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mbaMission Admissions Consultant
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How to Get into HKUST Business School: HKUST Essay Tips and Examples [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Get into HKUST Business School: HKUST Essay Tips and Examples
[url=https://i0.wp.com/www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/HKUST_Business_School_logo.png?ssl=1][img]https://i0.wp.com/www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/HKUST_Business_School_logo.png?resize=300%2C108&ssl=1[/img][/url]
The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) Business School takes a unique approach to applications essays, asking candidates to first submit an application without them. Then, if an applicant is invited to interview with the school, they must write and submit three essays. The submissions are each rather short and cover basic topics commonly seen in business school applications: one’s professional goals, why the candidate has chosen the school, and what they expect to contribute as a student there. For applicants fortunate enough to have been invited to submit these essays and in search of some guidance on doing so, please read on for our analysis of the program’s prompts.

HKUST 2022–2023 Essay Tips

[b]Tell us your mid-term and long term post-MBA career goals. (max. 50 words)[/b]
The HKUST admissions committee obviously wants just straightforward information here. With a mere 50 words, you do not have any space to waste, so focus on presenting your goals as directly and thoroughly as space will allow, and give the school what it is asking for. Ideally, the connection between your mid-term objective and your long-term one is evident and feasible. If not, provide whatever context or explanation is necessary for the admissions committee to understand your intended trajectory and why the transition from one to the other makes sense and should be attainable for you.

[b]Discuss how to achieve them through HKUST MBA. (max. 200 words)[/b]
In just 200 words, you must illustrate how you believe HKUST will help you pursue and attain the goals you introduced in your first essay. The most effective way of doing this is by demonstrating a thorough understanding of what the school offers and presenting a well-thought-out game plan for availing yourself of particular resources. To write a reasoned, nuanced essay, you must first familiarize yourself well with HKUST’s various resources, events, and extracurriculars and pinpoint those that truly pertain to you and the direction in which you hope to move. Go the extra mile in learning about the school—connect with multiple students and alumni, attend admissions events or visit the campus (if possible), read recent press releases from the program and any news stories about it published elsewhere, and check out the [b][url=https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQVWm3oqqa6cfQDC2JivNrQ]HKUST Business School’s YouTube channel[/url][/b]. This will provide the kind of in-depth insight that will show the admissions committee you are really serious about the program and are confident you belong there. Simply presenting a list of classes and clubs you think sound interesting will not suffice, and you absolutely want to avoid vague, pandering statements about how great you think the school is. You must reveal clear connections between your aspirations, what you need to achieve them (e.g., skills, experience[s], connections, exposure), and what HKUST in particular can provide that will enable you to fill those gaps.

This prompt and the first one both cover basic elements of a traditional personal statement, so we encourage you to download a free copy of our [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/personal-statement-guide]mbaMission Personal Statement Guide[/url][/b], in which we explain in more detail how to write effectively on these topics.

[b]How do you plan to enrich our MBA community during and after the MBA program? (max. 150 words)[/b]
To know how you might contribute to HKUST, you must first understand the community and environment you will be contributing to, so the in-depth research you do on the school for your second essay should serve you well here, too. Grasping exactly what and who the HKUST program truly involves, and having a profound knowledge of how it works, will be key in identifying what is unique about you viewed against this backdrop—and in highlighting what you can bring to the mix and how. 

Pay special attention to the aspects of and areas at HKUST that speak to you personally in some way, and consider social events/clubs and professional development opportunities along with course work and academic offerings. Business school is meant to be a comprehensive environment and experience beyond the areas related directly to business, and perhaps your best potential for contribution lies in one of these areas. If you have years of experience teaching, for example, you could perhaps help facilitate discussions among the students on team projects. If you have a depth of knowledge or years of experience in a particular area, whether through your job or in a personal capacity (such as being a dedicated wine aficionado), you could serve as a kind of subject matter expert for those around you in the program or even a valuable component in someone’s recruiting network. If you are particularly funny, creative, or athletic, you might be the ideal fit to lead an extracurricular group or play a significant role in a nonacademic project or event.

The broad scope of this essay prompt allows you a great amount of freedom to choose and share the information you believe is most important for the admissions committee to know about you. But with only 150 words for this submission, you will need to be forthright and not ramble or become repetitious. Focus on the elements of your personality that are most relevant to the context here—the HKUST experience—and clearly illustrate a direct connection between them and specific aspects of the MBA program. Authenticity and enthusiasm are the keys to your success with this essay.

To start your research, you can learn more about HKUST’s academic program, elective courses, location, facilities, and other key features by downloading your free copy of the [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/hkust-program-guide]mbaMission HKUST Program Guide[/url][/b].
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: My Recommenders Grammar Will Ruin My C [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: My Recommender’s Grammar Will Ruin My Chances

At mbaMission, we emphasize the need for effective written communication. Indeed, gaining admission to your target business school involves no real “trick”—earning that coveted letter of acceptance depends on your ability to tell your story in a compelling way and in your own words. But is good grammar vital to good communication? And if so, will your recommender’s bad grammar be detrimental to your chances?

We can assure you that no MBA admissions committee will reject a candidate’s application because they incorrectly used a semicolon instead of a comma. The committee is seeking to learn about you as an individual to evaluate you and your potential, both as a student at the school and in the business world after graduation. What is most important in your application is that you convey your unique stories—and ideally captivate your reader—in your own voice. Of course, you should always strive to perfect your presentation, but in the end, the quality and authenticity of your content carry more weight than your verbiage and punctuation. And if you are not a native English speaker, you can certainly be forgiven for the occasional idiosyncrasy in your expression.

This is even truer for your recommenders. The committee is not evaluating these individuals for a spot in the school’s program, so their grammar is largely irrelevant to your candidacy. And again, if your recommender is not a native English speaker, the admissions committees can be even more forgiving. The school will not penalize you for having a recommender who grew up in another country or whose English skills are not very polished for any other reason. As long as your recommender can offer anecdotes about your performance that create a strong impression about you and complement the abilities and qualities you have presented elsewhere in your application, you should be just fine. The substance of the recommendation is always what matters most.
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Less Than One Month Until HBS & GSB Deadlines! [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Less Than One Month Until HBS & GSB Deadlines!

First-round application deadlines for Harvard Business School (HBS) and the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) are less than a month away.
When you read that sentence, did your heart rate quicken? Although candidates who have been procrastinating on their applications probably felt the most anxious, even those who have been working diligently for months are probably a little nervous, too, because crafting a successful application is more of an art than a science. How can you really know that your “What matters most?” and “What more would you like us to know?” essays for these schools will be effective? So many applicants are wondering the same thing, which inspired me and my colleague at Gatehouse Admissions, Liza Weale, to write a book in which we offer our ideas for approaching these tricky essays. We also present and critique 50 successful HBS and GSB essays, annotating each one with footnotes that explain the wise and sometimes not-so-wise decisions the applicant writers made. With not even a month left, if you need inspiration—or perhaps just a reality check on your approach—we recommend picking up a copy soon! You can especially benefit from reading these essays if you are one of the following kinds of applicants:

  • The Daunted: Did you catch our reference to “wise and not-so-wise decisions”? Yes, a few of the successful candidates in our book made some questionable choices, and we even disagreed completely with a few of their approaches, but the bottom line is that all these applicants were accepted! Many candidates struggle with their essays because they believe that a “perfect” essay exists that will unlock the doors to these schools, but they have not yet been able to figure out what this magic response is. Liza and I know admissions officers and readers at both HBS and the Stanford GSB, and we can assure you that they are not looking for perfection—they understand that you are a human being, and they want to learn about who you are through your essay. Indeed, one reason we wrote this book was to show applicants that they can succeed with essays that are more real than unbelievable! So, if you are feeling daunted, reading the essay examples in our book should help reset your expectations and calm your nerves. By the end, you will understand that you need to showcase your values, rather than craft an unattainably “perfect” essay.
  • The Stifled: Maybe you just do not know where to begin. In that case, a framework can sometimes help you organize your thoughts more effectively and inspire some creativity. In our introductory chapter, we share four approaches to writing these essays—the journey, single event, mosaic, and thematic—and then illustrate them via the 50 examples that follow. We are definitely not advocating that you copy anyone’s essay, of course—that would not even work because another candidate’s approach and style will not fit you. But reading 50 successful examples should get your creative juices flowing.
  • The Dual Applicant: Although the HBS and GSB essays are similar in that they demand that you reveal character and values, beyond that, the specific prompts and the word limits are both different: 900 words for HBS and 650 words for the GSB. So, you might want to use the same base story for both schools, but you certainly cannot merely copy, paste, edit, and hope for the best! Our book features ten essays from applicants who were accepted at both HBS and Stanford, so you will be able to see the choices they made as they rewrote or refashioned and reshaped essays that were virtually identical thematically. If you are applying to both programs and are trying to find ways to adapt your core essay to each school’s prompt, our book can provide some helpful illustrations.
  • The Early Bird: As crazy as this might sound, some applicants have already finished their essays—a month early! Yes, this phenomenon is probably as rare as a Bigfoot sighting, but it does in fact happen. (We would like to meet these people and shake their hands, by the way.) And even these ambitious candidates can benefit from taking a step back and considering the essay choices that others have made. We are not suggesting that applicants who have completed their submissions need to reconsider their work and change their approaches. How could we say that without having seen those essays? But we do believe that our critiques of the decisions the candidates in our book made, along with our annotations on their essays, will provide some critical perspective that “early bird” applicants can use to tweak and improve their drafts. For example, we point out ways in which the applicants reveal humility, play against type, and destroy cliches. This is why we think our book will give you many ideas for critiquing your work.
As the clock winds down, we hope that you are feeling motivated and inspired as you continue to craft your essays—and that our guide will help you revise and hone them into your ideal submissions. If you find you still need help validating your ideas, refining your essays, and/or crafting your entire application, our consultants are standing by, ready to consult with you directly.
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How to Get into Esade Business School: ESADE Essay Tips and Examples [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Get into Esade Business School: ESADE Essay Tips and Examples
[url=https://i0.wp.com/www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Esade_logo_nuevo-1.png?ssl=1][img]https://i0.wp.com/www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/Esade_logo_nuevo-1.png?resize=180%2C180&ssl=1[/img][/url]
On its site, Esade states, “We deliberately limit the number of places on our MBA programme to ensure that your Esade Business School experience is focused and personalised. As a result, competition for places is intense.” We would add that the process of completing its application is also rather intense, considering that candidates must write multiple essays on a variety of topics, when most MBA programs have been cutting back on the number and lengths of their essays in recent years. Be ready to do a lot of brainstorming, introspection, and research—and a decent amount of writing. Read on for our full analysis of all the school’s prompts for this season.

ESADE 2022–2023 Essay Tips

[b]Are you applying to other Schools? Please provide detail of Schools and Programmes. This information is for our own records; it will not affect the Admissions Committee’s decision. Maximum 255 characters (including spaces).[/b]
This is really just a straightforward request for information, so you just need to present the information Esade wants clearly and directly, with no extraneous verbiage. As the school notes in the prompt, your response will not have any effect on your chances of being accepted (or denied), so you do not need to overthink this.

[b]Did you learn about this programme through an Alumnus recommendation? If so please provide us with the name and graduation year. Maximum 255 characters (including spaces).[/b]
This prompt is another straightforward request. Again, simply convey the information the school is seeking: the name of the alumnus or alumna, their graduation year, and perhaps which program they completed, especially if it is different from the basic full-time MBA.

[b]Which aspects have you improved on during your academic and professional career so far? Which tools or values have helped you achieve this? (Maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces)[/b]
With this question, Esade wants to know what you already bring to the table, so to speak, perhaps in part to get an idea of your potential not only in your stated area of interest but also in the other areas you might not have considered but could be just as successful. This is also a chance for you to demonstrate that you understand what is required of someone in the professional role or industry you are targeting and have the self-awareness to know which of those requirements you might already meet. Highlight the specific skills you have developed and the knowledge you have acquired that you feel represent your strengths. To fulfill the latter portion of Esade’s request, pinpoint the qualities you possess that have helped you in your development. Were you raised to be ambitious or intellectually curious, perhaps? Are you a quick learner who uses logic and deduction to intuitively master new concepts and tools? What aspects of yourself personally (whether innate characteristics or learned behaviors) have facilitated your growth?

[b]How will your background, values and non-work-related activities enhance the experience of other ESADE MBA students and add to the diverse culture we strive for at ESADE? (Note: The goal of this essay is to get a sense of who you are, rather than what you have accomplished). (Maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces)[/b]
With this essay prompt, Esade clearly wants to see evidence that you have done your research on the school’s culture and community and developed a true and thorough understanding of it. Ideally, your essay will convince the admissions committee that you are eager to take advantage of opportunities to participate and contribute, that you have thoughtfully considered your place within the school’s community at length, and that as a result, you know the value of what you can offer and have a clear vision of how this will manifest when you are an Esade student. If you hypothesize incorrectly about what you could add to the school—meaning that what you propose is just not possible there or does not align with the program’s values and culture—this will definitely not help you get in. Read student blogs, peruse discussion boards, catch up on the past year or more of the program’s press releases, spend some time on [b][url=https://www.youtube.com/c/esade]Esade’s YouTube channel[/url][/b]—these are all good places to start (or better, continue!) educating yourself about what life at the school is really like. 

By not specifying that what you discuss should relate strictly to either inside or outside the classroom, the admissions committee keeps the scope of the query broad, offering you equal opportunity to discuss ideas that relate to course work and those that are extracurricular. Perhaps, for example, you could assist in writing a case on a topic that relates to your professional background and that will be used in future classes for several years. Or maybe you have a depth of knowledge or years of professional experience in a particular business area or industry, so you could serve as a kind of subject matter expert for those around you in the program or as a valuable component in someone’s recruiting network. If you are particularly funny, creative, or athletic, you might be the ideal fit to lead an extracurricular group or play a significant role in a nonacademic project or event. Like all other application questions, this one has no “right” answer, so do not try to guess what you think the school wants to hear. Authenticity and enthusiasm are the keys to your success with this essay.

Another tool to help you gain a more thorough understanding of what the school offers is our free [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/primer-esade-program-guide]ESADE Program guide[/url][/b], which explores its curriculum, campuses, international opportunities, and other key aspects. Download your [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/primer-esade-program-guide]complimentary copy[/url][/b] today!

