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mbaMission Admissions Consultant
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Am Too Old to Get into Business Scho [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Am Too Old to Get into Business School
We at mbaMission often receive panicked phone calls from applicants in their late 20s, asking if they are too old to get into business school. Why do so many candidates have this concern?

Over the past decade or so, several top schools have declared their openness to younger candidates and have even been courting them. Harvard Business School has welcomed “direct admits” (those entering immediately after completing their undergraduate degrees) and started the 2+2 Program to encourage undergraduates to consider deferred acceptance. Chicago Booth followed suit and launched the Chicago Booth Scholars Program, which grants deferred admission to undergraduate seniors from all schools, in addition to various Early Career Candidate programs to attract candidates with one to three years of experience. Such schools as MIT Sloan and Northwestern Kellogg have also launched deferred MBA programs more recently. Although the Stanford Graduate School of Business does not publish the average age of its students, it does state that its students have an average of approximately four and a half years of work experience. So, if you are an “older” candidate at 27, 28, 29, or—dare we even write it?—30, should you even bother applying?

First of all, we must note that not all schools have jumped on the bandwagon with admitting younger candidates. Dartmouth Tuck, for example, states on its Admissions FAQ page that “in general,” it does not accept applicants with fewer than two years of work experience. The average work experience of students at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is listed as four years, with a range of one to ten—meaning that the school typically does not accept direct admits, though the school notes on its website that it does not have an official minimum work experience requirement. Michigan Ross requires that students complete their undergraduate degree before applying, meaning that college seniors are ineligible.

However, if you are focused on a school that is open to younger candidates, you should still think logically about the situation: you cannot get any younger, so you can either self-select out of the application process or let the admissions committee read your application and make its own decision. Further, applicants should not confuse an openness to younger candidates with an aversion to older candidates. If you have something special to offer, you are still in the running—no secret cutoff is in play that would immediately eliminate you from the applicant pool.

As we have written before, business schools are governed by self-interest. They want the best candidates they can get! If you are among the best, your age will not be an obstacle.
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Dealing with Long Underlines in GMAT Sentence Correction Questions [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Dealing with Long Underlines in GMAT Sentence Correction Questions
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.

Many of the more “standard” (and lower-level) Sentence Correction (SC) questions have easier-to-identify “splits,” or differences in the answer choices. For instance, answers A and B might use the word “have,” while C, D, and E use the word “has,” indicating a relatively easy-to-spot singular versus plural issue.

Sentences with longer underlines, however, are more likely to be testing such global issues as Structure, Meaning, Modifiers, and Parallelism. In these questions, large chunks of the sentence move around, the fundamental sentence structure changes, and so on. In one GMATPrep problem, for example, answer A includes the text “the brain growing in mice when placed” while answer B says “mice whose brains grow when they are placed.” This is not just a simple switch of a single word—something more complicated is happening. Take a look at this article for the full example.

To have a chance at answering these correctly, we may need to modify our standard approach to SC. In GMATPrep’s Lake Baikal problem, the entire sentence is underlined, and the answers seem to be changing completely around. Where do we even start? Click the link to try the problem and learn more about how to tackle these types of SCs. Here is another one discussing an organization called Project SETI. When you are done with this, try this third one: FCC Rates. Here, only about two-thirds of the sentence is underlined, but the sentence is unusually long.

When you are starting to feel more comfortable with those, I have an exercise for you. Pull up some long-underline Official Guide questions that you have previously completed. Cover up the original sentence and look only at the answers (in other words, if the entire sentence is not underlined, then you are going to do this exercise without actually reading the full sentence!).

Based on the differences that you see, try to articulate all of the issues that are being tested and eliminate as many answers as you can. (Note: You will not always be able to eliminate all four wrong answers; sometimes the non-underlined portion of the sentence contains some crucial information!) When you are done, look at the full thing and review the explanation to see how close you got and whether you missed anything.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Am Too Old to Get into Business Scho [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Am Too Old to Get into Business School
We at mbaMission often receive panicked phone calls from applicants in their late 20s, asking if they are too old to get into business school. Why do so many candidates have this concern?

Over the past decade or so, several top schools have declared their openness to younger candidates and have even been courting them. Harvard Business School has welcomed “direct admits” (those entering immediately after completing their undergraduate degrees) and started the 2+2 Program to encourage undergraduates to consider deferred acceptance. Chicago Booth followed suit and launched the Chicago Booth Scholars Program, which grants deferred admission to undergraduate seniors from all schools, in addition to various Early Career Candidate programs to attract candidates with one to three years of experience. Such schools as MIT Sloan and Northwestern Kellogg have also launched deferred MBA programs more recently. Although the Stanford Graduate School of Business does not publish the average age of its students, it does state that its students have an average of approximately four and a half years of work experience. So, if you are an “older” candidate at 27, 28, 29, or—dare we even write it?—30, should you even bother applying?

First of all, we must note that not all schools have jumped on the bandwagon with admitting younger candidates. Dartmouth Tuck, for example, states on its Admissions FAQ page that “in general,” it does not accept applicants with fewer than two years of work experience. The average work experience of students at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business is listed as four years, with a range of one to ten—meaning that the school typically does not accept direct admits, though the school notes on its website that it does not have an official minimum work experience requirement. Michigan Ross requires that students complete their undergraduate degree before applying, meaning that college seniors are ineligible.

