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The mbaMission Blog

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New post 10 Jan 2014, 10:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Friday Factoid: NYU Stern’s Concourse Project
In 2008, NYU commenced work on the Concourse Project, a $35M renovation undertaking intended to link the school’s three buildings—Tisch Hall, the Henry Kaufman Management Center and Shimkin—unite its programs and modernize its facilities. Although much of the work focused on the school’s undergraduate facilities, the renovation at Stern proved to be the business school’s most significant one since the program moved to its current location in 1988. Architectural highlights of the project include new pathways to connect the buildings, new plaza skylights to introduce more natural light, MBA lounges to provide more gathering and study space and the modernization of some classrooms to create more flexible learning environments. The project was completed in early 2010, and a first-year student we interviewed expressed that the “building looks very modern,” while a second year offered, “The new lobby is very nice, and the new lounges are great places to gather and study.” Gone are the dark, cinder block–lined hallways of old; in are new, modern open spaces that allow students to congregate, share ideas and connect!

For more information about NYU Stern and 15 other top-ranked business schools, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 11 Jan 2014, 15:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: GMAT Impact: News From the Makers of the GMAT, Part 3
When it comes to the GMAT, raw intellectual horsepower helps, but it is not everything. In this weekly blog series, Manhattan GMAT’s Stacey Koprince teaches you how to perform at your best on test day by using some common sense.

In early December, I attended the biannual GMAC Summit, a special conference that the makers of the GMAT put on for test prep companies. Click this link to start with the first part of my report.

The Quant Scoring Scale
Some of you may have noticed that the top quant score of 51 is now only the 97th percentile. We were wondering whether GMAC would add to the scoring scale (maybe including scores of 52 or 53) in order to provide more categories of rankings at the top of the scoring scale.

They have no plans to do this. The top business schools have told them that any score of 48 (76th percentile) or higher is good enough for them; they do not need to have additional levels of score discrimination at higher levels. Because they do not need that info, they actually want GMAC to keep the current scoring scales. The schools already have their systems set up accordingly. In other words, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it! (Have you heard that idiom before? You will not see it on the GMAT, but maybe you will in real life.)

English
After the last Summit, 2 years ago, we reported that the test has been “scrubbing” out American idioms and constructions that are used only in the Americanized version of English. Dr. Rudner reaffirmed this information. He also indicated that OG13 still contains examples of Americanized English that will no longer appear on the real test—so if you speak British English, Australian English, Indian English, or any other form, and you see a practice problem that seems wrong from your English’s point of view (such as collective nouns, which are singular in American English but plural in British English), then do not worry about learning that construction. They have pulled such constructions from the real test.

Also, a note to American-centric students: they have started including certain details that might make you a little more uncomfortable (but your international counterparts have been dealing with such discomforts for years). For example, a math problem dealing with money might use pounds instead of dollars. Money is still money, but it is always a bit easier when you are reading about your own currency. A reading passage might talk about a historical figure who was very well known in Asia but not so well known in western countries; again, American-centric students have been benefiting from these kinds of subtle advantages for decades.

Good luck with your prep; let us know if you have any questions!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 13 Jan 2014, 09:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Monday Morning Essay Tip: Contextualize Your Educational Objectives
When tailoring their essays to specific schools, many business school candidates do not go far enough to show a clear and understandable connection between themselves and their target MBA programs. Offering school-specific information is good, but you must go beyond merely mentioning the particular resource(s) that appeal to you—adding context is key.

What is the difference between a mere mention and providing context?

Mention:

“With a focus on entrepreneurship, I will participate in Columbia’s Entrepreneurial Sounding Board process. Further, I am attracted to classes such as ‘Small Business Finance,’ ‘Real Estate Marketing’ and “Introduction to Mergers.’ I also plan to join the …”

Context:

“With clear plans to launch my start-up immediately after graduating from Columbia, I look forward to testing my ideas through the Entrepreneurial Sounding Board; I find this opportunity to meet with faculty and gain critical feedback and mentoring invaluable as I strive to refine my business plan and learn more about how to source investments…”

In the first example, the candidate shows an awareness of the Entrepreneurial Sounding Board but does not provide the context necessary for the reader to fully understand how the candidate will use this resource; therefore, the mention is entirely superficial. As a result, it is easily forgettable, unconvincing and impersonal (i.e., it could be made by pretty much any candidate with any background and any goals). The candidate has seemingly not taken the time to reflect on this resource and how he/she would use it to progress toward his/her stated goals. The applicant then goes on to begin listing the classes he/she plans to take and essentially succeeds in merely cataloging resources rather than offering a reasoned consideration of how the school’s offerings are necessary.

The second example better explains exactly how the candidate will use the resource mentioned; the applicant has clearly done the necessary homework on the school and truly grasps how Columbia will satisfy his/her academic and professional needs. Because the latter example is more informed and serious minded, the reader can be certain that the candidate has a set path and a clear plan to achieve specific goals.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 14 Jan 2014, 12:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Mission Admission: Be on Your Best Behavior When Visiting Campus!
We always encourage MBA candidates to visit their target business schools, because doing so can make a positive impression on the admissions committee, gives candidates opportunity to personalize their applications (essays and interviews in particular—depending on the timing of the visit) and may even help them select their schools. But remember, when you visit campuses for interviews or just to experience the atmosphere at your target schools, you should always be on your best behavior.

