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Vantage Point Admissions Consultant
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Vantage Point Admissions Consultant
Joined: 17 Mar 2016
Status:Admissions Consultant
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Posts: 416
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Vantage Point Admissions Consultant
Joined: 17 Mar 2016
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Affiliations: Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
Posts: 416
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Location: United States
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Vantage Point Admissions Consultant
Joined: 17 Mar 2016
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Affiliations: Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
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Applying to or Considering a Part Time MBA Program? Read this First [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Applying to or Considering a Part Time MBA Program? Read this First
Peruse any of the MBA admissions sites or forums and you’ll find that most of the dialogue is geared towards full time programs. While much of the advice translates to part time programs, clients I speak with who are interested in the latter option often rue the lack of specific resources.

As such, I thought it would be helpful to outline a few nuances to consider as you are researching and applying to part time programs.  Note that these tips are meant to be supplemental to our general advice for MBA applicants, which, among other things, is to demonstrate that you have what business schools are looking for – creative intelligence, leadership, teamwork skills, vision/innovation, and a demonstrated track record of success.

1. Acknowledge the constraints on your time
Ask anyone who has completed a part time MBA program about their experience and you’re likely to hear how it was an incredibly busy three-ish years. I recall a past manager sharing how he attended Kellogg at night while integrating an acquisition at work and helping to care for a newborn at home…whoa.  Layering coursework on top of a demanding full-time job and some semblance of a personal life is tough, there’s no getting around it. The last thing the school wants is for someone to begin their program and then perform poorly or drop out.

As such, the admissions committee wants to see that you understand the inherent challenges of an evening or weekend program. Without belaboring the point (you have a lot of other important content to include in your application!), include a nod to this in your essays or interview. Perhaps indicate an interest in one relevant campus organization instead of multiple and talk about how you will be an active contributor to it. Or, if you’ve completed coursework while working in the past and done well, be sure to highlight this. Lastly, make sure your recommender(s) communicate a sincere commitment to helping you manage both school and work.

2. Tailor your career goals
According to members of the Vantage Point MBA team who have worked in admissions for part time programs, it is important to tread lightly if you are targeting a career change.  While doing so is not entirely discouraged (unless your company is paying your way and applies such conditions), it is important to clearly understand the career resources offered by the school as well as whether it is common for students to achieve the pivot you are targeting.

More likely, a part time student’s goal is to up-level their current career trajectory or pursue a slight functional shift. Give serious thought to the specific skills you will need to develop to enable this and research courses or other resources the school offers to build them. Then, share these insights in your essays and interview.       

3. Lean into your experience
On average, part time MBA students have several more years of work experience than their full time counterparts. This is great! It is possible that you’ve already managed people or led a team, allowing you to demonstrate leadership experience instead of leadership potential. Share this is in a reflective way and with a growth mindset. Maybe you made some early missteps that you learned from and have made you a better leader today?

Ultimately, one of the primary things the admissions committee is looking to glean from your application is how you will contribute to their community and to the classroom. With a more localized applicant pool (generally speaking), it is possible you work in a similar industry or even for the same company as your potential peers.  As such, it is critical to outline a skill set or perspective that is uniquely your own. Do some soul searching and determine exactly what sets you apart. It doesn’t have to be purely professional – a unique upbringing and / or formative experiences that have shaped your perspective are absolutely fair game.  

Our team has extensive experience coaching applicants to the top part-time MBA programs. If you would like help crafting a compelling application, click [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]here[/url] to request a free 30-minute consultation.

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/12/08/applying-to-or-considering-a-part-time-mba-program-read-this-first/]Applying to or Considering a Part Time MBA Program? Read this First[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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10 Dos and Don’ts for Getting off the MBA Waitlist [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: 10 Dos and Don’ts for Getting off the MBA Waitlist
Updated 12.14.20

So, you’re on the waitlist for your dream school? It wasn’t the decision you were hoping for, but the good news is that you’re still in the running. Being on the waitlist means that the adcom really liked you and thought you would be a great fit for their program but, for any number of reasons, wasn’t able to extend you an offer of admission – yet.

The “yet” is what I’m writing about today. What can you do to get out of waitlist limbo? Inspired by our experience with clients over the years, here is a list of 10 DOs and DON’Ts for actively managing your waitlist status. Hint: don’t just wait!

[b]DO[/b]
1. Carefully read the waitlist instructions.
And follow them. This may seem like a given but I’m surprised how often this step is overlooked. The waitlist instructions provide a lot of useful information, including how to opt into the waitlist (if needed), what kinds of updates the school accepts, contact information for your waitlist manager, etc.

This information can differ from school to school so, if you’re on more than one waitlist, it’s important to understand what levers are at your disposal for each. Then you can start planning out your waitlist strategy.

2. Honestly assess your application and identify any opportunities for improvement.
The key to a successful waitlist strategy is ensuring it addresses the reasons the school chose to waitlist versus admit you. In our experience, the most common of these include: a lower than average test score or GPA, light extracurriculars, too little or too much work experience, unclear or inauthentic career goals, and undifferentiated experience (especially if you come from an overrepresented pool like banking or consulting). Ultimately, the opportunity areas differ for each person so it’s important to take a critical eye to your application (and perhaps get a second opinion) to determine where and how you can improve.

3. Be proactive.
I’ll say it again – the key to a successful waitlist strategy is action. If your GMAT score was on the low side, consider a retake. If your GPA was below average, consider enrolling in an online class (think statistics, accounting, finance, etc.) from an accredited institution to provide further evidence of your academic aptitude. Bulking up your extracurriculars can be challenging given the state of the world and shorter timeline you’re dealing with, but [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/04/09/how-to-have-impressive-extracurriculars-when-youre-busy/]here[/url] are a few ideas on how to add something with impact and do it quickly.

Once you’ve done what you can, you need to share it with the adcom. Within the constraints of their waitlist instructions of course, the best way to do this is by submitting an update letter(s). The key to a successful update letter is to provide new information, not repeat material already included in your application. In addition to the things noted above, new information can include a promotion at work, additional reasons for fit with the program, or how you’ll contribute to the school.

4. Think outside the box.
So far, we’ve explored the “tried and true” ways to actively manage your waitlist status. However, being on the waitlist is also a great opportunity to get a little creative (so long as it doesn’t violate the school’s waitlist instructions).

For instance, more schools are now accepting video letters (i.e. Chicago Booth), so using that medium to provide meaningful updates while showcasing your personality and “putting a face to your name” could be a great option. Another idea is to have a current student or alum who knows you well submit a letter of support that details why you’re a good fit for their school. In general, if you have a unique skill or talent, don’t be shy about leveraging it to provide a memorable waitlist update – just make sure it’s appropriate.

5. Explicitly state that you’ll enroll if admitted.
The school wants reassurance that you will enroll if admitted off the waitlist. Remember that not everyone on the waitlist is as committed to the school as you are. So, in everything you do, let the school know that you remain committed to their program and that it’s your #1 choice (if that’s the case). No need to beat around the bush with this one – just say it directly.