However, if you are focused on a school that is open to younger candidates, you should still think logically about the situation: you cannot get any younger, so you can either self-select out of the application process or let the admissions committee read your application and make its own decision. Further, applicants should not confuse an openness to younger candidates with an aversion to older candidates. If you have something special to offer, you are still in the running—no secret cutoff is in play that would immediately eliminate you from the applicant pool.

As we have written before, business schools are governed by self-interest. They want the best candidates they can get! If you are among the best, your age will not be an obstacle.
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Start Strong and Stay Strong with Your MBA Application Essays [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Start Strong and Stay Strong with Your MBA Application Essays
When preparing personal statements that require significant information about career progress, many MBA applicants choose to discuss their accomplishments in chronological order. Although the simplicity of this approach makes it appealing, we encourage you to consider another way of showcasing your more recent and therefore potentially stronger accomplishments first. By taking this approach instead, you may capture your reader’s imagination more quickly and reduce the risk of being lost amid similar candidates.

Consider these examples: (1) a software analyst who is now a project manager managing a budget and leading a team of 20 programmers and (2) an investment banking analyst now in their third year with a company who has been sent abroad to work directly with a CFO.

The Project Manager

Chronological: “Joining ABC Technology as a software programmer, I…”

Reverse: “Scrutinizing my plan one last time, I waited to present my team’s $3.7M proposal to our client…”

The Investment Banker

Chronological: “As an investment banking analyst at Deutsche Bank, I started…”

Reverse: “Arriving in Taipei, I was admittedly nervous to finally meet the CFO of XYZ Co. and lead my firm’s due diligence process…”

In these “reverse” examples, the candidates immediately present their standout accomplishments and thrust the reader into the excitement of their stories. Although this kind of introduction is not applicable in all cases, it can be a feasible option in many. Still, in choosing this approach, candidates must be able to fluidly return to earlier moments in their career later in the essay—a task that requires creativity and skill.

Another task that requires skill is determining when to use the active voice. Many writers use the passive voice in their essays, but the best writers know it should be used only sparingly, if ever.

The passive voice puts the verb in the “wrong” place in the sentence, thereby removing the “action.” Subjects become acted upon rather than performing actions. Sentences with the passive voice typically include verb phrases such as “was” or “has been” (e.g., “it was determined,” “the project has been completed”).

Consider this example of the passive voice:

“The marathon was run despite my injury.”

In this sentence, the verb (or action) is diminished because the writer says the marathon “was run.” A better way of describing the same activity is to use the active voice, as illustrated in this example:

“I ran the marathon despite my injury.”

Here are two more examples:

Passive: “The contract was awarded to us.”

Active: “We won the contract.”

Passive: “It was decided that I would be in charge of the project.”

Active: “My boss selected me to be in charge of the project.”

Remember—you are the center and subject of your essays. The best way to tell your stories and explain your accomplishments is to make sure that you are the catalyst of the stories you tell. Using the active voice ensures that the admissions committee(s) will see you as an active person who makes things happen.
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Are You Employable in the Eyes of the Admissions Committee? [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Are You Employable in the Eyes of the Admissions Committee?
We believe that asking MBA candidates about their goals is plainly absurd, because so many students change their goals while they are in business school. Further, the pursuit of an MBA is supposed to be about career development and exploration, right? Regardless of how we feel regarding the subject, though, you must ensure that if a school asks about your goals in its essay questions or an interview, you have a compelling story about where you believe your MBA will take you. Several years ago, getting a banking job may have sounded compelling to you—are you really capable of making that transition today? Certainly, fewer jobs are available now in the real estate world—is this a likely next step for you during a prolonged real estate drought? Venture capital and private equity jobs are challenging to land even during the best of times—are you able to compete with the elite during a downturn?

These are just a few examples of questions you should honestly ask yourself. Keep in mind that not only are the admissions committees examining your story to determine what attributes you might bring to the next class, but if you are a borderline case, they may also send your profile to the career services office to help confirm whether your stated goals are realistic and if you will be difficult to place by or after graduation (i.e., whether you will hinder the school’s employment stats and thereby negatively affect its standing in the rankings). So, pay special attention to your goal statements and make sure that you can credibly stand behind them—and, as we have written in the past, even consider being prepared to discuss some alternate goals.
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Professor Profiles: Cameron Anderson, Haas School of Business [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Cameron Anderson, Haas School of Business

Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Today, we profile Cameron Anderson from the Haas School of Business at the University of California (UC), Berkeley.

Cameron Anderson, who received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 2001, came to Haas from New York University’s Stern School of Business in 2005. He has received the Earl F. Cheit Award for Excellence in Teaching at Haas seven times and was also named a Bakar Faculty Fellow in 2010. Anderson is currently the Lorraine Tyson Mitchell Chair in Leadership and Communication II as well as the Management of Organizations Group Chair

A second year described Anderson’s “Power and Politics in Organizations” course to mbaMission as “easily one of the most sought-after classes at Haas.” Another second-year student we interviewed said the class “teaches students how to gain power and influence people without formal authority” and added that Anderson “teaches applicable skills based on academic research and case studies of great leaders from history. He uses assignments to force students to uncover their own tools of influence and develop strategies for acquiring power in our immediate careers after Haas. I think his class is popular because it’s academic, directly applicable, and introspective all at once.”