[b]What are your motivations in pursuing a full-time MBA at this point in your life? Describe your mid-term and long-term visions for your post-MBA career path. What is it about ESADE you think will help you reach your goals? (Maximum 3000 characters, including spaces)[/b]
Your essay response to this prompt will include several key factors of a traditional personal statement: what your post-MBA career goals are, why you need an MBA to be successful and at this particular point on your professional path, and why the school you are applying to is the right one for you. To craft an effective essay response, you will need to accomplish a few things (though not necessarily in the order we list them here). One, present your post-MBA career objectives for a few years down the road as well as in the more distant future, making sure that the connection between them makes sense. Avoid going into excessive detail about your past, but be sure to offer enough information to provide context and support for your stated goals so that the progression from one stage of your career to the next is clear and reasonable. Two, explain why an MBA is the crucial factor in your being able to attain your objectives. A good way to frame this argument is by noting the skills and experiences you need to develop via the MBA experience to be successful in your desired role/industry (thereby demonstrating your understanding of what will be required of you). Three, clarify what makes now the right time for you to earn this degree. And four, explain how being an Esade MBA student is key to achieving your goals. You need to demonstrate that you have dedicated just as much thought—or maybe even more—to why you want to study at Esade as you have to where you want to go professionally. Think carefully about what you need to learn or experience (e.g., skills, network, knowledge base) and then detail which specific resources and opportunities at Esade you believe will allow you to do so. Your goal is to convince the admissions committee that the school is the missing link between who and where you are now and who and where you envision yourself in the future.

The school’s limit of 3,000 characters (with spaces) translates into anywhere from 425 to 750 words, which is not a lot, but you can absolutely cover all the necessary points in that space with enough forethought and planning. We encourage you to download your free copy of our [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/personal-statement-guide]mbaMission Personal Statement Guide[/url][/b], which offers a detailed discussion of how to craft an effective essay response to such queries, along with multiple illustrative examples.

[b]Complete two of the following four questions or statements (Maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces)[/b]
[b]a) I am most proud of…[/b]
This essay option offers you the opportunity to offer the narrative of an outstanding or personally significant accomplishment. We emphasize “narrative” here, because you must truly describe the full nature and story of your experience—not just bluntly state the accomplishment itself. Many candidates will start their essay with a sentence that gives away their entire story, such as “I am most proud of having convinced my boss to implement a new retirement savings plan for all firm employees.” Where do you go from there? Once the story’s most important revelations have been presented, no mystery exists, so maintaining the reader’s attention becomes very difficult—as does writing the remainder of the essay!

To better set yourself apart from other candidates, consider choosing something for which your reason for feeling proud might not be immediately apparent. For example, anyone would be proud of growing revenues by a large percentage or landing a prestigious account, so these options would not reveal as much about you as a unique individual with your own style. Or, pick something about which anyone would be proud, but the reason you were proud was different from what someone might expect. As a simplified example, if you used your great-grandmother’s cookie recipe to win a baking contest, you might be proud of having beat out numerous competitors for the top prize, but you might also be proud of the win because it gave you a greater appreciation for family and ancestors, or it imbued you with confidence that then inspired you to start a small bake shop.

However, you could also take a different approach and discuss a personal characteristic or ability about which you are proud. Perhaps you take great pride in your reputation for staying calm and focused in trying situations. Or maybe you have an impressive talent or ability that not only allows you to stand out but also to give back to others in a meaningful way. Another possibility might be your unshakable commitment to a value or belief system. Whatever you choose, make sure of two things—first, that you discuss not just what you are proud of but also why, and second, that it reveals for the admissions committee more about who you are as an individual and complements the information provided in the other parts of your application.

[b]b) People may be surprised to learn that I…[/b]
Stop now and consider what the admissions officers will already know about you at this point from the other elements of your application. They will probably have read your resume and thus gotten a sense of your career path to date. Your other essays should have provided an understanding of your goals and why you want to study at Esade. The admissions committee might have had some brief glimpses into your personality through these avenues, but this essay is your overt opportunity to provide a better sense of your character.

The key word in this question is of course “surprised.” Although you certainly want to offer something unexpected, you do not want that surprise to be unpleasant. “Surprise” should not be taken to mean “shocked.” Do not think you need to totally revolutionize the admissions committee’s understanding of who you are.

Also, do not worry if you do not have something earth-shattering to reveal, such as having climbed Mount Everest or learned to build a car engine from scratch in just a month. You are not expected to knock the admissions committee of its feet—Esade just wants to get to know you better by learning about an interesting aspect of your life. Perhaps you spent a summer volunteering at a butterfly farm in Peru, helped pay your sister’s way through college, taught yourself American Sign Language just for fun, or are passionate about flamenco dancing; these are all suitable stories, and one is not necessarily better than the other. What is important is that you offer a narrative that engages the reader and showcases something new and unpredictable about yourself.

[b]c) What has your biggest challenge been and what did it help you learn about yourself?[/b]
Although this is a rather direct prompt, some candidates might shy away from choosing this option because most people do not like to admit when they have been knocked down, made mistakes, or had to struggle. But Esade wants to know that you are a real person—that you have some hard-won victories under your belt and have had to fight to some degree to get to where you are today. If you have simply been coasting along, with no cause to develop any coping mechanisms or adapt yourself in some way, we can pretty safely predict that you are not Esade material.

For this essay, you could discuss a challenge from any area of your life. It could be a professional setback or obstacle, an influential personal matter (e.g., overcoming family expectations), or a problem as narrow as difficulty developing a certain skill. The challenge you choose to highlight is not nearly as important as your ownership of it, meaning that the situation or event you discuss needs to clearly be unique to you and would not be easily applicable to multiple other candidates.

The other crucial element of this essay is demonstrating that you learned something key from the experience. Esade wants evidence that you are capable of reflecting, learning, and growing, so do not gloss over this part or offer a trite or clichéd statement as a kind of afterthought. And specifically, you must share that you learned something about yourself. So, claiming that you gained a new skill, for example, would not constitute an appropriate response. You will need to delve more deeply into how your understanding of yourself changed and clearly explain what the experience brought out in you that you had not known about yourself before. Your unique thoughts on this point can differentiate you from other applicants, and showing that you recognize how the experience or issue affected you—and has thereby contributed to the person you are today—demonstrates your self-awareness and capacity for growth.

[b]d) Which historical figure do you most identify with and why?[/b]
Although you will be discussing another person for this essay, the aspects of your chosen figure that you highlight will help convey to the Esade admissions committee who you are. We assume that you would not choose an individual who is generally regarded as an unsavory character (or worse), right? The specific qualities, values, and/or strengths you highlight in your chosen figure will reflect to some degree which characteristics you view positively (e.g., ones that are commendable, impressive, honorable, deserving of respect, appealing, worthy of emulating).

Like all application essay questions, this one does not have a “right” answer, so do not spend any time or effort trying to guess who the admissions committee wants or expects you to pick. Authenticity is key to your success with this essay, so start by thinking of people who really do resonate with you—who elicit a strong response from you in some key way. Then identify the qualities in these figures that correspond most closely with your own view of yourself and describe what kind of feelings these qualities elicit (which will help illustrate the why behind your choice). This essay is a great opportunity to share with the admissions committee aspects of your personality and profile that you have not been able to include in the other parts of your application. Focus on highlighting qualities that you feel would indicate that you are a good fit with the Esade community or that set you apart from other candidates—or ideally, both.

