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mbaMission Admissions Consultant
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Convey a Confident Tone and Avoid Fawning in Your MBA Application Essa [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Convey a Confident Tone and Avoid Fawning in Your MBA Application Essays
In your MBA application essays, you must ensure that the tone you use allows the admissions committee to readily recognize your certainty and self-confidence. Being clear and direct about who you are and how you envision your future is vital. Consider these example statements:

Weak: “I now have adequate work experience and hope to pursue an MBA.”

Strong: “Through my work experience, I have gained both breadth and depth, providing me with a solid, practical foundation for pursuing my MBA.”

——

Weak: “I now want to pursue an MBA.”

Strong: “I am certain that now is the ideal time for me to pursue my MBA.”

——

Weak: “I have good quantitative skills and will succeed academically.”

Strong: “I have already mastered the quantitative skills necessary to thrive in my MBA studies.”

——

Weak: “With my MBA, I hope to establish myself as a leader.”

Strong: “I am certain that with my MBA, I will propel myself to the next levels of leadership.”

The key in all these examples is the use of language that clearly projects self-confidence. Instead of “hope,” use “will”; rather than saying you have “good” skills, show “mastery.” Although you should avoid sounding arrogant, of course, by being assertive and direct, you will inspire confidence in your reader and make a more positive impression.

Your target MBA programs certainly want to know that you identify with them. However, this does not need to be a running theme throughout your essays or application. Unless a business school explicitly requests this kind of information—for example, by asking what you are most passionate about and how that passion will positively affect the school—we generally recommend that candidates only discuss their connection with their target MBA program via their personal statements (“What are your short- and long-term goals, and how will [our school] allow you to achieve them?”).

For example, in response to a school’s question about leadership or putting knowledge into action, you would not need to discuss how the school will help you further develop your leadership skills or how you will continue to be an active learner when you are a member of the next incoming class, even though these topics reflect core values that each school embraces. Although we cannot assert this as an absolute, we find that in most cases, such statements come across as insincere or fawning—the very opposite of the effect you want.
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Wharton Team-Based Discussion 2021: What to Expect and How to Prepare [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Wharton Team-Based Discussion 2021: What to Expect and How to Prepare

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania plans to send out Round 2 interview invitations on Thursday, February 11, 2021. Once again, the school is using its team-based discussion format rather than a traditional admissions interview to evaluate its candidates.

Understandably, Wharton applicants get anxious about this atypical interview because the approach creates a very different dynamic from what one usually encounters in a one-on-one meeting—and with other applicants also in the virtual meeting room, one cannot help but feel less in control of the content and direction of the conversation. Yet despite the uncertainty, here are a few things that interviewees can expect:

  • You will need to arrive at the interview with an idea—a response to a challenge that will be presented in your interview invitation.
  • Having the best idea is much less important than how you interact with others in the group and communicate your thoughts. So while you should prepare an idea ahead of time, that is only part of what you will be evaluated on.
  • Your peers will have prepared their ideas as well. Chances are that ideas will be raised that you know little or nothing about. Do not worry! The admissions committee members are not measuring your topical expertise. Instead, they want to see how you add to the collective output of the team.
  • After the team-based discussion, you will have a short one-on-one session with someone representing Wharton’s admissions team. More than likely, you will be asked to reflect on how the team-based discussion went for you; this will require self-awareness on your part.
To give candidates the opportunity to undergo a realistic test run before experiencing the actual event, we created our Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation. Via this simulation, applicants participate anonymously with three to five other MBA candidates in an online conversation, which is moderated by two of our experienced Senior Consultants familiar with Wharton’s format and approach. All participants then receive feedback on their performance, with special focus on their interpersonal skills and communication abilities. The simulation builds confidence by highlighting your role in a team, examining how you communicate your ideas to—and within—a group of (equally talented) peers and discovering how you react when you are thrown “into the deep end” and have to swim. Our Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation allows you to test the experience so you are ready for the real thing.

The 2020-2021 Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation Round 2 schedule is as follows:

