your video. You may submit “unlisted” videos via YouTube or password protected videos through Vimeo. If using a password, please include immediately after your link in the text box below. [Ex: www.youtube.com/123, password: Hoyas]
McDonough’s video essay is yet another opportunity for you to offer the school a glimpse into your character and personality. As the prompt says, this is a chance to “bring life to your application,” so your focus should be on ensuring that it as authentic and natural as possible. This is not a job interview, and the school specifically states that you should consider your future cohort—your fellow students—as your intended audience, which certainly implies that a less rigid and traditionally “professional” demeanor is okay, though we of course caution you to always be appropriate and inoffensive. Do not use the video as an opportunity to pitch your candidacy or to pander to the school, and avoid repeating any information that is already clearly conveyed in your resume. (When an admissions committee tells you so specifically what to do [or not do] in an essay prompt, pay attention!) This is also not the time to detail your career goals or express your admiration for the program. You have only one minute in which to make an impression, and even without knowing you personally, we are confident in our belief that you have more to your character than can be conveyed in a mere 60 seconds—so do not waste any of them!

Given that this is a video, you will obviously need to think beyond what you will say and consider the clothing you will wear, the setting or background of your video, your tone of voice, your language style, whether you will include music, and a host of other details. Brainstorm ways of nonverbally communicating some of your strongest attributes and key aspects of your life to help permeate your submission with as much information as possible. For example, if you are an avid biker, consider using a GoPro or similar camera to film your video while you are actively riding. If you are a dedicated guitar player, perhaps strum your guitar as you speak (or, if you are especially confident, you could even sing about yourself!). Think about what makes you who you are today, decide what you most want to share with your future classmates, and then let your creativity flow.

On a practical note, be sure to speak clearly in your video. You naturally do not want any part of your message to be lost or misunderstood, and the admissions committee may view your communication skills and style as indicators of how you might interact with your classmates and/or speak in the classroom. Spend some time practicing in front of a mirror or a friend, but do not overrehearse. You still want to come across as genuine and natural.

Optional Essay: Please provide any information you would like to add to your application that you have not otherwise included. (500 words or fewer)

We tend to believe that the best use of the optional essay is to explain confusing or problematic issues in your candidacy, and this prompt offers an opportunity to do just that. However, because McDonough does not stipulate that you can only discuss a problem area in this essay, you have some leeway to share anything you feel is that you think may be pivotal or particularly compelling. So, if you need to, this is your chance to address any questions an admissions officer might have about your profile—a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT or GRE score, a gap in your work experience, etc. In our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, we offer detailed advice on how best to take advantage of the optional essay, with multiple examples, to help you mitigate any problem areas in your application.

However, because the question can be interpreted rather broadly, it does open the door for you to discuss anything that is not addressed elsewhere in your application and that you feel is truly critical for the admissions committee to know to be able to evaluate you fully and effectively. We caution you about simply trying to fill this space because you fear that not doing so would somehow count against you. Remember, by submitting an additional essay, you are asking the admissions committee to do extra work on your behalf, so you need to make sure that time is warranted. If you are using the essay to emphasize something that if omitted would render your application incomplete, take this opportunity to write a very brief narrative that reveals this key new aspect of your candidacy.

Re-Applicant Essay: Required for re-applicants. How have you strengthened your candidacy since your last application? We are particularly interested in hearing about how you have grown professionally and personally. (500 words or fewer)

Whether you have improved your academic record, received a promotion, begun a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or taken on some sort of personal challenge, the key to success with this essay is conveying a very deliberate path of achievement. McDonough wants to know that you have been actively striving to improve yourself and your profile, and that you have seized opportunities during the previous year to do so, because a McDonough MBA is vital to you. The responses to this essay question will vary greatly from one candidate to the next, because each person’s needs and experiences differ. We are more than happy to provide one-on-one assistance with this highly personal essay to ensure that your efforts over the past year are presented in the best light possible.
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Charity Auctions and the Sports “Dorkapalooza” at MIT Sloan  [#permalink]

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New post 13 Jul 2019, 08:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: Charity Auctions and the Sports “Dorkapalooza” at MIT Sloan
MIT Sloan students organize charity auctions typically twice a year. Each “ocean” (the approximately 70-person cohort with which students take their first-semester core classes) selects a charity to support and identifies items to be auctioned, such as lunch with a professor, a home-cooked meal by a student, and more unusual offerings, like having a professor chauffeur you to class in his classic car. First-year oceans compete to see which one can raise the most money, and second-year students organize a similar auction. All together, the auctions raise tens of thousands of dollars each year for such charities as the California Wildfires Fund, Children of Uganda, Pencils of Promise, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and the Sloan Social Impact Fellowship.

MIT Sloan students are active in organizing conferences as well. Did you know that some of the biggest names in sports have met annually since 2007 for an event at the school that former ESPN columnist Bill Simmons once described as “dorkapalooza”? At the student-run Sports Analytics Conference, participants discuss the increasing role of analytics in the sports industry, and students have ample opportunity to network with the elite of the sports world.

The 13th annual conference was held over two days in March 2019 in Boston, where more than 3,500 attendees witnessed industry experts, leaders, and professionals participate in more than 30 panel discussions. Among the event’s speakers were the president of ESPN, the president and CEO of the Miami Dolphins, and the president of Ticketmaster. The panels covered such topics as “Ticketing Analytics: The Power of Open Distribution,” “Breaking Away from the Pack: Sports Entrepreneurship,” “Metrics Are the Mike: Football Analytics,” “Sports Mythbusting,” and “Scoring Sponsorships: Metrics to Maximize Brand Value.” Other conference events included a research papers exhibition, such workshops as “R for Predictive Modeling” and “How to Advertise Effectively on Facebook and Instagram,” the First Pitch Case Competition, and a “Hackathon.” A second-year EMS (Entertainment, Media, and Sports) Club member told mbaMission, “The event is one of the largest student-organized conferences in the country and was named the third most innovative company in all of sports (behind only the NFL and MLB Advanced Media) by Fast Company [magazine].”

For a thorough exploration of what MIT Sloan and 16 other top business schools have to offer, please check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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Professor Profiles: Roberto Rigobon, MIT Sloan School of Management  [#permalink]

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New post 14 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Roberto Rigobon, MIT Sloan School of Management
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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 focus on Roberto Rigobon from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Roberto Rigobon, the Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management and a professor of applied economics, specializes in international economics, monetary economics, and development economics. At an awards ceremony in 2005, Sloan students described him as someone who “epitomized the fine line between madness and genius.” Other award-related descriptions of Rigobon refer to him as “serious but hilarious,” “crazy and brilliant,” and “high energy.” He teaches the reportedly very popular “Applied Macro and International Economics” course, which is said to be often taken by up to 30% of Sloan students at a time. He has won numerous teaching awards during his time at Sloan (including the school’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2000, 2003, and 2005, and Teacher of the Year in 1999, 2002, and 2004) and is primarily recognized for his accessibility. As one second-year student blogged, “The door to his office was always open.”

For more information about MIT Sloan and 16 other top-ranked MBA schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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Earn Your MBA in Downtown Chicago with Chicago Booth’s Evening and Wee  [#permalink]

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New post 15 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: Earn Your MBA in Downtown Chicago with Chicago Booth’s Evening and Weekend Programs
The top-ranked, full-time MBA program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business allows students to gain a business degree in 21 months. But for aspiring MBAs who are not ready to put their careers on hold while they study, the school also offers evening and weekend MBA programs. With courses held at Chicago Booth’s Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago, these options take between two and a half and three years to compete and permit participants to remain at their job throughout their studies. Incoming students in both programs have an average of six years of work experience at the time of matriculation and an average age of 30—both stats are only slightly higher than for students in Chicago Booth’s full-time MBA program (five years and 27.8 years, respectively, in the 2018 incoming class). The Chicago Booth Evening and Weekend MBA Programs stay true to the school’s spirit with regard to the flexibility of the curricula, the sense of community (despite being located in the center of one of the country’s largest cities), and the highly rated faculty.

The evening MBA option is perhaps best suited for professionals working in the Chicago area, given that classes meet for three hours once a week on a weekday. In fact, the Chicago Booth website notes that most of the students enrolled in the evening program live and/or work in or near the city. The core curriculum consists of nine classes divided into four categories: Foundations, Functions, Management, and Business Environment. In addition, students must take 11 electives, with the option of choosing classes hosted by the University of Chicago Law School or the Harris School of Public Policy, and LEAD, Chicago Booth’s flagship leadership development program. The LEAD requirement is fulfilled in the evening program via LAUNCH, a three-day orientation that the school describes as “foundational” course work. After completing LAUNCH, students are encouraged—but not required—to participate in additional LEAD offerings, such as workshops, a women’s leadership program, off-campus retreats, and selected courses. The school offers 13 concentrations students may complete, and although fulfilling a concentration is not mandatory, Chicago Booth notes that most of the program’s participants complete one to three. Beyond the core, electives, and LEAD, students can take advantage of study abroad programs, which take place over two to three weeks in such countries as France, Israel, China, and Brazil.

The Chicago Booth Weekend MBA Program is also based in Chicago but may be a better option for professionals who live outside the city—indeed, as many as 70% of the 2017 incoming class came from locations beyond Illinois. Courses are held in three-hour blocks on Fridays and and adhere to the same curriculum as the evening program, except that weekend students must complete an additional LEAD session (called ReLAUNCH) in the first quarter. Weekend students can opt to complete one or more of the same 13 concentrations available to evening students. The flexibility that is integral to Chicago Booth’s programs is evident in the connection between its evening and weekend MBA options: students are welcome to take courses at the alternate program if their schedule allows it.