[b]Please, provide any additional information that you would like to bring to the attention of the Admissions Committee. This may include gaps in employment, your undergraduate record, plans to retake the GMAT or any other relevant information. (Maximum 3,000 characters, including spaces)[/b]
This essay is not explicitly noted as being optional, but the prompt certainly reads that way to us. In general, we believe applicants should use this kind of essay to explain confusing or problematic issues in their candidacy, which this prompt does indeed allow. So, if you need to, use this opportunity to address any questions the admissions committee might have about something in your profile, such as a poor grade or overall GPA, a low GMAT or GRE score, or a gap in your work experience. We encourage you to download a free copy of our [url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/mbamission-optional-essays-guide][b]mbaMission Optional Essays Guid[/b]e[/url], in which we offer detailed advice (and multiple annotated examples) on how best to approach the optional essay to mitigate any problem areas in your application.

Technically, though, ESADE leaves the door open for you to share any other information about your candidacy that you feel might be pivotal or particularly compelling. Be judicious in deciding whether the admissions committee truly needs any more input to be able to evaluate you fully and effectively. Every additional submission demands that the admissions committee do extra work on your behalf, so be absolutely sure that the added time is warranted. If you feel compelled to impart information that you believe would render your application incomplete if omitted, do so, but keep your submission concise, direct, and on point.
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Round 1 Deadlines Are Coming: Are You Ready? [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Round 1 Deadlines Are Coming: Are You Ready?

Tiktock, tiktock, tiktock…with almost exactly one month to go until the Round 1 deadlines for business school applications, many of you might be thinking, Am I really ready to apply? Will I be able to hit those deadlines?

For some, the answer might be obvious, varying from “Of course I’m ready—my applications have been done for a month!” to “Oh yeah, my business school applications. I should probably think about getting started on those.” For most, though, the answer is probably murkier.

So, here are a few things to consider as you try to decide whether to apply to business school in Round 1 or wait until Round 2 or 3.

First, have you done all the foundational things that are necessary for your application to even be considered? These include taking your required standardized tests and identifying recommenders. If you have not done either, then you might have no choice but to push your applications to Round 2.

With regard to your GRE or GMAT score, the key question is whether it is high enough to get you accepted at your target school. Although you can really never predict this for sure, the first step in figuring this out is checking what the average GMAT/GRE scores are for your desired programs. Are you above or below the average? If you are below, by how much?

I generally tell my clients that if they are 20 points below the class average at their dream school, they are going to have a tough road to hoe to get in. Admittedly, a candidate’s exam score is just one factor the admissions committee considers in its assessment; nevertheless, if your score is substantially below average, you better compensate for it in some way, perhaps by demonstrating your academic abilities in another context (e.g., highlighting that you were a straight-A math major in college) or revealing an unmatched level of community involvement (e.g., you work at your local soup kitchen every Sunday without fail).

Although some schools grant test waivers, that is neither an automatic nor a short process. And at this point, if you were to be granted a test waiver, it might not happen in time for you to apply in Round 1.

Another part of the MBA admissions process that trips people up is recommendations. My old joke about recommendations is that if you give a recommender two weeks to write a recommendation, they will write it in two weeks; if you give a recommender two months to write a recommendation, they will write it in two weeks. So, yes, you still have plenty of time for your recommender to write you a recommendation, but do you have enough time for them to write a great recommendation, a recommendation that you could have some input into (but not too much), a recommendation that is polished and shows a real commitment to you and your MBA goals? That might be harder to guarantee. And another dimension might also come into play: do you really want to press your boss to write a recommendation for you over their vacation because you failed to get your act together in time? Only you can decide.

So, if your scores are where you want them to be and your recommenders are ready to go, what else do you need to consider as MBA deadlines draw closer and closer?

How strong are your essays? Are you sure? These days, Harvard Business School can fill its class three times over with candidates of the same high caliber, so differentiating yourself from applicants who are similar to you is absolutely critical. Recognize that there is always going to be somebody who is just a little better than you: you work at consulting firm B, while they work at consulting firm A; your GPA is 3.7, while theirs is 3.8; your GMAT is 720, while theirs is 730; and so on. The most effective way to distinguish yourself is with your essays. Your essays must be unique and authentic to you. When the admissions committee reads them, they need to come away feeling that they have really gotten to know you. Your essays must clearly answer the three “whys” that the schools want to learn: Why do you need an MBA? Why now? And why do you need one from their program in particular? Frequently, that last “why” is where many applications end up lacking. Every school thinks it is different from every other school. Do your essays demonstrate that you are aware of and appreciate these differences? Can you articulate why you want to attend one program over another one? If your essays convey these crucial messages and information, then you can check that box. If not, they probably need more work.

What about the short answer questions? Consider this one from the Yale School of Management:

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

Is 250 words a short answer? Yale seems to think so. And that is just one example of the many gems you will find as you start completing your online applications. You will need to fill in information about your extracurricular activities, your career path, your most significant volunteer commitments, and other elements of your candidacy. And crafting these answers takes time. This is not something you can rush through 15 minutes before the deadline. With that in mind, do you have sufficient time left to respond to these questions effectively?

In the end, the question becomes when should you shift your focus to Round 2 rather than pushing to apply in Round 1?

First, let us provide some background. At practically every business school, the acceptance rate for Round 1 is higher than for Round 2—that is just a fact. However, what is equally true is that a great application will beat a good application every time.

So, now is the time to ask yourself very openly and honestly, Have I really done my best? Have I achieved my best possible GMAT/GRE score, or am I leaving points on the table? Are my recommenders excited for me or are they upset that they have to write my recommendation while they are at the beach? Have I taken every part of the online application seriously, even the smallest questions? Are my essays great? (Not good, but great!) Do they reflect who I really am? If your answer to each of these questions is yes, then go ahead and hit that submit button. But if not, you should pump the brakes instead.

Now consider this one last, and possibly best, indicator: how earnestly have you been reading this blog post? If you have been reading it like it was an issue of Us Weekly in the dentist’s office, just skimming through and thinking it interesting, if pretty irrelevant, then a deadline about a month from now is probably not a big deal for you. However, if you have been reading this article the way you read instructions for putting together an IKEA table—for which no detail is too small, and each is critical to the final outcome—I would guess that Round 2 might be the better choice for you.

This is when I generally tell my clients to give themselves a break, and I encourage you to do the same. Take the time you need to create the application you want, whether you ultimately submit it in Round 1 or Round 2.
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Heading South for an MBA: The University of Texas McCombs School of Bu [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Heading South for an MBA: The University of Texas McCombs School of Business and Emory University’s Goizueta Business School
The McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin, features several highlights in its MBA program that allow students to benefit from expanded opportunities for work experience (including with nonprofits), entrepreneurship, and leadership programming. For example, in the Texas McCombs Labs program, students learn marketing and supply chain skills by working hands-on for such major firms as Dell and Sam’s Club. All first-year MBA students are eligible to apply to the program, which runs through the course of one academic year.

Another notable program, the Texas Venture Labs Investment Competition, awards MBA scholarships to the winners of a start-up pitch competition, in which both admitted and prospective students can compete. The competition awards nearly $50,000 in prizes annually. In the area of nonprofit work, McCombs hosts a chapter of the Net Impact program, which affords students the chance to work on socially and environmentally responsible projects aimed at solving major societal problems.

