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mbaMission Admissions Consultant
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A Sense of Community at UC Berkeley Haas and Stanford GSB [#permalink]
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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 receive academic advising to help 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 Arbuckle 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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Our Current Reading List: mbaMission Career Coaches [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Our Current Reading List: mbaMission Career Coaches
This post was written by our resident Career Coach, [url=https://www.mbamission.com/who-we-are/team/elissa-harris/]Elissa Harris[/url]. To sign up for a free 30-minute career consultation with Elissa, please [url=https://www.mbamission.com/consult/career-coaching/]click here[/url].

We all need a break from reading about the spread of COVID-19; consider using your time to delve deeper into areas of interest. Check out a few recent news articles that caught the attention of mbaMission’s Career Coaches:

[list]
[*][b][url=https://www.inc.com/marcel-schwantes/if-you-can-answer-yes-to-any-of-these-5-questions-your-emotional-intelligence-is-perfectly-suited-for-this-crisis.html?_lrsc=3999e707-b288-49e7-9b73-5108194a9161&utm_source=linkedin&utm_medium=elevate&src=linkedin-elevate]“If You Can Answer Yes to Any of These 5 Questions, Your Emotional Intelligence Is Perfectly Suited for This Crisis” by Marcel Schwantes[/url][/b] – Seek ways to identify your own level of emotional intelligence (EQ)—a skill especially valued during uncertain times. [/*]
[*][url=https://www-nytimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/04/01/technology/virus-start-ups-pummeled-layoffs-unwinding.amp.html][b]“Start-Ups Are Pummeled in the ‘Great Unwinding’” by Erin Griffith[/b][/url] and [b][url=https://www.wsj.com/articles/some-vcs-urge-startups-to-jump-on-opportunities-amid-downturn-11584130534]“Some VCs Urge Startups to Jump on Opportunities Amid Downturn” by Yuliya Chernova[/url][/b] – Understand more about the impact of our current economy on the start-up world. [/*]
[*][url=https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/covid-19-insights-collection-by-sectors.html][b]“Combating COVID-19: Insights by Sector” by Deloitte[/b][/url] – Read sector-specific insights on the impact of COVID-19 on our economy. [/*]
[*][url=https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/02/smarter-living/how-to-give-better-advice.amp.html]“[b]We Get, and Give, Lots of Bad Advice. Here’s How to Stop.” by [/b][b]Adam Grant[/b][/url] – Find ways to get the best advice on making important decisions.  [/*]
[*][b][url=https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-insights/to-weather-a-crisis-build-a-network-of-teams]“To Weather a Crisis, Build a Network of Teams” by Andrea Alexander, Aaron De Smet, Sarah Kleinman, and Marino Mugayar-Baldocchi (McKinsey[/url][/b][b])[/b] – Look for ways your organization can drive forward progress through these uncharted times. [/*]
[*][b][url=https://hbr.org/2020/04/how-to-transition-between-work-time-and-personal-time?utm_source=linkedin&utm_campaign=hbr&utm_medium=social]“How to Transition Between Work Time and Personal Time” by Elizabeth Grace Saunders (HBR)[/url][/b] – Learn time management tips for new remote working environments. [/*]
[/list]
And, of course, we are doing some lighter reading, too: a list of what is [b][url=https://www.forbes.com/sites/erikkain/2020/03/19/heres-everything-coming-to-netflix-in-april-2020-and-what-to-watch/#5e4de5a92ae0]currently streaming on Netflix[/url][/b]!