[b]DON’T[/b]
1. Freak out, panic, or lose hope.
I know this is easier said than done, but now is not the time to despair. Your efforts (and emotions) are better spent on taking constructive action. Stay confident (if you’re on the waitlist, it means that you have what it takes) and try not to compare yourself with others. Put your head down and focus on #1-5 above. We’ve seen applicants get off the waitlist as late as August so it’s not over until you get an official rejection from the school.

2. Try to “hack” the waitlist process.
As admissions consultants, we get this a lot. “What are my chances of getting off the waitlist?” “What could I do that would automatically get me off the waitlist?” Unfortunately, as with all things MBA admissions, the waitlist process is not formulaic and there’s no magic bullet. Trying to predict your chances of getting off the waitlist may seem like a good way to get some level of certainty during the wait, but it’s really not productive or helpful. Again, your efforts will be best spent on taking actions that strengthen your profile.

3. Submit new essays with every update.
As mentioned above, the purpose of an update letter is to provide new, relevant information that will strengthen your profile and help the adcom in their final decision. The adcom receives a lot of communication and you don’t want to make their job any harder by submitting multi-page letters and/or information that was already included in your application. Your update letter(s) should be factual, direct, and succinct. Think of them more as press releases than essays.

4. Harass the adcom or your waitlist manager.
I know we spent the entire first half of this guide outlining all the ways to be an active ‘waitlistee’, but you also want to be thoughtful in every interaction and update you provide. You want to be proactive without being aggressive. Remember that the adcom is evaluating your interpersonal skills and determining whether you would represent the school well in front of recruiters. The schools have a reputation to uphold, after all. Make sure that your behavior is desirable.

5. Get complacent.
After all the effort you put into your resume, essays, and interview prep, you may be reluctant to load up your to-do list with more application “stuff”. However, now is not the time to get lazy or give up. A short-term investment in re-taking the GMAT (ugh!), crafting an update letter, etc. has the potential for long-term payoff. Get going!

On the waitlist and wondering what your next steps should be? We’re happy to help! Sign up for a [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]free consultation[/url] today.



The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/12/15/10-dos-and-donts-for-getting-off-the-mba-waitlist/]10 Dos and Don’ts for Getting off the MBA Waitlist[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
This Blog post was imported into the forum automatically. We hope you found it helpful. Please use the Kudos button if you did, or please PM/DM me if you found it disruptive and I will take care of it. -BB
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Insights from MBA Students on Campus…a Dose of Hope to Close Out 2020 [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Insights from MBA Students on Campus…a Dose of Hope to Close Out 2020
As the first semester of ‘business school in a pandemic’ comes to a close, we reached out to our past clients who are currently on campus to see what things have really been like. They graciously provided insights on everything from virtual classes to Zoom interviews to the MBA social scene and, while nothing about this year has been ‘normal’, their experiences strike a surprisingly positive tone. Here’s what we learned.

[b]Are Virtual Classes Really Worth the Price Tag?[/b]
While many bemoaned that it was hard to stay focused on virtual classes, the overwhelming view was that schools have gone above and beyond to adapt their offerings to the current environment. Some even mentioned benefits like the ability to screen share and see the professor more clearly than they would have been able to in a large classroom.

Another benefit several noted was the lack of commute time and how this makes scheduling recruiting-related appointments easier. Being able to watch recorded lectures also solves the problem (and it’s a big one, trust me) of having to miss class when interviews overlap.

[b]Ok, but MBAs Needs Jobs After School, Are Companies Hiring?[/b]
The topic of recruiting provided some interesting insights. First years are just beginning their internship search journey and the vast majority shared that, while companies may have scaled back, they are still hiring. Those targeting tech internships (roughly one-third of respondents) are particularly optimistic, with several opining that companies are hiring just as much as before the pandemic.

The sentiment was echoed by second years, the vast majority of who completed internships this summer despite the ‘unique’ circumstances. Perhaps most interestingly, nearly all respondents who completed internships have offers to return and, by and large, plan to accept them.

Anecdotally, from my time at Kellogg and as a corporate recruiter of MBAs after business school, the latter two of these observations are unusually high. In my experience, people often recruited again as second years, even with offers in hand, just to see what else was out there; it’s likely that people are being a little more conservative on this front given the current environment. It’s also possible that because internships were virtual, it was hard to get a true sense of what working at the company would be like, making it difficult for people to conclude one way or the other if that path was right for them. It might be hard to walk away from something that you haven’t given a true go.

[b]Networking (and Socializing) is Such an Important Part of Business School, is it Still Happening? [/b]
While there are [url=https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/21/us/columbia-university-covid-travel-students-banned-trnd/index.html]exceptions to every rule[/url], responsible socializing is occurring on campus. Respondents shared that they were forming more meaningful connections with their peers because they were doing things like taking walks around campus, as opposed to gathering in large groups for ‘booze cruises’.

That said, many did note a sense of isolation and some shared that cliques had formed more readily due to limits on the sizes of groups that could get together. And, no getting around it, there’s an inherent awkwardness to meeting people for the first time in a virtual format.

[b]Looking Forward[/b]
It goes without saying that this year has been immensely challenging for everyone – layer quitting your job, moving to a new city, and returning to life as student on top of it and it’s enough to make your head spin. That said, MBAs are an innovative, optimistic bunch and seem to be rolling with the punches quite well.

Fingers (and toes) crossed, things should be returning to normal next year so those applying now may have many of these challenges behind them. Even so, it’s hard to imagine anyone (or any organization) will exit this period in exactly the same mindset with which they entered it. Here’s hoping that some of the positives (schools adapting to meet the needs of students, a focus on truly getting to know our peers) may just stick around.

We at Vantage Point wish you a happy, healthy holiday season and hope that the coming year serves as the light at the end of the very dark tunnel that was 2020!

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/12/22/insights-from-mba-students-on-campusa-dose-of-hope-to-close-out-2020/]Insights from MBA Students on Campus…a Dose of Hope to Close Out 2020[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
This Blog post was imported into the forum automatically. We hope you found it helpful. Please use the Kudos button if you did, or please PM/DM me if you found it disruptive and I will take care of it. -BB
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Start the New Year Right! Do These Five Things to Get a Leg up on Your [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Start the New Year Right! Do These Five Things to Get a Leg up on Your MBA Applications
Goodbye 2020 and hello 2021!  While it seems every New Year comes with a sense of optimism and hope for the future, this year takes that sentiment to the extreme. Perhaps you’re planning for a fresh start in more ways than one by applying to MBA programs this fall. Congrats on taking that leap – from my own experience, business school is truly a transformative undertaking, both personally and professionally.

While it may seem like you have plenty of time before the first round of MBA application deadlines, there are things that you can be doing right now to give yourself a leg up (and reduce your stress level in the fall). Take a look at the list below and start laying out your timeline for the year, assuming that everything will take longer than you think (it generally does, right?).

1. Begin Researching Programs
While in-person campus visits may still be on hold, it’s never too early to start your school research. The pandemic has forced schools to get creative – from virtual campus tours to Zoom information sessions to admissions officer blog posts, there are ample ways to learn about your programs of interest. This research helps you assess which schools may be the best fit for you and provide insight into valuable essay and interview ammunition such as the specifics of clubs, classes and the school’s culture that are challenging to conceptualize from merely reading the website. In our experience, those who do thorough research almost always write better essays than those who don’t.