Another Southern institution, Emory University’s Goizueta Business School—named after late Coca-Cola CEO Roberto C. Goizueta—is deeply rooted in a legacy of global business leadership. Goizueta’s MBA program offers one- and two-year formats, strives to maintain an intimate learning environment, and offers its students the benefit of being located in a significant global commercial hub. One of the program’s notable advantages has been its success in attracting recruiters. The school’s recruiting strengths seem to be reflected in its latest employment report as well—99% of the Class of 2021 received job offers within three months of graduation and accepted positions with such major companies as Amazon, Deloitte, EY, Google, Microsoft, PwC, and UPS.
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Studying for and Struggling with the GMAT: The Most Common Issues [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Studying for and Struggling with the GMAT: The Most Common Issues
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 been studying for the GMAT for a while now but find yourself struggling to lift your score? Perhaps you have some problems of which you are unaware, or you are studying in an inefficient or ineffective way.

This article includes links to a number of additional articles. If you see something that applies to your situation, follow the link!

Time Management
Almost everyone has timing problems; many people think they do not, but they are wrong. If you have been studying for a while but your score does not seem to be changing much, then one of the culprits is probably timing. Another common sign: your practice test scores fluctuate up and down.

Next, analyze your most recent practice test to see whether you have any timing problems and, if so, what they are.

Content
You may also, of course, have content problems—maybe modifiers are driving you crazy, or combinatorics.

Not all content areas have equal value. Some areas are more commonly tested than others, and those areas are obviously worth more of your time and attention. For example, modifiers are very commonly tested, but combinatorics questions are infrequent. If you are struggling with this topic, good news! Forget about it.

How do you know which areas are more or less commonly tested? This changes over time, so ask your instructor or post the question on some GMAT forums.

The test review we discussed in the time management section will also tell you your content strengths and weaknesses. Your next task is to figure out how to study in a more effective way.

How to Study
Many people do huge quantities of problems, but we are not going to memorize all these problems. If that is what you have been doing and you are struggling or taking forever, stop now!

What we want to do instead is use the current practice problems to help us learn how to think our way through future new problems. When doing GMAT-format problems, be aware that roughly 80% of your learning comes after you have finished doing the problem. Your goal here is not to do a million questions but to do a much more modest number of questions and really analyze them to death. Here is how to review GMAT practice problems.

Super-High Score Goal

What if you are going for a super-high score (730+) and find that you are stagnating? Maybe you have hit 700 but cannot get past that mark. First, do you really need such a high score? Not many schools will reject a 700-scorer for that reason.

If you are determined to push into the stratosphere, learn the differences between a 700-scorer and a 760-scorer. A super-high scorer has certain skills and habits, and you will need to learn how to develop them. Also, recognize that you might need outside help from a class or tutor to make this leap.

My Score Dropped!
Have you experienced a big score drop (more than 70 points) on a recent practice test or an official exam? I know you are disappointed, but you are not alone. Your task now is to figure out what went wrong, so that you can take steps to get back to the pre-drop level.

Something Else?
Finally, if you just cannot figure out what is holding you back, then you likely need the advice of an expert. You can get free advice on various forums (including the Manhattan Prep forums!). You could also take a class or work with a tutor—this will cost money, of course, but if you have really been banging your head against the wall for a long time, then you might decide the investment is worth it.
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How to Get into Consortium for Graduate Study in Management: Consortiu [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Get into Consortium for Graduate Study in Management: Consortium Essay Tips and Examples
[url=https://i0.wp.com/www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Consortium.png?ssl=1][img]https://i0.wp.com/www.mbamission.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/Consortium.png?resize=119%2C95&ssl=1[/img][/url]
The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management asks its applicants to provide several short essays, one of which is a very standard explanation of the candidate’s professional aspirations and motivation for pursuing an MBA. The three brief Membership Application essays are meant to reveal the applicant’s active dedication to the Consortium’s goals of inclusion and progressive diversity in higher education and the business world, not just in the future but also as an MBA student and in the past. If needed, an optional essay is available for offering clarification on any ambiguous or potential trouble areas in one’s profile. Key to all these submissions will be honesty, clarity, and enthusiasm. Read on for our full analysis of the Consortium’s essay questions for this season.

[b]Consortium [/b]2022–2023 Essay Tips

[b]Core Essay 1: Please describe your short- and long-term goals post-MBA. How has your professional experience shaped these goals and influenced your decision to pursue an MBA degree? (2,000-character limit)[/b]
[b]The first essay is required and used for admission purposes only. It provides an opportunity for you to express your strengths, attributes, experiences and other traits or abilities you believe are relevant to your educational goals and career objectives.[/b]
With this rather no-nonsense query about your expectations for where you will go with your MBA after graduating, the Consortium simply wants you to spell out what you have in mind as you approach this phase of your life and career. You have only 2,000 characters with which to respond, so avoid going into excessive detail about your past, but be sure to offer enough information to provide context and support for your stated goals so that the progression from one stage of your professional career to the next is clear and reasonable.

Although the word “why” never actually appears in this prompt, the overall query actually involves some implied “why” requests. In addition to soliciting the reasons behind your specified career aspirations, the school wants to know why you believe an MBA is the next logical step on your professional path. We believe that the crux of the prompt as a whole is that the Consortium wants to know that you have considered this next step in your career very carefully and thoroughly and are applying to business school for very clear reasons—not because you feel you are supposed to or because you are following in a parent’s footsteps, and definitely not because you do not know what else to do at this juncture in your life! (Believe it or not, these are all actual reasons some people choose to pursue an MBA.) All business schools want engaged, driven, and focused students who are ready to be an active part of the MBA experience and to do big things with the knowledge and skills they acquire from it, and this prompt is asking you to reveal yourself as such.

Because this prompt encompasses several of the core elements of a traditional personal statement essay for the most part, we encourage you to download our free [b][url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/personal-statement-guide]mbaMission Personal Statement Guide[/url][/b], which helps applicants respond to these types of questions. In short, though, the most effective way to address this query is to simply provide the information requested, though we encourage you to also try to incorporate a sense of your personality and individuality into your essay to make the delivery of these basic facts more interesting to your reader.

[b]Core Essay 2 (Optional Essay): Is there any other information you would like to share with us that is not presented elsewhere in your application? (1,000-character limit)[/b]
[b]The optional essay lets you bring additional information to the attention of the admissions committee. These may explain gaps in employment or shortcomings in your academic record, specific plans to retake the GMAT®/GRE or other relevant information. If you answer “yes” to any of the questions in the Personal Certification/Signature section, you must provide an explanation. If necessary, you may use this essay to explain your circumstances.[/b]
This optional essay question starts out sounding like an open invitation to discuss almost anything you feel like sharing, but the explanatory text dials things in a bit and puts more of a spotlight on addressing problem areas and unclear issues specifically. This is not an opportunity to simply share another cool story or otherwise try to impress or pander to the Consortium reader. If you do not truly need to explain an issue or potentially confusing element of your candidacy such as the ones listed (and have no “yes” responses in your Personal Certification section), we do not recommend that you submit an optional essay, and if you do have issues to clarify, keep things concise. In our free [url=https://shop.mbamission.com/products/mbamission-optional-essays-guide][b]mbaMission Optional Essays Guide[/b][/url], we offer detailed advice on when and how to take advantage of the optional essay, with multiple examples, to help you mitigate any problem areas in your profile.