Although the receptionist in the Admissions Office is not a “spy,” and your tour guide’s main concern is not to inform the admissions committee of your actions or comments, both of these individuals will likely feel compelled to report any bad behavior to the admissions committee. We spoke with one former receptionist (now an admissions committee member) at a top-ten school, who said that if she encountered rudeness from a visiting candidate, she would make note of it and send a message about the incident to the admissions director, who would subsequently remove the candidate from consideration for admission. Most candidates are on their best behavior anyway, but we nevertheless offer this important reminder.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 14 Jan 2014, 16:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA News: Wall Street Eases Workload for Junior Employees
If working full weekends and pulling frequent all-nighters sounds unappealing, a career on Wall Street is perhaps not your best prospect. Historically, the quality of working conditions for junior employees at top financial institutions has been something of a secondary consideration, given the notoriously competitive culture and sizable compensation. But, as DealBook reports, the times may be changing for future financial services professionals. A memo sent to Bank of America Merill Lynch employees last week recommended that its analysts and associates take off four weekend days each month.

This effort to improve the work experience for junior bankers follows several similar initiatives on the part of other major Wall Street banks—such as Goldman Sachs, which created a “junior banker task force” last year, and JPMorgan Chase, which plans to ramp up staff hires to help share the workload. DealBook suggests that this attention given to junior analysts and associates marks “the latest sign that Wall Street banks are taking a critical look at the hard-charging culture of these jobs.” The banks are perhaps hoping to attract young talent that has in recent years turned to other high-paying industries in which a greater emphasis is placed on work-life balance, such as the tech sector.

“It’s a generational shift,” commented one former analyst, asking, “Does it really make sense for me to do something I really don’t love and don’t really care about, working 90 hours a week? It really doesn’t make sense. Banks are starting to realize that.” Still, if you are among those who are inherently drawn to the intensity and focus of a banking career, the guarantee of one-day weekends may present a sufficient enough perk to rival the tech industry’s staff massage sessions.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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New post 14 Jan 2014, 19:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: mbaMission’s Exclusive Interview with Rodrigo Malta, Director of MBA Admissions at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin
We are fortunate to have recently enjoyed a lengthy discussion with Rodrigo Malta, Director of MBA Admissions at McCombs. During our Q&A session, we gained a profound window into the school’s MBA program and its admissions process. Some of our findings included…

  • McCombs is striving to stay abreast of technology trends in the energy, consumer and health care fields, especially with a new medical school in the works.
  • With approximately 260 students in each incoming class, McCombs is a small program, compared with its top-20 peers. Malta feels that the class is the right size for now, and the school has no plans to expand in the near term.
  • From an admissions perspective, McCombs wants to know that you have a true interest in the school and that you will be active there—it is not a place for anyone with a commuter mentality.
  • Malta strongly advises applicants to engage with their recommenders and really manage the selection process carefully so that they are identifying advocates who will commit to the process.
Of course, these are just the highlights. Read the entire interview to learn more about the McCombs experience and to gain admissions insights…

mbaMission: I appreciate your willingness to chat, especially on days where your admissions committee is meeting. It’s very nice. Thanks for joining me.

Rodrigo Malta: No problem. I appreciate the opportunity to talk to you guys.

mbaMission: Great. I always start my interviews with this question or at least a variation of this question: what is McCombs known for? What would you say is the stereotype of McCombs? And do you agree with that stereotype? What do you think McCombs should be known for?

RM: Got it. So as to what McCombs is known for, from a cultural perspective, we’re known for a collaborative yet competitive environment. Both our students and faculty are easygoing, love competition, but compete with a collaborative spirit. They mirror what Austin is, so I would definitely say the environment here in Austin has a big impact on our MBA culture. Our faculty is very approachable, very accessible, and I think something that’s unique to our students is they’re not really afraid to get their hands dirty. We talk about our students being “tinkerers”—playing around with concepts learned, not being afraid to think about things in a strategic manner, but also putting ideas into action.

From a focus perspective, being Texas, we obviously are well known for energy, both oil and gas, but also clean technology and renewables. Given Austin is a vibrant high-tech hub, we are also known for technology. This includes a multitude of functions in the technology space—be it in consulting, marketing, operations, finance, etc. Last but not least, something we have really highlighted lately are our strengths in entrepreneurship and innovation—helping our students learn how to identify opportunities, put together business plans, start their own business or work for a start-up. Austin is the kind of place where there is a lot of start-up activity, and almost every start-up in Austin has a Longhorn in it. This facilitates the connections between our students and the start-up environment here in the city, and we have been really promoting that quite a bit.

To the question of what should McCombs be known for, health care is an area in the dean’s strategic plan that we’re working on. In the past couple of years, we have added to our curriculum a health care concentration. We’ve also organized health care symposium, which happens every year and focuses on the use of technology in the health care space. This aligns nicely with our strengths in technology and innovation. An area that we would like to be known for going forward is our efforts around the other sectors of health care, like hospital administration, biotechnology, etc. I think that’s also going to be coming into play, because UT Austin has recently announced the establishment of a medical school here on campus—Dell has already pledged about $50M to establishing and constructing the new medical school here in Austin. For prospective students who are interested in health care, there’s going to be a lot happening on campus in that space, and I think the students that come and join us that are interested in this space will really help us define what our relationship as a business school will be with the Dell Medical School.

mbaMission: You’ve touched on a lot of different things there, like energy, entrepreneurship, health care, but personally, I’m always most impressed by McCombs’s student investment fund. It’s at about $15M now, is that right?

RM: It’s about $13M, I think.

mbaMission: Oh, you say that humbly, like, “Oh, it’s only $13M.” It’s still probably $8M ahead of its nearest competitor. I mean, it’s pretty amazing.