Combining a demanding job with part-time MBA studies can be challenging, but the effort involved can confer notable advantages—not only in the professional doors an MBA typically opens and the leadership skills gained but also in the relationships established with classmates and faculty members. If you are considering applying to a part-time MBA program, sign up for a free 30-minute consultation with one of our Senior Consultants to get valuable information on starting your journey.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Do Alumni Connections Help Get You Adm  [#permalink]

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New post 16 Jul 2019, 10:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Do Alumni Connections Help Get You Admitted?
From time to time, we at mbaMission visit admissions officers at the top-ranked business schools, which gives us the opportunity to ask rather frank questions. On one such visit, we urged an admissions officer to give us the truth about the extent of alumni influence in the admissions process, and the response we got was rather surprising: “We get ten letters each year from [a globally famous alumnus], telling us that this or that MBA candidate is the greatest thing since sliced bread. He gets upset when we don’t admit ‘his’ applicants, but what makes him think that he deserves to decide ten spots in our class?”

Many applicants fret about their lack of personal alumni connection with their target schools, and the myth persists that admission to business school is about who you know rather than who you are or what you can offer. Of course, these latter qualities are much more important, and a standout applicant who knows no graduates at all from the MBA program he/she is targeting is still a standout applicant and should get in—just as a weak applicant who knows a large number of alumni or a particularly well-known graduate is still a weak applicant and should not get in. Clearly, some extreme exceptions exist where influence can be exerted, but “standard” applicants do not need to worry that every seat at the top programs has already been claimed by someone with good connections.

Keep in mind that the admissions committees want to ensure that a diversity of ideas and experiences is represented in the classroom. Every top MBA class includes people from various socioeconomic backgrounds, nationalities, religions, professional backgrounds, ages, and so on. Harvard Business School, for example, has approximately 900 students in each incoming class, and the vast majority of these students do not personally know a CEO or the president of a country. And who knows—these days, such connections could even be a liability.
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What to Expect on GMAT Test Day  [#permalink]

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New post 17 Jul 2019, 08:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: What to Expect on GMAT Test Day
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.

I have talked to a ton of students who were surprised by some detail of test day—and that detail affected their performance. Let’s talk about what is going to happen when you finally get in there to take the test.

When you arrive

There will be some kind of outer waiting area, an inner office containing the biometric equipment, and finally the “inner sanctum”: the testing room.

When you first arrive, you will be asked to read (and digitally sign) a bunch of legalese and will show your ID. Check the guidelines to determine what kind of ID you must bring.

But wait! You are not done with security yet. They will take a digital photo of you. You will also have the veins in your palm digitally scanned—turns out our palm veins are even more unique than fingerprints. Who knew?

Finally, before you enter the inner sanctum, you will place all of your belongings (except your ID) into a locker to which you will have the key. Everything goes in this locker: your wallet or purse, your money, your mobile phone, your keys, everything. Do not bring any study notes into the test center with you, do not use any electronic devices, and do not write anything down at any time—even on the breaks. Do not give them any reason to think you might be cheating.

Starting the test

You will be given a five-page booklet of laminated paper on which to take notes. If you use up the booklet, raise your hand, and a proctor will give you a new booklet in place of the used one.

During the test, you are allowed to request a new note booklet at any time, even if you have not finished using up the previous one. I have heard reports of some proctors refusing such requests; if this happens, ask again (politely). Tell them that you specifically asked ahead of time and that GMAC (the organization that owns the GMAT) confirmed that you do not need to use up a test booklet before requesting a new one.

You will have access to tissues and earplugs provided by the test center; you cannot bring your own. Some test centers also have headphones available (in addition to earplugs).

Officially, you are not permitted to write down notes or set up your scrap paper before the test starts. When you sit down, the proctor will start the test. You can try to jot down some timing benchmarks or a few formulas during the short pre-test instructions, but stop if the proctors tell you to stop. Do not count on being able to spend any time at all writing things down ahead of time.

Breaks

Breaks are optional, but I strongly recommend that you take them!

You have to leave the test room during the break. The break is eight minutes long—but, wait, you do not have your watch! It is in your locker. The testing center is required to have a clock on the wall in every room; check when you first arrive. If no clock is visible or the clock has stopped working, say something to the proctors right away!

As soon as you get out to the waiting room, look at the clock. Plan for about six minutes (it takes about a minute to get out of the room and another minute to get back in).

Then open up your locker and have something to eat and drink. Walk around. Stretch. Use the restroom. Do not sit down, do not start reading a magazine, and do not start thinking about the test or how you are doing on it. Try to empty your brain and think only about what you are actually doing: stretching, eating, drinking.

When you head back into the testing center, they will scan your palm again and also match you against your digital photo. This takes a minute—plan for it.

How else can I get ready?

GMAC has posted a short video showing how the test center works; I highly recommend watching it. The mba.com site also contains other resources about what to expect on test day (follow the link in the previous sentence). If you are even a little bit nervous about the test (and most of us are!), look through their resources. The more you know about what to expect, the better prepared you will be to handle your nerves on test day.
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University of Cambridge Judge Business School Essay Analysis, 2019–202  [#permalink]

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New post 18 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: University of Cambridge Judge Business School Essay Analysis, 2019–2020
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Once again, the MBA application essay questions for the Cambridge Judge Business School remain unchanged. Candidates must provide a basic—and somewhat brief—personal statement, share a significant failure they have learned from, and discuss a past teamwork situation and its subsequent takeaways. In total, applicants have just 900 words with which to work, but the school’s combination of essay prompts covers a good balance of the professional and the personal, so that candidates should be able to effectively create a well-rounded impression of themselves for the admissions committee. Read on for our full essay analysis, with our tips on how to approach each question and create your best possible essays for your Judge application this year.

Essay 1: Please provide a personal statement. It should not exceed 500 words and must address the following questions:

  • What are your short and long term career objectives and what skills/characteristics do you already have that will help you achieve them?
  • What actions will you take before and during the MBA to contribute to your career outcome?
  • If you are unsure of your post-MBA career path, how will the MBA equip you for the future?
As the school itself states in the prompt, this is a request for a rather traditional personal statement, so our first recommendation is to download your free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide. This complimentary guide offers detailed advice on approaching and framing these subjects, along with multiple illustrative examples.

More specifically with respect to Judge’s multipart question, the school wants to know not only the basic facts of your career aspirations but also how you view your readiness for and active role in achieving them. How equipped are you already, and how much closer to your goals will earning a business degree from Judge move you? What are you already planning to do on your own both before you enroll and while in the program that will ensure you graduate with the skills, experiences, knowledge, and/or connections you need to build a bridge between where you are now and where you want go? Be sure to refer to specific resources and offerings at the school that connect directly to these areas of improvement so that the admissions committee knows you have thoroughly considered and researched your options and determined that Judge is the best fit for your particular needs and interests. The school also wants to see evidence that you are cognizant you must be an active participant in your own success and are ready and willing to contribute, rather than relying on the program and its name/reputation to solely move you forward on your career trajectory.

Essay 2: What did you learn from your most spectacular failure? (200 words)

Failures are important learning opportunities. With this prompt, the admissions committee wants to know what you take away from situations in which things do not turn out as you had planned or hoped. Do you place blame elsewhere and try to make excuses? Or do you view these sorts of experiences with an analytical eye, using what they can teach you to achieve better results with similar ventures going forward? That a world-class business school would be interested in candidates who are eager and open-minded learners only makes sense. Judge has been posing this particular essay prompt since 2010, so it clearly touches on a topic the admissions committee views as pivotal in identifying applicants they feel will be successful in its MBA program.

With respect to the word “spectacular” here, the school is not hoping to hear about a time when you were exceptionally embarrassed in front of a vast audience but instead about an instance that had an incredibly significant impact on you. Perhaps, for example, you were blindsided by the shortfall, having previously thought you were on the right track to success—this might have made the failure particularly stunning and memorable for you. The scale or scope of the situation in an objective sense is not as important as how affecting and influential it was for you personally.

Note that Judge does not specify that the story you share in this essay must be a professional one, so explore all your personal/family/community life experiences for what you believe is truly the most “spectacular.” You may want to consider your options for this essay and the third essay simultaneously, because if you select a career-related incident to discuss in this one, for balance, you might want to draw on a personal story for the other, and vice versa. However, this kind of distribution works best if it is not forced—the first criterion should always be whether the narrative is the most fitting one for the essay’s prompt; if two options seem equally fitting, then you may be able to create a kind of consonance. 

With a limit of only 200 words, you cannot waste any by starting with a bland statement like “My most spectacular failure was [fill in the blank].” Instead, leap directly into the action of your story and immediately convey what was at stake in the situation. After all, the opportunity for true failure exists only when you have something to lose. Next, briefly explain how you failed, and then dedicate the majority of the essay to demonstrating what you took away from the experience. Avoid clichés such as gaining resilience or learning to be humble and show that you can be honest about your weaknesses and blind spots. Convey that the information, insight, and/or skills you acquired via the shortcoming have changed how you view or operate in the world in a positive way—and that you know how to apply these learnings in new situations.

Essay 3: Describe a situation where you had to work jointly with others to achieve a common goal. What did you learn from the experience? (up to 200 words)

Judge poses three essay questions to its candidates, and two of them have to do with learning from a life experience. Clearly, the school is seeking individuals who absorb lessons by interacting with and participating actively in the world around them, not just by listening to an instructor in a classroom. As a student at an international business school—one with roughly 50 nationalities represented in a class of approximately 200 people—you will naturally be enmeshed in a widely diverse environment, and Judge wants to hear about your mind-set and working style in such situations. As for Essay 2, this prompt does not stipulate which part of your life you must draw from for content, so hearken back to our advice for the previous essay with respect to selecting between a professional story or a more personal one.

In business school—as in life in general—you will encounter people who think differently from you, operate according to different values, and react differently to the same stimuli. And success in an endeavor often involves evaluating and even incorporating the views of others in one’s efforts. At Judge, you will be surrounded every day by individuals who are unlike you in a multitude of ways, and you will need to work in tandem with and alongside these individuals when analyzing case studies, completing group projects, and participating in other activities both inside and outside the classroom. The school is clearly seeking evidence that you are capable of listening, reflecting, learning, and growing. If you are not, it might assume that you simply do not have the necessary qualities to become an integral part of its next incoming class, let alone a standout manager later in your career.