2. Take the GMAT ASAP (Seriously, Just Schedule the Exam and Don’t Look Back)
Knowing your GMAT score in advance can help you a) better focus your school research, b) determine whether you need to take extra classes to offset a weaker score, c) ensure ample time to retake the test if needed and d) focus on the higher-level, strategic aspects of the application such as defining your story and goals. Here is some food for thought as you plan your standardized testing approach.

3. Get Those Coffee Chats on the Calendar
An MBA is more than an academic degree – it’s multi-dimensional experience many aspects that are hard to understand without having been there yourself. Seek out those in your network who can share their MBA experiences. Having these conversations early will not only help you collect information to accelerate your process (e.g., information on school cultures and post-MBA career paths) but could lead to stronger advocacy for you by these individuals if they write you a recommendation later. Everyone likes to see someone being proactive!

4. Be Honest About Your Weaknesses…So You Have Time to Do Something About Them
It’s easy to find information on what the schools are looking for in applicants. Think through your areas of weakness and create an action plan to address them in the coming months. Typical areas of weakness include low undergrad grades / GPA, low GMAT score, limited extracurricular involvement, limited leadership experience, etc. You can’t change the past, but you can work to mitigate the impact of anything that’s less than perfect on your profile.

5. Start Thinking About Your Goals ASAP
Clearly articulating why the MBA is the right degree for you and what you plan to do with it are extremely important. There are limited spaces in each top MBA program, so they want people who they know will leverage the MBA to do great things. For the majority of our clients, defining their goals is one of the hardest parts of the process. It takes time, conversations, research and sometimes more than a little soul searching. We encourage you to start this process early.

As a tip, we have most of our clients start by looking at the job placement reports for their target schools and looking at the LinkedIn profiles of people whose careers may interest them (co-workers, family friends, etc). Then we get much more methodical, but this preliminary research helps you to get a sense for the lay of the land.

As always, reach out for an initial consultation if you are wondering what next steps should be for you.

The post Start the New Year Right! Do These Five Things to Get a Leg up on Your MBA Applications appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
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MIT Sloan Cover Letter Advice: Maximizing 300 Words [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: MIT Sloan Cover Letter Advice: Maximizing 300 Words
If you’re working towards submitting a Round 2 application to MIT Sloan’s MBA Program, you’ve likely given thought to what you want to express in the required 300-word Cover Letter (or, ideally, have already started working on it). Perhaps the trickiest thing about this unique application component is the word limit, which is incredibly short and forces you to have a laser focus on the elements of your personality / experience that demonstrate your fit with Sloan’s culture.

For reference, here is the prompt they provide:

“MIT Sloan seeks students whose personal characteristics demonstrate that they will make the most of the incredible opportunities at MIT, both academic and non-academic. We are on a quest to find those whose presence will enhance the experience of other students. We seek thoughtful leaders with exceptional intellectual abilities and the drive and determination to put their stamp on the world. We welcome people who are independent, authentic, and fearlessly creative — true doers. We want people who can redefine solutions to conventional problems, and strive to preempt unconventional dilemmas with cutting-edge ideas. We demand integrity and respect passion.

Taking the above into consideration, please submit a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Your letter should conform to a standard business correspondence, include one or more examples that illustrate why you meet the desired criteria above, and be addressed to the Assistant Deans of Admissions, Rod Garcia and Dawna Levenson (300 words or fewer, excluding address and salutation).”

Pay close attention to the language of this prompt because it helpfully describes the qualities Sloan seeks in a successful applicant. Many of these are similar to those sought by all of the top MBA programs – intellectual strength, track record of accomplishments, and ability to bring dimension to the cohort. However, the critical things to note here are those that make Sloan different – its orientation towards an independent mindset and creative problem-solving. They don’t just want someone who ‘got the job done’, they want the person who redefined the problem and came up with a solution no one had thought of before.

With only 300 words at your disposal, you simply don’t have space to separately demonstrate you possess each of the more basic traits. For these, utilize the other components of the application – your GMAT/GPA can help prove your intellect, your resume showcases your history of accomplishments, and your video essay should highlight what makes you unique. In the cover letter, make a solid case – supported by one or maybe two stories – that you are an innovative thinker who isn’t afraid of rocking the boat to enable progress. The ideal story to use is career-focused (given the tone of the prompt), fairly recent, and has a connecting thread with how you will contribute at Sloan if admitted.

That said, you do need to use this vehicle to provide a higher-level ‘pitch’ of yourself to the adcom. A structure I’ve seen be consistently successful is one that is three paragraphs, maybe four. In the first paragraph, without simply restating your resume, you can lay out the differentiating or notable experience you bring to the table. In the second paragraph (or perhaps two paragraphs if needed), dive into a story that supports this ‘brand’ and hits on the Sloan-specific qualities mentioned above. In the last paragraph, drive the argument home by asserting why these qualities will make you an asset to the Sloan community.

To demonstrate this structure in practice, here is an example from a past client (privatized, of course):

“Dear Mr. Garcia,

Through my role at [consulting firm], and my experience driving positive change in my community first as a student mentor and now as a founder of a [mentoring program], I know that I will be able to make a significant contribution to Sloan. This is rooted in my experiences learning to manage increasingly larger teams, leading projects in eight countries and enhancing both the product offerings of my company and traditional mentoring frameworks.

As a self-described quantitative person who went from a trading career out of college to working in consulting and rising to manage my firm’s [industry-focused] practice, I’ve had the opportunity to learn not only how to leverage data to drive business strategy but also how to manage and collaborate with people with different backgrounds. For example, after seeing a need to extend our product offering to include capabilities in emerging technologies, I proactively led a three-person team to create a research product that provided clients with capability maturity assessments in three areas: digital, data analytics, and cloud. To action this, I worked with [firm] experts and our existing clients to build a framework, scope and go-to-market strategy for the new products. To date, we have delivered research to over 30 clients, supported four […] cases with data and hosted two roundtables that brought together heads of technology from over 20 firms to discuss the findings.

I am confident that the breadth of my experience will allow me to succeed at Sloan while also bringing a unique perspective to the school. The opportunity to be involved in innovation periods and the Entrepreneurship & Innovation Track will provide the skills needed to transition into a bank’s innovation team and ultimately create a FinTech firm.

Respectfully,

[name redacted]”

We hope that these tips help you get your Sloan application across the finish line!



The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/01/07/mit-sloan-cover-letter-advice-maximizing-300-words/]MIT Sloan Cover Letter Advice: Maximizing 300 Words[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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How to Overcome a Low GPA in Your MBA Applications [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How to Overcome a Low GPA in Your MBA Applications
Updated 1.14.21

One of the most common concerns we hear from clients is that their low undergrad GPA will prevent them from being accepted to the MBA program of their dreams. Whether it was because you chose the toughest major at your university, had a little too much fun, or were so involved in extracurriculars that you didn’t have enough time to study, the good news is that a low GPA can be one of the easier weaknesses to mitigate in your MBA applications.