RM: Yeah. It works as a private investment company, too, so it’s managed by students, but it’s actually registered under the laws of the state of Texas. It has its own board, and we have about 60 students that are involved either as a first or second year, managing the fund, which is very cool.

mbaMission: That’s amazing. You mentioned the tight-knit, collaborative culture, which you also highlight in your essay question two [“In the Texas MBA program we value our tight-knit and highly collaborative culture. Outside of your professional goals, please discuss why you are a good fit with the Texas MBA program and how you intend to impact the Texas MBA community?”], but can you share examples? It’s easy to talk about being collaborative, but can you try to make that more accessible or tangible for our readers?

RM: Sure. Our core classes happen mostly in the first semester, and that is where you have that biggest shock as a new student, realizing: “Okay, this is really quant heavy.” So we have some first-year students that do struggle with those core classes. In the past, we had always hired tutors to provide some one-to-one help for students that needed it, but in the past couple of years, because of a Graduate Business Council idea, we have started reaching out to second-year students that excelled in those classes to become tutors. They have to have earned an A in the core classes, and they become volunteer tutors for our first years. This year, we’ve had the most interest in volunteering we’ve ever had, with about 25 second years signing up to become tutors. These volunteers are taking time out of their own day, studies and projects to help others. Because of this initiative, we are now able to do away with our old practice of hiring outside tutors, keeping everything in house. This initiative also has the added bonus of strengthening the bonds between the second- and the first-year class.

mbaMission: Another thing you guys tend to emphasize is hands-on leadership. Again, can you clarify or sort of put that into action for us? What does it mean to be a hands-on leader at McCombs?

RM: There are tons of opportunities. It’s a fairly small full-time MBA program, at about 260 students per class year—so around 520 students at any given time. We have a ton of student organizations that are student driven, that are passed on from second years to first years. So, there is a lot of opportunity for you to take the lead with student groups. We also have a lot of hands-on opportunities both in the curriculum and with extracurricular activities. Within the curriculum, we offer students practicums they can take as electives. These are usually projects from companies that take more than just five or ten hours a week for our students to work on. The students work with the companies and then with the faculty advisor to deliver on that particular project.

Another leadership opportunity is to become involved in one of our fellows programs —these programs are similar to our MBA investment fund, in that we have a selection process for them. For most of our fellows programs, the selected students take an elective as a group, so they’re working really closely with a faculty member and the sponsoring companies. A key part of the class is to work on projects from the sponsoring companies, giving students the opportunity to apply the class theory to real-life projects. Current fellows programs include Marketing Fellows, Sigma Fellows, Venture Fellows, Corporate Finance Fellows—to name a few.

A popular activity for our students that are interested in hands-on leadership opportunities in a new industry or function are our MBA+ micro-consulting projects. Throughout the calendar year, MBAs identify companies with which they want to work. MBA+ helps connect the students to these organizations, regardless of the industry or location, by facilitating a micro-consulting project. The client provides a current business question to be addressed, and MBA+ provides each team with a budget and guides the team through the project management process. At the end of a four- to ten-week project period, the team of four to six MBAs reports its findings and recommendations to the client, often traveling to the client’s location to do so. For example, if you are a student thinking about switching careers, but you don’t want to devote one full elective to a practicum, you can signal a career switch desire on your resume by doing an MBA+ project in the new industry or function.

mbaMission: Sure. You mentioned the size of the program when we were talking about culture. McCombs is one of the smaller MBA programs out there. Are you guys happy with the program’s current size? Do you have any plans to grow?

RM: That’s a question I ask every year, multiple times a year. And we are happy with our current size. We’re in the midst of planning a new building, which will be primarily for our MBA students, so anytime we have a building meeting, I ask the class size question.

Currently, we’re happy with the size of our full-time MBA program. I also oversee our working professional programs, which are in Dallas, Houston and here in Austin. Additionally, we have executive MBA programs here in Austin and in Mexico City. An area of focus for us is to continue to build more opportunities for student interactions between these programs. All our MBA programs are cohort based,  so we are really looking at which student organizations are scalable across our portfolio of programs. Some examples of common student organizations across our MBA programs are our student volunteer McCombs Admissions Committee, Graduate Business Council and Graduate Women in Business. Even though we have a small full-time MBA program at 260, when you look at the portfolio of programs that we have, the incoming classes that I bring in are about 520. This larger portfolio size is attractive for employers in recruiting and for our students in building their network.

mbaMission: Right. Who does McCombs see as its peer schools right now?

RM: Whenever we’re looking at data, I look really closely at what other highly regarded public institutions are doing. So I’d say that I’m pretty close to my counterparts at UVA [the Darden School at the University of Virginia], at Michigan [the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan], at UC Berkeley [the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley]. We also keep an eye on what other schools that have similar focus areas to us, namely energy or technology. Here in Texas, from an admissions perspective, we have a really close relationship with the folks at Rice [Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business] that tend to do really well in energy, and then in technology, the schools in the Bay Area and Seattle.

mbaMission: Okay. Do you have any kind of internal target for rankings? Is that part of the strategic planning you mentioned, maybe—achieving a certain ranking within a certain period of time?

RM: We don’t directly manage to the rankings. We definitely pay attention to them, since it’s one of those factors that our prospective students and applicants are considering through the admissions process. Rankings also are one of those things that alumni pay close attention to after they leave the school.