To craft an effective essay response to this query, describe via a narrative approach the nature of your collaboration with the others on your team, showing both what you contributed and what others brought to the dynamic (though much more briefly), and which elements became long-term takeaways that still serve you today. Consider describing a kind of “before and after” situation in which the information or input you received from your teammate(s) influenced your thoughts and actions as you worked toward your shared goal. An essay that demonstrates your openness to collaborating with peers in pursuit of a common goal, your ability to contribute to such projects, and your capacity to naturally learn from such experiences is almost certain to make an admissions reader take notice.

Business schools outside the United States are increasingly popular among MBA hopefuls, and we at mbaMission are proud to offer our latest publications: Program Primers for international b-schools. In these snapshots we discuss core curriculums, elective courses, locations, school facilities, rankings, and more. Click here to download your free copy of the Cambridge Judge Business School Program Primer.
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Do I Need an MBA Application Consultant with an Admissions Background?  [#permalink]

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New post 19 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: Do I Need an MBA Application Consultant with an Admissions Background?
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When our business school applicant clients are trying to decide which of our Senior Consultants to work with on their MBA applications, they often ask us, “Should I pick someone who has worked in an admissions office before?” We will answer this question using an analogy.

A food critic is someone who is skilled at evaluating meals that others have prepared. When reviewing a dish, a food critic critically assesses only the end product, considering various factors, such as composition, presentation, flavor, texture, and freshness. They then determine whether or not they enjoyed the dish and whether it could be enhanced.

A chef, on the other hand, is someone who is skilled at preparing meals. Chefs focus on the process of producing the desired end product rather than judging that end product when it is complete. Beginning with raw ingredients, a chef conceives of an idea and then manages the additions, adjustments, and balancing of the elements involved to ultimately create the best possible version of the final dish—the end product the food critic will assess.

Within the context of MBA admissions consulting, former admissions officers and experienced writers can be seen as food critics and chefs, respectively. The former is trained in appraising the value of a candidate’s end product—the application—and making a decision about its effectiveness. However, these individuals do not participate in the process of creating the applications they review. In fact, a former director of admissions at a top MBA program once admitted to us, “I would make a terrible admissions consultant because, while I know what I like to see, I don’t know how to help applicants get there.”

Even though having firsthand experience within a business school’s admissions office can confer some applicable insight, this alone is not enough to equip someone to guide an applicant through the process of crafting a compelling application. This is why at mbaMission, we ensure that every MBA admissions expert we hire is an accomplished writer (who also has an MBA), someone who knows the ins and outs of creating an engaging and successful narrative. We are “chefs” who oversee the fusion of the various components of an applicant’s candidacy—exploring different stories, mixing and matching them, changing the proportions—so that the end product is something the candidate is proud of.

Start getting answers to all your questions by taking advantage of a free 30-minute consultation with an expert from mbaMission’s Senior Consultant team. No matter where you are in the application process, we can provide you with actionable feedback that will help you improve your MBA application.
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Emory University’s Goizueta Business School Essay Analysis 2019–2020  [#permalink]

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New post 20 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: Emory University’s Goizueta Business School Essay Analysis 2019–2020
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Although the content covered in the essay questions for Emory University’s Goizueta Business School has not changed much this season, the school has switched things up a bit by making one of its required submissions a video essay. Thankfully for its applicants, Goizueta not only provides the question(s) for the video in advance but also gives candidates three options from which to select. In their written essays, applicants must discuss their short-term career goals and a past leadership experience, and in the video, they are expected to address either a personal passion, some valuable counsel they once received, or a value they have in common with the school. Candidates may use the Additional Information option to provide clarification or explanation about elements of their candidacy, if necessary, but must do so very succinctly, given the 100-word limitation. On the whole, Goizueta’s essay prompts focus more heavily on applicants’ professional sides, though perhaps the combination of a personal question and the video component is enough to sufficiently round out each candidate’s profile for the admissions committee. Read on for our complete analysis of the program’s 2019–2020 essay questions.

POST-MBA CAREER GOALS: Define your short-term post-MBA career goals. How are your professional strengths, past experience, and personal attributes aligned with these goals? (300 word limit)

Like most business schools, Goizueta wants to learn the reasons behind its applicants’ decision to pursue an MBA, but unlike many programs these days, it still asks candidates to actually write an essay on the topic. Very simply, the admissions committee wants to know that you have given serious thought to your professional trajectory and have identified where you want to go, how equipped you already are to get there, and how an MBA will help you move forward. The specific goal you present is less important here than showing that you understand what is involved in progressing toward your objectives and recognize the qualities and abilities you currently possess that will help position you for success.

Because this essay covers several key elements of a personal statement, we encourage you to download a free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which discusses in depth how to approach and write these types of submissions (with numerous examples). 

LEADERSHIP IN BUSINESS: The business school is named for Roberto C. Goizueta, former Chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, who led the organization for 16 years, extending its global reach, quadrupling consumption, building brand responsibility, and creating unprecedented shareholder wealth. Roberto Goizueta’s core values guide us in educating Principled Leaders for Global Enterprise. Provide an example of your leadership in a professional setting and explain what you learned about yourself through the experience. (300 word limit)

Goizueta Business School clearly holds the leadership abilities and professional accomplishments of the former trustee after which it was named in high regard. The leadup to the actual essay prompt mentions the business leader’s core values and lists some of his most impressive accomplishments at Coca-Cola’s helm. However, the prompt itself makes no reference to values and does not request that applicants discuss a comparable achievement. The implication, we believe, is simply that the school has high expectations for the members of its community and seeks individuals who aspire to make a real impact on the world around them. They are guided by their values and seek to create positive outcomes for others as well as themselves. The admissions committee is not expecting you to be able to claim an accomplishment on the level of Roberto Goizueta’s, but you should strive to identify a story from your career that best illustrates both your leadership style and your long-term potential.

Because you have only 300 words for this essay, we recommend responding in a straightforward manner. Launch directly into the story of your leadership experience, detailing the specific actions you took in directing others to achieve your result. Although we often note that not all great leadership stories end in success, in this case, you should discuss a situation that had a positive resolution. The key here is to show you shared a valuable experience with colleagues, extracted the most from your team members, and attained a desired outcome.

We recommend using a narrative approach for your story, but be sure to include the thought process and motivation(s) behind your actions. This way, the admissions committee will take away both a clear picture of what you accomplished and the aspects of your character that inspired you and helped enable your success. Lastly, do not forget or neglect to explain what you learned from the experience—the admissions committee specifically requests that you do so! Omitting this element from your essay could be viewed as an indication that you are not good at delivering what is asked and/or at engaging in constructive self-reflection, and you definitely want to avoid this. You also want to avoid sharing that you learned a specific skill or business truth, because the prompt specifically says, “learned about yourself” (italics ours). To craft a compelling response, you will need to give serious thought to how the situation made you aware of a facet of your character that you had not previously perceived.

VIDEO ESSAY: Please select ONE of the following topics to share with us using the video essay feature. Your comments should last no more than 60 seconds and you have the option to re-record until you are satisfied, before submitting.

  • Of Goizueta Business School’s core values (Courage, Integrity, Accountability, Rigor, Diversity, Team, Community), which one resonates the most with you and why?
  • What is the best advice you have received and how have you used it in your life or career?
  • Outside of family and work, what is something that you are passionate about and why?
First, try not to panic. Most MBA programs that include a video component in their applications do so to get a better idea of who their candidates are beyond the statistics in their files and the written words in their essays. They are not looking for the next prime-time anchor or expecting an Oscar-worthy performance—they want to get a sense of your spoken communication style, personality, and perhaps demeanor. So, even though you will obviously want to practice delivering your oral response so that it conforms to the school’s 60-second timeframe (ideally without being delivered at lightning speed!), take care not to entirely memorize your essay or rehearse it to the point that you sound flat or artificial. You want to speak as naturally as possible so that the admissions committee can get a feel for your character and bearing.

All three question options are pretty straightforward, and we encourage you to select the one that holds the strongest appeal for you personally rather than trying to figure out which is the “right” one or which one the admissions committee really wants you to answer (hint: neither one exists). Authenticity is key here, and you will be at your most natural and charismatic when you are speaking about a topic that truly resonates with and holds meaning for you. Although you have only one minute in which to deliver it, your response will be most compelling if you share a story from your life that illustrates your answer. The second query essentially demands that you do so, but the first and third would benefit from this kind of approach as well.

Let us repeat that none of these questions has a “correct” answer, and you are not going to be judged on how energetic or enthralling you are in delivering your response. Let the knowledge that you can rerecord your video as many times as you need until you feel comfortable give you further reassurance. Simply breathe, relax, smile, and give the school a short glimpse of the unique individual you are.   

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Should you feel there is an important part of your story missing from your application (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, academic probation issues), please use this section to provide a brief explanation. We ask that you limit your response to 100 words; responses in bullet point format are preferred.

With this prompt, Goizueta obviously wants to give applicants an opportunity to clarify any potentially problematic elements of their profile, but the admissions committee is clearly not interested in long-winded expositions or unnecessary filler. Its note about favoring bullet points is evidence of this. So do not view this option as a chance to squeeze in another accomplishment story or pander to the school in any way, and only take advantage of it if you have complementary information the admissions committee truly needs to hear to be able to fully and fairly evaluate you as a candidate. For more information about deciding when and how to respond to these kinds of prompts, download a free copy of the mbaMission Optional Essays Guide.   