  • GROUP A – Sunday, February 14, 12 pm ET
  • GROUP B – Monday, February 15, 3 pm ET
  • GROUP C – Tuesday, February 16, 6pm ET
  • GROUP D – Wednesday, February 17, 9pm ET
  • GROUP E – Thursday, February 18, 6pm ET
  • GROUP F – Friday, February 19, 6pm ET
  • GROUP G – Saturday, February 20, 12pm ET
  • GROUP H – Saturday, February 20, 3pm ET
  • GROUP I – Sunday, February 21, 3pm ET
  • GROUP J – Sunday, February 21, 6pm ET
  • GROUP K – Monday, February 22, 9pm ET
  • GROUP L – Tuesday, February 23, 9pm ET
  • GROUP M – Wednesday, February 24, 6pm ET
To learn more or sign up for a session, visit our Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation page.
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The Financial Times Releases a Truly Global 2021 Ranking [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: The Financial Times Releases a Truly Global 2021 Ranking
As the 2020–2021 business school application season continues amid the coronavirus outbreak, some unusual MBA rankings have been released. The Economist published its 2021 full-time MBA ranking recently with a decidedly different top ten in comparison to previous years, largely a result of the lack of comparative data available. This week, the Financial Times (FT) released its 2021 global MBA ranking, based on data from more than 140 schools worldwide. Because the pandemic caused many schools and publications to suspend their data gathering in 2020, such typically prominent schools as the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School, and the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania are not included in the FT list this year.

Most of the top-ranked schools this year, however, have been included in the top ten in previous years as well: INSEAD, which has campuses in France, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, and San Francisco, is in the top spot this year compared to fourth in 2020. London Business School, which was seventh in 2020, stands at second this year. Notably, half of the schools in the top ten are located outside the United States—IESE Business School, which was 13th in 2020, is now fourth; China Europe International Business School (perhaps better known as CEIBS), was fifth in 2020 and is seventh in 2021; and HEC Paris was ninth last year and shares the seventh spot with CEIBS this time. FT has also ranked highly such U.S.-based schools as the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (third), the Yale School of Management (sharing fourth with IESE), the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University (sixth), the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University (ninth), and the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College (tenth).
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What to Do When You Have Little Time to Prepare for the GMAT [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: What to Do When You Have Little Time to Prepare for the GMAT
With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

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

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

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

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

Next, identify the practice materials you want to use. You are going to need at least one source for official practice questions (perhaps the Official Guide 2021 Edition). You are also going to need some materials that help you get better in your areas of greatest weakness—for example, if you are struggling with word problems and sentence correction, then you are going to need some test prep materials that teach those specific areas.

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

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

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

Last step: Start working! Tons of resources are available on the Manhattan Prep blog to help you in your studies.
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Professor Profiles: Gregory B. Fairchild, University of Virginia Darde [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Gregory B. Fairchild, University of Virginia Darden 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 Gregory B. Fairchild from the University of Virginia (UVA) Darden School of Business.

As an academic director for Darden’s Institute for Business in Society, Gregory B. Fairchild (MBA ’92) is charged with promoting ways in which business leadership can connect to broader societal issues. Fairchild, who is the Isidore Horween Research Professor of Business Administration, also serves as an academic director of public policy and entrepreneurship and the associate dean for Washington, DC–area initiatives. In May 2018, the University of Virginia named Fairchild the director of operations in Northern Virginia. He specializes in entrepreneurship, business strategies, and business ethics, and he researches ways to create value in underserved areas. In 2011, Virginia Business magazine included Fairchild in its “Top 25: People to Watch” feature, and in 2012, both CNN/Fortune and Poets&Quants named him one of the best business school professors in the world.

Fairchild has received a number of teaching excellence awards at Darden, including recognition as an outstanding faculty member in 2008. One alumna we interviewed called Fairchild’s classes “exhilarating” and noted that he reviews his students’ resumes and can tie someone’s background to the topic of the day. She added that he is “scarily good” at cold calls and “won’t let go until he has dug all of the facts out of you.”

For more information about Darden and 16 other top-ranked MBA schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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Career Switchers: Set Yourself Up for Success  [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Career Switchers: Set Yourself Up for Success 
Want to make a career pivot but not sure how to approach it? Looking at your MBA to transition into a new career? Career switching is possible—but your success will depend on your ability to convince your target audience that you will be able to add value to their organization. To do that, we recommend conducting significant research, developing a positive and future-focused mindset, and presenting a well-crafted career narrative.

Here are six practical steps to improve your chances of success when switching careers:

[list]
[b]Set realistic goals.[/b] Often, career switches happen in baby steps. So, consider shifting industry, function, or location—but not all three at the same time.   [/*]
[b]Become an “insider.”[/b] Read extensively about your target industry, learning about your target company’s position in the market and its products and services. Develop an opinion on key trends and players in the market.
[list]
Gain an understanding of the skills and areas of knowledge required for the job.[/*]
Gather information on the hiring process; look for evidence of other career switchers.[/*]
Identify ways to make yourself a more attractive candidate.[/*]
[/list]
[/*]
[b]Think broadly about the relevance of your background.[/b] Build a compelling career narrative without having direct work experience in your target role/industry. For example, if you are interested in consumer products, maybe you have consumer-facing experience through work in the media and entertainment or retail space. Perhaps you have direct operating or investing experience in the consumer industry. Or maybe you work in an adjacent industry, interact with a key industry vendor, or are just a devoted customer to the firm and admire its business model. 
[list]
Clarify the “why” behind your interest in the role/industry.[/*]
Identify specific examples of your ability to learn new things and adapt to new environments in order to show natural curiosity and demonstrate relevant transferrable skills.[/*]
Find themes that tie your experiences together in an authentic and genuine way.[/*]
[/list]
[/*]
[b]Build your resume with new technical skills or hands-on experience.[/b] Volunteer for work outside of your core responsibilities. Consider pursuing a pre-MBA internship or attending pre-MBA recruiting events such as ExperienceBain, McKinsey’s Early Access, and BCG Unlock. Take online certification classes. For example, if you want to be an investment banker, learn to model from [url=https://www.wallstreetprep.com/]Wall Street Prep[/url].[/*]
[b]Cultivate relationships.[/b] Invest heavily in networking to confirm your interest in the space, gather information on the recruiting process, and learn how to position yourself for success. [/*]
[b]Believe in yourself.[/b] Be persistent and diligent in your search. You may receive a lot of rejections before you achieve your goal, but learn from each of them and use them to make you an even better candidate. [/*]
[/list]
[list]
[*][/*]
[/list]
If you are interested in learning more about switching careers, check out [url=https://www.pivotmethod.com/]Jenny Blake[/url]’s book, [url=https://bit.ly/pivotbook]Pivot: The Only Move That Matters Is Your Next One[/url], or [url=https://www.drdawnoncareers.com/]Dawn Graham[/url]’s book, [url=https://www.amazon.com/Switchers-Professionals-Change-Careers-Success/dp/0814439632]Switchers: How Smart Professionals Change Careers and Seize Success[/url].
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How to Prep for Your HBS Interview the Right Way [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Prep for Your HBS Interview the Right Way
[url=https://www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/devi-vallabhaneni.jpg][img]https://www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/devi-vallabhaneni-225x300.jpg[/img][/url]
Prepare for Your HBS Interview with a Former HBS Interviewer

[b][url=https://www.mbamission.com/who-we-are/team/devi-vallabhaneni/]Devi Vallabhaneni[/url][/b], a Harvard Business School (HBS) graduate and former HBS MBA interviewer, is mbaMission’s HBS Interviewer in Residence and conducts [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/collections/services/products/hbs-in-person-intensive-interview-simulation]HBS Intensive Interview Simulations[/url][/b].

Predicting exactly what questions you will be asked in your HBS interview is impossible, given the dynamic nature of the meeting and the school’s individualized approach, but this does not mean you cannot prepare to navigate the interaction effectively and increase your chances of leaving your desired impression.

Drawing on her six years as an interviewer at HBS, Devi Vallabhaneni shares a few helpful tips on how to properly prepare for your HBS interview, what to expect, and how to answer the questions you are asked.

[b]Know what it means to prep.

[/b][b]

[/b]There is no perfect way to prepare for your HBS interview. Feedback from my clients indicates that they generally prepare multi-dimensionally.

Some people prep by writing. I have heard of applicants writing out talking points to remind them of important aspects of their stories. Make sure that what you write are indeed talking points and not full answers that you are tempted to memorize.

Some people prep by speaking in front of a mirror. This way, you can hear and see yourself answer a question. It may feel awkward at first, but this method could be an important part of your “interview practice repertoire.” However, the downside is that for some, practicing too much in front of a mirror can lead them to edit themselves too much and their answers may not come across as natural.

Some people prep by dialoguing back and forth with a friend or colleague. This helps develop the ability to answer both anticipated and unanticipated questions naturally and spontaneously. The feedback you receive from dialoguing can then be incorporated in your next mock interview.

[b]Yes, it is okay to feel nervous.[/b]

[b]

[/b]Feeling your nerves kick in is totally normal, but would you believe that every time I interviewed an HBS prospect, I was just as nervous? You might find that hard to imagine, but it is the truth! I felt like I owed each and every interviewee the courtesy of bringing my best to them, really getting to know them, and working just as hard as they had to arrive at the interview. So, know that the person on the other side of your HBS interview is eager and sincere about wanting to know the real you.

[b]You have to know your story cold.

[/b][b]

[/b]Your story should be within you, right? Well, maybe you wrote about your love of Chinese cookery in the personal section of your resume, but since then, you have not given another thought to the last cooking class you took—which, by the way, was a good story two years ago! Although I was never specifically trying to find weak spots in interviewees’ stories, I would sometimes start by asking about interests and hobbies they had listed that sounded interesting, so I just might have asked you about your Chinese cooking. Before your interview, refresh your familiarity with your entire application, even the parts you think are trivial.