The way that we manage things internally is by monitoring and measuring student satisfaction. Internally we do a lot of our own surveys, in addition to looking at what the rankings measure. From an internal metrics perspective, we really focus on student satisfaction and career management statistics. Questions we usually reflect on as a program include Are we really attracting the right recruiters to campus? Are students happy with the opportunities that they have? Are we placing them on par with our peer schools? Some of those internal metrics that we monitor can be ranking metrics, but not all.

mbaMission: In terms of demographics, about 30% of your class is made up of Texas residents. Do you feel like that is a good percentage? Is there a demographic you’d like to attract more of?

RM: Yeah. This is pretty much in line with our applicant pool. If you think about Texas being one of the most populous states in the nation and us being the flagship university for the state of Texas, we tend to get a high volume of Texas applicants. We do like our Texans, so we keep our percentage of people from Texas in the class very close to [that in] the applicant pool. So we’re pretty happy where we are with that, and it’s kind of funny, because we are equal opportunity regarding Texas undergraduates. We don’t even mind if you went school at one of our biggest rivals in athletics—Texas A&M. We like Aggies, and every once in a while, we even accept some Oklahoma Sooners—we just have to teach them how to do the “hook and horns.” [Laughs.]

From a demographic perspective, we are really focused this year on our recruitment of women. So if there was one class profile statistic that I wasn’t as happy with last year, it was our percentage of women, which dropped to just under 30% after being 32% the previous year. So we’re keeping a closer relationship with the Forte Foundation, trying to do a lot more women-specific recruiting events, talking to our students who just came in this year about what things made a difference from their perspective—all to ensure we have a stronger representation of women in  future full-time MBA classes.

mbaMission: What kind of a student is McCombs not for? Who would you say would not fit in as well?

RM: I think someone that’s just trying to check the MBA box would not be a good fit here at McCombs. If you’re just going to come to the classroom and then go home to study, then UT and McCombs are probably not for you. We’re a smaller program from a size perspective, so we are looking for people that are going to have a really positive impact on the experience of their classmates and also on the overall school. We really look for folks that during the application process give us evidence that they’re going to be highly involved in the program for the two years that they’re here.

mbaMission: Sure. Can you take us through the life cycle of an application? Maybe walk us through what happens to an application after it has been submitted?

RM: After the deadline day, we usually do a “divide and conquer” of application reads. All of our applications get either one or two total reads. Parallel to the read process, we also start inviting applicants to interview. So after the read and interview processes are completed, we meet as a committee for about two weeks and discuss every single candidate, even those candidates that we’re going to be denying. And while all of this is going on, we’re also doing all of our transcript, test score verifications on the back end—we leverage the infrastructure that we have at UT Austin for this process. It’s kind of a three-prong process, where we’re reading, we’re evaluating applications to interview and we’re verifying all the application data, while the applicant is anxiously awaiting their final decision. So that time period from submission to decision that tends to go really slow in the applicant’s eyes goes by very fast when you’re on the admissions side.

mbaMission: And what’s the interview like at McCombs? How can or should a candidate prep for a McCombs interview?

RM: We offer applicants the option to interview on campus, via Skype or with an alumnus. On-campus interviews are usually done with our second-year students, sometimes with admissions officers. There is the opportunity for our international students to take advantage of Skype, and those Skype interviews again are usually done by our second-year students that we select and train. All applicants also have an opportunity to interview where they’re at, with one of our alumni. A lot of times, the alumni that are interviewing for us in different cities were second-year students that we trained to do our on-campus interviews. These alumni spent about a year with us interviewing here on campus, which means we have the ability to read their interview critiques and coach them through feedback before we enlist them as alumni interviewers.

How can the applicants really prepare for the interview? Treat the interview professionally, no matter if it is done by a student, an admissions officer or an alumnus of the program. I think it’s really important to prepare questions for the end, because after all, the interview is a two-way street. We’re getting to know the applicant a little bit better, but we also expect that this is an opportunity for the applicant to get to know us as well. So, I would advise them to prepare some good questions that can’t usually be found on the Web site. One of the things that’s really big for McCombs is to show your excitement for the program, we usually call this factor “McCombs Love.” So you can show us this McCombs Love—think school research—through the application and in the interview.

mbaMission: Besides a lack of love, then, is there anything else you would say is a kind of “red flag” in the applications you see?

RM: Whenever I’m at admissions panels, I always advise applicants to take a close look at the letter of recommendation process and make sure that they’re selecting the right people to be their recommenders, making sure that their recommenders are able to really talk about why they want an MBA and what their differentiators are. Probably the biggest flag that we see is whenever we open those letters of recommendation, and they’re either very skimpy or negative. Letters of recommendation are outside of the applicant’s control from a writing perspective, but the applicants do have a say in who they select and what they’re able to share about their candidacy with those folks that write them.

mbaMission: Can we talk a bit about the different rounds? Is applying to McCombs in the third round a mistake? What would you advise someone considering submitting in Round 3?

RM: I always tell people to apply when their application is the most ready, and I feel like at this time of the year, there’s still time for an applicant to work on his or her application and submit by our second-round deadline. What happens in Round 3, even though we take a fair amount of individuals in that third round, is that we often have good applicants that we’re not able to make admission offers to right away, given space constraints. In cases like this, we may have to waitlist really good applicants, because the class is full, and we have to wait for some individual to change their mind to actually make space for that other good applicant. If someone applies to McCombs in Round 3, there’s of course a chance for them to be admitted—otherwise we wouldn’t have a Round 3—but they’re probably going to have to be a little bit more patient with us from a decision timing perspective.

mbaMission: You mentioned before that showing the love is important. So, is visiting campus part of that? Are you skeptical of applicants who don’t visit campus, assuming that they don’t live too far abroad?