For more information on the defining characteristics of the MBA program at UC Berkeley Haas or one of 16 other top business schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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How to Prepare for the Wharton Team-Based Discussion [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Prepare for the Wharton Team-Based Discussion
[url=https://i2.wp.com/www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Wharton-horizontal.jpg?ssl=1][img]https://i2.wp.com/www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/Wharton-horizontal.jpg?resize=300%2C200&ssl=1[/img][/url]

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania plans to send out Round 1 MBA interview invitations on Wednesday, October 27, 2021. Once again, the school is using its team-based discussion format rather than a traditional admissions interview to evaluate its candidates. This year, all Team-Based Discussion sessions [b][url=https://mba.wharton.upenn.edu/interview-process/]will be held virtually[/url][/b].

Understandably, Wharton MBA applicants tend to feel 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 this uncertainty, here are a few things Wharton interviewees can expect:

[list]
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 although you should prepare an idea ahead of time, your proposal is only part of what you will be evaluated on.[/*]
Your peers will have prepared ideas as well. Chances are that suggestions 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.[/*]
[/list]
[b]How to Prepare for the Wharton Team-Based Discussion[/b]
To give candidates the opportunity to experience a realistic test run before the actual event, we created our [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/wharton-team-based-discussion-simulation]Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation[/url][/b]. 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 consultants familiar with Wharton’s interview 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 experience a trial run of this important session so you will be ready for the real thing.

[b]The 2021 Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation Round 1 schedule is as follows:[/b]
[list]
GROUP A: Saturday, October 30, at 12:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP B: Sunday, October 31, at 3:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP C: Tuesday, November 2, at 6:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP D: Thursday, November 4, at 9:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP E: Friday, November 5, at 3:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP F: Saturday, November 6, at 10:30 a.m. ET [/*]
GROUP G: Saturday, November 6, at 3:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP H: Sunday, November 7, at 12:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP I: Sunday, November 7, at 3:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP J: Monday, November 8, at 6:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP K: Tuesday, November 9, at 3:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP L: Wednesday, November 10, at 6:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP M: Wednesday, November 10, at 9:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP N: Thursday, November 11, at 12:00 p.m. ET [/*]
GROUP O: Saturday, November 13, at 12:00 p.m. ET [/*]
[/list]
To learn more or sign up for a session, visit our [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/wharton-team-based-discussion-simulation]Wharton Team-Based Discussion Simulation[/url][/b] page.
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MBAs for Professionals at Villanova School of Business and Krannert Sc [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBAs for Professionals at Villanova School of Business and Krannert School of Management
With a satellite campus in Center City, Philadelphia, the Villanova School of Business (VSB) at Villanova University specializes in part-time programs for working professionals, allowing them to enjoy the benefits of a full-time curriculum without leaving their job. In this vein, the school offers an accelerated, two-year, part-time Fast Track degree option, for which students meet twice a week, as well as the more customizable Flex Track degree option, which typically takes three years to complete and accommodates varying course loads.

One advantage of the accelerated option is the opportunity to partake in the school’s three-part capstone project, which includes the “Social Enterprise Consulting Practicum,” “Global Practicum,” and “Global Strategic Management” courses—each lasting 14 weeks. In the “Social Enterprise Consulting Practicum,” students work with local nonprofit organizations to identify strategies in such areas as branding, funding, and membership retention. Alternatively, the latter two courses entail working with a multinational corporation to gain firsthand experience analyzing market issues. VSB also hosts a variety of elective international immersion courses, through which students may travel abroad over winter break or during the summer.

Another option for professionals is Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, whose two executive MBA programs focus on helping professionals gain their advanced business degrees while maintaining a career. Students can select the traditional executive MBA program, which features six residencies at Krannert and one abroad, or the IMM Global Executive MBA program, during which students are divided into cohorts and take part in residencies in each of the six IMM partner schools (including Krannert). Locations for the residencies include Brazil, China, and Italy. Both of these executive MBA programs take place over the course of 19 months and include online learning modules in addition to in-person studies.
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Multidimensional Brainstorming for Your MBA Application Essays [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Multidimensional Brainstorming for Your MBA Application Essays
We at mbaMission often tell candidates, “You cannot turn a bad idea into a good essay.” We insist on taking our clients through a lengthy brainstorming process—starting with a thorough questionnaire—to discover the stories that make them distinct. As you uncover your stories, consider each one from as many different angles as possible. Doing so will not only help ensure you understand the various “weapons in your arsenal” but also provide you with maximum flexibility, considering that MBA admissions committees ask questions that vary dramatically from school to school.

For example, an experience coaching a baseball team at an underfunded high school may have multiple dimensions, such as the following:

  • Creatively motivating an underachieving team and changing attitudes, despite losses
  • Initiating and leading fund-raising efforts so that each player could afford proper equipment
  • Mentoring struggling players and seeing an improvement in their on-field performance
  • Helping a player deal with a family issue off the field
  • Recruiting other coaches and then working to improve a team’s on-field performance
These are just a few of the stories that could be gleaned through brainstorming, proving that considering your experiences from various angles can help you discover multiple unique approaches to your essays.