If you’re like most applicants, college was several years ago and you’ve come a long way since then – you’ve begun your career, earned a promotion or two, and maybe even started managing a team. While these accomplishments help demonstrate your leadership potential and perhaps your analytical skills, they don’t tell the admissions committee whether you can handle a rigorous academic environment. Though MBA programs often emphasize the “programmatic” nature of the degree (the internships, seminars, experiential learning opportunities, conferences, trips, and networking), an MBA is still a master’s level degree with master’s level classes. The coursework demands that you can study, apply theories to cases, write essays, and pass tests.

The time-honored way for the admissions committees to assess your skills in this area is by looking at the combination of your GMAT score and your GPA. So, what can you do if your undergrad GPA is not at or above the average for your target schools? The key is to focus on two things: 1) explaining and 2) overcoming.

Explaining a Low GPA
Note that I did not use the word “justify”. Explaining is not making excuses; explaining is simply stating what ‘it’ was and why ‘it’s’ better now (whatever ‘it’ was).

Don’t sweep anything under the rug or be cagey. If your GPA was low in your first two years because you were struggling with over-committing and not managing your time well, then it’s OK to say that it took you awhile to perfect your time management skills and learn to prioritize effectively. In fact, it shows a great deal of maturity and self-reflection.

However, you must immediately follow that statement with how you’ve overcome that issue (e.g., earned a top notch GPA in another master’s program, successfully managed multiple projects at work, etc). Be brief but specific – you don’t want them to assume that you are being vague because the real reason for your GPA is that you just partied too much.

This information, in addition to any other necessary explanations, will go into the optional essay component of the application. This is where you directly point out that certain areas of weakness, including a low GPA, are not reflective of the strength of your candidacy.

Overcoming a Low GPA
In addition to explaining why your GPA from undergrad was low, you also want to use the optional essay to share what you’ve done to demonstrate your academic ability.

The best “proof” is having earned a stellar grade in a post-grad class to show the admissions committee that you can handle the academics like a champ. A large percentage of our clients take some sort of online or in-person class to bolster their applications (I’d estimate over 50%). Fortunately, there are great options for every work and life schedule.

On the higher end of commitment level are live classes through a local community college or university continuing education department. These work well for people who learn best in a group setting and want to be held to a more concrete schedule.

Self-directed online courses offer more flexibility and may appeal to those who travel for work (in a non-COVID world) or have less control over their day-to-day schedule. Online classes also range in commitment level and costs. On the lower end of the commitment and time spectrum, MBAMath.com costs $149 for modules covering topics like statistics, accounting and finance that can be completed in 20-40 hours. On the higher end of commitment and time is Harvard Online’s CORe program, which costs $2,250 and is estimated to take approximately 150 hours to complete. Of note, many estimate that a rather large percentage of HBS admits have taken CORe (this is anecdotal, of course). Other popular options include Wharton’s Coursera courses (target the graded versions) and UC Berkeley’s Extension.

Focus on foundational quantitative subjects you didn’t study in college (or performed poorly in) like accounting, statistics and/or calculus. By doing well in one of these courses, you can ask the admissions committee to look at your additional coursework grades as an indication of your ability to succeed in the classroom instead of your undergrad coursework. Typically, this demonstration, paired with a strong GMAT score, will help an admissions director to feel more comfortable with that aspect of your application.

Aside from increasing your chances, taking additional coursework shows your commitment and willingness to prepare for the MBA experience, which signals that you are ready to get as much value out of the program as humanly possible (and the admissions committee likes that!).

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Announcing Small Group MBA Workshops for Deferred Admissions Applicant [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Announcing Small Group MBA Workshops for Deferred Admissions Applicants
[b]Let’s Get Efficient[/b]
With the launch of our new Small Group MBA Workshops, we’re offering the benefit of working with a Vantage Point MBA consultant in small, high value sessions where you’ll receive some personalized feedback alongside learning from the questions and feedback of your fellow participants. Whether you’re just getting started, looking for a starting point, or halfway through, these sessions are designed to empower you with the knowledge and feedback that you need to take your application to the next level. For now, we are only offering these sessions for deferred admissions applicants.

[b]Small Group MBA Workshops are perfect for you if you, [/b]
[list]
Are applying to a top MBA program’s deferred admissions program this year (ie. you are an undergrad or masters student right now)[/*]
Would like some expert feedback on your initial essay or storyline ideas in order to jumpstart or enhance your application so that you can be as competitive as possible[/*]
Are looking for shorter, but powerful bursts of valuable advice and information so that you can accelerate your application process and ensure you’re focusing on the right areas[/*]
Would like a gut check and someone to flag potential pitfalls as you are starting this often complex and multidimensional application process[/*]
[/list]
[b]How it Works[/b]
[list]
Prework: each participant will complete and submit three documents – 1) an MBA resume in the suggested format that we will provide, 2) a completed Vantage Point Personal Brand Exercise, and 3) a completed Vantage Point MBA Strategy form[/*]
Initial Evaluation: your Vantage Point coach will evaluate the materials you submit and provide high level feedback in a written feedback form to further guide your workshop preparation[/*]
Workshop: the workshop will start with introductions and then an overview of how to submit a competitive application leveraging your coach’s years of experience guiding successful applicants to acceptance at the top ranked programs. Then, there will be two action sessions where we will use your submitted materials to drive discussions about the MBA resume and most importantly, your personal brand or story. These two documents – the summary of your past in the resume and the summary of your future vision in your personal brand – are the foundational aspects of any winning MBA application, and we will leverage examples from the group to discuss the best strategy for each and provide feedback on your specific ideas and strategies.[/*]
[/list]
[b]What You’ll Walk Away With[/b]
[list]
Priorities:  You’ll leave this session with a clear sense of where you need to prioritize your time and focus in order to submit the best possible application[/*]
An Understanding of What Success Looks Like: From the preliminary and in-workshop feedback, you’ll have concrete feedback to guide your path to refining your story and positioning yourself for success. MBA applications often ask vague, open-ended questions, so this session will equip you with an understanding of what exactly they are looking for and what you need to do to get there [/*]
[/list]
[b]Details[/b]
[list]
90 minute workshops[/*]
Limited to 5 participants [/*]
The sessions will be led by one of the Vantage Point MBA co-founders, Meredith Shields or Melody Jones[/*]
$200 to attend[/*]
Dates and Times: 
[list]
February 15th, 1:30-3:00pm ET [/*]
February 18th, 1:30-3:00pm ET [/*]
Additional dates will be released [/*]
[/list]
[/*]
Request a spot by completing the [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]initial consultation[/url] request on our website and selecting “Application Workshop” under the question “What Vantage Point Services Are You Most Interested in”. We will email you directly to discuss which dates you’d prefer and answer any questions you may have. [/*]
We will accept sign-ups for each session on a first-come, first-serve basis[/*]
[/list]
[b]How is this Different from a Free Webinar or VP’s Traditional Consulting Services?[/b]
Generally, our free webinars and our traditional consulting services are on opposite ends of the spectrum. Free webinars are a great hunting ground for information, but normally it’s high level, and not specific to different application situations – some may apply to you, some not. On the other end of the spectrum, our traditional consulting services are one-on-one and highly personalized and customized to the unique needs of each applicant. These are longer term, more intensive coaching relationships for those who want a great deal of personal feedback and strategizing. Our new workshops fall between those two ends of the spectrum:  for a small group, alongside providing the most value-added information that is likely relevant to the group as a whole, we can also provide some personalized feedback and address individual situations. The group setting also has the added benefit of learning from the questions that your fellow participants ask as well as hearing the feedback that they receive.