[b]Membership Application Essays: Our mission, through the strength of our growing alliance and extended network, 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 both our Member Schools’ enrollments and the ranks of global management across the following sectors: For- profit corporations, Nonprofit corporations, Government agencies and contractors, and Entrepreneurial ventures in both for-profit and nonprofit environments.[/b]
[b]*Please address the three questions noted below. Please use specific examples pertaining to our target populations and clearly articulate your involvement, actions and results.[/b]
[b]– What have you done pre-MBA in your business, personal or academic life to demonstrate commitment to this mission? (2,000 characters)[/b]
[b]– What will you do while enrolled in your MBA program to demonstrate your commitment to the mission? (2,000 characters)[/b]
[b]– What will you do post-MBA with respect to community service and leadership involvement to demonstrate your continued commitment to The Consortium’s missions of diversity and inclusion? (1,000 characters)[/b]
Understandably, the Consortium wants to be confident that the candidates it accepts as members (and especially those to whom fellowships are granted) are individuals who are devoted to and will be effective at promoting its aims and continuing to effect positive change for the underrepresented populations it seeks to support. And these three prompts get directly to the heart of this—what have you already done, what will you do as an MBA student, and what will you do in your career after graduating that can demonstrate your commitment to championing the Consortium’s mission?

With respect to what you have already done in the past, you need to offer clear evidence of your dedication to what the Consortium is working to achieve. The past few years especially have offered numerous opportunities for people to “show up” for or act on behalf of others who are different from them—such as participating in an organized protest, speaking up or stepping in when someone was being harassed or marginalized, or actively working to bring diverse people together in a harmonious and productive way—though the longer a history of involvement you can provide, the better. The Consortium wants concrete examples of how you have acted on your values and ideals and wants to understand what compelled you to do so. Your goal is to show initiative and input in the interest of others and to make sure both your actions and motivations are readily understood so the Consortium reader gets a clear picture of what you have accomplished and the aspects of your character that have inspired and enabled you to do so. To do this, you can draw examples from your career, academic past, community endeavors or volunteer work, and/or personal life. Be sure to clearly specify, if applicable, the populations you have served (African American, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native American) rather than speaking more broadly about working with diverse groups of people.

The prompt does not specify that you must have served as a leader in the effort you are describing, though an example in which you did lead would likely be ideal if you have one. You could also share a story in which you acted completely independently. Perhaps, for example, you instituted a mentorship program at your company, in which employees with different tasks and personal backgrounds were matched to learn from and support one another. In any case, you need to be sure that both the extent and the nature of your contribution(s) are front and center.

With respect to what you will do as a business school student, examine your target programs carefully to identify existing activities, groups, and events that align with the organization’s goals. Also consider opportunities that are lacking at your selected schools that you might establish while enrolled there. Authenticity is important here. Your goal is not to simply offer a list of things you could do, based on your research, but to show where you believe you would be most useful and demonstrate your enthusiasm for those options. Only discuss ones that you truly intend to become involved in or that you at least feel strongly hold such potential. Your choices will also show the Consortium where your priorities lie within its broad goal and which skills and strengths you are prepared to commit to your efforts. We have no doubt that the Consortium evaluators can easily discern pandering or shallow claims from true passion and dedication, so be sincere in both your claims and your ardor.

And finally, with respect to what you will do after graduating, first keep in mind that the group’s mission is not just about increasing diversity and inclusion in the workforce but also “in global business education.” So, bringing greater numbers of underrepresented individuals into the MBA and other higher-education realms is just as valid as the focus of your anticipated efforts as increasing their numbers in the business world. And these efforts could target or involve potential candidates, the schools, the Consortium itself (e.g., participating in local events or orientation activities), or even other organizations like it. So again, dig deep to uncover the areas and opportunities that resonate most with you—that genuinely match what you feel is important to focus on, what you believe you can offer, and what you will be inspired to engage in wholeheartedly.  

The character length maximums for these three prompts are fairly restrictive, giving you roughly 300 to 500 words for each of the first two essay sections and approximately one-half of that for the third. So, you do not have room for subtlety or extended explanations. Choose your words carefully and focus on conveying your core messages as clearly and directly as possible.

[b]Are you considering applying to business school via the Consortium for Graduate Study in Management? Join us on Wednesday, August 24, 2022, as Senior Consultant Nisha Trivedi explains the Consortium application process and provides valuable insights into how to execute a submission that shows your commitment to the Consortium’s mission of enhancing diversity and inclusion in global business education and leadership. [url=https://www.kaptest.com/class/MB1MP22008]Enroll for free today![/url] [/b]
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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 22 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 tips for The Consortium for guidance on how to approach and write the required core and membership application essays.

In addition, join us on August 24, when 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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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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Round 1 vs. Round 2 vs. Round 3: When Should I Apply? [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Round 1 vs. Round 2 vs. Round 3: When Should I Apply?
At most top business schools, aspiring MBAs apply in one of three application rounds: Round 1 in September or October, Round 2 in January, and Round 3 in March or April. As an applicant, you might be wondering, When is the ideal time for me to apply?



Round 1 is generally considered the best one in which to apply. The schools’ classes are wide open, and the admissions officers have fresh eyes—no application fatigue from reading thousands of applications just yet. Applying in the first round also emphasizes your interest in the program. You are showing the admissions committee that you are committed and really want to be admitted to their school. Round 1 is also particularly beneficial for candidates from overrepresented groups, such as consultants and private equity applicants. Because the programs can accept only a certain number of applicants from these crowded pools, anyone in these groups will want to grab their place in the class before the schools no longer have the flexibility to make them an admissions offer.

Does that mean you should throw in the towel after Round 1, then? Absolutely not. Most MBA programs actually admit the most applicants in Round 2. So, if you are a very strong applicant in Round 1, you should be just fine in Round 2, when the dynamic changes imperceptibly but not that substantially. And if you can use the time leading up to Round 2 to improve your profile in a meaningful way—such as by pushing your tests scores up significantly or earning a promotion—then waiting to submit until then can be very much worthwhile.

What about Round 3, or the last round for those MBA programs that have four rounds? This final round is what most schools refer to as a “shaping” round. The admissions committee has given out many offers by this point and is starting to see how the class is taking shape. So when Round 3 comes around, they might say, for example, “We need a few more countries represented. Be on the lookout for international candidates!” or “We usually have a higher number of women in our class. Let’s take steps to balance out the class in this round.” While an absolutely remarkable applicant can get accepted in any round, Round 3 is almost never the right time for an overrepresented candidate to apply. The final round is really for applicants who can help the admissions officers create a diverse class or who offer unique professional experience (e.g., an ER doctor) that might otherwise be lacking.

One last round to mention is Early Decision, which is not broadly used in MBA admissions but is available at a few top programs, including Columbia Business School, Duke Fuqua, and UVA Darden. Early Decision is a way to get preferred consideration and to know your outcome much earlier in the process, but it comes with a nonrefundable financial commitment. Plus, if you are accepted, you must rescind all your applications to other schools. So, if your target school offers Early Decision, make sure that you are 100% certain you want to commit to that program before you decide to apply in that round.