In addition, many MBA candidates—whether they work as bankers or lawyers, in internal corporate finance or corporate strategy—feel they must tell a “deal story” in their application essays. Although discussing a deal can be a good idea, what is vital is showing your distinct impact on the deal in question. You are the central character, not the deal. A straightforward story about how you dutifully completed your work and steadily supported others as a deal became a reality will not likely be very compelling. Further, the important thing is that the admissions committee gain insight into your personality, not your spreadsheets.

Ask yourself the following questions to ensure your story is truly about you:

  • What did you do that was beyond expectations for your role? Did you grow into additional responsibilities at a crucial time?
  • Did any particular interactions take place in which you used your personality to change the dynamic, thereby ensuring the deal’s progress or success?
  • Did you need to take a principled stand at any moment or speak out on behalf of a needful party?
  • Did you help others overcome any corporate or international cultural barriers?
These questions can get you started, but the point remains: do not simply offer any deal; instead, provide insight into your deal.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Should Worry Because My Coworker Is [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Should Worry Because My Coworker Is Also Applying
You look around your office and think to yourself: “I wish my coworker were not applying to the same school as I am. They can’t take two people who sit at the same desk. Also, their GPA is 0.15 higher!” On the surface, this reasoning may seem logical, and it can thus cause anxiety for some candidates—especially for those who are in positions for which an MBA is virtually a “must have” to move forward, such as in consulting and banking.

However—not to worry—this thinking has two significant flaws:

  • You are not the same candidate as the person at the desk beside you. They may have similar work experience, but you have had different interactions with team members and clients and have worked on different projects. So, you have different perspectives on your experiences and so do your recommenders. Furthermore, your work experience is only one piece of the puzzle that is your application. Even if your coworker does have a slightly higher GPA or GMAT/GRE score, you are still quite different in terms of your personal/life experiences, community/leadership activities, ability to perform during interviews, and more. Instead of worrying that the admissions committee will make an apples-to-apples comparison and cast you out, you must focus on what makes you distinct and present your best self.
  • The top schools have room for two great candidates. When we asked Harvard Business School’s (HBS’s) former admissions director whether she would accept two candidates who had worked at the same company, she quipped, “We have room for Larry and Sergei” (referencing the two founders of Google). An mbaMission consultant recalled that when she was at HBS, she had two classmates who worked on the same desk at the same private equity firm. At HBS, they ended up in the same section. Top-ranked MBA programs do not have quotas for certain firms, towns, ethnicities, etc. They just want the best candidates out there.
So, in short, as you eye that individual across the desk, try to avoid simplified comparisons. Focus on that which makes you distinct, and expect that the admissions committees will not fulfill quotas, but rather identify talent.
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Have you heard about The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management? [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Have you heard about The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management?
The Consortium is an alliance of some of the world’s leading graduate business schools and business organizations, and its aim is to enhance diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership by striving to reduce the significant underrepresentation of African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Native Americans in Member Schools’ enrollments and the ranks of global management across sectors.  As of now, The Consortium has 21 Member Schools.

The Consortium offers a streamlined application process that enables candidates who have demonstrated or supported its mission in their lives to apply to multiple Member Schools at once while also being evaluated for membership to The Consortium. Applicants who are accepted to The Consortium are granted access to exclusive events and the entire Consortium network. In addition, they are considered for a full-tuition merit scholarship to one of the Member Schools to which they have applied.

You should consider submitting your business school application(s) via The Consortium if any of the following apply to you:

  • You have a proven record of promoting inclusion at school, in your job(s), and/or in your personal life.
  • You plan to apply to one or more of The Consortium’s Member Schools.
  • You belong to one of the following underrepresented groups: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans
    • Be aware that this is not a requirement to be accepted to The Consortium, but you will nonetheless need to have a track record of supporting one or more of these target groups to be considered for Consortium membership.
  • You are a US Citizen or Permanent Resident.
To maximize your chances of being selected for Consortium membership and fellowship, you need to craft a submission that shows your commitment to the Consortium’s mission of enhancing diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership. Please read our essay analysis for The Consortium for guidance on how to approach and write the required core and membership application essays.

In addition, join us on November 3, when mbaMission I will explain The Consortium application process and provide valuable insight into how you can execute a submission that demonstrates your dedication to the organization’s mission. You can enroll here for free.
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Seven Tips for Boosting Your Odds of MBA Admission [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Seven Tips for Boosting Your Odds of MBA Admission
Tick, tock… As MBA application deadlines start approaching, many candidates wonder if there is anything they can do now to boost their chances of acceptance. The answer is… always! You can always make your candidacy stronger be it three days, three years, or—in this case—three months before you have to hit that submit button. Here are seven tips to help you.