[b]Learn to master the what and how.

[/b][b]

[/b]How you accomplished something is just as important as, if not more important than, what you actually accomplished. The how shows the real level of effort you had to expend to reach your end result. To me, the how also lets you share a deeper version of your story with your interviewer.

I once interviewed an applicant who had worked on a seemingly common financial transaction. Because of the regulatory and political complexity of the transaction, she had to create more than 30 different potential scenarios to anticipate and quantify the client’s next steps. In this case, the how gave me better insight into the applicant’s depth of analysis, creativity, and experience. Without that information, this project, on its face, may not have stood out to me as something meaningful. Be sure to detail the how of your achievements for your HBS interviewer so that they can better understand the rigor and impact of your experience.

[b]Give full answers.[/b]

[b]

[/b]I once asked an applicant to tell me about a growth experience he had had while studying abroad. He responded by reporting that he had learned to make his bed. I have to admit that, on the surface, this is not much of an answer. However, after a few follow-up questions, I realized that he was humbly trying to explain that he had been coddled up to that point and that he had ultimately had an awakening about independence. I wish he had proactively connected these ideas, because we ultimately spent much more time than necessary on this topic, which precluded us from fully exploring other parts of his background. Giving full answers means demonstrating the broader context of your responses and anticipating the interviewer’s potential perceptions so that you use your 30 minutes as wisely and efficiently as possible.

[b]Strive for practiced, not scripted.

[/b][b]

[/b]You worked really hard on your HBS application, which is what led to this interview opportunity. But your application probably took weeks or months to complete and required multiple revisions and edits, whereas your interview is a one-shot 30 minutes. This is why practicing your answers verbally is a great idea, but practice does not mean memorization or rehearsal.

I once interviewed a woman I later ran into on campus when she was a first-year student. While we were catching up, she told me how nervous she had been for our interview and how she had practiced by writing out bullet points and verbalizing them in front of a mirror. I still remember her interview to this day. She was natural, conversational, and in the moment. The way she had practiced enabled her to convey what was salient while still being fully present and engaged. In contrast, another candidate I interviewed responded to my every question with “I have three reasons…” or “I have three examples…,” and in most cases, his replies did not match my questions! He had memorized pre-made answers and simply recited them when given the chance to speak.

When preparing for your interview, the most important thing to avoid is memorization of the answers you prepared. It is important to be present and answer the question you are being asked and not the question you perhaps practiced. Listening is just as important as, if not more important than, responding. Think of the interview as a dialogue and a conversation, which are two-way communications, and not as a speech, which is a one-way communication. Make sure to prepare useful points and stories and practice verbalizing them before your interview, but once you are in the meeting, pay attention to the questions being asked and call on those points and stories as appropriate.

[b]Forget about the introvert-versus-extrovert factor.

[/b][b]

[/b]Prospective interviewees regularly ask me, “Am I at a disadvantage if I’m an introvert?,” and they assume the interview is better suited to—and more beneficial for—extroverts. The truth is that I have seen both be extremely successful. Shy, quiet, low-key people can be just as compelling as those who are outgoing, animated, or gregarious. I remember an interview I had with a soft-spoken individual who had intriguing manufacturing experience in a foreign country. He really blossomed when he shared his worries about that country’s upcoming elections and how the outcome might affect his company and export potential. Your HBS interviewer is much more interested in your experiences, background, values, and interests than in your personality type—so just be thoroughly you.

[b]Anticipate the interviewer’s homework.

[/b][b]

[/b]I once interviewed an HBS applicant who was working at a start-up in a foreign country. I had never heard of it, so I read up on it, including its funding structure, mission, and founding team. I even found a news report that explained that one of the funding rounds had not gone smoothly. During the interview, we got on the topic of raising money, and the candidate was shocked when I asked about one of the investors. When he asked how I knew about that investor, I explained that I had researched his start-up—not to create “gotcha” questions but to better understand his work environment. Expect your HBS interviewer to go beyond just reading through the information you included in your application. The philosophy has always been (1) to meet candidates where they are and (2) that the more we know about an interviewee beforehand, the deeper and more helpful the interview will be.

[b]Remember to enjoy the moment.

[/b][b]

[/b]I used to begin my HBS interviews by briefly introducing myself and then enthusiastically asking, “Ready to have some fun?” The candidates would look at me like I was crazy, clearly incapable of thinking the interview could possibly be fun, but by the end of our conversation, they understood what I had meant. Your interview is an opportunity to talk about yourself, your background, your goals, and your experiences—and to let your personality and style shine through. Try to loosen up and enjoy it! The 30 minutes go by really fast. By the time the interview starts, you cannot do anything more to prepare, so try to push through any nervousness you may be feeling and make the most of the experience! The HBS interview is an extremely human process for both the interviewer and the interviewee. Embrace the opportunity to engage with the school on this next level and show your readiness for its unique MBA experience.