Reapplicant Essay 1: Define your short-term post-MBA career goals. How are your professional strengths, past experience and personal attributes aligned with these goals? (300 word limit)

Reapplicant Essay 2: Explain how you have improved your candidacy for Goizueta Business School’s MBA Program since your last application. (250 word limit)

Interestingly, Goizueta asks its returning applicants to respond to the same first essay question that new applicants face. And because this has been the program’s first prompt since 2015, we imagine that most of the school’s reapplicants this season will have written an essay response to it before. If this is not the case for you, we direct you back to the first part of this essay analysis, in which we discuss our advice for the question. But if you are a reapplicant who has addressed this query in recent years, you will need to revisit your original answer. If your goals have not changed, do not simply resubmit what you provided in the past. Instead, give some thought first to what more you have learned in the interim about the career you are targeting or about why it is a fitting for you, and use these insights to enhance your essay. If you have not gained any additional knowledge on these topics, now is the time to do so—before you make any amendments to your essay. Read industry magazines and websites, for example, or reach out to individuals in your preferred field or role to get their first-hand perspectives. You want to show Goizueta that you are truly committed to your desired path and have continued to progress and learn, despite the setback with respect to your MBA goals. If, instead, you have revised your post-MBA aspiration, you will obviously need to craft an entirely new essay.

For the school’s second reapplicant essay, whether you have improved your academic record, received a promotion, begun a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or taken on some sort of personal challenge, the key to success with this essay is conveying a very deliberate path of achievement. Goizueta wants to know that you have been actively striving to improve yourself and your profile, and that you have seized opportunities during the previous year to do so, because an MBA from its program is vital to you. The responses to this essay question will vary greatly from one candidate to the next, because each person’s needs and experiences differ. We are more than happy to provide one-on-one assistance with this highly personal essay to ensure that your efforts over the past year are presented in the best light possible.
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INSEAD Essay Analysis, 2019–2020  [#permalink]

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New post 21 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: INSEAD Essay Analysis, 2019–2020
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We noted no adjustments in INSEAD’s MBA application essay prompts this year. This season’s candidates must respond to four short career-focused queries and provide three motivation essays that together total 1,200 words.  Applicants are also tasked with completing a video component for which they answer four questions as four separate video recordings. Given the sheer number of prompts, tasks, and questions involved, some candidates may find INSEAD’s essay gauntlet a bit intimidating, if not outright punishing. Read on for our full analysis of the school’s prompts, which we hope will make the process a little easier to manage.

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

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

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

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

For the school’s job-related short-answer questions (essentially mini essays), we encourage you to start by very carefully parsing exactly what data the school requests for each. Together, these four prompts cover many of the elements seen in a traditional personal statement essay, including info about one’s career to date, interest in the school, and professional goals. However, the topics are clearly separated among individual submissions rather than covered in a cohesive single essay, and INSEAD also asks applicants to comment on their expected progression within their current firm were they to remain there rather than entering business school.

The first prompt requires that you outline roughly six different aspects of your current or most recent position. Be sure that you address each of the elements the school lists, and do not skip any just because you would rather write more about some than others. You may also want to consider providing a very brief description of your company or industry, if the nature of either might not be readily clear to an admissions reader. For the second question, your response should be fairly straightforward. If your firm has a clearly defined management hierarchy in which one position leads directly to a higher one—and you would be interested in adhering to that system—you simply need to explain this and perhaps offer a short description of the new responsibilities your next position would entail. If your company does not have such an arrangement or you would want to move in a different direction, simply explain what your preferred next role would be and the duties involved.

The third prompt is rather self-explanatory with respect to detailing the various stages of your career to date, but do not be remiss in responding to the “rationale” and “choices” aspects of the query. The school wants to know that your progression has not been passive, with your simply accepting the next good thing to come along, but rather that you have made thoughtful decisions with clear motivations and intentions behind them. For the fourth question, you will need to present your professional goals within the context of an INSEAD MBA education. Do your research on the school to identify specific resources it offers that relate directly to the skills and experiences you need to be successful in your career, thereby illustrating how INSEAD would help you achieve your aims. Above all, be sure to show determination and direction—that you are focused firmly on your intended end points and will not be easily deterred.

For all your job description responses, avoid using any acronyms or abbreviations that would not be easily recognizable to most people. Using shortcuts (in the form of abbreviations/acronyms) and skipping basic contextual information could make your answers less understandable and therefore less compelling and useful to an admissions reader, so do yourself a favor by depicting your situation as clearly as possible.

As we have noted, these questions cover many elements of a traditional personal statement, so we encourage you to download a free copy of our mbaMission Personal Statement Guide. In this complimentary publication, we provide a detailed discussion of how to approach such queries and craft effective responses, along with multiple illustrative examples.

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

With this essay, INSEAD hopes to see signs of your interest in ongoing self-improvement, knowledge or experience collection, and/or giving back. Whether you are choosing to leave your job a few months before the beginning of the MBA program or are asked to do so by your employer, simply explain what you expect do and gain in the interim. The admissions committee wants to know that you are the kind of person who takes advantage of opportunities and to understand what kinds of opportunities appeal to you. For example, perhaps you plan to complete a few quantitative courses to be better equipped to hit the ground running in your related MBA classes, or perhaps you want to spend some time with distant family members or volunteering in your community because you know that your availability to do so will be limited when you are in school, and you want to maintain those important connections. Maybe you want to travel to improve your language ability in a more immersive environment before coming to INSEAD, given the importance of this skill in the school’s program. Or you might arrange informational interviews, job-shadowing opportunities, and/or unpaid internships, which could help in various ways with recruiting and job selection. Whatever your goals and plans, clearly convey how you anticipate that your experience(s) will add to or change your character, enhance your skill set, and/or increase your understanding of yourself or others—all of which are valuable in business school.

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

Although INSEAD’s request for “main factors which have influenced your development” comes in the latter half of this essay prompt, we feel you should actually provide this context for your formative experiences before discussing the strengths and weaknesses you derived from them, because showing a clear cause-and-effect relationship between the two is important. The school asks that you offer examples “when necessary,” but your essay will be strongest if you present anecdotes to illustrate and support all your statements. Still, your essay should not end up being a hodgepodge of unconnected anecdotes that reveal strengths. Instead, focus on two or three strengths and one or two weaknesses in the mere 500 words allotted.

As always, be honest about your strengths (do not try to tell the committee what you think it wants to hear; truthfully describe who you legitimately are) and especially about your weaknesses—this is vital. Transparent or disingenuous statements will not fool or convince anyone and will only reveal you as someone incapable of critical self-evaluation.

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

For this essay, you will need to offer two anecdotes that reveal different sides of you as an applicant, describing a high moment from your life and a low moment. Because the school also asks you to address how these incidents subsequently influenced your interactions with others and what lessons they taught you, you must identify stories that not only involve a significant incident but also affected you personally in a meaningful and long-lasting way. These elements of your essay are just as important as the accomplishment and the failure you choose to share; your unique thoughts can differentiate you from other applicants, and showing that you recognize how these incidents changed you and your relations with others demonstrates your self-awareness and capacity for growth. Steer clear of trite and clichéd statements about your takeaways, and really reflect on these situations to uncover your deeper reactions and impressions. For example, everyone gains some level of resiliency from a failure, so you must offer something less common and more compelling and personal.

Be aware that the best failure essays are often those that show reasoned optimism and tremendous momentum toward a goal—a goal that is ultimately derailed. In most cases, you will need to show that you were emotionally invested in your project/experience, which will enable the reader to connect with your story and vicariously experience your disappointment. If you were not invested at all, presenting the experience as a failure or learning experience will be less credible.

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

Although stereotypes about the top MBA programs abound—this school wants consultants, that school is for marketing professionals, this other one is for techies and entrepreneurs—the truth is that they all want a diverse incoming class, full of people with various strengths and experiences that they can share with one another for the good of all. Discussing how you choose to spend your free time—explaining why your chosen activities are important to you and what you derive from them—provides the admissions committee with a window into your personality outside the workplace and classroom and an idea of what you could contribute to the student body and INSEAD as a whole.

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

We tend to believe that the best use of the optional essay is to explain confusing or problematic issues in your candidacy, and this prompt offers an opportunity to do just that. So, if you need to, this is your chance to address any questions an admissions officer might have about your profile—a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT or GRE score, a gap in your work experience, etc. We suggest downloading your free copy of the mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice on deciding whether to take advantage of the optional essay and how best to do so (with multiple sample essays), if needed.

INSEAD does not stipulate that you can only discuss a problem area in this essay, however, so you have some leeway to share anything you think may be pivotal or particularly compelling. We caution you against trying to fill this space simply because you fear that not doing so would somehow count against you. Remember, by submitting an additional essay, you are asking the admissions committee to do extra work on your behalf, so you need to make sure that time is warranted. If you are using the essay to emphasize something that if omitted would render your application incomplete, take this opportunity to write a very brief narrative that reveals this key new aspect of your candidacy.

Video 

After submitting your INSEAD application, you will need to complete a video interview.  You technically have until 48 hours after the deadline for the round in which you apply to complete this element of the process, but we strongly recommend doing so sooner rather than later while your mind is still in application mode and to ensure you do not somehow forget this task or have to rush through it at the end of the allotted time period.

Because all INSEAD admissions interviews are conducted by the school’s alumni, this is a way for members of the admissions committee to virtually “meet” candidates and supplement the information provided in the written portions of the application. This video component gives the committee direct and dynamic insight into applicants’ character and personality, as well as another angle on their language abilities. About the videos, INSEAD says on its site, “The MBA Admissions Committee is interested in obtaining an authentic view of you as a person, to see how you think on your feet and how you convey your ideas.” So when the time comes for you to record your responses, do your best to relax, answer genuinely, and let your true self shine through!

For a thorough exploration of INSEAD’s academic offerings, defining characteristics, crucial statistics, social life, community/environment, and other key facets of the program, please download your free copy of mbaMission’s INSEAD Insider’s Guide.