  • Take but do not retake the GMAT. If you have not taken the GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment, then go ahead and take it. For most programs, you have no choice. If you have taken one of those tests and done great, then you are done. But if you are like most people, floating around average with a “just okay” score, there a few different options. One is to ensure you took the right test. Business schools do not care if you have taken the GMAT or the GRE, so if you have found yourself struggling with one test, try the other one. You will only know which test is right for you after you test drive both, and then decide, and then study, and then take it. Given the calendar, see if you can wrap it up by November 15, and then it is time to pivot to the rest of your application in earnest.
  • Consider taking an online course. If you are still struggling with your standardized test, then it may be time to go with the score you got and find other ways to sharpen the skills you will need for business school. For most people, this means upping their quantitative skills, and there a few great resources available. The gold standard is the HBS CORe program, which is a series of three online courses that gives you the foundation you need to be a successful business school student. However, the program takes time and is costly. Other options include the “MBA Math” course and Berkeley Extension’s “Math for Management” course. Both are just what they sound like: a course to provide math fundamentals to business school students. The admissions committee will be impressed with these new credentials and your sharpened math skills!
  • Get to know the schools. Business school applications are not just asking “Why do you want an MBA?” Rather, they are asking “Why do you want an MBA from our school?” Generally, this is where people fall down, because they do not conduct enough research on the school to make a unique connection. Therefore, they fail to show how their aspirations can only come true by attending that particular school. Quoting content from the school’s website is not enough to deliver a compelling essay, so use this time to connect with current students to better understand how the school sees itself, what students find compelling, and how you can plug that in. Doing so can be a real differentiator between your application and someone else’s.
  • Invite your recommender to coffee. The most captivating recommendations are those written by someone who considers themselves the candidate’s mentor—someone who is investing in your success and wants to do anything they can to help. In contrast, the least convincing recommenders are those who just got the call a few days ago asking them to be your recommender, even though you have not spoken to them in two years. So, if you have identified someone whom you would like to be your recommender, reach out to them now. Bring them into the process—not as someone with whom you rarely have contact, but someone who will champion your cause.
  • Do the “yuck” work now. Start filling out the actual online applications now. Position yourself so you just need to upload your essays as the final days approach. This means completing every drop-down menu, writing out short answers, and filling in all check boxes. This approach is necessary for a variety of reasons, including one that is a little creepy. The simple reason is that filling out the application takes a surprising amount of time. Also, by filling out the application, some short answer questions/mini-essays will be revealed. These mini-essays require some real crafting—the type of crafting that is done over the course of a few iterations, not 15 minutes before the deadline. Another reason to open your application sooner rather than later is because Big Brother is watching! To gauge your interest in the program, the admissions committee will take note of when you actually began the application process. If you open the application as soon as you can, it shows your firm commitment to attending. Conversely, if you open the application with just minutes to the deadline, how interested are you, really?
  • Go down some wrong roads. The one piece of your application that you have the most control over is the essay, but what makes a successful essay? Although there is no one archetype, a good place to start is being authentic, specific, and sincere. You want to tell a story that explains who you are and how you are unique. You want to tell a story that is like no one else’s and shows the admissions committee you are more than your resume. Doing so requires a lot of introspection. It requires picking up the essay and then putting it down. It requires giving your story time to marinate and even going down some wrong roads. This is a messy process, and it takes time. So, give the essay-writing process the time it needs, which means it is time to begin!
  • Start now! Whether you are just starting the business school application process or are digging into a process that has already begun, now is the time to go into overdrive. With three months to go, you have plenty of time, but you had better get moving!
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Professor Profiles: Baba Shiv, Stanford Graduate School of Business [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Baba Shiv, Stanford Graduate School of Business


Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school. However, the educational experience you will have is what is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Today, we profile Baba Shiv from the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB).

“Baba Shiv is a legend,” said a first-year GSB student with whom we spoke. Baba Shiv, the Sanwa Bank, Limited, Professor of Marketing who also teaches in the executive MBA program, received his MBA from the Indian Institute of Management and his PhD from Duke University before joining the Stanford GSB faculty in 2005. Shiv was also the Amman Mineral Faculty Fellow for the 2020–2021 academic year. Shiv’s research concentration is in the area of neuroeconomics, and he focuses his studies on the systems of the brain that lead individuals to like and want things and how those systems shape people’s decisions. His work explores self-control and why people make certain choices, even when logic tells them that those choices may not be in their best interest. During the 2020–2021 academic year, Shiv taught the elective course “Designing Solutions by Leveraging the Frinky Science of the Human Mind.”

A GSB alumni magazine article once described Shiv as “a favorite uncle who is always interested in your life and eager to talk about new, exciting ideas,” and Dan Ariely, a colleague of Shiv’s and a professor at Duke Fuqua, noted in the same article, “Shiv’s mere presence makes everything around him seem better.” A second year and Marketing Club officer told mbaMission that Shiv “tries to be a career resource for people who want to pursue marketing careers” and is “engaging and exciting to listen to. He is one of the favorite members of the whole faculty; people love him.”

For more information about the Stanford GSB and 16 other top-ranked business schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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The Dos and Don’ts of GMAT CATs, Part 2 [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: The Dos and Don’ts of GMAT CATs, Part 2
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.

What are the Dos and Don’ts to get the most out of your CATs? If you have not yet read the earlier installment of this series here, go take a look!

Most of the time, DON’T take a CAT more than once every three weeks

There are two broad modes of study: the “trying to improve” phase and the “final review” phase. Most of our study is the first phase; the final review phase kicks in for just the last couple of weeks.