If you feel you can benefit from targeted interview preparation, [b][url=https://www.mbamission.com/who-we-are/team/devi-vallabhaneni/]Devi Vallabhaneni[/url][/b] is conducting [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/collections/services/products/hbs-in-person-intensive-interview-simulation]HBS Intensive Interview Simulations[/url][/b] throughout the Round 2 interview season. [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/collections/services/products/hbs-in-person-intensive-interview-simulation]Click here[/url][/b] to view all the details on this offering and book your sessions today.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Must Have Botched the Interview [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Must Have Botched the Interview
Maybe you are one of the unlucky applicants on the outside looking in this year, shaking your head and struggling to understand why you were not accepted to your target MBA program. As you look back and assess where things might have gone wrong, you could end up focusing unduly on your interviews. After all, you were invited to interview but were rejected thereafter, so there must be a cause-and-effect relationship, right? Your rejection must mean that everything was at stake during those 30 to 60 minutes and that your interviewer just did not feel that you are of the caliber preferred by your target school, right? Not at all.

Bruce DelMonico, the Yale School of Management (SOM) assistant dean for admissions, explained to mbaMission that the school uses a “consensus decision-making model [in which] we all need to agree on an outcome for an applicant [to be accepted].” Each file is read multiple times. We can safely conclude that with the need for a consensus, the committee is not waiting on the interview as the determinant. Admissions officers do not make any post-interview snap judgments but rather dedicate serious thought and reflection to their decision making.

Although we have discussed this topic before, we should repeat that no simple formula exists for MBA admissions and that the evaluation process is thorough and not instinctive or reactive. Yes, a disastrous interview can certainly hurt you—but if you felt positively about your experience, you should not worry that you botched it and that this was the sole deciding factor for the admissions committee.

mbaMission offers even more interview advice in our free Interview Guides, which are available for 17 top-ranked business schools.
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Northwestern Kellogg Launches New Tech-Focused MBA Program [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Northwestern Kellogg Launches New Tech-Focused MBA Program
The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University recently announced the launch of MBAi, a new MBA program focused on technology. The program, which is a joint offering with the university’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, spans five quarters and features courses “designed for leaders operating at the nexus of business and AI [artificial intelligence]-driven technology,” according to the Kellogg website. Students also take part in a full-time summer internship and a week-long industry immersion experience at the school’s campus in San Francisco.

“Our world-class professors at Kellogg and McCormick also collaborated to develop a new catalog of courses that combines business strategy with the complex principles of emerging technologies,” Kate Smith, the school’s assistant dean of admissions and financial aid, wrote in the announcement of the new program. “This blended curriculum will deepen students’ understanding of the interdependent relationship and dialogue that exists between these disciplines,” Smith said. The curriculum will explore such themes as computational thinking for business, machine learning, and technical product management. The program opens for applications in September and welcomes applicants with four to six years of work experience, an undergraduate STEM degree or major, and technical work experience.
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Why Personalized Recommendations Matter but Some Details May Not [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Why Personalized Recommendations Matter but Some Details May Not
If your supervisor is writing your business school recommendation and you are having trouble ensuring that they are putting the proper thought and effort into it, you are not alone. Because of this asymmetry of power, junior employees can only do so much to compel their supervisor to commit the necessary time and write thoughtfully. So, before you designate your supervisor as a recommender, you must first determine how committed this person really is to helping you with your business school candidacy. In particular, your recommender needs to understand that using a single template to create identical letters for multiple business schools is not okay. Each letter must be personalized, and each MBA program’s questions must be answered using specific examples.

If your recommender intends to simply write a single letter and force it to “fit” a school’s questions or to attach a standard letter to the end of the school’s recommendation form (for example, including it in the question “Is there anything else you think the committee should know about the candidate?”), then they could be doing you a disservice. By neglecting to put the proper time and effort into your letter, your recommender is sending a very clear message to the admissions committee: “I don’t really care about this candidate.”

If you cannot convince your recommender to write a personalized letter or to respond to your target school’s individual questions using specific examples, look elsewhere. A well-written personalized letter from an interested party is always far better than a poorly written letter from your supervisor.