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/01/28/announcing-small-group-mba-workshops-for-deferred-admissions-applicants/]Announcing Small Group MBA Workshops for Deferred Admissions Applicants[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Prepare for These Three Questions Before Your MBA Interview [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Prepare for These Three Questions Before Your MBA Interview
With Round 2 application deadlines behind us and interview invitations being released in the coming weeks, many MBA hopefuls will soon be shifting their focus to interview prep if they haven’t already.

It’s smart to get a head start, especially this year. We’re finding that the turnaround time between an interview invitation and the big day is much tighter since interviews are being conducted virtually (i.e., there aren’t travel constraints and it’s easier to pair applicants with alumni because they don’t have to be located in the same city). A current client of mine submitted his Kellogg application on the deadline and completed his interview just over two weeks later!

In [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/10/11/three-tips-for-mba-interview-success/]this[/url] recent article, we provided some general tips on how to approach the interview portion of the MBA application process. Today I’m going to get more tactical and share some of the questions you’re likely to be asked as well as how to approach the answers.

Note that the advice that follows mainly applies to schools that conduct the common conversational, ‘blind’ interviews, not the more in-depth, probing type that schools like HBS, Stanford, and, to a certain extent, Sloan are known for. In addition, if you are interviewing at Wharton, [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/10/29/how-to-stand-out-in-the-wharton-team-based-discussion/]here[/url] is an article on how to prep for their Team Based Discussion.

Those caveats aside, here are three main types of questions you are likely to be asked in your MBA interview:

[b]1. Walk Me Through Your Resume / Tell Me About Yourself[/b]
This question is more than just an ice breaker! It is your opportunity to take ownership of the conversation and really sell yourself to the interviewer.  It is also one that there is a very high likelihood you’ll be asked so you should absolutely practice your answer (multiple times).

From a timing standpoint, 2-3 minutes in length is ideal and budget that time wisely. You don’t want to spend two minutes on college and then speed through everything you’ve done since you graduated! Try to spend more time discussing recent things like your current role and less time the further back something occurred.

From a content standpoint, the critical thing to cover is the ‘why’ behind each of your choices, from where you went to undergrad / what you studied to why you took each job you’ve had since that time. The interviewer has seen your resume, so they know ‘what’ you’ve done; this is your chance to demonstrate that you are planful, reflective, and consistently seek growth.

[b]2. Behavioral Questions[/b]
When they leave the conversation, your interviewer will be scoring you on a number of criteria including your ability to work in diverse teams, leadership potential, and history of achievement.  In addition to your resume, the best way they can assess your skills in these areas is by asking you for concrete examples of how you’ve performed in the past. This is where the behavioral questions (i.e., ‘tell me about a time when…’) come into play.

While it’s tempting to build an exhaustive list of questions people have been asked in the past and then script your answers, this is not the approach I’d recommend. Instead, brainstorm your 4-5 best ‘stories’ – the capstone achievements that best showcase the skills adcoms seek while remaining consistent with your [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/05/22/how-to-develop-your-personal-brand/]personal brand[/url]. Then, run through [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2016/12/10/exit-polls-interview-reports-for-stanford-haas-sloan-columbia-booth-and-fuqua/]interview reports[/url] to see the types of behavioral prompts you may get and assess which of your stories fit. The key is to share your most impressive achievements within the confines of the questions you are asked – the interview is short and you may not have a chance to talk about them later!

For each story you tell, use the SAR (Situation / Action / Result) framework with which you’re likely familiar and aim to spend roughly two minutes on your answer. After setting up the situation in language that is jargon free and understandable to a broad audience, spend the bulk of your time on the actions you took to ensure a successful outcome. Make the interviewer feel like they were there – share what you said during an important conversation, how the other party responded, etc. Lastly, don’t forget to share the final result and, critically, why it was important to your company or organization.  

[b]3. Why MBA / Why School X[/b]
This group of questions is arguably the most critical of those you’ll be asked in your interview. At the root of it, schools use the interview to assess: 1) if this person is admitted, are they likely to attend and robustly contribute to our program and 2) once this person graduates, are they likely to become a leader in their chosen field and be an asset to our alumni network. Show them that the answer to both of these questions is ‘yes’ by communicating a convincing narrative around why you need the degree and why that particular program is the ideal fit for you.

The great thing is that you’ve likely already given significant thought to these topics while writing your essays. The task now is to verbalize them in a concise yet thorough manner, being sure to connect the dots between your past experiences / passions, what you hope to achieve in the future, and how the specific attributes of the program at hand will enable those goals.

Once you have your answers to these three categories of questions down pat, rest assured that you will have strong answers for the majority of questions you will be asked. The hardest thing about interviews, of course, is that there will inevitably be curveballs that you simply can’t prepare for – try not to stress! The interviewer isn’t expecting perfection, so taking some time to collect yourself before answering or stumbling through a response or two won’t ruin your chances of admission (seriously!).

Reach out if some live practice and/or coaching would help! Click [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]here[/url] for a free consultation.

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/01/31/prepare-for-these-three-questions-before-your-mba-interview/]Prepare for These Three Questions Before Your MBA Interview[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Researching MBA Programs When You Can’t Visit [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Researching MBA Programs When You Can’t Visit
Updated 2.4.21

A critical component of a winning MBA application is demonstrating that you are the perfect “fit” for the school to which you are applying and that you are excited about that specific program. This is harder than it sounds! Making an effective case as to why a program is a fit requires a nuanced understanding of both yourself / your goals and the culture / offerings of your target program. Then you can convincingly connect the dots between the two for the adcom.

In a pre-COVID world, the best way to learn the intricacies of each school’s culture (and demonstrate your interest) was to plan an in-person visit. You would sit in a classroom, see how everyone engaged, and determine if it was a place where you’d like to spend two years. Visiting is not an option at the moment, but don’t take that as an excuse to regurgitate the boiler-plate attributes you’ve heard about your target programs in your essays and interviews.

A silver lining of the current situation is that it has forced schools to get creative with their virtual offerings. Use this to your advantage and learn all you can about each program in your consideration set from the comfort of your own home! Here are our suggestions for learning about MBA programs virtually:

[b]1 . Talk to People. [/b]Next to sitting in on a class, talking to current students and recent alums is hands down the best way to get a sense for the culture of a school. Set up virtual “coffee chats” with at least two alums or current students from each school you are considering. Many programs will even facilitate one for you (see Kellogg’s offering [url=https://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/programs/full-time-mba/admissions-events/campus-visit.aspx]here[/url]).

[b]2. Ask the Right Questions. [/b]If you ask someone “why did you choose” a particular school, they will likely cite things you already know (rankings, location, jobs, etc.). We recommend that you ask specific questions about their experience instead. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

“What was orientation like?”

“What surprised you about your MBA experience? What didn’t you expect?”

“What was the most popular thing to do at your school? Event, class, club activity, etc.?”

“What stands out as the most impactful experience you had in b-school?”

“What did you wish was different about your experience?”

“What would you do differently if you went back?”

“How do you engage with your classmates now (if an alum)?”