RM: With technology nowadays, there are a lot of options to interact with us that don’t entail a campus visit. With that being said, I think from an applicant’s perspective, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if somewhere in the admissions process you didn’t come to the campus if you’re able to do so. We don’t ding individuals who apply without visiting campus, but we do see a strong correlation to that McCombs Love on the essays and in the interviews when folks have visited campus and were able to see our culture firsthand. I do highly advise all candidates to visit campus, be it before you apply or maybe when you interview, or even for an admitted student event. Just make sure that before you make that final decision, you come and visit campus, if at all possible.

This is more difficult for our international candidates, but if you’re a domestic candidate, there is no reason, if you’re going to be investing all this money in a MBA program, to not come visit campus at some point during the admissions process.

mbaMission: Right. Is there anything else we haven’t covered that you think is important for people to know about McCombs?

RM: Something that I always emphasize through my admissions team is that yes, we are here to evaluate applicants. Yes, we are the gatekeepers to UT Austin and the McCombs MBA program. But at the end of the day, we’re really here to help guide applicants through the application and admissions process, making sure that the applicants have an opportunity to put their best foot forward while ensuring we are evaluating them in a fair manner. So if there is one parting thought that I have, it is for applicants to really not be afraid to reach out to us with questions and ways that can strengthen their application. It is our mission as the admissions team here at McCombs to help guide the applicants through the process and help them put their best foot forward at the end of the day.

mbaMission: Thank you so much for all of us. This has been super helpful, and you’ve been really generous with your time. I really appreciate this.

RM: No problem. If at any point in time, you have questions or need anything, feel free to reach out to me. We’re laid back here at McCombs, and if we can ever be of assistance from this front, definitely let me know.

mbaMission: Great. Thanks so much, and same thing here. If we can offer you anything, let me know as well.

RM: Awesome. Will do.
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New post 15 Jan 2014, 09:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: What I Learned at… London Business School, Part 2
In our “What I Learned at…” series, MBAs discuss the tools and skills their business schools provided as they launched their careers.

Nitzan Yudan is the CEO and co-founder of FlatClub, a United Kingdom–based online marketplace for short term rentals that connects verified members of exclusive alumni, employment and organizational networks. In Part 2 of this four-part series, Nitzan describes the inspiration he found at London Business School (LBS) for starting his business.

The idea for FlatClub came together through a number of experiences I had while attending LBS. My first exposure to the opportunities afforded by the school’s alumni network occurred during an event hosted by the Entrepreneurship Club, at which Tony Wheeler (’72)—the founder of Lonely Planet [Publications] and an LBS alumnus—gave a talk. Wheeler was a kind of role model for me, as I frequently read Lonely Planet guides during my extensive travels.

A year after hearing Wheeler speak, I reached out to him via email. In his reply, he said that although he could not meet right away, since he was living in Australia, he would reach out whenever he was next in London. Three months later, he followed up, and we got together for a cup of coffee. This encounter helped me realize that attending LBS had significantly bolstered my reputation and enhanced my networking possibilities. I knew from this experience that there was something different about this MBA network.

Another significant moment in the inception of FlatClub came during a weekend trip to Bruges. My wife and I had hoped to rent out our London flat while we were gone to recoup some of the cost of our travel. Trust was an important factor in finding a renter. We didn’t want to rent out our place just to anyone online, so we ended up renting to a family of an LBS alum whom I did not know but had by chance found through the internal portal. The rent paid was generous, and I knew that this alum would not trash my apartment, because he had a reputation to uphold. We also wanted to create a positive impression, so we left all sorts of suggestions and directions to help accommodate him and his family during their stay. They were so happy that they left us a gift!

A light bulb went on. I realized that business school networks can fill the apparent need—especially common among MBA students and professionals who travel often—for a trusted source of short-term rentals. In addition, the same network that inspired this idea would equip me with the necessary tools and support to launch my entrepreneurial debut. Nine months later, I had a business.
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New post 15 Jan 2014, 11:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA News: Yale Opens Doors to New State-of-the-Art Building
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After two years of construction, students at the Yale School of Management begin their classes this week in the brand new 242,000 square-foot Edward P. Evans Hall. The glass-clad facility, designed by architect Norman Foster, is perhaps most notable for its open and transparent layout, boasting state-of-the-art classrooms, library spaces, interview rooms and faculty offices that wrap around a sprawling central courtyard.

Despite the poor timing of Evans Hall’s original proposal—which took shape just before the economic downturn in 2008—the SOM managed to raise an initial $110M from various alumni and donors, followed by a record $50M gift in 2010 from the building’s eponymous donor, Yale alumnus Edward “Ned” Evans (‘1964), who unfortunately passed away shortly thereafter. The total cost of the building has since risen to $243M, affording such amenities as cutting edge classroom computers, high-definition video conferencing and student “Huddle” rooms that serve as collaborative workspaces.

According to a press release, the school celebrated the building’s inauguration with a three-day leadership conference, featuring opening addresses by Foster and the school’s dean, Edward Snyder, who called the occasion “a high point in the school’s history.” SOM Associate Dean David Bach observed the congruity between the school’s mission and the building’s design, commenting, “One of the things that Dean Snyder talks about is that managers need an extended line of sight—well, the building actually has an extended line of sight. You can actually see [in] the building through glass.” Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, the mayor of New Haven and the governor of Connecticut were also among the conference’s featured speakers and panelists.
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New post 15 Jan 2014, 14:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Jeffrey Carr, NYU Stern School of Business
Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school at attend, but the educational experience itself is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Each Wednesday, we profile a standout professor as identified by students. Today, we profile Jeffrey Carr from New York University’s (NYU’s) Leonard N. Stern School of Business.