In addition, although details are important in recommendation letters, remember that sometimes small points in MBA applications are really just that—small points. We are often asked, “Should this be a comma or a semicolon?” and want to respond, “Please trust us that the admissions committee will not say, ‘Oh, I would have accepted this applicant if they had used a comma here, but they chose a semicolon, so DING!’” That said, we are certainly not telling you to ignore the small things. Details matter—the overall impression your application makes will depend in part on your attention to typos, font consistency, and grammar, for example—but we encourage you to make smart and reasonable decisions and move on. You can be confident that your judgment on such topics will likely be sufficient.
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Why GMAT Prep Is Like Training for a Marathon [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Why GMAT Prep Is Like Training for a Marathon
Our friends at Manhattan Prep often tell students to think of the GMAT as a long-distance race. Successful runners conquer race day through specific goals, consistent training, and mental toughness. The same holds true for successful GMAT test takers.

Setting a Goal Pace

The best runners do not just aim for completion; they set a goal pace. How do they arrive at a specific, measurable goal? Marathon runners test their abilities on shorter races (5K, 10K, half marathon) to determine an achievable goal for race day. Also, many runners are looking to beat various thresholds, such as completing a marathon in under four hours.

Similarly, if you are taking the GMAT, you should have a goal score in mind. You arrive at that goal score by taking a practice test to gauge your current proficiency and then setting a challenging but reasonable goal score. Usually that goal score also coincides with the benchmarks posted by the business schools you’re looking to attend. Having a specific goal in mind helps you develop an appropriate study plan and informs your test day strategies.

Training Consistently
The majority of a race’s outcome depends on the work you put in before you are on the race course; all the training that your legs have endured will push you across the finish line. For runners, following a consistent training plan produces the physiological changes necessary for improving their pace; it gets their bodies ready for challenges they will face on race day. Just as runners aim to train four or five days a week with a couple of rest days sprinkled in between, GMAT test takers should aim to do ~30 minutes of practice on most days and schedule longer (but not too long!) studying sessions for the weekends. Why?

Well, first off, spending long stretches of time away from test material will wipe away some of the “gains” you made in previous weeks. If two weeks have passed since you looked at a Critical Reasoning question, you will need to refresh your memory on the various types of Critical Reasoning questions and the approaches for each. Regularly exposing yourself to the material will keep you moving forward instead of having to repeat a chapter that you previously covered.

Second, consistent studying is more manageable than attempting to cram in many hours of studying on the weekend. If you are aiming to run 50 miles in a given week, trying to complete 40 of those miles over the weekend results in overtraining and perhaps even injury. Long, exhausting study sessions leave you tired and demoralized, and more importantly, mastering all the content covered during those sessions is very difficult because your brain is on overdrive. In fact, studies have shown that knowledge retention improves when students space out their study time. Shorter but more frequent study sessions also let you “sleep” on certain concepts and problems, and you will find that you are able to tackle challenging problems with greater ease if you step away from them for a day or two.

Lastly, consistent training leads to incremental improvements. Runs that felt tough two weeks ago start to feel easier because you have been training almost every day and your body is making the appropriate physiological adjustments. Jumping from a 500 to a 600 on the GMAT is impossible without making many small improvements along the way. Significant score improvements are achieved through a combination of incremental changes, such as mastering Quant topics, using alternative problem-solving strategies, and improving time management.

So open up a calendar and set a consistent study schedule. Feel free to vary things by studying in different locations, mixing topics, etc. You will feel yourself training your brain muscles, and the incremental improvements in performance will sufficiently prepare you for test day.

Preparing for the Big Day

Before race day, runners spend approximately one week “tapering.” Tapering involves reducing training volume to give your body rest, giving you that “fresh legs” feeling on race day. Staying up late the night before your test is a bad idea. Instead of frantically taking practice tests and completing problem sets during the week leading up to test day, try to taper the amount of studying so that you are well rested and “mentally fresh.”

On the big day, all runners are nervous. The runners who hit their goals manage their nerves and exhibit mental toughness. They are optimistic because they know that they have set appropriate goals and trained consistently toward those goals, and they do not let the challenges of race day get in their heads, focusing instead on producing the best outcome possible. Also, they are ready for the long haul. Instead of gassing themselves out by running too fast for the first half of the race, they conserve their energy to maintain the pace required to hit their desired finish time.

How does that translate into strategies for test day? On test day, you will be nervous and that is expected. Stay optimistic, gather confidence from all the hard work you have put into studying, trust yourself, and stay mentally resilient in the face of challenging problems. Oh, and if you manage to also have fun on test day, I am confident that you will deliver your best performance.

Manhattan Prep is one of the world’s leading test prep providers. Every one of its instructors has a 99th percentile score on the GMAT and substantial teaching experience. The result? Two decades and thousands of satisfied students. By providing an outstanding curriculum and the highest-quality instructors in the industry, it empowers students to accomplish their goals. Manhattan Prep allows you to sit in on any of its live, online GMAT classes—for free! Check out a trial class today.