“What advice do you have for an applicant to your school?”

“Based on your experience, how would you describe the culture of your program?”

[b]3. Video Content > Written Content[/b]. The schools publish blogs that we find helpful for information and facts. But to get a sense for the culture of the school, the video content and webinars are way more helpful. In lieu of their usual slate of events, schools are offering virtual information sessions, campus tours, and small group chats with current students. Take advantage of as many as you can!

For your quick reference, here are links to a few schools’ offerings:

[url=https://www.hbs.edu/mba/visit/Pages/default.aspx]HBS[/url]

[url=https://www.gsb.stanford.edu/programs/mba/admission/events]Stanford GSB[/url]

[url=https://mba.wharton.upenn.edu/events/]Wharton[/url]

[url=https://www8.gsb.columbia.edu/programs/mba/admissions/events]Columbia[/url]

[url=https://www.stern.nyu.edu/programs-admissions/full-time-mba/meet-with-us]Stern[/url]

[b]4. Read Forums & Guides (and take them with a grain of salt)[/b].  There are a number of sites dedicated to providing MBA advice. The problem is that a lot of it is crowdsourced. While these resources can be useful starting points to help you parse out subtle differences between programs, remember that someone’s view of a school’s culture may be different than how it feels for you.

In a year where we expect the competition to continue to be high, it’s important to stay focused. It’s never too early to nail down your story, resume and “fit” with your target schools. If you need a good starting point for your school research, you can take the fit quiz on our site located here: [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/04/16/which-mba-program-is-right-for-you-use-our-mba-fit-tool-to-find-out/]School Selection Quiz[/url]. Remember, this is just a starting point.

We are accepting Round 1 2021 clients now! Click [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]here[/url] to schedule a free consultation.



The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/02/05/researching-mba-programs-when-you-cant-visit-2/]Researching MBA Programs When You Can’t Visit[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Unemployed (or Have an Employment Gap) and Applying to Business School [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Unemployed (or Have an Employment Gap) and Applying to Business School? Here’s What to Do
As an MBA admissions consultant, a concern I sometimes work through with clients is how to address an employment gap in their MBA application. Given the upheaval of the past year, even more prospective MBA candidates than usual have faced job changes or periods of unemployment. They fear the admissions committees at top MBA programs will view this as a negative when comparing them with other applicants (especially in a particularly competitive cycle), derailing their chances of acceptance.

The good news is that the adcoms are human – they have likely changed jobs or even been laid off themselves. They also read the news and know that many employers had to make cuts in the past year to weather the slowdown. However, this doesn’t mean you should gloss over an employment gap and assume they ‘get it’.

The overarching key to successfully navigating a period of unemployment or being out of work at the time of application is to be proactive. Here are three ways to do that:

1) Address the elephant in the room.
With application volumes surging, the last thing the adcoms want to do is search around to understand an employment gap they see on your resume. As a rule of thumb, explain any gap that is three months or longer in the optional essay (the data form may have a place for this as well). If you are currently unemployed, even if it hasn’t been three months, you should also provide an explanation.
In straightforward, concise language, explain the context of the situation and – importantly – what you were doing during the break. Ideally it was more than searching for a job and watching Netflix; perhaps you learned a new hobby or job-relevant skill, volunteered in your community, or traveled to new and exciting places.

If you are currently unemployed, explain the reason for your separation from your prior employer but be careful to avoid placing blame (on the company or yourself!). It can also help to highlight accelerated career progression and/or above average performance ratings you earned prior to leaving; this proactively addresses the adcom’s potential concern that you do not excel relative to peers.

2) Take action.
Since you can’t change the past, this advice primarily applies to those who are currently unemployed. As Round 1 and 2 deadlines are behind us and, generally speaking, we don’t recommend applying in Round 3, it also applies primarily to those targeting a ‘21/’22 application.

With roughly a year and a half until you matriculate, it will be hard to justify not seeking a new job before then. It may seem daunting to onboard into a new company while studying for the GMAT and working on applications, but by remaining on the career sidelines you are decreasing your competitiveness. The vast majority of applicants are doing double duty while also gaining very relevant experience in navigating challenging times at work.

However, while you are in job search mode (which may take awhile in the current climate and that’s ok!), think about ways you can continue to add value – to your community, an organization in need (check out Taprootfor ideas), or even just to yourself. Knowing that the adcom will be considering your actions when they assess your application, now is not the time to tread water (which is boring anyway!).

3) Reflect and discuss your insights.
As with any major life change (or event like a global pandemic!), leaving your job likely triggered a period of self-reflection. Perhaps you gave more thought to the type of organization you want to be a part of or even whether your current career path is right for you after all. Use this to your advantage!

View the circumstances as an opportunity to pivot towards the type of work you see yourself doing post-MBA and beyond. If a holistic shift isn’t possible (after all, you are planning to get an MBA for a reason), perhaps your next role can help build some of the skills you will ultimately need to make your desired transition. The adcom will take note if you explain this rationale in your application essays!

As an example, a past client of mine knew she had a passion for nonprofit work, but her early career had led her down a different path. In advance of her MBA applications, she found herself at a crossroads and actively sought a position in the nonprofit space. While the role she accepted was functionally different from what she hopes to do post-MBA, demonstrating knowledge of the nonprofit sector made for a compelling application and she was accepted (with full scholarship!) to her top choice program.

So this is basically a roundabout way of recommending you turn lemons into lemonade. After the past twelve months, this is something we should all be pretty good at by now!

If you need help strategizing, click here to schedule a free consultation.

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How to Make Your Resume “MBA Ready” [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How to Make Your Resume “MBA Ready”
The resume you used to get your last job is not the one you will use to apply to business school. I know, it’s frustrating! You perfected your resume to land a job, only to find that you’re going to have to rework it for your MBA application. I promise you, it’s a worthwhile time investment!

What makes a job search resume so different from an MBA application resume? There are several key distinctions:

1) Your MBA resume will be higher level and contain less industry jargon.
From your one-page resume, the admissions committee should be able to get a sense for what you do, what is unique about you, and what experiences you will bring to the classroom.

However, they can’t do that if they don’t understand what they’re reading! Here is a trick: take a step back and ask yourself “is this how I would explain my job to my best friend’s mom or dad who works in business but maybe not my exact field?”. You can assume they have some understanding of your field, but keep your descriptions high level so that anyone, regardless of background, can “get it”.

Note that I’m not saying to dumb down your accomplishments just because they are complex. You can include names of programming languages and complex financial products in a way that is understandable across audiences – it usually just takes a few extra words.

2) Your MBA resume should focus on storytelling and accomplishments.
Think of the MBA resume as more of an elevator pitch than a checklist of skills. A potential employer scans to see what types of things you’ve been exposed to so they can assess how quickly you can hit the ground running in a new role. Admissions committees at top MBA programs look for leadership potential, demonstrated teamwork, problem-solving skills and career progression.

We ask our clients to write no more than two bullets describing “what they do” for each job. This maximizes the space available to explain “what they have accomplished” in short, two-line stories. These quick stories help them picture you – what you’re like to work with, what type of initiative you take, and how you are crushing it and being recognized as a rock star in your company.