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Having taught at Stern for over a decade as an adjunct associate professor (earning him the 1996 Stern/Citibank Teacher of the Year Award), Jeffrey Carr (“International Marketing,” “Marketing Management,” and “Strategic Management”) joined Stern’s full-time faculty in 2007. He served formerly as the executive director of the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and has quickly garnered a reputation as one of the school’s most respected marketing experts, featured by such major news outlets as NBC and the New York Times. Carr is president of Marketing Foundations Inc. and has worked on projects for Booz Allen Hamilton, IBM, General Electric, Pfizer, Kodak, Time Inc., and Unilever. As one first year we interviewed said of his experience at Stern, “So far, the most impressive class has been ‘Marketing’ with Jeff Carr,” adding, “He’s super engaging and makes you think more about the consequences of your actions in marketing than simply teaching you the tools. The class structure is very informal, but all of the students are learning a ton.”

For more information about NYU Stern and 15 other top-ranked business schools, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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New post 15 Jan 2014, 15:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: B-School Chart of the Week: Social Currency Rankings Year in Review
Rankings come in all shapes and sizes, but can any ranking truly capture social cachet? For a different perspective on the value of an MBA, we turn to the New York Times society pages, where the editors select and profile promising couples. Each month, we dedicate one B-School Chart of the Week to tallying how alumni from top-ranked business schools are advancing their social currency ranking.

Looking back at the past year of New York Times weddings announcements, approximately 274 (or 20%) out of a total of 1360 mentioned business school students, applicants or alumni. Perhaps unsurprisingly—given its notoriety and class size—Harvard Business School took the lead, racking up a year-end total of 45 mentions. Top-ranked and nationally competitive programs counted for most of the schools that placed highest on our social currency ranking, with HBS followed by Columbia Business School (37 mentions), Wharton (28 mentions), NYU Stern (19 mentions) and Stanford GSB (13 mentions).

Considering that the announcements are selected by the New York Times editors, we noticed a slight bias towards programs based in the New York City area—with CBS, NYU Stern, Fordham, and Zicklin all ranking toward the top of our list. Our breakdown also shows that CBS had the greatest number of mentions for an MBA program in any single month, with 13 in June (which was also the most popular month for weddings overall).

Despite an overall lull in end-of-year ceremonies, several announcements from last month included newlyweds currently studying for their MBA. Gregory Elkins, for example, an MBA student at UNC Kenan-Flagler, was married to third-year UNC medical student Blair Golden. Rishi Kumar, a Chicago Booth student, married Lindsay DeHartchuck, a curriculum designer for the Relay Graduate School of Education. Richard Janczewski, a first year at the University of Connecticut, married Suzanne Manning, who is pursuing a PhD in social work at Fordham. Finally, Paul Moskowitz, in his first year at HBS, married Lara Fox, a senior investor relations associate in the New York office of General Atlantic.

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New post 16 Jan 2014, 11:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Beyond the MBA Classroom: Show off Your Talent at the NYU Stern Follies
When you select an MBA program, you are not just choosing your learning environment, but are also committing to becoming part of a community. Each Thursday, we offer a window into life “beyond the MBA classroom” at a top business school.

With skits such as “Sterndog Millionaire” and songs such as “We Didn’t Start the Crisis” (set to the tune of Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire”), the annual NYU Stern Follies talent show entertains students and faculty alike. Anyone at Stern can put together a team and apply to participate in the show. The Follies’ creative committee, which is made up of students, decides which skits and performers will ultimately be part of the show. “Follies is a huge deal,” remarked a first year with whom we spoke. “It was a lot of fun. It’s just nice to see your classmates kind of poke fun at being business school students.” The theme of the 2013 Follies was “The Real World: Stern,” and the show included Meet the Cast promo videos of various MTV-inspired Stern characters. In 2012, the event was held on Friday the 13th and capitalized on that date with the theme of “So Much Talent, It’s Scary.” That year’s Follies included the skits “Hunger Games Theory” and “Stern Wars,” a spoof on Star Wars. The 2011 Follies were themed “The Social Network” and included a spoof of Black Swan as well as a live Twitter feed displayed during the show. Well-known professors, such as William Silber, are frequent guest stars in many Follies presentations.

For in-depth descriptions of social and community activities at NYU Stern and 15 other top MBA programs, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides. If you are applying, our NYU Stern Interview Guide can help you put your best foot forward.
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New post 16 Jan 2014, 17:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Diamonds in the Rough: Innovative Opportunities at the Merage School of Business at UC-Irvine
MBA applicants can get carried away with rankings. In this series, we profile amazing programs at business schools that are typically ranked outside the top 15.

Thanks to its proximity to the Tech Coast, the Paul Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine offers significant opportunities for students with an eye toward innovative business. “Whether it’s fashion, interactive entertainment, real estate, medical or biotech,” states the school’s site, “Orange County is where these industries flourish.” Indeed, the emphasis on innovation and business pioneering is built directly into what Merage calls its “visionary curriculum,” supplementing conventional business disciplines with three core cross-disciplinary areas: Strategic Innovation, Information Technology and Analytic Decision Making.