During the “trying to improve” phase, taking a CAT more frequently than about every three weeks is a complete waste of time. Really! The whole point of taking the practice CAT is to figure out what needs to get better. Then, go get better! Until you have made substantial progress toward whatever issues were uncovered, taking another practice CAT is just going to tell you that you still have those same issues.

That even applies when you are trying to improve timing or stamina issues; you have other ways of addressing these issues besides taking a CAT. If quant timing is a struggle, GMAT Focus is a great “intermediate” resource from the real test makers. You can also set up longer sets of questions for yourself (in the 15- to 20-question range)—your practice sets do not have to be 37 or 41 questions for you to learn to handle the timing better. (Read this article on time management for more.)

You can practice building stamina every time you study. Figure out everything that you are going to do for the next hour or two hours. (I try to set up what I think will be three hours’ worth of work, just in case I finish faster than I think; if I do not finish, I save the rest for the next day.) Then, go for one hour without stopping—no email, no smart phone, no food, nothing. If you want to do a second hour, take a 15-minute break and go again for a second hour without stopping.

After that second hour, do take a substantial break (at least one hour, but ideally two) before you study any more that day. Making new memories is more mentally fatiguing than recalling memories (you only need to recall memories during a CAT), so do not do this exercise for more than about two hours in a row or your study will suffer.

Once you hit the “final review” phase, you can take a CAT once a week for the last couple of weeks; at this point, your goal is to solidify everything and develop your game plan.
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Consider a Part-Time MBA—or an MBA Program in Europe! [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Consider a Part-Time MBA—or an MBA Program in Europe!
We at mbaMission often receive questions about part-time MBA programs, so we thought we should offer a look at some of the pros and cons of this option.

As for the pros, the one that business school candidates cite most frequently is that the part-time MBA involves a limited opportunity cost. Unlike full-time MBA students, part-time ones do not miss out on two years of salary (and, in some cases, retirement savings) and can still earn raises and promotions while completing their studies. Furthermore, firm sponsorship seems to be more prevalent for part-time MBAs, so candidates who have this option can truly come out ahead, with a free education and continued earning throughout. Beyond the financial rationale, many part-time MBA students see an academic advantage; they can learn both in the classroom and at work and can then turn theory into practice (and vice versa) in real time, on an ongoing basis. Of course, a cynic might add that another pro is that part-time MBA programs are generally less selective. So, a candidate who may have had difficulty getting accepted to a traditional two-year program may have a better chance of gaining admission to a well-regarded school in its part-time program instead.

As for the cons, many part-time MBA candidates feel that the comparative lack of structure means that networking opportunities within the class are limited. While one part-time student could complete a school’s MBA program in two years, another might complete it in five. As a result, with candidates progressing through the program at such different paces, students will not likely see each other regularly in the same classes or at social events. In addition, in a traditional MBA environment, academics always come first; in a part-time environment, work typically comes first, and academics must come second or even third, after family. In other words, the full-time program generally involves greater intensity with regard to the classroom experience, given that it is the focal point of students’ lives. Another thing to consider is that some MBA programs do not offer their “star” faculty to part-time students—something that candidates should definitely ask about before enrolling—and offer limited access to on-grounds recruiting.

Of course, we are not trying to offer a definitive “answer” or present a bias for a particular kind of program; we are simply sharing some objective facts for candidates to consider as they make informed choices for themselves.

MBA candidates looking to broaden their business school choices could also consider European programs. Although many applicants who are competing for places at the top U.S. business schools are well aware of the strengths of the MBA programs at INSEAD and London Business School, even more options are available beyond these two, including IESEESADEOxford (Saïd), and Cambridge (Judge). These four schools in particular have been aggressively playing “catch-up” with their better-known brethren by raising funds and dedicating them to scholarships and to enhancing their global brands. Other candidates may also be aware that IMD offers a boutique MBA program with remarkable international diversity, highly regarded academics, and a strong reputation with international employers.

So, numerous options are available, and each can be explored on its own academic merit. But is earning your MBA in Europe, in itself, a good choice for you? For many applicants, the key issue is where they would like to be after completing their education. If you hope to work in Europe, these schools clearly offer an advantage over all but the top five or six U.S. schools—Harvard Business School, for example, can probably open as many doors in Europe as INSEAD can. However, if you hope to work in the States, the European schools will not provide the pipeline of opportunities that a top-ranked American school could, particularly for candidates who are targeting a niche industry or a company that is not a well-known international brand.

Still, beyond the employment picture, studying abroad offers intrinsic value. Spending two years in London, Fontainebleau, or Lausanne could certainly be its own reward.

For more information on international business schools, including INSEAD, Cambridge Judge, and IMD, check out our free mbaMission International Program Guides.
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Ten Essentials for a Successful MBA Application [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Ten Essentials for a Successful MBA Application
After reflecting on your career amid the constant shifting in today’s business landscape, you now have three letters on your mind: M. B. A. You know the degree is key to developing the foundation you need to successfully navigate the current dynamic reality of business, but what does being admitted to a top MBA program require? What are the core elements of a successful MBA application? How much time do you really need to dedicate to it? One thing is certain, you cannot pull off a successful MBA application overnight, in a week, or even in a month. An effective strategy involves ten essential elements:

1. Soul-Searching: First, you will need to do some soul-searching and ensure that you understand your personal “why” for pursuing an MBA. Business school is a transformative experience by most counts, but it also requires sacrifices, not the least of which is financial. You have to have full clarity as to why you want to earn an MBA and how it will be beneficial in achieving your future career goals. Due diligence related to your desired career path is critical to properly assessing the necessity of an MBA and what is most important to consider in narrowing your school choices.