As an example, here is a bullet that a past client used to describe “what he does”:

“Manage a team of 2-5 analysts and associates on workstreams to advise clients in the tourism, retail, and private equity industries on key strategic issues including M&A, organic growth strategy, and value creation.”

In contrast, here is a bullet he used to described “what he has accomplished”:

“Spearheaded strategy to improve the performance of ancillary products by optimizing digital customer touchpoints, resulting in expected incremental revenue of over $100M annually.”

See the difference?

3) You’ll include more interests and hobbies than you have now.
In addition to the requisite skills described above, the adcom also wants to see that you are a well-rounded individual with dynamic interests. Top MBA programs are not looking for people who just eat, sleep and work. They want to recruit leaders who have people skills and will thrive in the highly social MBA environment.

I often hear people say that they don’t have any extracurriculars; that’s generally not the case when we get down to it. Extracurriculars aren’t just volunteering and junior boards. Maybe you haven’t had time to really engage as a volunteer because you travel every week (or did pre-COVID!), but perhaps you play in a recreational tennis league every Sunday. That absolutely counts and should be a bullet under “community and other” or at least in the “interests” section. Your next employer may not care what you do outside of the office, but MBA programs most certainly do.

4) You’ll pick and choose more.
You simply don’t have the space to tell the same type of story over and over in your MBA resume. If you built financial models for six IPOS, don’t give each one a bullet (bankers – in general I don’t like the exhaustive transaction experience list that you likely use for work – pick a few of the best).

Boil your experiences down to the main accomplishments and show a good balance of leadership, analytical, teamwork and problem-solving skills across your resume.

Some closing thoughts…
This goes for work resumes too, but formatting, spelling and grammar are very important. Admissions directors notice, especially on the resume. Be a crazy perfectionist when it comes to this!

And finally, get feedback. Have people from different industries and backgrounds read your resume and tell you how they interpreted what you’ve done. We recommend doing this a few times as you’re finalizing your resume in order to feel like you’ve gotten a diverse array of perspectives.

For further reading on what makes a strong MBA resume, see this article: These Three Bullets Should Be On Your MBA Resume

If you’d like personalized coaching on your resume or other parts of your MBA application, click here to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

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MBA Career Goals – Part I: Crafting a Compelling Short-Term Vision [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: MBA Career Goals – Part I: Crafting a Compelling Short-Term Vision
As an MBA admissions consultant, one of the first – and most critical – things I do with clients is help them develop their ‘personal brand’. A strong, authentic personal brand is the backbone of a successful application. It is the marketing pitch you present to schools that demonstrates three key things: 1) the unique perspective and skillset you bring to the table, 2) how an MBA from their program will build on your existing experience, and 3) how #1 and #2 will work together to enable your career goals.

The topic I’d like to delve into today is the third item on that list – career goals. When schools refer to career goals, they’re typically delineating these into two buckets, short term and long term. Short term refers to the job you will seek directly after graduation and perhaps an intermediate step directly thereafter. Long term career goals refer to where, in a perfect, ‘pie in the sky’ world you see yourself 10-15 years down the road.

While clients usually have a general sense for the type of post-MBA career they are targeting, I find that many are seeking assistance refining their goals and ensuring that they will resonate with the admissions committee (or ‘adcom’). In Part I of this series, we will be focusing on how to craft and communicate your short-term career goals in your MBA application. Of course, this is a highly personalized discussion, but there are some overarching principles that can guide your thinking.

When it comes to the role you will target directly after business school, the adcom is looking for it to check three boxes:

1. It is something employers hire for out of their program.
Note that I’m not suggesting you have to say you will target the same five or so career paths that every other MBA is looking to pursue (consulting, tech product management, private equity / venture capital, etc). I’m not even saying your short-term goal has to be something companies recruit for ‘on campus’ as opposed to something that will require a little leg work on your part.

Instead, I’m suggesting that you convey a realistic understanding of the seniority level at which a company may recruit a new MBA and whether your targeted industry / function is somewhere its program has placed graduates in the past. Specificity is important here, even going so far as to spell out the position you will target (i.e., Associate Marketing Manager) and a few companies you would be excited to work for.

2. Your background makes it realistic that employers will consider you for this position.
Some post-MBA career paths are more restrictive than others when it comes to the specific skills recruiters expect you to have. For example, in my experience at Kellogg, investment banks were open to people from a wide variety of pre-MBA fields so long as the person was willing to work hard and could demonstrate aptitude in the interviews.

On the other hand, breaking into product management at a large technology company can be difficult without prior technical work experience and/or an engineering degree. I’m not saying it can’t be done and would never discourage someone from trying for the role of their dreams. That said, the adcom at top MBA programs may be weary of someone who doesn’t at least acknowledge that they are fighting an uphill battle and perhaps present a more realistic ‘Plan B’.

Like it or not, top MBA programs are laser focused on their employment statistics relative to peers. And, as this Poets & Quants article demonstrates, many programs took a big hit to their placement rates this past year. As such, it’s reasonable to assume they will use even more caution than usual and focus on accepting people with realistic post-MBA plans.

3. It is a logical steppingstone to your long-term goal.
Long-term career goals will be the focus of Part II in this series, but I’ll briefly touch on them here, as they are inherently intertwined with your near-term plans.

It’s ok for long-term career goals – where you dream of being 10-15 years down the road – to be less of a sure bet than your target post-MBA role. In fact, they should be both aspirational and inspirational, tying into your core values and passions.

But, while it’s great to dream big, you also need to have a vision of how to get there and this is where your short-term goals come in. The role you target out of business school should set you on the path towards your long-term goal, building the skills you will need for success in your dream career.

A Few Examples…
To help put theory into practice, here are a few strong examples of short-term career goals from past clients:

“My short-term goal is to join the financial institutions or technology group of a leading investment bank, which will provide the valuation and due diligence skills required of a well-rounded investor and enable my long-term goal of investing in growth-stage FinTech companies that foster progress in financial education and decision-making.”

“A post-MBA role in strategy consulting will build upon my deep experience in the education industry and allow me to put the skills gained at [X school] into practice across a wide variety of business challenges, setting me up for success as the founder of an educational technology company.”

Look for an upcoming article on crafting compelling long-term goals! In the meantime, if you would like personalized advice on your post-MBA plans, reach out to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

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Avoid These Three MBA Application Pitfalls [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Avoid These Three MBA Application Pitfalls
This time of year, our team is doing a lot of “ding analysis”, which is when someone who applied this past year asks our team to help them understand what went wrong. Below are some of the common pitfalls we see, which we hope will help you know what to avoid as you start the MBA application process this year.

Being Negative (…Even When You Feel It’s Warranted)
Unless you’re a star on Bravo or The Bachelorette, most people can’t get away with complaining all the time AND come across as likeable or interesting. Maybe your boss is a total nut who drives you insane. Or maybe you work at a company that is imploding and everyone is jumping ship as morale declines.

Whatever the situation, be mindful of how much airtime you give to venting about it; that takes precious space that you could be using to write about how amazing YOU are!

You may think that it’s important to explain the full context, so the reader “gets” you and your experience. It’s true that background is important. So is getting personal (see #3 below). However, what I often see is this: someone will write three paragraphs describing how horrible their company is then quickly gloss over how that relates to them and their actions.