Reading is a perfect way to build your expertise and develop a more in-depth perspective on the challenges (and opportunities) facing your target industries and companies. If you are looking for inspiration, consider the following resources:

[list]
[*]Find the key influencers in your area(s) of interest and follow them on LinkedIn and Twitter (or other social media platforms). [/*]
[*]See what professors at top business schools, including [b][url=https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/how-the-coronavirus-is-already-rewriting-the-future-of-business]HBS[/url][/b], [b][url=https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/newsroom/media/covid-19-faculty-analysis-perspectives]Stanford[/url][/b], and [b][url=https://www.anderson.ucla.edu/alumni/friday-faculty-chats]UCLA[/url][/b], are saying about the impact of COVID-19. [/*]
[*]Read how your local community (and/or employer) is responding to support those in need; learn how you can contribute. [/*]
[*]Tap into the experts. Connect (virtually) with librarians at your business school library and tell them what you want to learn about. Ask your networking contacts for suggestions of podcasts or trade publications to read. Join LinkedIn groups relevant to your interests or target roles. [/*]
[/list]
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Professor Profiles: Katherine Schipper, Duke University Fuqua School o [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Katherine Schipper, Duke University Fuqua School of Business

Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Today, we focus on Katherine Schipper from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business.

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

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

For more information about the Duke University Fuqua School of Business and 16 other top-ranked business schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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Developing Your GMAT Study Plan [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Developing Your GMAT Study Plan
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.

Help! I need to get ready for the GMAT—where do I even start?

You need to make a few major decisions at the beginning, starting with this one: do you want to study on your own, take a class, or work with a private tutor? Each path has its advantages and disadvantages; this article can help you decide.

Next, if you take a class or work with a tutor, then your teacher will give you a study plan, at least for the length of time that you are working together. If not, you will have to devise your own study plan. This will take some effort, but it is not rocket science—if you are thoughtful and thorough, you can put together a very good study plan.

I want to point out a couple of highlights from the study plan article. First, you need to know your goal and your starting point; if you do not know what level you are at right now or what score you are trying to achieve, then putting together a good study plan is impossible.

Second, you are going to need study materials that fall into three broad categories: (1) test content and methodology (what to study and how to study), (2) practice questions (best source: Official Guide and other official practice question materials), and (3) practice tests.

Finally, make sure that you know how to study/learn in an efficient and effective manner. Hint: doing 2,000 practice problems does not equal “efficient and effective.” Nor does taking a practice test every three days, or even every week. Read the article for more!
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Harvard Business School Is for Everyon [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Harvard Business School Is for Everyone

Harvard Business School (HBS) offers an excellent MBA program—this is largely a given, and we are not questioning that. However, what we will call into question is whether HBS (or any other school, for that matter) is right for you. Every year, we get a few calls from confused MBA aspirants who say, “I visited HBS, and I am not sure if there is a fit,” as if that indicates some sort of problem. Indeed, and this may be shocking to some, HBS is not for everyone—particularly those who do not relate well to case-based learning, those who want a lot of flexibility in their first-year curriculum, and those who would prefer a small class size (HBS’s Class of 2021 has 938 students, while the same class at the University of California, Berkeley, Haas School of Business, for example, has just 283).

We hope that applicants will use this post as a jumping-off point to critically appraise their target MBA programs and determine which schools are indeed right for them. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Would I prefer to be in a larger program, or would I feel overwhelmed by a larger program’s size?
  • Would I prefer to be in a smaller program, or would that feel claustrophobic?
  • Would I prefer to be at a school with a flexible curriculum and a consistent stream of new classmates and where I could make my own academic choices early on?
  • Would I prefer to learn in a comprehensive core curriculum where I am, for a period of time, learning the same material as my classmates and where academics would provide me with a course structure?
  • Am I best suited for the case method, lecture method, or programs with strong experiential components? (And do I really understand what each entails—for example, the teamwork and public speaking that are necessary within the case method?)
  • Do my target schools match my academic objectives?
  • Do my target firms recruit at my school?
  • Are alumni well placed in my industry/post-MBA location? (Are alumni even crucial to my career?)
  • Do my target schools have facilities and an environment that appeal to me?
Again, these questions are just a start—we could pose many more, but the point is that you will get far more than a brand from your MBA studies. You will gain an education and an alumni network in return for your investment of two years and thousands of dollars. You should therefore skip the rankings, determine what is important to you, and then do your homework to identify a program that truly fits your personality, needs, and goals.
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Will I Get In? And If I Do, Will I Want to Attend After All? [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Will I Get In? And If I Do, Will I Want to Attend After All?
Not surprisingly, one of the most common questions we receive from MBA candidates is “Will I get in?” Of course, this is an important question to consider before applying, and we suggest that you honestly assess and understand your candidacy and risk profile within the context of your target school’s typical student body before completing or submitting an application to that school. However, once you have determined that you will in fact apply to a particular school, you should not let this question haunt you or halt your progress. Many applicants spend too much time worrying and not enough time working. Your admissions decision is ultimately out of your control, so just focus on submitting the best application you possibly can.