2. Self-Reflection: Think deeply about what is most important to you in a business school. There are so many factors beyond rankings to consider! Fit is critical, and whether you genuinely feel excited about a specific school will come through in your essays and interview—and also influence your ultimate experience, should you attend. Make sure to check out mbaMission’s business school Insider’s Guides, which assess the leading MBA programs across eight key criteria: location, class size, curriculum, teaching style, academic specialization/recruitment focus, alumni base, faculties, and rankings and reputation. Carefully consider your personal learning style and what type of program would best fit your personality and overall profile.

You also need to think about your personal “tipping point.” Where do you draw the line with regard to schools you would not attend, even if admitted? This is a very personal decision; some applicants want an MBA regardless of program, whereas others will enroll only if they are admitted to a select handful of schools. The admissions process is arduous and time-consuming, so ensuring that you have carefully vetted your final application list is an important step. Leverage the expertise of mbaMission’s consultants, who can help you on this journey by pointing you in the right direction via a free consultation call or dedicated purchased time.

3. Admissions Criteria: What are the admissions committees looking for in applicants? In broad strokes, they assess candidates across three key evaluation pillars: (1) academic track record, which includes test scores (GMAT, GRE, or Executive Assessment), GPA, and the academic rigor of undergraduate major/coursework; (2) professional experience, which includes accomplishments, history of progression, value provided to places of employment, career goals, and whether an MBA is necessary to advancement or success; and (3) engagement and community, which includes activities and commitments outside of work, community contributions, and personal interests and how those have been pursued.

The admissions committee’s ultimate goal is to bring together a diverse group of individuals who will thrive in a business school setting, be active members of the study body, and reflect positively on the school in the future. They want you to be successful both while you are pursuing your degree and after you graduate and are looking for signs in your application that this will be the case. Of course, the specifics of what each school is looking for are somewhat nuanced. Leverage multiple sources to fully understand the evaluation criteria and what is most important at each program; online research, school-produced and third-party webinars, and networking are all helpful sources. Also, be sure to check out mbaMission events for helpful perspectives and insight provided by experienced admissions advisors.

4. Timeline and Process: The MBA admissions process is definitely not something that can be accomplished in a few days or even a few weeks, if you want to put your best foot forward. Make sure you understand everything involved in the process, the various elements of the application, and the ideal timeline to position yourself for success. Check out the helpful timeline provided in the mbaMission Complete Start-to-Finish MBA Admissions Guide, which offers detailed explanations of each step. Ideally, you should plan to dedicate at least six months to ensure you have adequate time to submit the absolute best representation of yourself and your potential to the admissions committee. An admissions consultant can be helpful in keeping you on track and providing accountability at each step along the way.

5. Testing: Most MBA programs require applicants to submit scores for either the GMAT, the GRE, or the Executive Assessment, though testing waivers became common during the pandemic. Testing is one of the first steps of the actual application process you should complete to help you refine your list of target schools. Your academic track record is a key element of the evaluation process and is assessed based on your test scores, along with your GPA, major, and undergraduate institution. Depending on how long you have been out of school, your natural test-taking abilities, whether English is your native language, and the test you take, you will most likely want to devote a few weeks to a few months to studying for the exam of your choice. Although test scores are only part of your overall profile, they are an important component, and depending on which schools you are applying to, you might want to take the test more than once to submit the strongest possible score.

6. Essays: The essays represent an opportunity to set yourself apart in a distinct and meaningful way and to showcase your unique experiences and perspective. They allow the admissions committees to get to know you beyond the numerical statistics. Spending sufficient time crafting your essays is critical to a successful MBA application. They can also be one of the more dreaded elements of the application for those without a natural penchant for writing, but breaking the process down into smaller steps can help alleviate stress. We recommend that you begin with a thorough brainstorming session; write down the many significant experiences you have had professionally and personally, including community service and volunteering. These stories will serve as fodder for answering essay questions and identifying themes. This step is especially important for the more open-ended questions posed by schools such as Harvard Business School and the Stanford Graduate School of Business (we even created an entire guide on writing these notoriously difficult essays!). Then, take time to draft a detailed outline for each essay to structure a logical flow and supporting points before you dive right into writing. Consider partnering with an mbaMission consultant for expert guidance on how to approach your essays and draft a compelling narrative, and read our mbaMission Brainstorming Guide and Essay Writing Guide for helpful tips.