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Professor Profiles: Rawi Abdelal, Harvard Business School [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Rawi Abdelal, Harvard 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 profile Rawi Abdelal from Harvard Business School (HBS).

Rawi Abdelal is the Herbert F. Johnson Professor of International Management and the director of Harvard’s Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies. In addition to teaching, he serves as a faculty associate for such groups as Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs and the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies.

His first book, National Purpose in the World Economy: Post-Soviet States in Comparative Perspective (Cornell University Press, 2001), won the 2002 Shulman Prize for outstanding monograph dealing with the international relations, foreign policy, or foreign-policy decision making of any former Soviet Union or Eastern European state. In 2016, Abdelal was granted the HBS One Harvard Faculty Fellowship, and in 2013, he received the Robert F. Greenhill Award, given to outstanding members of the HBS community who are making significant contributions to the school. Moreover, in 2004, he was awarded the Student Association’s Faculty Award for outstanding teaching in the required curriculum.

Abdelal is a student favorite, we were told by those we interviewed, because of his willingness to spend time with students outside the classroom (even those who are not in his section), explaining macroeconomic concepts that can be difficult to grasp. He is also known for incorporating unusual references from literature and popular culture into his class discussions. He has made allusions to Shakespeare, the movie Fight Club, and even rapper Jay-Z’s song “Blue Magic” to help explain complex topics.

For more information about HBS and 16 other top-ranked business schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Can Use the Same Essay for Multiple [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Can Use the Same Essay for Multiple Schools
You have poured your heart and soul into your business school applications and taken the time to craft the perfect essays. Now you are eagerly looking forward to finishing up a few more applications to your target schools. You have heard that you can expect to spend as much time on your second, third, and fourth applications combined (!) as you did on your very first one. Encouraged, you might scan your third application and think, “Oh, look—here’s a ‘failure’ question. I can just adapt the ‘mistake’ essay I wrote for my first application to answer that one!” or “There’s a question about leadership. I’ve already written an essay on that, so I can just reuse it here!”

Not so fast. First applications usually do take longer to complete than subsequent ones. However, this is not because once you have crafted several essays for one or two schools, you can then simply cut and paste them into other applications, adjust the word count a bit, change a few names here and there, and be done.

Admissions committees spend a lot of time crafting their application prompts, thinking carefully about the required word limit and about each component of the questions. They present prompts they believe will draw specific information from applicants that will then help them ascertain whether those candidates would fit well with the program. Therefore, if you simply reuse an essay you wrote for School A for your application for School B because you believe the schools’ questions are largely similar, you could easily miss an important facet of what School B is really seeking. For example, consider these two past questions:

Northwestern Kellogg: Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experiences. (600-word limit)

Dartmouth Tuck: Discuss your most meaningful leadership experience. What did you learn about your own individual strengths and weaknesses through this experience? (approximately 500 words)

Even though both essay prompts ask you to explore leadership experiences, they certainly do not ask the exact same question. Kellogg wants you to share more than one leadership experience and outline the areas you want to develop while at Kellogg. Tuck, on the other hand, asks about only one leadership experience—your most meaningful leadership experience, in particular—and wants to know what you learned about yourself as a result.

In this case, if you were to simply take your 600-word Kellogg essay, cut out 75–100 words, and then submit it as your response to Tuck’s question, the admissions committee would immediately recognize this and know that you had not taken the time to sincerely respond to the school’s prompt. Believe us, the admissions committees have seen hundreds, if not thousands, of cases in which applicants clearly submitted an essay originally intended for one school in response to another program’s question—and vice versa. Understandably, this is not the way to win them over. Although you may use the same core story for more than one application essay, always stop and examine that story from the angle proposed by your target school’s question and respond accordingly.

One simple rule will always stand you in good stead: answer the question asked.
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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 10,700 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 September 2020, the campaign has raised nearly $203M.

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 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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Finding Suitable Recommendation Writers and Ensuring Their Punctuality [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Finding Suitable Recommendation Writers and Ensuring Their Punctuality
Letters of recommendation are an important part of your overall application package—they provide the only outside information the admissions committee receives about you. One of the most stressful parts of the application process can be picking your recommender. The first question you should ask is who can write a valuable letter on my behalf?

Like many candidates, you may believe that your recommenders must have remarkable credentials and titles to impress the admissions committee. However, what is far more important is selecting individuals who can write a personal and knowledgeable letter that discusses your talents, accomplishments, personality, and potential. If senior managers at your company can only describe your work in vague and general terms, they will not help your cause. Lower-level managers who directly supervise your work, on the other hand, can often offer powerful examples of the impact you have had on your company. As a result, their letters can be far more effective.