The Next Step—Mastering Your INSEAD 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. We therefore offer our free Interview Primers to spur you along! Download your free copy of the INSEAD Interview Primer today.
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Impressing a Hiring Manager Requires (a Lot!) of Preparation   [#permalink]

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New post 22 Jul 2019, 10:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: Impressing a Hiring Manager Requires (a Lot!) of Preparation 
In this blog series, our mbaMission Career Coaches offer invaluable advice and industry-related news to help you actively manage your career. Topics include building your network, learning from mistakes and setbacks, perfecting your written communication, and mastering even the toughest interviews. To schedule a free half-hour consultation with one of our mbaMission Career Coaches, click here.

You secured an interview—congratulations! You are one step closer to your goal of receiving a job offer, but you must take advantage of the opportunity. This requires preparation—and a lot of it!

Your preparation should include the following steps:

  • Research the company, the industry, and your interviewers. Know about their products/services, know about their competitors, and understand the characteristics of successful employees in the field.
    • Use LinkedIn or the company’s website to learn about the backgrounds/specialties of your interviewers. 
    • Gather information from internal advocates or the HR/interview coordinator. Ask questions regarding the hiring manager’s priorities as well as nuances about the role that may not have been included in the job description.

  • Inventory relevant stories to tell about your experiences. Select stories that showcase your ability to add value to the organization and meet the needs of the role. 
    • According to David Ohrvall’s book, Interview Logic, candidates should prepare to discuss stories in the following categories: individual contribution, management/leadership, persuasion, analysis, challenges, and teamwork.

  • Structure your stories. The structure and length of your story can be as important as its content.
    • Give your story a headline. Explain the main point of your story and how it relates to the question. Tell readers where the story will end so they have a road map.
    • Articulate your actions. Explain what you did and why you did it. 
    • Conclude with the results of your actions. Explain the impact of your actions as well as how the story is relevant to your interest in the role or what you learned about yourself during the experience.
  • Practice delivering your stories. It is not enough to think about what you are going to say; you need to say it out loud. Record yourself on your webcam or cellphone.
    • Assess your performance. Was your story impressive? Did you position yourself as somebody who has the skills/knowledge for this job? Did you use too much jargon or ramble on? Is your story believable? Did you speak with an appropriate tone and speed?
  • Identify three to five questions to ask each interviewer. Ask questions that the interviewer will have insight into and can comment upon. Consider questions that build on your knowledge of the company and help you understand more about the role and qualities that would make a candidate successful. 
After all this preparation, when you are in the actual interview, do not forget to do the following:

  • Be likeable and gracious. Create a connection with your interviewers. 
  • Make it easy for the interviewer to evaluate you. Make clear points and communicate your skills.
  • Think of your interviewer as a co-worker rather than somebody testing you.
  • Demonstrate your energy and have fun!
mbaMission Career Coaching offers hourly services for interview (and all career-related) preparation. If you could use some guidance, contact our Career Coaches for a free 30-minute consultation today!
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USC Marshall Essay Analysis, 2019–2020  [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: USC Marshall Essay Analysis, 2019–2020
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The University of Southern California (USC) Marshall School of Business must be satisfied with the information its application essay questions elicited from candidates last season, because this year, the prompts and word counts have remained exactly the same. For the first (mini) essay, applicants must detail their immediate short-term career goal, without much elaboration. For the second (more standard length) required essay, candidates can choose from three rather creative and thought-provoking prompt options, all of which allow applicants to exercise their imaginations a bit. Some candidates may consider this a welcome break from the norm in the stressful MBA application process. Our full analysis of Marshall’s suite of 2019–2020 essay questions follows.

Essay 1: What is your specific, immediate short-term career goal upon completion of your MBA? Please include an intended position, function, and industry in your response. (word limit: 100)

Quite simply, Marshall wants to know that you have a specific intention in mind and are not just applying to business school with the expectation of figuring everything out later, once you are enrolled in the program. Many MBA applicants have a long-term vision for their career, of course, but with this prompt, Marshall is asking you to prove you have really given thought to the necessary steps in between. Your goal in this short essay is therefore to demonstrate that you do indeed have a plan, not just broad ambition. The school’s other key concern is whether its MBA program is truly the right one to help you attain your stated goal and that you have done the necessary research to discover and confirm this for yourself. Marshall has very little impetus to admit you—and you have very little to attend it—if you will not ultimately be equipped or positioned to pursue your intended goal once you graduate! For example, if you aspire to work in a field or position for which Marshall is not known to have particularly strong courses, professors, or other offerings, or if you want to work for a company that has no recruiting history with the program, it might not be the best choice to get you where you want to go right away.

At just 100 words maximum, your response needs to be fairly straightforward. Avoid any generalities and vagueness. Do your research to ensure that Marshall can indeed position you to attain what you intend, and simply spell things out. Given that this essay involves at least one key element of a traditional personal statement, we encourage you to download your free copy of our mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, which provides further advice (with examples!) of how to effectively craft such essays.

Essay 2: Please respond to ONLY ONE of the following essay topics: (word limit: 500)

1) If you could pack the story of your life in a briefcase with 10 items, what items would you pack and why? Respond in list form.

Marshall jumped right into the creative essay prompt trend when it debuted this option. The first thing to keep in mind as you brainstorm for this essay is that the “items” in your virtual briefcase here do not have to be actual, tangible things. “The memory of my grandfather” could be one, for example. “My sense of humor” could be another. And we want to stress that a briefcase is more than just a simple container that holds things—otherwise, the school could have said “box” or “closet” or such—and carries with it the ideas of both movement and one’s career. Why would you want to bring the items you have listed with you as you move into the next phase of your professional life? What do they provide you, or what have you gained or learned from them?

Think of the many “things” (experiences, skills, values, character traits, responsibilities, friends and family members, heritage, hobbies, goals, etc.) that make you who you are today, in addition to actual, tangible items that are important to you. You want to choose a variety that presents you as a well-rounded individual with an interesting breadth of qualities, experiences, interests, and abilities, so make sure that the items in your suitcase are not too heavily concentrated in just one area of your life. Although the “briefcase” concept implies, as we have said, that the items in some way relate to your professional choices and aspirations, this does not mean that the individual items themselves must all be from your work background. For example, the “memory of my grandfather” item would not likely be from someone’s career, but that candidate’s grandfather may have instilled in him or her a strong work ethic or an interest that is now part of the person’s career path. You also do not have to present the items in chronological order. Furthermore, if you feel that some of your chosen items are more compelling or representative than others, consider putting a few at the beginning of your list and the others at the very end, so they can make the strongest impact.

If you choose this essay option, your final essay will obviously (we hope!) be more than a simple list of ten items. The school gives you 500 words for this essay, so the expectation is clearly that each thing you list will be accompanied by an explanation as to why you have included it among your ten items—why it is so meaningful to you.

2) You are asked to design a course to be taught at the Marshall School of Business. Please provide a title and description for the course.

To craft an effective response to this essay prompt, you will need to start by doing some comprehensive research. The absolute, number-one no-no in this situation would be suggesting a course that already exists at the school—or, just to be safe, one that has been offered within the past year or two. So your first step will be getting some initial ideas for subject areas, but your immediate (and indispensable) second step will be taking some time to thoroughly read through the school’s current class offerings in those areas as well as those from last year and even the year before.

You do not need to be an expert in the subject matter of the hypothetical class you pitch. After all, Marshall is not asking you to teach it, simply to envision it and explain its potential value. Naturally, the course needs to be fitting for MBA-level study/students and be relevant in some way to current or projected business practices. A good route to consider would be to simply think about what kind of class you would like to take and why. What do you want to learn more about while you are in business school? What skills do you feel you need to learn to be successful going forward? Identify this kind of information and imagine what a course that addresses those interests and needs would entail and look like. Then compare your newly envisioned class against what is already available and tweak your proposal as necessary to ensure it is distinct from the school’s existing options.

Be sure to go beyond simply describing the course (and do not forget to give the class an actual title!) and dedicate a few lines of your essay to how the class would be helpful to an MBA student. Perhaps, for example, offer ideas for career paths the course would be well suited for. 

3) You have been hired by the Marshall MBA Admissions Committee to create an essay question for next year’s application. Please state the question and answer it.

In a way, the admissions committee seems to be asking you, “What do you want to tell us about yourself and your candidacy?” and hoping to gain an idea of your level of creativity at the same time. A number of top MBA programs have offered some rather clever and innovative essay prompts in recent years—signature songs, six-word stories, random lists, photo selections, tables of contents, etc.—but Marshall may be restricting your creative side a bit in this case by stipulating that you must actually respond to your proposed question, not just imagine it. So if you plan to go the imaginative route, be sure to craft an option that you can then offer a strong essay response to, but keep in mind that you can also just offer a prompt that gets at an important element of your profile that you want to share with the admissions committee, with no special bells or whistles.

That said, because you also have the optional essay, if you want or need it, with which to address any “additional information” you believe the school needs to know to evaluate you thoroughly, we think this essay prompt may be best reserved for applicants who do have a strong imaginative or creative bent. Consider all your options for the school’s Essay 2 to make sure that you are choosing the one that allows you to share your most compelling stories. 

Optional Essay: Please provide any additional information that will enhance our understanding of your candidacy for the program. (word limit: 250)

In general, we believe candidates should use a school’s optional essay to explain confusing or problematic issues in their candidacy, which this prompt does indeed allow. So, if you need to, use this opportunity to address any questions the admissions committee might have about your profile—a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT or GRE score, a gap in your work experience, etc. Consider downloading our free mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice (and multiple examples) on how best to approach the optional essay to mitigate any problem areas in your application.