The following scenario may be hard for you to imagine when you are still in the midst of applying to business schools, but every year, we at mbaMission see clients get accepted to an MBA program only to realize it is not a place they actually want to attend after all. Alternatively, we occasionally see applicants who are not accepted to any school and realize they must remain in a job they were more than ready to leave.

So, how do some candidates end up in these kinds of situations? In both of these scenarios, the applicants chose and applied to schools without first taking an honest look at their candidacy, goals, and alternatives. We encourage all applicants to very thoroughly consider where their true tipping point lies in terms of attending business school. At what point would not going to school be better than going to X school? Some candidates feel that if they do not go to Harvard Business School, they may as well not go to business school at all. Others believe they must attend a school in the top ten. Still others think, “I really hope to go to a top ten program, but I’ll be happy to attend any top-30 school.” Having a frank discussion with yourself (or perhaps with us) on this topic may help you pinpoint where this cutoff point is for you.

Start by researching all the MBA programs at which you believe you would be competitive, and then organize them into three clusters: dream schools, reasonable schools, and safer schools. Next, further investigate the schools you deemed “reasonable” and “safer,” and as you do so, ask yourself, “Would I rather be at this school next year or not be in school at all?” Essentially, we are suggesting that you imagine your worst-case scenario—not getting into any of your dream schools—and decide what you would do in that situation.

Then, in addition to applying to your dream programs, apply only to those reasonable and safer schools for which you felt going would be preferable to not attending any MBA program at all. This way, you can avoid finding yourself in either of the situations we described at the beginning of this post and instead will be well positioned to embrace the choices you ultimately have.
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You Have Been Waitlisted—What Happens Next? [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: You Have Been Waitlisted—What Happens Next?
In these unprecedented times, while quarantining at home, you may find yourself pondering your next steps after receiving word you have been waitlisted. Meanwhile, schools are knee-deep in uncertainty concerning COVID-19’s impact on classes and their plans for the fall semester. Most schools are even extending their Round 3 deadlines and encouraging additional applications!

The good news is that schools might need to tap into their waitlists to a greater degree this year, and there are steps you can take to improve your chances and gain acceptance! Demonstrate your interest in and passion for the school by sending periodic updates (but be careful not to bombard the admissions committee!), and consider making meaningful improvements to your profile if applicable. 

If you have been waitlisted, we at mbaMission suggest taking the following steps during this uncertain time:

[list]
[*][b]Breathe a bit.[/b] We know being waitlisted is not the outcome you were hoping for, but it means the school is still very interested in you and you are still “in the game.”[/*]
[*][b]Accept the waitlist if you still want to be considered.[/b] This is a step forward in securing a spot in your dream school’s class![/*]
[*][b]Think about how to improve your profile.[/b] We have presented some of our thoughts in mbaMission’s [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/mbamission-waitlist-guide]Waitlist Guide[/url].[/b]  [/*]
[*][b]Draft an update letter that summarizes the steps you have taken or will take to improve your candidacy and demonstrates your passion for the school.[/b] Update the admissions committee on any significant changes in responsibilities and accomplishments since you submitted your application. Let the committee know right away if you are willing to accept your spot in the class! Try to do this in the first two to three weeks, but note the school’s request for updates. If the school asks for them more quickly, get them in by the specified deadline.  [/*]
[*][b]Follow up later with any other meaningful updates[/b] (e.g., perhaps a new GMAT/GRE score).  [/*]
[*][b]Consider obtaining an additional letter of recommendation[/b] or a short note of endorsement if the school permits.  [/*]
[/list]
Specifically for this season, if you have led or joined COVID-19–related community efforts, be sure to let the admissions committee know. Helping our communities right now is a fantastic way to give back! 
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Career Opportunities at the SMU Cox School of Business and the UMN Car [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Career Opportunities at the SMU Cox School of Business and the UMN Carlson School of Management

Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business

Corporate connections are a major selling point at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Cox School of Business. Located in the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex, the school offers its MBA students access to a large network of corporate representatives and recruiters—from the 24 Fortune 500 companies with headquarters in the area to a global university alumni base in excess of 126,000. One highlight of the networking resources Cox provides is its Alumni Association, which has chapters in more than a dozen countries. The Economist ranked Cox’s small, collaborative program sixth for “potential to network” in 2019. In addition, Entrepreneur magazine has ranked business-friendly Dallas second among U.S. cities for entrepreneurs.

With 17 Fortune 500 companies located nearby—including UnitedHealth Group, Target, and U.S. Bancorp—the University of Minnesota (UMN) Carlson School of Management also boasts a robust network of corporate ties and high-profile recruiting opportunities. In addition, Carlson prepares its students with a pronounced hands-on approach to building leadership, management, and problem-solving skills.


University of Minnesota (UMN) Carlson School of Management

Among the school’s more distinctive offerings, Carlson’s four Enterprise programs expose students to the areas of brand, consulting, funds, and ventures. The Enterprise learning experience is rather unique insofar as it operates as a full professional services firm, serving multiple clients and allowing students to work through real-world business challenges with senior management at major companies. In the Brand Enterprise program, for example, Carlson students have developed key marketing strategies for such brands as Cargill, Boston Scientific, Target, 3M, General Mills, and Land O’Lakes. Students in the Consulting Enterprise program have offered services to such companies as Best Buy, Northwest Airlines Cargo, Medtronic CRM Division, and Polaris. With approximately $35M in managed assets, the Carlson Funds Enterprise program ranks among the three largest student-managed funds in the world. Finally, the Carlson Ventures Enterprise program puts aspiring entrepreneurs in contact with experts, professionals, and investors.
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mbaMission Career Coach FAQs: How to Navigate the Job Market During th [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: mbaMission Career Coach FAQs: How to Navigate the Job Market During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This post was written by our resident Career Coach, [url=https://www.mbamission.com/who-we-are/team/elissa-harris/]Elissa Harris[/url]. To sign up for a free 30-minute career consultation with Elissa, please [url=https://www.mbamission.com/consult/career-coaching/]click here[/url].

We are all hearing about (or even experiencing) the direct impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and hiring. Consequently, many MBA students and graduates are asking difficult career questions. Although there is no “one size fits all” approach to your career in today’s market, we at mbaMission share our responses to four common questions below.

[b]“Is it appropriate to network in today’s environment?” Yes—and it is more critical than ever before! However, setting the right tone in your networking is critical. Here are a few tips for formulating your approach: [/b]

[list]
[*]Connect with professionals with similar interests to build your network and develop your perspective on areas of interest as well as to position yourself for new job opportunities. [/*]
[*] Identify questions to ask that will lead to a robust and interesting conversation for both you and your contact. [/*]
[*]Lead with empathy. The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting everyone. Acknowledge the current situation and recognize your contact may be worried about their own job security. Do not ask for a job. [/*]
[*]Seek to understand your contact’s career path, ask questions about how their business is adjusting to the economic situation, and brainstorm ways for their company or industry to innovate and meet current challenges.[/*]
[/list]
[b]“Should I look for a new full-time job during a pandemic?” Yes, you can look for a new job, and some companies are still hiring—but consider why you are looking and assess the following factors when making your decision: [/b]