Nonetheless, not everyone who knows you and your capabilities well will make a good recommender. For starters, you should of course feel confident that your potential recommender likes you and will write a positive letter on your behalf. As you contemplate your choices, try to gather some intelligence on your potential recommenders. Have they written letters for anyone else? Are they generous with their time with regard to employee feedback and review sessions? Will they devote the effort and time necessary to write a letter that will really shine? (See also our blog post on choosing “safe” recommenders.)

If your prospective MBA program asks for two letters of recommendation, you should generally approach two of your recent supervisors, with one ideally being your current supervisor. Your letters will have added credibility if they are written by individuals who are senior to you, because your recommenders are in evaluative positions and will not have anything to lose by critically appraising your candidacy.

As application deadlines approach, many candidates find themselves immersed in stress—busy juggling multiple essays and revising their resume. Often in the midst of all this, an alarming question suddenly springs to mind: What if my recommenders do not get their letters done by the deadline?

In our opinion, the easiest way to ensure that your recommenders complete their letters on time is to present them with your own deadline—one that is a bit earlier than the school’s—when you first ask them to provide a recommendation for you. If the application to your school of choice is due on January 15, for example, tell your recommenders that you are submitting on January 8. Incidentally, submitting your application early can be good for your sanity as well. By setting this advanced deadline, you can put some additional pressure on your recommenders on the 8th if they have not yet finished the letters, so you should still be able to submit by the school’s official deadline.

Most people work to deadlines. Alleviate unnecessary stress by setting your recommenders’ deadlines one week early, and “enjoy” the application process a little bit more.
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“Complete the Passage” Critical Reasoning Arguments on the GMAT [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: “Complete the Passage” Critical Reasoning Arguments on the GMAT
With regard to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. Manhattan Prep’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

Have you run across any “fill in the blank” Critical Reasoning (CR) questions yet? These arguments end with a long, straight line, and we are supposed to pick an answer choice that fills in that blank.

Try this example from the free question set that comes with GMATPrep:

Which of the following best completes the passage below?

People buy prestige when they buy a premium product. They want to be associated with something special. Mass-marketing techniques and price reduction strategies should not be used because ________________.

(A) affluent purchasers currently represent a shrinking portion of the population of all purchasers

(B) continued sales depend directly on the maintenance of an aura of exclusivity

(C) purchasers of premium products are concerned with the quality as well as with the price of the products

(D) expansion of the market niche to include a broader spectrum of consumers will increase profits

(E) manufacturing a premium brand is not necessarily more costly than manufacturing a standard brand of the same product

Officially, these are called “Complete the Passage” arguments. The interesting tidbit: they are NOT a separate question type! These questions fall into one of the same categories you have been studying all along; the format is just presented in this “fill in the blank” format.

Most of the time, these are actually Strengthen questions. Every now and then, you will encounter a Find the Assumption question in this format.

The real trick here is to determine the question type. If the word right before the underline is because or since (or something equivalent), then the question you are dealing with is a Strengthen question. If the argument is set up to ask you to insert a piece of information that would support the conclusion of the argument, that is a Strengthen question.

The only real variation I have seen is when the sentence leading up to the blank asks what must be true or what must be shown. In those cases, you probably have a Find the Assumption question.

Want to know how to do the GMATPrep question presented earlier in this post? I am so glad you asked! Take a look at this full article that explains how to do the question and takes you through the standard four-step process for all CR questions. The article on the Manhattan Prep blog is the first in a three-part series on CR; click the link at the end to read the second part, and so on.
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Professor Profiles: Robert Pindyck, MIT Sloan School of Management [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Robert Pindyck, MIT Sloan School of Management

Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Today, we profile Robert Pindyck from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Robert Pindyck, who is the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi Ltd Professor in Finance and Economics and a professor of applied economics at MIT Sloan, has won multiple teaching awards going back 25 years, including an MIT Sloan Outstanding Teaching Award in both 1995 and 2005, the MIT Sloan Excellence in Teaching Award in 2002, and the school’s Teacher of the Year Award in 2007. More recently, Pindyck and a fellow faculty member received the 2018 Jamieson Prize for Excellence in Teaching, described on the MIT Sloan site as “the most prestigious teaching prize offered by the School.”

Students and alumni with whom we spoke made note of Pindyck’s intense passion, which inspires his students to involve themselves ever more deeply into the material they are studying. An alumnus described Pindyck’s “tremendous authority,” which the professor balanced with “immense accessibility,” and a second-year teaching assistant in Pindyck’s “Industrial Economics [for Strategic Decisions]” course noted in a 2012 MIT Sloan Students Speak blog post that working with him was “a great learning experience.”

For more information about the MIT Sloan School of Management and 16 other top-ranked MBA schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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