However, Marshall clearly leaves the door open for you to discuss any other information about your candidacy that you feel may be pivotal or particularly compelling—that you think the admissions committee truly needs to know to be able to evaluate you fully and effectively. We caution you against submitting a response to this prompt just because you fear that not doing so would somehow count against you, though. Remember that with each additional essay you write, you are asking the admissions committee to do extra work on your behalf, so you must make sure that added time is warranted. If you decide to use this essay to impart information that you believe would render your application incomplete if omitted, strive to keep your submission brief and on point.
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UNC Kenan-Flagler Essay Analysis, 2019–2020  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jul 2019, 08:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: UNC Kenan-Flagler Essay Analysis, 2019–2020
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The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is offering a mix of old and new essay prompts this season, having maintained its rather traditional career-focused first essay while replacing its second required essay question with a trio of new options. Rather than having to discuss a core value they share with the school, applicants can choose the prompt they feel gives them the best opportunity to convey the nonprofessional side of their candidacy. And although the word count has been slashed in half (from 300 to 150), the school’s optional essay still provides candidates with an outlet for explaining a problematic element of their profile or augmenting their application with potentially key information. Our more in-depth analysis of Kenan-Flagler’s 2019–2020 essay questions follows.

Essay 1 (Required): Please respond to the questions below that will assist us in learning more about you (500 words):

  • Tell us what your immediate career goals are and how you will benefit personally and professionally from earning an MBA at Kenan-Flagler Business School.
  • As the business world continues to evolve, circumstances can change and guide you in a different direction. Should your goals that you provided above not transpire, what other opportunities would you explore?
Kenan-Flagler’s career-related essay question focuses strictly on applicants’ initial post-MBA job. Business schools know only too well that students regularly change their long-term professional plans after being exposed through the MBA experience to new people, information, and options and after learning new skills and ways of looking at the world and themselves. Given that reality, asking about candidates’ long-term goals can in some ways be a waste of time, if an admissions committee is not simply doing so to see evidence that the applicant has put serious thought into their plan for attending business school. With the first part of this prompt, Kenan-Flagler wants to know that you have thoroughly considered this next step in your career and are pursuing an MBA for very clear, specific reasons—not because you feel you are supposed to or because you are following in a parent’s footsteps, and definitely not because you do not know what else to do at this juncture in your life! (Believe it or not, these are all actual reasons some people choose to earn the degree.) Kenan-Flagler, like all top programs, wants engaged, driven, and focused individuals who are ready to be an active part of its MBA experience and to do big things with the knowledge and skills they acquire from it. Although the school does not ask you to lay out your background and explain how you reached this choice, providing some basic context for your goal is a good idea (just be succinct!) to ensure the admissions committee understands that your plans are reasonable and fitting for you.

Without posing the question directly, the school is also looking for an explanation of “Why Kenan-Flagler?” The admissions committee wants evidence that you have researched its MBA program thoroughly enough to have pinpointed resources and offerings that directly align with your interests and needs—and not just academically and professionally. This is the part of our essay analysis in which we once again repeat our advice about getting to know a school beyond its website and published materials. Visit campus, sit in on a class, and connect with students and alumni. Identify clubs, events, courses, initiatives, and other opportunities that speak to who you are as an individual and to who you want to be by the time you graduate and going forward in your career. Ideally, Kenan-Flagler offers one or more particular resources or experiences that you believe are vital to you in achieving your goals and are not available elsewhere. When you include this information in your essay, do not simply provide a list but explain how you will engage with these elements of the MBA program and what you expect to gain from them.

With career goals essays, candidates often feel they must be totally unequivocal in their stated aspirations, but with the second part of this essay prompt, Kenan-Flagler is giving applicants room to speculate on and discuss other options. The admissions committee knows that sometimes the best-laid plans do not play out as expected or may even yield unintended results, and the school wants to know not only that you are prepared to switch gears and recommit to a different path, if necessary, but also that you are fully capable of doing so. The key is to show that your alternate goal is just as connected to your skills, interests, and ambitions as your original plan and does not come “out of left field,” so to speak. For example, you would probably have a difficult time convincing the admissions committee that your short-term goal is to work in technology consulting while your alternate goal would be to work in human resources, because these industries, for the most part, require entirely different skills and personalities. Just be mindful that both goals you present must be plausible and achievable.

This prompt encompasses a few core elements of a traditional personal statement essay, so we encourage you to download our free mbaMission Personal Statement Guide for more in-depth guidance. This complimentary publication offers detailed advice on approaching and framing these subjects, along with multiple illustrative examples. Be sure to claim your copy today.

Essay 2 (Required):  Please select one topic below and respond to the prompt. (250 words)

Topic 1: What is one thing that we do not know about you that you want us to know?

This prompt really could not be more straightforward, but its open-endedness may initially make it challenging for many candidates. If you can share only one additional bit of information about yourself with the Kenan-Flagler admissions committee, how in the world do you choose, right? Let us reassure you that this one essay is not that make-or-break, and we doubt that anything you could submit here would end up being the single factor that altered your road to acceptance to the school’s MBA program. So do not think that this essay has a strict “right” answer. We encourage you to first consider the other two Essay 2 options to see if either one might be a better opportunity for you to communicate a key element of your candidacy to the school. If not, spend some time thinking about what the admissions committee will already know about you from your other essay(s) and other parts of your application. You want whatever you discuss in this essay to complement that information and help provide the school with a more well-rounded impression of you. Do not use this essay to pander to the school or make a general pitch for your candidacy or why you need an MBA. The focus needs to be on you and on giving the admissions committee a new window into your profile. Consider elements of your personality that you feel are particularly revelatory of who you are as an individual (e.g., values, hobbies, skills) as well as significant instances from your past that illustrate something about you or influenced the person you are today (e.g., accomplishments, excursions, milestones). The idea about which you feel most enthusiastic is likely your best choice and should also be the easiest to write about.

Topic 2: Provide us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or difficult about it? Did you achieve the results you were looking for?

Although “Think outside the box” has become a fairly tired cliché at this point, the metaphor’s central message is still valid and is a proven path to developing novel ideas and products. With this question, the school is interested in learning about your spirit of innovation. What situations spark your inventive side? What kinds of ideas do you have? What is your method for developing your ideas? How do you then implement them? Do you enjoy being challenged in this way? You have only 250 words with which to address these underlying facets of Kenan-Flagler’s prompt, which is a rather restrictive limit, but do your best to incorporate as many of these ideas as possible. A narrative approach should allow you to present the situation in a compelling way—from inspiration to outcome—while conveying the emotions you experienced as you navigated it.

Topic 3: Tell us about a time when you felt or witnessed someone being marginalized. How did you feel? What did you take away from the experience and how has it encouraged you to be an inclusive leader?

Kenan-Flagler appears to be acknowledging the flip side of promoting diversity, namely, defending diversity. The admissions committee wants to know not only that you understand the benefits of being inclusive, but also that you understand the harm caused by unfairly excluding individuals. Note that the question is not asking about a time when you acted as an inclusive leader but rather about a time when you saw someone doing the opposite and were affected by it in a way that has subsequently influenced your beliefs about how a leader should act. You will obviously need to describe the situation you witnessed, of course, but try to minimize how much time and detail you devote to this portion of the essay, and do not dedicate space to blaming the person or group doing the marginalizing. Make sure to spend the majority of your mere 250-word allotment on your emotional reaction to the incident and the leadership ideas it then inspired and/or altered.

Optional Essay:  Is there any additional information not presented elsewhere in your application that you would like the admissions committee to consider? (150 words) Optional areas to address include:

  •   If you have not had coursework in the core business subjects (calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), how will you prepare yourself?
  •   Inconsistent academics, gaps in work, or low standardized test scores
  •   Choice of recommenders
In general, we believe that the best use of the optional essay is to explain confusing or problematic issues in your candidacy, which this prompt allows, and which the inclusion of the illustrative bullet points seems to encourage. So, if you need to, use this opportunity to address any questions the admissions committee might have about your profile. If you elect to take this route, consider downloading our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice on how best to approach the optional essay to mitigate problem areas in your application, along with multiple examples.

Although Kenan-Flagler leaves the door open for you to discuss something in this essay other than a problem area, if you believe you have additional information the admissions committee must truly have to be able to evaluate you fully and effectively, consider using Essay 2 to discuss it instead (via Topic 1). But if you have a strong story for one of the other Essay 2 options, then this would constitute your opportunity to share that supplemental information. That said, we caution you against submitting a response to this prompt just because you fear that not doing so would somehow count against you, though. Remember, with each additional essay you write, you are asking the admissions committee to do extra work on your behalf, so you must make sure that added time is warranted. If you decide to use this essay to impart information that if omitted would render your application incomplete, strive to keep your submission brief and on point.

Optional Re-Applicant Essay: We appreciate your continued interest in UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. The admissions committee requires a complete application in addition to a brief essay about how your application differentiates from when you applied last time. Please include new information pertaining to your application such as new test scores, recent promotion or other areas that demonstrate how you have strengthened your candidacy. (100 words)

Whether you have improved your academic record, received a promotion, begun a new and exciting project, increased your community involvement, or taken on some sort of personal challenge, the key to success with this essay is conveying a very deliberate path of achievement. Kenan-Flagler wants to know that you have been actively striving to improve yourself and your profile, and that you have seized opportunities during the previous year to do so, because an MBA from its program is vital to you. The responses to this essay question will vary greatly from one candidate to the next, because each person’s needs and experiences differ. We are more than happy to provide one-on-one assistance with this highly personal essay to ensure that your efforts over the past year are presented in the best light possible.
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A Sense of Community at UC Berkeley Haas and Stanford GSB  [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jul 2019, 10:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: A Sense of Community at UC Berkeley Haas and Stanford GSB
The Haas School of Business at the University of California (UC), Berkeley, is one of the smaller top MBA programs in the United States, with an average class size of between 250 and 300 students. Despite its small size, however, Berkeley Haas offers a diverse community, both regionally and professionally. Roughly 40% of each incoming class is made up of international students, and each entering class as a whole reflects a wide array of interests and professional backgrounds. Each of Berkeley Haas’s incoming classes is divided into smaller groups, called cohorts, and students remain in their cohort for the first semester, taking all core courses together. Within the cohort, students are further divided into study groups. Study group members work together to prepare for presentations and exams as well as to study cases, and these small groups help enhance and reinforce the relationships between classmates. Noted a second-year student with whom mbaMission spoke, “With everyone trying to work out their identity at the start,” the cohort “makes everything less overwhelming.” Indeed, Haas offers a well-defined structure that supports a collaborative community.