To view the upcoming application deadlines for approximately 30 top domestic and international MBA programs, you can visit our deadlines page here. And if you have any questions about which round you should apply in, we encourage you take advantage of our free, 30-minute consultation to discuss your options with one of our experts.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Title Trumps All [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: Title Trumps All
In the past, we have addressed (and debunked!) the myth that you must personally know alumni from the top MBA programs to gain acceptance into those schools. Another admissions myth that is somewhat similar—in that it pertains to who you know instead of who you are—is that your recommendation must be written by someone with a flashy title. Each year, many candidates will persuade either someone from outside their workplace (e.g., a congressperson) or an insider who does not know their work all that well (e.g., a managing director or CEO) to write a recommendation on their behalf.

Unfortunately, when you obtain a recommendation from someone because of their title and not because that person actually knows you and your work, the result is a vague endorsement. Consequently, the admissions committee will not get to know you better through this individual’s recommendation letter, and this undermines the very purpose of recommendations. Even if you can educate someone far above you in the corporate hierarchy about your achievements and that person can write a seemingly personal letter, it still will not make sense that a CEO, for example, knows what you—one of hundreds of employees—are doing on a daily basis. So, the intimacy of this person’s letter just might seem absurd. Of course, if your CEO does actually know you and can write a personal letter that makes a logical connection between your position and theirs, that could be helpful.

Rather than focusing on titles when considering possible sources for your recommendations, strive to identify an individual who knows you well and can write about your strengths—and even your weaknesses—with sincerity. If your supervisor has a less than impressive title, this will not reflect negatively on you; what will matter is what they write about you. If that person can discuss your performance while providing powerful examples of standout achievements, they will help you to the fullest.
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How to Approach Quantitative Comparison Questions in the GRE [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Approach Quantitative Comparison Questions in the GRE
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.

If you are taking the GRE instead of the GMAT, you will have to deal with the GRE’s “weird” question type: Quantitative Comparison (QC). What are these questions, and how do we handle them?

What is Quantitative Comparison?

The GRE and the GMAT really are not math tests, all evidence to the contrary. These tests are actually trying to test us on our “executive reasoning” skills—that is, how well we make decisions and prioritize when faced with too many things to do in too little time.

So QC questions are really about quickly analyzing some information and figuring out a relationship between two quantities. If we label the two quantities A and B, we have four possibilities:

(A) Quantity A is always bigger than Quantity B.

(B) Quantity B is always bigger than Quantity A.

(C) The two quantities are always equal.

(D) I cannot tell, or there is not an “always” relationship; maybe sometimes A is bigger and sometimes B is bigger, or sometimes A is bigger and sometimes they are equal.

We do, of course, have to do some math—and sometimes that math is quite annoying. We usually do not, however, have to do as much as we usually do on regular “problem solving” questions (the normal Quant questions).

How does Quantitative Comparison work?

First, the question is always the same: figure out the “always” relationship, if there is one (in which case the answer is A, B, or C), or figure out that there is not an “always” relationship, in which case the answer is D.

Some QC questions will provide us with “givens”—information that must be true and that we will need to use when answering the question. For example, a problem might read as follows:

x > 0

So now I know that x is positive. Is it an integer? Maybe. But it could also be a fraction or decimal, as long as that value is positive.

Next, the problem will give us two columns with their own pieces of information. For example:

Quantity A                                          Quantity B

x = 3                                                      x2-9 = 0

We do not have to do anything with Quantity A; it already tells us what x is. What about Quantity B? Solve:

(x+3)(x-3) = 0

x = -3, x = 3

It seems like the answer should be D, right? Sometimes Quantity A is bigger and sometimes they are the same. Do not forget about our “given,” though! We are only supposed to use positive values for x, so we can ignore x = -3 for Quantity B. Both quantities are always equal, so the answer is C. 

Okay, these are weird. How do I get better?

These are going to take some practice, yes. In addition, this was only a very short introduction; a ton of great strategies are out there that you can learn. Look for books, articles, classes, and other resources to help. (Here is one to get you started.)

You also, of course, have to learn a bunch of math. What we have presented here, though, should help you get started on this kind-of-bizarre question type in the first place!
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Professor Profiles: Roberto Rigobon, MIT Sloan School of Management [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Roberto Rigobon, 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 focus on Roberto Rigobon from the MIT Sloan School of Management.

Roberto Rigobon, the Society of Sloan Fellows Professor of Management and a professor of applied economics, specializes in international economics, monetary economics, and development economics. At an awards ceremony in 2005, Sloan students described him as someone who “epitomized the fine line between madness and genius.” Other award-related descriptions of Rigobon refer to him as “serious but hilarious,” “crazy and brilliant,” and “high energy.”

Rigobon teaches the reportedly very popular “Applied Macro and International Economics” course, which is said to be often taken by up to 30% of Sloan students at a time. He has won numerous teaching awards during his time at Sloan (including the school’s Excellence in Teaching Award in 2000, 2003, and 2005, and Teacher of the Year in 1999, 2002, and 2004) and is primarily recognized for his accessibility. As one second-year student blogged, “The door to his office was always open.”

For more information about MIT Sloan and 16 other top-ranked business schools, check out our free mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Have to Write the Optional Essay [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA Admissions Myths Destroyed: I Have to Write the Optional Essay
In the past, we have discussed how challenging competing against a faceless mass of fellow applicants can be and how disadvantaged people can feel if they do not seize every opportunity to do so. Although we want you to make the most of every possible chance to set yourself apart, you also need to be judicious in choosing those opportunities. Some can actually work against you and thereby turn into negatives. Allow us to elaborate…

Not every applicant needs to write the optional essay, and by neglecting to write it, you are not putting yourself at any kind of disadvantage. This extra essay is an opportunity for you to discuss problems that the admissions committee will likely notice in your profile, and it can allow you to “get ahead of the scandal,” so to speak. So, if you earned an F grade, had a bad semester in college, received a low GMAT score, or have been dismissed from a position, the optional essay will allow you to proactively address and explain the issue. Similarly, if you are applying with a partner, and the admissions committee may not be aware of this, you could use the optional essay to inform them of this relevant and potentially interesting information.

MBA candidates have many reasons for writing the optional essay, but you should absolutely not feel that you must write one. If you have nothing to explain and have generally performed well, do not use this opportunity to submit an essay from a different school just to fill the space or write a new essay repackaging your strengths. If you have nothing new or important to share, you are in an advantageous position and should take a step back and appreciate it, rather than fretting.

For more information about optional essays, check out our free mbaMission Optional Essays Guide.
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GMAT vs. GRE vs. EA: Which Test Should You Take? And What Is a Competi [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: GMAT vs. GRE vs. EA: Which Test Should You Take? And What Is a Competitive Score?
At the beginning of your MBA application journey, you might hit a common fork in the road: which exam should you take—the GMAT, GRE, or possibly even the Executive Assessment (EA)? In this post, we outline the differences and similarities among these exams, help you determine which test to take, and discuss what a competitive score is for each one.

Test Basics – Comparing the Exams
All three exams test roughly the same quant facts, rules, and skills. The GMAT and EA are more likely to write questions in a way that tests your number sense and ability to think logically about quant concepts. Quant questions on the GRE tend to be more textbook-like math. The exams also differ in some ways with respect to question frequency. For instance, the GRE generally has more geometry than the GMAT. On the verbal side, the GRE tests vocabulary, while the GMAT and EA test grammar. They are all currently offered both in testing centers and online, and you will have to grapple with time management issues across the board. In addition, all three exams are adaptive, meaning that the questions will actually become easier or more difficult depending on how well you are doing as you take it.