In addition, several of Merage’s special course offerings and programs showcase its commitment to putting students in contact with the rapidly shifting face of business. The recently inaugurated EDGE course, for example, which can be taken during students’ second year of study, offers a notable opportunity to gain cutting-edge insight into the relationship between business trends, globalization and technology. Similarly, through the school’s MBA Field Project, students have the opportunity to get hands-on experience with current business practices by working directly with locally-based global companies. Merage students can also participate each year in the university-wide Business Plan Competition, which awards the winner $15,000 in funding for their start-up ventures.
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New post 17 Jan 2014, 13:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Friday Factoid: More Than Marketing at Kellogg
As we all know, Kellogg is just a marketing school, right? Actually, no. A quick glance at the school’s most recent employment report (click on the “function” tab) reveals that 38% of its Class of 2013 accepted jobs in consulting, and only 17% went into marketing, its third most popular functional area. Yes, McKinsey & Company, BCG, Bain & Company, Deloitte and Accenture  were the school’s top hirers in 2013.  Kellogg students credit their management labs—wherein first-year students work on a consulting project and are mentored by consultants from leading firms (before their summer internships)—with preparing them for success in their internships and full-time positions. Meanwhile, a variety of other hands-on experiences are also available, including the “Global Lab” (students work with an international firm), “Advanced Topics in Marketing” (students analyze a marketing issue and present it to management) and “Leading the Mission Driven Organization” (students offer management expertise to nonprofits).  Not to worry, though—if you are interested in marketing, Kellogg still has ample resources for you.

For more information on other defining characteristics of the MBA program at Kellogg or one of 15 other top business schools, please check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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New post 18 Jan 2014, 11:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA News: Martoma’s Expulsion Raises Questions for Stanford
The Stanford Graduate School of Business has thus far kept rather quiet amidst last week’s revelation that alumnus Mathew Martoma—who is facing criminal charges for his hand in the insider trading scandal surrounding SAC Capital Advisors—was expelled from Harvard Law School for applying to federal clerkships with falsified transcripts in 1999. Martoma received an MBA from the GSB in 2003, raising the question of whether the business school was aware of his prior academic infraction during the admissions process, which would have undoubtedly required Martoma to disclose such information.

DealBook confirmed with a spokeswoman from Stanford that Martoma enrolled in 2001, and points out that, according to a different source close to the business school, “the expulsion of an applicant from another university, if it was disclosed on an application or otherwise known, would create a ‘serious impediment’ to a candidate’s admission.” It seems that, in addition to charges of trading on inside information from a drug trial (which earned $276M in profits for SAC), Martoma could potentially face further retaliation from Stanford if it indeed turns out he omitted crucial information on his MBA application—conceivably even leading to the revocation of his degree.
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New post 20 Jan 2014, 09:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Monday Morning Essay Tip: Be Honest, but Avoid Negativity
Sincerity. Honesty. Candor. We encourage candidates to incorporate these attributes into their application, and when they do, successful essays inevitably follow. Yet, can one express too much of these attributes? The answer is actually “yes,” especially when candor turns to negativity. Sometimes, when candidates believe they are being candid, they are in fact revealing themselves to be predisposed to pessimism; as a result, the admissions committee has difficulty identifying with their file. Such situations are unfortunate, but fortunately, they are also typically avoidable, because an ostensibly “negative” idea can almost always be expressed in a positive and optimistic manner.

Example:

“In my current position, I am no longer learning and am afraid I will continue to stagnate without my MBA. I cannot achieve my objective of becoming a leader in the marketing department at my firm unless…”

Common sense would say that the admissions committee would likely not be very excited about accepting an applicant who has stopped learning or who believes that his/her career progress can be thwarted by basic obstacles.

Revised Example:

“As I look to the future, I recognize that with MBA training, I could dramatically increase my impact on my firm. With an eye toward a leadership position in our marketing department, I am….”

In this revised example, the candidate is expressing the exact same need for an MBA in positive terms and is thus making him-/herself a more warm and engaging prospect (while still candidly stating a need for further education).

Before submitting your file, check for unnecessarily negative statements. Although we would never suggest that every line in your essays needs to be full of sunshine, you should certainly take steps to avoid portraying yourself as a pessimist.
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New post 21 Jan 2014, 09:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: MBA News: MBA Lessons in Cognitive Bias from Eminem
Attaining success as a rapper—or as a musician more broadly—undoubtedly requires a certain knack for self-promotion and entrepreneurial thinking. In an article on TechCrunch this week, entrepreneur James Altucher offers some reflections on “How to Get an MBA from Eminem,” detailing the ways in which rap music and business know-how often go hand in hand. In particular, Altucher analyzes a climactic rap showdown from the movie 8 Mile in which Eminem wins over his audience by exploiting the same cognitive biases and behavioral cues that inform marketing strategy. As it turns out, Eminem’s introductory mantra of getting “one shot or one opportunity to seize everything you ever wanted” is as applicable to investor pitches as it is to rap battles.
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New post 21 Jan 2014, 12:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Mission Admission: How to Address a Layoff
Mission Admission is a series of MBA admission tips; a new one is posted each Tuesday.

Many MBA applicants express profound concern about the impact of having been laid off with respect to their business school candidacy. Will the admissions committees view a layoff as a sign of failure?

One thing to remember is that many candidates share this worry—thousands of MBA candidates worldwide, in fact. For the admissions committees to dismiss all such applicants outright is simply not practical. Moreover, the admissions committees know that the current global financial crisis and the subsequent recession are at the root of the problem, not necessarily the individual candidate’s performance. Indeed, layoffs and firings are not the same thing, so admissions committees will examine your application with that in mind, seeking your broader story of success.