Located just an hour’s drive from UC Berkeley Haas, the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) is similarly well known for its close-knit atmosphere, though its typical class size is a bit larger, with approximately 400 students. However, the school’s relatively small class size allows it to provide students with individualized coaching. First-year students at the GSB are assigned a dedicated academic advisor who helps them create a customized plan for fulfilling their core requirements based on their strengths, weaknesses, experiences, and interests. Students can also take advantage of career advisors, who can offer new perspectives on life beyond the GSB, and of Leadership Fellows, who work with first-year students through lab sessions and one-on-one meetings.

For more information on Berkeley Haas, the Stanford GSB, or 15 other leading MBA programs, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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2019–2020 Application Deadlines Roundup  [#permalink]

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New post 26 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: 2019–2020 Application Deadlines Roundup
The 20192020 admissions season has officially kicked off with the release of several top business schools’ application deadlines and required essays. Among the schools to release application details recently are Berkeley Haas, MIT (Sloan), Oxford (Saïd), and UCLA (Anderson).

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For a complete list of 2019–2020 business school deadlines, be sure to check our Application Deadlines page. We will be updating our list as business schools release their deadlines in the coming months.

Finally, stay tuned to the mbaMission blog for our analyses of the 2019–2020 business school application essays, and be sure to download our free Insider’s Guides!
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The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business Essay Analysis 20  [#permalink]

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New post 27 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: The Ohio State University Fisher College of Business Essay Analysis 2019–2020
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The Fisher College of Business at The Ohio State University has expanded its application essay questions this year, giving candidates more of an opportunity to discuss their profiles beyond the statistics and other basic data conveyed in the rest of their application. The school’s first required essay is a rather traditional career goals statement for which the maximum word count has been cut back from 750 to 500. Perhaps this reduction was to allow for the addition of a second required essay without adding too much to the amount applicants need to write. For that new second essay, candidates must share a significant achievement from their past and explain how the experience has equipped them to be an additive member of the Fisher MBA community. If needed, a 250-word supplemental essay is also available for candidates with unusual or unclear elements in their profiles. All aspiring Fisher MBAs must complete a video interview soon after submitting their application, and although this is not technically an essay, we offer some tips for addressing it as well in our complete essay analysis, which follows.

You will be required to complete two written essay responses. The essay questions give you the opportunity to present yourself more fully to our MBA Admissions Committee and to provide insight into your experiences, goals, and thought processes.

ESSAY TOPIC 1: What are your short-term and long term goals? How/why will an MBA help you achieve those goals? (Maximum words: 500)

The Fisher admissions committee is hardly breaking any new ground with this essay prompt, which differs in wording from the one it posed last season but is otherwise very similar in content. Like all MBA programs, Fisher is interested in hearing where you see yourself going after you graduate and how you believe a business degree will equip you to fulfill your vision. Because this essay question covers several of the main components of a traditional personal statement, we encourage you to download a free copy of the mbaMission Personal Statement Guide, in which we offer detailed advice on approaching these topics, along with multiple illustrative examples.

ESSAY TOPIC 2: Please tell us about the accomplishment you are most proud of. How will this experience allow you to contribute a unique perspective to the Fisher community? (Maximum words: 400)

We imagine that at this point in your life, you have achieved a number of things both personal and professional that you could use as fodder for an application essay. However, your goal here is not simply to impress the admissions committee with the scale or impact of your accomplishment but to offer one that best fits the essay prompt. This means you will need to select one that was truly meaningful for you on a profound level and that also left with you with a belief, mind-set, or understanding that would make you a valuable member of the Fisher network. The school does not stipulate whether the achievement you discuss should be from your career or your personal life, so thoroughly consider all your possibilities to identify the one that is most appropriate for this submission. Although sharing a non-work-related accomplishment in this essay could serve as a nice complement to your discussion of your career goals in Essay 1, do not feel that this is strictly necessary. What is most important is that the story you present clearly conveys your values (why you feel most proud of this achievement in particular) and explains how your takeaways have molded you into the kind of person Fisher would want in its ranks.  

We would recommend using only the first 100–150 or so words of this essay to describe your chosen experience, so that you will have sufficient leeway in which to then clearly reveal what you learned from it and how it has equipped you to contribute to the Fisher community in a substantial way. Do your best in this limited space to “show,” or really spell out, how things unfolded—rather than just stating the accomplishment or flatly presenting the situation—to give the admissions reader some perspective on how you conduct yourself and achieve.

You will then need to demonstrate both self-awareness and a thorough understanding of the Fisher MBA experience by outlining your takeaway(s) and drawing a connection between what you learned and what you can subsequently bring to the school as a member of its community. For example, you may have gained some useful insights you could share with your classmates in a related class or club, or maybe you now have an interesting viewpoint on commitment, determination, teamwork, or other such value. To effectively illustrate a connection between your takeaway from the experience and your expectation for applying it at Fisher, you will need to fully familiarize yourself with the program’s various resources and the characteristics of its community. Go the extra mile in learning about the school—connect with multiple students and alumni, attend admissions events in your area, and especially, visit the campus (if at all possible). This will provide the kind of in-depth insight that will show the admissions committee you are really serious about Fisher and understand how and why you belong there.

SUPPLEMENTAL ESSAY (OPTIONAL): This optional essay can be used to address any circumstances you’d like the Admissions Committee to be aware of (gaps in work history, academic performance, choice of recommenders, etc.). (Maximum words: 250)

This short essay is your opportunity—if you need it—to address any lingering questions that an admissions officer might have about your candidacy, such as a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GRE or GMAT score, or, of course, one of the issues Fisher lists in the prompt. If you feel you may need to submit an additional essay for such a reason, consider downloading a free copy of our mbaMission Optional Essays Guide, in which we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay (along with multiple sample essays) to help mitigate any problem areas in your profile.

Video Interview: Each applicant will be required to complete an online assessment comprised of pre-recorded video questions.  Since live interviews are by invitation only, the video interview is a way for us to virtually meet you and get a sense of your personality and potential beyond what you’ve included in your application. You’ll receive an email invitation to the video interview shortly after submitting your application.

HOW IT WORKS: The process is simple – you will be asked a question, given prep time, and a set amount of time to respond. It should only take 20 to 30 minutes to complete and can be done on your own time.

WHAT YOU NEED: You will require an internet connected computer with a functioning webcam and microphone. The system allows for unlimited practice sessions but once you start the formal interview questions you only get one chance – this allows us to see your candid responses. Be yourself!

We know that required videos often strike fear into the hearts of business school candidates, so we wanted to talk briefly about this component of the Fisher application process, in hopes of helping you relax and put your best self forward. First of all, keep in mind that these video questions are not meant to trip you up or entice you to do or say anything that would get you immediately disqualified from consideration. Video submissions most often are opportunities for the admissions committee to put a “face,” so to speak, on your written application and learn a little more about your personality, energy level, communication style, and other such intangibles. In an admissions blog post from the year the video element was added, a Fisher representative states, “We really like to get to know all of our applicants but given the volume of applications we receive, it is not possible to meet or speak to everyone. This platform allows us to get to know you much better than anything else you’ll submit.” If you focus on being authentic and sincere, you will provide the admissions committee with exactly what it is seeking.

Fisher does not share the questions that will be asked in the video segment, but we imagine they will be fairly standard interview queries. Consider downloading a free copy of the mbaMission Interview Guide, in which we present a list of 100 common interview questions you can use to practice. We suggest practicing in front of a mirror to exercise maintaining a natural expression as you speak and timing yourself to ensure your answers do not tend to run long. Although you can prepare as much as you want, you will have only one chance to record your response(s) when you do the official interview. If you stumble while answering or ultimately are unhappy with your answer, unfortunately, you will not be able to rerecord anything or try again another time. This may make you nervous, but we encourage you to view the situation a little differently. As we have noted, Fisher wants to get to know the real you through these video essays. If you fumble for words or lose your train of thought, just laugh or shrug and continue with your response. Accepting a mistake with a sense of humor and grace will give the admissions committee a more positive and natural impression of your personality than rigid scripting and overpreparation ever could.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Yikes, a Typo—I Am Done!  [#permalink]

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New post 28 Jul 2019, 09:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Yikes, a Typo—I Am Done!
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You have worked painstakingly on your application. You have checked and rechecked your work. You finally press the Submit button only to realize—to your horror—that you are missing a comma, and you inadvertently used “too” instead of “to.” The admissions committee is obviously going to just throw your application out, right? Wrong!

Making a typo and pervasive sloppiness are two very different things. If you have multiple typos and grammatical errors throughout your essays and application, you send a negative message about your level of professionalism and desire to represent yourself—and thus the target school—in a positive way. But if you have a minor mistake or two in your text, you have an unfortunate situation on your hands, but not a devastating one. Admissions representatives 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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How to Show Rather Than Tell and Write with Connectivity in Your MBA A  [#permalink]

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New post 29 Jul 2019, 08:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Show Rather Than Tell and Write with Connectivity in Your MBA Application Essays
You may have heard the old journalistic maxim “Show, don’t tell,” which demands that writers truly illustrate the actions involved in an event or a story rather than simply stating the results of what happened.

Here is an example of “telling” (results oriented):

“I arrived at ABC Bank and took on a great deal of responsibility in corporate lending. I managed diverse clients in my first year and earned the recognition of my manager. Because of my hard work, initiative, and leadership, he placed me on the management track, and I knew that I would be a success in this challenging position.”

In these three sentences, the reader is told that the applicant “took on a great deal of responsibility,” “managed diverse clients,” and “earned recognition,” though none of these claims are substantiated via the story. Further, we are given no real evidence of the writer’s “hard work, initiative, and leadership.”