[list]
[*]Employer sector: What economic impact is your industry experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread stay-at-home guidelines? [/*]
[*]Employer response: How is your current employer responding to the challenges of this economy? What are the metrics of health for your employer? [/*]
[*]Personal reputation: Do you have strong advocates within your company? How strong are your previous performance reviews? [/*]
[*]Function and role: How critical is your role to the operation of your employer’s business? [/*]
[*]Career goals: What are your short- and long-term career goals? How does your current role fit into them? Are you still learning new things, tackling challenging problems, and building new skills?[/*]
[/list]
[b]“Can I still find an MBA summer internship?” We are seeing fewer internship postings now than we have in the past, but you can still create a meaningful summer experience.  [/b]

[list]
[*]Clarify your career goals so you can identify interim steps or opportunities that move you toward those goals. This is not about abandoning your dreams but reimagining your path to achieving them.[/*]
[*]Reframe your expectations of what an internship experience is supposed to be. You just need an opportunity to learn and add value; you do not need 10+ weeks of experience or a structured program. [/*]
[*]Connect with your school’s career management office for insights on job generation efforts and/or programs to support students seeking internships. Participate in an online resume book. [/*]
[*]Consider your financial needs and compensation requirements. Do you have any flexibility in these areas? [/*]
[*]Build skills outside of hands-on work experiences. Take an online class or a certificate course in an area of interest to you or an area of value to your target market—perhaps Google Analytics, design thinking, SQL, or artificial intelligence (AI).[/*]
[/list]
[b]“How can I excel in a virtual internship (or job)?” Although a virtual role might not be your preferred working situation, you can still prove your value. [/b]

[list]
[*]Clarify expectations. Understand work hours, dress codes, preferred communication platforms and style, specific project assignments, available resources, and evaluation criteria.[/*]
[*]Practice engaging over video platforms. Gain comfort with the technology and its capabilities. Create an at-home workspace with limited distractions and an appropriate background.  [/*]
[*]Deliver high-quality work. Prove that you understand the job and have the required skill sets for success. Build strong relationships with key decision makers. [/*]
[*]Reach out and ask for advice from mentors and advocates who work for your intern employer. Recognize most of the principles for internship success are the same whether you are working on-site or remotely. [/*]
[/list]
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Maximize Your GMAT Study Results by Boosting Your Memory [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Maximize Your GMAT Study Results by Boosting Your Memory

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.

Has this happened to you? You have ambitious plans to study a ton of things over the weekend. You get tired, but you are determined to push through, so you keep studying. You begin to get a bit anxious because you feel you are not learning well (and you are not!), so you study even more. You get even more tired, and that makes it even harder to learn. By the end of the weekend, you are exhausted, frustrated, and demoralized.

Time magazine published a fascinating little article back in 2012: “To Boost Memory, Shut Your Eyes and Relax.” Go take a look at it. Do not worry; I will wait.

In a nutshell: your brain makes better memories when it is not tired.

The Time article quotes Michaela Dewar, the lead author of a research study on this topic. She notes that we are “at a very early stage of memory formation” when we first start to study new information, and “further neural processes have to occur after this stage for us to be able to remember this information at a later point in time.”

The italics are mine. Note what Ms. Dewar has said: more “stuff” has to happen in our brains after we have studied this info for us to be able to recall that information later on. In the meantime, we have to go do something else that does not involve learning other new things. Eat lunch. Take a walk or exercise. Listen to some music while cleaning the house. Get a good night’s sleep.

How can we use this in our GMAT study?

There are many ways to study, but do not plan to study for more than about two hours at a stretch. Cut yourself off earlier if you realize that you are feeling significantly mentally fatigued. If you do hit that two-hour mark, stop. You can study more today, if you want, but first take at least a one-hour brain break.