If you have been caught up in this unfortunate mess, what is important is that you show that you have made good use of your time since the layoff—studying, volunteering, seeking work, enhancing your skills, etc. Each candidate will react differently, of course, but you need to have a story to tell (whether you are applying in the late rounds or even for next year) of how you made the most of a difficult situation.
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New post 21 Jan 2014, 17:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: What I Learned at… London Business School, Part 3
In our “What I Learned at…” series, MBAs discuss the tools and skills their business schools provided as they launched their careers.

Nitzan Yudan is the CEO and co-founder of FlatClub, a United Kingdom–based online marketplace for short term rentals that connects verified members of exclusive alumni, employment and organizational networks. In Part 3 of this four-part series, Nitzan explains how the London Business School (LBS) community helped him find traction for his start-up idea and discusses the preliminary phases of building his company.

The first step in creating a business around the idea of renting flats through exclusive networks was to perform some basic market research. I spoke to approximately 300 of my fellow students on an individual basis, with the goal of learning how trust works across different demographics and cultures. The LBS community proved invaluable in this regard. I also asked people in marketing and branding for input and received help from a friend with the modeling that I would later use to pitch to investors. I learned from my research that trust is a very personal and individual decision. It seemed that what people most valued was the ability to control their privacy settings.

Another important moment in the creation of FlatClub occurred when, while taking “Entrepreneurship.” I decided to pitch my idea to Professor Gary Dushnitsky [LBS Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship]. Dushnitsky liked the idea and said, “Why don’t you just go for it? What can go wrong?” This was exactly what I needed to hear. Shortly thereafter, I began testing a very basic prototype of the site. Although I did not have the money to hire employees or invest up front, I had free access to a huge network of students and faculty. To drive traffic to the new site, I sent an email to the entire LBS community. Within two weeks, 70 flats had been listed, and we had our first sale.

After graduating in 2010 and gaining the confidence to get FlatClub off the ground, I joined the LBS Incubator Programme for one year. One of the greatest advantages was being able to call people and introduce myself with the affiliation of the program. In addition, the incubator provided my company with free office space, access to school resources, advice on accounting, public relations support (we were mentioned in Forbes and the Financial Times) and access to investors.

My partner, whose background is in real estate, came on board in 2011. In April 2012, two professors invested in the business, and just six months after launching, we hired our first employee. We are now a team of 13 people from ten nationalities and recently closed a significant round of financing. We are still based in London, which is where most of our team is located, and FlatClub has grown to include more than 10,000 listings representing 30 business school communities globally.

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New post 22 Jan 2014, 11:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: Professor Profiles: Barry Nalebuff, Yale School of Management
Many MBA applicants feel that they are purchasing a brand when they choose a business school to attend, but the educational experience itself is crucial to your future, and no one will affect your education more than your professors. Each Wednesday, we profile a standout professor as identified by students. Today, we profile Barry Nalebuff from the Yale School of Management (SOM).

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Perhaps best known as one of the founders of Honest Tea, for which he is now chairman, Barry Nalebuff (“Competitive & Corporate Strategy”) is the Milton Steinbach Professor of Management at the Yale SOM. An expert in game theory and strategy, Nalebuff has been a professor at the SOM since 1989. A second year told mbaMission that in the classroom, Nalebuff “is a favorite for his sharp wit and insights.” His book The Art of Strategy: A Game Theorist’s Guide to Success in Business and Life (W.W. Norton & Co., 2008) explores how almost all interactions, business and personal alike, have a game theory component. Nalebuff and Adam Brandenburger, a professor of business economics and strategy at NYU’s Stern School of Business, developed the concept of a new business strategy called co-opetition, which they write about in a book of the same name: Co-Opetition: A Revolutionary Mindset That Combines Competition and Cooperation: The Game Theory Strategy That’s Changing the Game of Business (Crown Business, 1997).

The book’s Web site describes co-opetition as “a method that goes beyond the old rules of competition and cooperation to combine the advantages of both. Co-opetition means cooperating to create a bigger business ‘pie,’ while competing to divide it up.” A first year noted in a February 2010 Yale SOM Community Blog post, “Prof. Nalebuff never misses an opportunity to illustrate the ways in which companies can cooperate to grow the PIE (potential industry earnings). Of course, he then always reminds us that these same companies should compete aggressively to secure the biggest piece of that newly expanded PIE.”

For more information about the Yale SOM and 15 other top-ranked business schools, check out the mbaMission Insider’s Guides.
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New post 22 Jan 2014, 14:00
FROM mbaMission Blog: B-School Chart of the Week: How Important Is Location?
Although quantifying a school’s profile certainly does not tell you everything, it can sometimes be helpful in simplifying the many differences between the various MBA programs. Each week, we bring you a chart to help you decide which of the schools’ strengths speak to you.

We recently asked aspiring MBAs to answer a variety of survey questions about their business school prospects and perspectives. Now the results are in, and for those who are curious about their fellow applicants’ views on business school, we will be sharing some of the collected data in our B-School Chart of the Week blog series.

One might assume that MBA applicants choose their programs solely on the basis of academics, but when we asked applicants, “On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the most), how important is location in your choice of business school(s)?,” responses indicated that location plays a rather significant role. Overall, 31% of respondents rated location an “8,” and 23% rated it a “7.” Of all who weighed in, 85% rated the importance of location a “6″ or higher.

Among U.S. candidates, 38% rated location an “8.” Meanwhile, 37% of international candidates said that location rated a “7.” Interestingly, perhaps, 15% of U.S. applicants said that location ranks a “10″ in importance in their school choice, compared with just 5% of international respondents. Conversely, 15% of international candidates rated location at the lowest end of the scale, as a “1,” whereas none (0%) of the U.S. respondents did so.

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