Here is an example of “showing” (action oriented):

“Almost immediately after joining ABC bank, I took a risk in asking management for the accounts left behind by a recently transferred manager. I soon expanded our lending relationships with a children’s clothing retailer, a metal recycler, and a food distributor, making decisions on loans of up to $1M. Although I had a commercial banking background, I sought the mentorship of our district manager and studied aggressively for the CFA exam (before and after 14-hour days at the office); I was encouraged when the lending officer cited my initiative and desire to learn, placing me on our management track.”

In this second example, we see evidence of the writer’s “great deal of responsibility” (client coverage, $1M lending decisions) and “diverse clients” (a children’s clothing retailer, a metal recycler, and a food distributor). Further, the candidate’s “hard work, initiative, and leadership” are clearly illustrated throughout. The second example paragraph is more interesting, rich, and humble—and more likely to captivate the reader. By showing your actions in detail, you ensure that your reader draws the desired conclusions about your skills and accomplishments, because the necessary facts are included to facilitate this. Essentially, facts become your evidence!

Similar to showing instead of telling, “connectivity” is another important element of professional writing. Simply put, an adept writer ensures that each sentence is part of a chain—each sentence depends on the previous one and necessitates the next. With this linkage in place, the central idea is constantly moving forward, giving the story a natural flow and making it easy to follow. Although you do not need to write at the same level as a professional journalist, you should still embrace this concept, because it is central to excellent essay writing. With a “connected” MBA application essay, you will grab and hold your reader’s attention.

You can test your essay’s connectivity by removing a sentence from one of your paragraphs. If the central idea in the paragraph still makes complete sense after this removal, odds are you have superfluous language, are not advancing the story effectively, and should revise your draft.

Try this exercise with a random selection from the New York Times:

“For many grocery shoppers, the feeling is familiar: that slight swell of virtue that comes from dropping a seemingly healthful product into a shopping cart. But at one New England grocery chain, choosing some of those products may induce guilt instead. The chain, Hannaford Brothers, developed a system called Guiding Stars that rated the nutritional value of nearly all the food and drinks at its stores from zero to three stars. Of the 27,000 products that were plugged into Hannaford’s formula, 77 percent received no stars, including many, if not most, of the processed foods that advertise themselves as good for you. These included V8 vegetable juice (too much sodium), Campbell’s Healthy Request Tomato soup (ditto), most Lean Cuisine and Healthy Choice frozen dinners (ditto) and nearly all yogurt with fruit (too much sugar).”

If you were to delete any of these sentences, you would create confusion for the reader, proving that each sentence is connected and vital.
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To Keep or Cancel Your GMAT Scores?  [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jul 2019, 08:01
FROM mbaMission Blog: To Keep or Cancel Your GMAT Scores?
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.

The GMAT offers various kinds of flexibility around your decision to keep or cancel your GMAT scores—but also some restrictions. It’s important to understand your options so that you make the best decision for you!

How Does It Work?

At the end of the test, you will be shown your scores (for everything except the essay), and you will then be asked whether you want to keep or cancel your GMAT scores. If you keep them, they’ll go on your official record. If you cancel them, they won’t; the school won’t see those scores, nor will the schools even know that you took the test that day.

Right at that moment, you’ll have two minutes to decide whether to keep or cancel your GMAT scores. Later, you can change your mind—but you’ll have to pay a fee to change the status of your scores. So let’s first talk about how to make the best decision during those first two minutes.

In short, you need to have an idea of what you’d want to do before you even walk into the testing room.

What Do Your Schools Want to See?

First, what kind of program do you want? MBA programs generally care only about your highest score. Other kinds of programs, such as Ph.D. programs, may look at all your scores. So it’s important to find out how your schools are going to use the data.

If you are applying to an MBA program, you can assume that they don’t care if you take the test multiple times. They’re just going to use your best score, and that’s that. If you are applying to a Ph.D. program or another type of Master’s program, ask the schools directly whether they care about multiple tests and, if so, how they use the multiple data points.

(By the way, for any school communication, I highly recommend attending one or more of the various MBA tours that travel around the country, giving you an opportunity to meet representatives from different schools. There are a bunch of different ones, some of which are tied to specific groups of people, such as women or other underrepresented groups. Ask your questions directly, make some connections, and get the ball rolling!)

What Is Your Goal Score?

Based on where you want to apply and how those schools use GMAT scores, you’ll come up with a goal score for yourself. Broadly speaking, you can classify the programs into one of three categories:

—Safety. I’m almost certain to be accepted to this school.

—Regular. I’ve got a good chance to get in, but it’s not a certainty.

—Reach. This school is a stretch, but hey, if I don’t even apply, I definitely won’t make it, right? So I’ll give it a shot.

Your GMAT goal should be above the average for your safety schools and at least at the average for your regular schools. You may not be above average for the reach schools, but you’d still ideally be within that school’s general range.

For the purposes of this discussion, let’s say that your goal score is a 650.

What Is Your Minimum Acceptable Score?

Your ideal goal is 650, but let’s say that (based on your research) your minimum score is really a 620. You’d still feel comfortable applying to your schools with that score.

So, first, if you do hit a 620 or higher, you are not even going to think about canceling. You’re good to go!

What if you score a 610? Close enough. Keep it.

600?

580?

560…?

See where I’m going with this? At some point, the decision will switch to, “Nope, I’m going to cancel this one.” Where is that point?

Consider the Worst Possible Scenario

Your ideal goal is 650. Your minimum is 620. But what if you just can’t score above 590? You don’t want to take the test and score 590 and cancel, and then sign up again and get another 590 and cancel again, and then take it a third time and get a 550 because you’re so stressed out… and now you’ve taken the test three times, and you have no score on your record at all.

This scenario is even more likely for those who have really high goals. If someone really wants a 730 and keeps canceling 690 scores… that person might never make it to 730.

(You can reinstate your canceled scores at a later date—but you’re going to have to pay to do so. Let’s minimize your expenditure here.)

Know (More) about What the Schools Want

Remember how I said that MBA programs don’t really care if you take the test multiple times? For those programs, then, you don’t actually have to cancel anything. They don’t care. Just keep all your scores.

I know most students won’t be totally comfortable with this. I’m going to try to change your mind, though.

Anecdotally, we have heard that MBA programs, if anything, consider it a positive to see that you tried again. Let’s say that a school’s average is 650. You first score was a little under 650—say, 620 to 640. That’s probably good enough, but you decide to go for it again because you want to hit that average, if possible. This could play out in a couple of ways:

—You score 650+. Yay! You’re at/above the average for that school! Your hard work paid off.

—You increase your score a little but not all the way to the average. You are closer now, and you’ve signaled to the school that you were willing to try hard to succeed. They like to see that.

—You drop below your initial score. You still keep the score to signal to the school that you were willing to keep trying. Yeah, it did drop, but so what; you still have your original (higher) score locked in.

I would definitely keep the score in the first two scenarios. I also think it’s worth it to keep the score in the third scenario, but I would understand if a student didn’t feel comfortable doing so (particularly if you knew you would take the test a third time).

Final Advice: To Keep or Cancel Your GMAT Scores?

So all of this leads me to this:

—If you’re applying for an MBA and you’re okay with my recommendation just to keep everything, then keep your score no matter what.

—If that idea makes you uneasy, then keep any score that’s within 100 points of your minimum goal score. If you want a minimum score of 650, keep any score of 550 or higher. (If your ideal score is 650 but your minimum is 620, keep anything at 520 or higher.)

Caveat: if your goal score is crazy high (e.g., you want a 780), keep anything within 150 points of your goal. I know, I know, a 630 isn’t anywhere near a 780. But less than 1% of the testing population hits a 780! That’s super ambitious. Be really happy if you get there, but don’t assume that anyone who just “studies enough” will get there.

I Canceled, but Now I’m Thinking I Should Reinstate the Score… (or Vice Versa)

As of this writing, here are the details for canceling or reinstating a score after you leave the testing center. (Note that any details, especially pricing, could change in the future—so check mba.com to make sure that nothing has changed.)

If you keep your scores in the testing center but later decide that you want to cancel them, you have 72 hours to do so; after that, you cannot cancel your scores. You’ll have to pay a $25 fee.

If you cancel in the testing center but later decide that you want to reinstate your scores, you can do so as long as the scores are still valid (they expire after five years). This will cost you $50.

It costs less to cancel after the fact, but you have a time limit of 72 hours. If you’re just not sure what to do in the testing center, I would recommend keeping the scores, then using the next day or two to think about what to do (and ask others that you trust for their opinion). Then, if you do decide to cancel, you’ll only have to pay $25 to do so.

One Unusual Circumstance in Which You Actually Should Cancel

This last bit won’t apply to 99.9% of people taking the test, but just in case this happens to you, read on.

If you become ill or otherwise feel that you cannot finish while you are at the testing center, then a weird thing happens if you leave the test before getting to that “keep or cancel” screen at the very end. You won’t have any reported scores (since you didn’t finish), but the fact that you showed up to take the test that day will still show up on your official score report. It’s sort of an in-between case with an odd outcome.

So, if this happens to you, here’s what I recommend you do. If you have to leave the testing room (maybe you feel queasy and have to go to the bathroom), do so. Just let the test keep running. If you decide, when you get back, that you can’t keep going, then click through all of the remaining questions randomly to get yourself to the end of the test. On the Keep or Cancel screen, cancel your scores.

In Sum

Know what your goal scores (ideal and minimum) are.

Know what you want to do before you get into the testing room. (For example, tell yourself, “If I score 530 or higher, I’m keeping my score. If I score 520 or lower, I’m canceling.”)

If you just can’t decide at the end, keep the scores. Know that you’ll have 72 hours to change your mind and cancel instead. Get out of the testing room, clear your mind, decide what to do, and move ahead.
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