Next, if you plan to study on days that you also have work or class, see whether you have the flexibility to study before or during the class/work day. You could get up a little earlier than normal (warning: do not try this if you are a night person) or possibly arrange to get into work a bit later than normal a couple of days a week. You could study on your lunch break. These sessions might only run 20 or 30 minutes, but that is fine—you are just trying to get some studying done earlier in the day, while your brain is more fresh!
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Love Your School So Much I Cannot St [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Love Your School So Much I Cannot Stop Writing About It
Although admissions officers want to know that you are interested in their school, they do not want to read your repeated professions of love for it. Some candidates mistakenly believe that in their essays, they must constantly repeat enthusiastic statements about how they will improve their skills at their target school, regardless of whether the school asks for such information.

For instance, consider the following sample (hypothetical) response to the essay question “What achievement are you most proud of and why?”

“In starting ABC Distributors, I learned a great deal about entrepreneurship, and I hope to formalize this knowledge at the XYZ School of Management. Only with XYZ’s vast entrepreneurial resources and profound alumni connections will I be able to take my next venture to a higher level. At XYZ, I will grow my business skills and potential.”

We can identify numerous problems with this submission—including that the statements are cloying and have no real substance. However, the most egregious issue is that the school never asked applicants to discuss how the program would affect their abilities. Thus, the “Why our school?” component is just empty pandering.

As you write your essays, always focus on answering the essay questions as they are written—do not try to anticipate or respond to unasked questions. So, if your target school does not explicitly request that you address the question “Why our school?,” do not look for ways to sneakily answer that question in your essay(s).

Of course, if the school does ask for this information, then certainly do your research and provide it. Again, the key is to always respond to the school’s question and give the admissions committee the information it wants.
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How to Introduce Without an Introduction and Own Your Story in MBA App [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Introduce Without an Introduction and Own Your Story in MBA Application Essays
Most high school students in the United States are taught to write essays that have a formal introduction, a body that supports that introduction, and a conclusion that reinforces the main point presented in the introduction. Although this approach and structure yield easily comprehensible academic work, business school application essays are constrained by word count—so candidates often must use alternative, less lengthy openings because they do not have the luxury of “wasting” 100 words to introduce their topic.

We recommend sometimes using the “non-introduction” introduction, depending on the context and pace of your story. If you have a gripping opener that places your reader in the middle of a scenario, we suggest you launch right into your story to grab and keep the reader’s attention.

Consider this traditional introduction:

“Throughout my career, I have strived to continuously learn and develop as a manager, frequently taking enrichment courses, seizing mentorship opportunities, and seeking frank feedback from my superiors. When my firm staffed me on its $4.5M Oregon Project (our highest profile product launch in a decade), I considered it a tremendous opportunity to deliver and never imagined that it would become the greatest test of my managerial abilities. When I arrived in Portland, I discovered a project deemed so important by our firm that it was overstaffed and wallowing in confused directives from headquarters in Chicago. I quickly surveyed the situation and began to create support for changes to…”

What if this essay, under the pressure of word limits, were to begin with a slightly modified version of the body?



“When I arrived in Portland, I discovered that my firm’s $4.5M Oregon Project—our highest profile product launch in a decade—was overstaffed and wallowing in confused directives from headquarters in Chicago. I quickly surveyed the situation and began to create support for change…”

In this case, approximately 70 words are saved, and the reader is immediately thrust into the middle of the story, learning how the writer jumped into the project and ultimately saved the day. Although the “non-introduction” introduction should not be used for every essay, it can be a valuable tool when applied with discretion.



In addition, applicants should consider how to assert a sense of ownership in their essays. Many business school candidates unwittingly begin with platitudes—obvious or trite remarks written as though they were original. For example, when responding to the essay question, “Tell us about a time when you made a difficult decision,” an applicant might mistakenly write the following:

“Managers constantly face difficult decisions. Still, everyone hates indecision.”

The applicant does not “own” this idea and cannot lay claim to this statement. A simple alternative would be to insert their personal experience and viewpoint into the sentence:

“I found myself back in the boardroom with Steve, anticipating that yet again, he would change his mind on the mbaMission file.”