GMAT
GRE
EA

Time
187 minutes
225 minutes
90 minutes

Format
Adaptive
Adaptive
Adaptive

Number of Questions
80
42
40

Essay Questions?
Yes
Yes
No

Highest Possible Score
800
170 Quant/170 Verbal
200

Offered Online?
Yes
Yes
Yes

Cost
$275
$205–$231.30
$350

Deciding Which Exam to Take
Virtually all business schools accept the GMAT and the GRE. The EA was originally created for executive MBA programs, but now some full-time MBA and specialized master’s programs also accept it as well. We expect the list of schools that do so to grow each year.

For now, all top business schools treat the GMAT and GRE as equal; the programs have no preference for one over the other. However, business schools are “protective” of their GMAT averages because having a high average score gives them bragging rights, and the statistic even factors into some rankings. So, if you are a natural test taker and think you could score well enough on the GMAT to help lift an MBA program’s GMAT average, you might want to start with that exam. It could give you a small advantage in the admissions process. Alternatively, if you are not a strong test taker, you might want to avoid the GMAT because you could risk bringing down your target program’s average. Instead, pursue the GRE. Most top programs are, on a relative basis, less concerned with protecting their average GRE scores. Still, you should strive to perform near their GRE averages if they are published.

Because the EA is accepted by the smallest number of schools, you will want to first check whether your target program accepts it before making plans to take that exam. If a school you are interested in does not accept the EA for its full-time program, you will have to focus on the GMAT or GRE instead. If the school does accept the EA, know that it offers some pretty great advantages—it is a shorter exam, and for now, at least, EA scores are not typically being reported by the schools and are not factored into a school’s averages like the GMAT and GRE are. So, you only need to earn a “good enough” score, which we will discuss in more detail later in this post.

So, if your target MBA programs accept all three exams, how do you decide which one would be best for you? Take a practice exam for each and see how you do. Make sure you take the tests at least a few days apart, if not a full week, so you are not burnt out. Afterward, think about which exam felt the easiest for you and which you performed the best on. That is the one you should focus on to start, keeping in mind that you can always change to a different one later if you want or need to.

One thing to note is that if you tend to experience significant performance anxiety on standardized tests, you might find the GRE and EA less stressful than the GMAT. On these tests, you can move around among a small block of questions and decide the order in which you want to answer them, but on the GMAT, you must answer each question in the order in which it appears. So, the flexibility of the GRE and EA can make them a bit less intimidating for some candidates.

Whichever test you choose to take, give yourself three to six months to study. Our partners at Manhattan Prep, Powered by Kaplan, have some great, high-quality study materials, courses, and private tutoring you can access for the GMAT, GRE, and EA.

What Is a Competitive Score on the GMAT, GRE, and EA?
As we have noted, most schools publish the average or median GMAT and/or GRE scores for their students. At a minimum, you want your test scores to at least be within the school’s 80% range, if they publish that range, but you should ideally strive to match or exceed the school’s average. For most top business schools, this would be a score of 700–730 on the GMAT and of 160–165V and 160–165Q on the GRE.

MBA programs also pay attention to subscores, and what they want to see can differ from applicant to applicant. For example, if your current job does not focus on quant topics and you did not take quant-based classes as an undergraduate, the admissions committees will use your quant score to gauge whether you seem ready to handle the quant-focused courses you will need to take in business school. Generally speaking, a 45-46Q GMAT subscore or a 163Q GRE subscore is enough to establish your quantitative competencies.

Or perhaps English is not your first language and you did not complete your undergrad degree in English. In that case, you will need to show the schools that you are prepared to handle graduate-level academics in English. Your Verbal score and performance on the Integrated Reasoning sections can help substantiate this.  A 36-37V subscore on the GMAT or a 162V subscore on the GRE should sufficiently attest to your verbal abilities with top MBA programs.

Note, however, that if you score at the minimum end of these subscores, your total score will not exceed 700, which is not ideal if you are aiming to attend a top MBA program. You will therefore need to max out your score in your stronger section, whether quant or verbal, to ensure that your total score is high enough for serious consideration.

So, what about the EA? Because schools are not yet publishing their averages for this exam, the EA is used more to establish and mark a kind of threshold. As long as you score above a certain level—approximately 155 for a full-time MBA program and a 150 for an executive MBA program—you should be good.

Once you have decided which test to take and have achieved a score you are happy with, please reach out to us at mbaMission to schedule a free 30-minute consultation with one of our experts. We will be happy to answer your initial questions about applying to business school and give you our honest opinion on the strength of your candidacy.
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How to Use Parallel Construction in Your MBA Application Essaysand Mor [#permalink]
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FROM mbaMission Blog: How to Use Parallel Construction in Your MBA Application Essays—and More on Being Appropriately Personal
Longer and more complex sentences often require parallel construction. Simply put, parallel construction ensures that any given longer sentence has a balanced rhythm or structure. With parallel construction, each pronoun corresponds with another pronoun, each verb corresponds with another verb, each adjective corresponds with another adjective, and so on. Parallel construction can certainly be found in shorter sentences as well, and to great effect.

Consider the example of Hamlet’s words “To be or not to be”—some of the most famous in the English language. Shakespeare wrote this short sentence in perfect parallel form; “to be” is matched perfectly with its corresponding negative “not to be” and is separated only by the necessary word “or.” Another short example of parallel construction from history is “I came, I saw, I conquered.” With these words, Julius Caesar spoke in perfect parallel construction—a pronoun (here the word “I”) followed by a verb in the past tense (“came,” “saw,” “conquered”).

If we were to change that second famous phrase just a touch, the powerful quality it now has would be lost, and the phrase would become unremarkable. For example, if Caesar had said, “I came, I saw, and I became the conqueror,” he would likely not be quoted today because the rhythm would have been destroyed. Keep this rule in mind for everything that you write, especially for longer sentences.

Here are a few more examples:

Bad: We are successful for three key reasons: we understand our client, we try harder than our competition, and teamwork.

Good: We are successful for three key reasons: understanding our client, trying harder than our competition, and working as a team. (In this example, gerunds [the words ending in “ing”] parallel each other, unlike in the previous, “bad” example.)

Bad: We are in the forestry business. We sell wood to hardware stores and paper to stationery stores.

Good: We are in the forestry business. We sell wood and paper.

On another note, we have previously discussed the importance of thoroughly exploring and accessing your personal stories when writing your application essays. Of course, having too much of a good thing is always a risk as well—admissions committees can be put off by candidates who go too far and become too personal.

Some stories are particularly challenging for admissions committees. For example, we strongly discourage candidates from writing about divorce as a moment of failure. If an individual were to take responsibility in an essay for a failed marriage, they would likely end up revealing intensely personal issues, rather than portraying themselves as having learned from a constructive professional or personal challenge.

Always keep in mind that in many ways, the admissions committee is meeting you for the first time via your application. So, a simple way to judge whether you are being too personal in your materials is to ask yourself, “Would I be uncomfortable if, immediately upon meeting someone, they were to share this sort of information with me?” If your answer is “yes,” you should most likely consider changing your topic.
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