7. Letters of Recommendation: Because they offer the admissions committee the only third-party point of view of you (outside of a potential interview), letters of recommendation are an extremely important part of your application. Do not shortchange yourself on this critical step. Spend time evaluating your options for recommenders, especially when more than one letter is required. And prepare your recommender to write an effective letter by sharing with them why you want to pursue an MBA, your career goals, and the significance of their advocacy in the admissions committee’s decision. Enable a strong endorsement by reminding them of your accomplishments and the key projects/deliverables you worked on together. Remember that your application is not considered complete until any required letters of recommendation have been received, so make sure you provide your recommender with ample time to write their letter and submit it (especially for Round 2, with application due dates typically set for just after the start of the new year!).The mbaMission Letters of Recommendation Guide offers additional tips on how to select and work with your recommenders to secure compelling letters and even includes illustrative examples.

8. Resume: Do not assume you can simply repurpose your current resume for your MBA application. A resume successfully tailored for the MBA application differs in important ways from a resume used for job seeking. Results, achievements, accomplishments—these should be the focus of your professional bullet points, not just responsibilities. Make sure you demonstrate how you added value to the organizations for which you have worked. All notable examples of leadership and community engagement should also be on your resume, including those from your undergraduate days. Keep your resume to one page with reasonable font size and margins (and make sure to follow any specific formatting directions provided by the school). Check out the mbaMission Resume Guide for annotated examples and more tips.

9. All the Extras: Completing the base application itself takes time, and it often includes several “short answer” questions. Also, some schools require video essays/responses in addition to written essays, and you will want to spend time preparing for those to ensure you come across as confident and well-spoken. If your profile includes something that requires additional explanation, or if you want to proactively address a weakness in your application and what you have done to offset it, you will want to take advantage of the optional essay (or “additional information” section) to do so. Make sure that you are completely clear on all the requirements of submitting a school’s application (these can vary by school), and leave yourself enough time to do a thorough job preparing and finalizing these additional elements.

10. Interviews: At many schools, the opportunity to interview is offered on an invitation-only basis. So, if you receive a request to interview, that is a good sign! You have worked so hard up to this point to submit a strong application, so do not put the brakes on just yet. Good interviews require practice! Make sure to read the mbaMission Interview Guide as well as any applicable school-specific interview guides as you prepare for this important meeting. Know who your potential interviewer will be and whether they will have reviewed your entire application in advance (“comprehensive” format) or will have only your resume for reference (“blind” format). Practice answering behavioral questions using the “STAR” (situation, task, action, results) framework for logical responses, with good flow and sharing your stories concisely. Make sure you can clearly articulate your career goals, why you need an MBA, why now, and also why the specific school is a good fit for you. Consider practicing with an mbaMission consultant, who can provide valuable feedback and coaching. Rehearsing your answers will give you confidence for the big day and help mitigate any natural pre-interview jitters.

So, you have submitted your application and completed your interview; now the really tough phase begins—waiting to hear if you have been accepted, waitlisted, or denied. If you find yourself on the waitlist, make sure to read the mbaMission Waitlist Guide to understand proactive steps you might consider during this ambiguous period of time.

The MBA admissions process is certainly not for the faint of heart, and it requires very careful and thorough consideration, as well as a significant dedication of time (and eventually funding). An mbaMission consultant can personally guide you through the process and provide strategic advice at every stage to help you improve your chances of being accepted at your dream school(s). Do not be deterred by the arduous work involved; plan appropriately, seek help as needed, and set your expectations accordingly. It will all be worthwhile! Almost all MBA graduates would agree that the transformative experience of attending business school and the lifelong friendships cultivated more than make up for the lengthy and challenging application process.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: You Need a 750 GMAT to Get into Busine [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: You Need a 750 GMAT to Get into Business School
We often hear MBA applicants ask some form of the following question: “Do I need a 750 to get into a top MBA program?” Although a 750 on the GMAT can certainly be helpful, it is not a prerequisite. We wanted to dispel this myth and put some who believe it at ease. Here are a few simple reasons why this is just not true:

  • The average is lower. Average GMAT scores at the top MBA programs range from approximately 700 to 730. Clearly, if the high end of the GMAT average range is 730, the schools cannot expect applicants to have a 750. That would mean that every applicant would be above average, which is not possible. Still, if a candidate’s score falls below the average, this generally places a greater burden on the other components of the individual’s application—so, for example, maybe their work experience would need to be stronger than that of other applicants, or maybe their extracurriculars would need to stand out even more. The bottom line is that mathematically speaking, many people have a GMAT score below 750.
  • Too few applicants have a 750 or higher. The top MBA programs accept thousands of applicants each application season. Only approximately 2% of GMAT test takers earn scores of 750 or higher, and some are earned by people who do not ultimately apply to business school at all, do not apply to any of the leading schools, take the test only to become GMAT instructors, pursue an EMBA or part-time MBA instead, are rejected because other aspects of their profile render them uncompetitive… and the list goes on. Basically, the top MBA programs do not receive applications from enough applicants with 750s to entirely populate their incoming class, as evidenced by the schools’ mid-80% GMAT ranges, which are typically 660–760.
  • All schools accept the GRE. Applicants do not really even need to take the GMAT anymore. Of course, if you do take the GMAT, you should strive to achieve the highest score possible. However, if the GMAT is not even required, you obviously would not need to score a 750 to be accepted.
We want to be unequivocal: 750 is a great GMAT score, and anyone who earns that score should be delighted. However, if you do not fare as well on the exam, you should still be quite hopeful and keep a positive mindset, because the admissions process is holistic.
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