By discussing your personal and unique experiences, you demonstrate ownership of your story while engaging your reader. Avoiding platitudes and generalities—and ensuring that you are sharing your experience, rather than one that could belong to anyone else—is a simple but often overlooked step in creating a compelling message.
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Professor Profiles: Jonathan Knee, Columbia Business School [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Jonathan Knee, Columbia Business School

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 Jonathan Knee from Columbia Business School (CBS).

Jonathan Knee is the Michael T. Fries Professor of Professional Practice of Media and Technology at CBS and the co-director of the school’s Media and Technology Program. Knee is also still active in the private sector as a senior advisor (formerly a senior managing director) at the advisory and investment firm Evercore Partners. He is perhaps best known among CBS students for his book The Accidental Investment Banker: Inside the Decade that Transformed Wall Street (Oxford University Press, 2006) and, we are told, brings a unique perspective into the classroom by showing where entertainment and finance cross paths. In his latest book, Class Clowns: How the Smartest Investors Lost Billions in Education (Columbia Business School Publishing, 2017), Knee explores investors’ efforts in higher education. Students reported to mbaMission that his “Mergers and Acquisitions in Media” class is intense and that the course’s final presentation—made before a guest panel of practicing investors—feels like the real deal. One alumnus who took a class with Knee said the benefits of having an active advisor as a teacher were the business insight and guest speakers the professor brought into the classroom.

For more information about CBS and 16 other top-ranked business schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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Alumni Generosity and Research-to-Practice at Dartmouth Tuck [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Alumni Generosity and Research-to-Practice at Dartmouth Tuck

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth has approximately 10,500 living alumni. Although that figure may sound small compared with a larger school’s alumni base, numerous students and graduates we have interviewed report that Tuck has an active and close-knit alumni community. Through their continued involvement with the school as mentors, visiting executives, recruiting contacts, and internship providers, Tuck alumni maintain an open channel between the MBA program and the business world. The Tuck students with whom we have spoken cannot say enough about the strength of student-alumni interactions, emphasizing that the vitality of Tuck’s close-knit community endures long after graduation.

One second-year student shared that he had had pretty high expectations with regard to the school’s alumni network “but still underestimated how strong the network can be.” He explained, “The connections were instant. I received same-day responses, all the time. There is a strong pay-it-forward mentality and a genuine interest in seeing people from Tuck do well. Alums go out of their way to help with networking, job preparation, anything.”

Tuck alumni also stay connected to the school through its annual fund-raising campaign. The school reportedly boasts the highest giving rate of all U.S. MBA programs. Tuck noted that its giving rate is “more than double the average giving rate of other business schools” in an August 2015 news article on the school’s website, and in an August 2016 article, the school boasted, “More than two-thirds of Tuck’s [alumni] gave to their alma mater this year, continuing the school’s tradition of unparalleled alumni loyalty and participation.” This pattern continued in 2017, when more than two-thirds of the Tuck alumni pool donated to the school, for the 11th year in a row. In 2018, Tuck set a new record when it raised $51.3M from its alumni. In April 2018, the school launched a new capital campaign titled “The Tuck Difference: The Campaign for Tomorrow’s Wise Leaders.” The fundraiser is part of the larger university’s $3B campaign, for which Tuck has set an investment target of $250M. As of November 2019, the campaign has raised nearly $190M.

Tuck takes pride in not only its active alumni pool, but also its close-knit community and small faculty-to-student ratio. The school’s Research-to-Practice Seminars complement these characteristics and allow incoming students to quickly get acquainted with the Tuck culture. An article on the school’s Tuck Today website explained that “International Entrepreneurship” was the first of several such seminars designed to give students insight into a real-world business issue. The seminars were conceived as a key component of the school’s strategic five-year plan, called “Tuck 2012.” The courses bring together a small group of second-year students with top faculty for a “deep dive” into a specific topic. Research-to-Practice Seminars that have been offered in the past include the following:

  • “Corporate Takeovers”
  • “Deconstructing Apple”
  • “Management of Investment Portfolios”
  • “Marketing Good and Evil: Consumer Moral Judgment and Well-Being”
  • “Strategy in Innovation Ecosystems”
  • “Time in the Consumer Mind”
For more information on other defining characteristics of the MBA program at Dartmouth Tuck or one of 16 other top business schools, please check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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How to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Problems [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Analyze Your GMAT Practice Problems
With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

Did you know that, on any particular problem, roughly 80% of your learning comes after you have picked the answer? Turns out, we do not learn much while in the process of doing a problem, especially when the clock is ticking. We are just trying to remember (and use!) everything that we learned before we started working on that problem.

Afterward, though, we can take all the time we want to figure out how to get better—that is where we really learn. Did I understand what they were asking? Did I know how to do the math or reasoning necessary to get to the answer? Is there a more efficient way to do that work? Did I make any mistakes or fall into any traps? If so, which ones and why? How could I make an educated guess?

In a nutshell: if you are not spending at least as long reviewing a question as you spent doing it in the first place, then you are not maximizing your learning.

Take a look at this article: How to Analyze a Practice Problem. It contains a list of questions to ask yourself when reviewing a problem. Take note of a couple of things:

– Yes, you still ask yourself these questions even when you answer the question correctly.

– No, you do not need to ask yourself every single question for each problem you review; choose the most appropriate questions based upon how the problem went for you.

Want some examples of how to do this? Glad you asked. Below, you will find links to articles containing an analysis of a sample problem for each of the six main question types. Happy studying!

How to analyze the following:

Sentence Correction

Critical Reasoning

Reading Comprehension

Data Sufficiency

Problem Solving

Integrated Reasoning Table
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The MBA Admissions Deadline Is Approaching, and I Do Not Have My GMAT [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: The MBA Admissions Deadline Is Approaching, and I Do Not Have My GMAT Score!
With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

When business schools announce their application deadlines, I often hear from candidates who do not yet have the GMAT score they want. What to do?

First, do a little research. What kinds of scores are posted for the schools to which you plan to apply? Check their websites; most will publish scores for admitted students. If you cannot find scores for a certain program, you can try checking various MBA ranking reports (though many require you to buy the information). How far are you from the goal?

Next, consult the experts. First, talk to an admissions consultant (hint, hint, mbaMission) to gain help in deciding how far you really need to go with the GMAT. The general rule is that you would like to be at or above the average to be competitive for a certain school, but you may need to push higher (or you might get away with a lower score), depending on other aspects of your application profile. Be sure to discuss multiple scenarios: if I apply first round, can I get away with a slightly lower GMAT score? If I wait to apply second round, is the possibility of a higher GMAT score likely to make much of a difference? (Disclaimer: Of course, nobody can tell you whether you will definitely get into any particular school, just as nobody can tell you that taking the test again will definitely net you a higher score. As always, you take your chances!)

When you have an idea of your “ideal” goal score, talk to some GMAT experts to see whether your desired goal score and your time frame are reasonable, given your starting point. If someone tells me that she just scored a 600 and wants a 720 in 30 days, that person has an “expectation adjustment” conversation in her near future, because not many people would be able to raise their score by 120 points (particularly to such a high final score) in only one month.

Next, think about what resources would help you to learn better than you have in the past. Online forums? A friend who has already taken the test? A private tutor? A mix of all three? (I am not suggesting a course here, because I am assuming that we are talking about six weeks or fewer, in which case—if you are going to spend money—you might as well spend it on a tutor. That will give you much more targeted and customized help, which is crucial in such a short time frame. If you have more time, though, add “a course?” to the list of possibilities.)

You may have to make a tough choice between going for your goal score while postponing your application and lowering your goal score while sticking to your application time frame. Either way, take advantage of the expert advice out there to help you with this decision.
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How to Show Rather Than Tell and Write with Connectivity in Your MBA A [#permalink]
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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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