Flip that – explain the situation honestly and truthfully…but also concisely. Avoid putting down your boss or your job. People generally react negatively when someone speaks ill of another person. Fair or not, especially when you’re young, people often assume that, in fact, you were the problem or that you’re making excuses.

After you briefly present the facts, focus on explaining how you felt, reacted, rose above, or otherwise operated incredibly well despite the situation around you. The reader will get it (and likely be impressed).

Being a ‘Wanderer’
I really like the quote “not all those who wander are lost”, but it doesn’t relate to b-school applications. The admissions committees at top MBA programs do not want you to be wishy-washy.

It blows me away when I read an application that says something like “my long-term goal might be investment banking but could also be non-profit or general management for a CPG company.” The person reading this is thinking, so basically, you have no idea and you made no effort to have an idea.

Of course, almost everyone who applies to business school is a little unclear on what life will look like after those two years. Admissions committees know that. However, you must be able to demonstrate that you have a target career that is a logical starting point. Maybe you will change your mind (I did), but at least you can show the admissions committee what you’re excited about, what interests you, and how you will get started with the process.

This is also wise from a logistical standpoint. As soon as school starts, the career and internship talk begins. Companies come to campus (or Zoom) for presentations / networking, clubs start prepping people for interviews, etc. You can’t do it all, so you need to have an idea of where to start.

That’s how we encourage people to think about the career goals they describe in their MBA application. Perhaps you are in banking right now and think you want to go into private equity, but also think you might like consulting if you learned more about it. Great! There are fantastic “whys” for each of those, so do your research on both and put the logic behind their appeal down on paper.

For purposes of the application, it’s probably best to focus on one path as your ‘Plan A’ and keep the other in your back pocket as an interesting alternative. Keep in mind that whatever you write is not binding. It’s ok for you to note your starting point and then change your mind once you learn more as a student.

Coming Across as a Robot
Getting personal and sharing more than you would in typical business writing is among the hardest things for many of our clients. It’s tempting, and natural, to default to simply reiterating your resume and then telling a boilerplate story about what you want to do and why you want to go to business school.

At work, your colleagues don’t typically ask you to explain what made you who you are, what influenced your choices in life, and what that says about you as a leader. So of course, writing in this style is not natural for many people. But it’s necessary for a great application essay, especially to top MBA programs like Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB.

Here’s a trick:  most people have a few ideas of stories or experiences that were pivotal in their lives. Take each of these and ask yourself: 1) how/why did I get that opportunity or experience; 2) is the way that I handled that situation reflective of one of my central traits; 3) if so, how did I get that trait and how else does it show up in my life; and 4) how did I feel about that experience (surprised, afraid, cautious, elated, anxious, etc) and why? Questions like this should help you tease out your core values and motivations. Describe these in your essays to give the admissions committee a better picture of who you are as a person beyond your resume.

If you want to discuss how we leverage strategies like these and others to help applicants and reapplicants get into the top MBA programs at a 3.0x higher rate than average, you can request an initial consultation with our team of top MBA admissions consultants.

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MBA Career Goals – Part II: Crafting a Compelling Long-Term Vision [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: MBA Career Goals – Part II: Crafting a Compelling Long-Term Vision
In [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/03/08/mba-career-goals-part-i-crafting-a-compelling-short-term-vision/]Part I[/url] of this series on MBA career goals, I shared how to craft a short-term career goal that is specific, realistic, and logical. While ‘checking those boxes’ will demonstrate to the admissions committee that you understand the type of companies that hire out of their program, it won’t get them excited about having you as part of their incoming class.

This is where your long-term career vision comes in. It describes your end goal – where you see yourself at the pinnacle of your career.  It should connect to your values and motivations while focusing on the impact you want to have on those in your company, industry, or even society more generally.

Intimidated? I get it, this one is challenging and requires some deep reflection. However, top MBA programs aren’t looking for people who are afraid or unable to dream big. Exactly the opposite – they want to educate the next generation of leaders who will leave an indelible mark on the world.

So that’s the big picture. Here are some guiding principles to use as you think about your own long-term career goals.

[b]1) Your Future Should Connect to Your Past[/b]
A great place to start when brainstorming your long-term career goals is with your past. Think about situations – whether early in life, in college, or throughout your career – where you’ve felt truly fulfilled or energized. What was it about these situations that made you feel this way? Is there a common thread between them?

As an example, perhaps in college you built a new campus organization from the ground up and loved the sense of ownership you had during the experience. Fast forward to your current job, perhaps the most exciting project you’ve been involved with was helping your company enter a new market or launch a new product. The connection I see between these two things is an entrepreneurial spirit, which is something that could absolutely factor into your ultimate career goal.

Beyond a linkage to your underlying passions or motivations, your long-term goal should have a more tactical connection to your past. It’s hard to make the case that you want to pursue a certain path if you haven’t had even a touch of exposure to it in the past. For instance, if your pre-MBA career is in investment banking, it would be hard to justify a long-term goal as the founder of a nonprofit (unless another part of your background is heavily social impact focused).

Said simply, there has to be a solid ‘why’ driving your long-term goal that the adcom will understand within the confines of your application.

[b]2) You Don’t Have to Reinvent the Wheel[/b]
A common concern I work through with clients is how to differentiate themselves if their long-term goal is ‘typical’. For instance, someone who followed the investment banking / private equity pre-MBA career path and wants to remain in the private equity space throughout their career.

Rest assured that targeting a finance career (or consulting, etc.) is ok! Remember that large portions of the graduates from top MBA programs go these ‘typical’ routes (see statistics at the far right of [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/03/15/comparison-of-top-mba-programs/]this table[/url]) and a notable amount of them remain there for the long haul. Clearly the adcom is amenable to these goals.

I do, however, encourage my clients to make these types of goals ‘their own’.  Each of these careers has numerous areas of specialization, whether that be an industry focus, investing philosophy, etc. By identifying one about which you are passionate, rooted in past work or personal experience, makes the goal more unique and interesting.

If not an industry specialty, perhaps you are passionate about a certain leadership philosophy (like Ray Dalio, a Harvard Business School graduate, and his ‘[url=https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2018/02/ray-dalio-explains-unorthodox-principles-behind-his-investment-firm/]idea meritocracy[/url]’) or a cause that could be tied in with your future career ambitions. The key, if you are targeting one of the more common post-MBA careers (and even if you aren’t, quite frankly), is to put your personal spin on the goal and tie it in with the values and passions that make you who you are.       

[b]3) Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day – Your Career Goals Shouldn’t Be Either[/b]
As I said earlier, arriving at an authentic, well developed long-term goal is hard – and that’s exactly why it matters to the admissions committees at top MBA programs. I find that many applicants rush to a conclusion about ‘what they want to be when they grow up’ without enough self-reflection and end up with a goal that is run of the mill and uninspiring.

Take the time to research where MBAs that have gone into your field of interest have ended up 10 to 20 years after graduation. Read about business leaders you admire and the path they followed to get where they are. Last and most important, [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/02/25/networking-for-your-mba-applications/]network[/url] with alums of your target programs that have gone into your field of interest.  All of these things will get your wheels turning and help you develop a compelling narrative for your application, while inspiring you to set and achieve lofty goals.  

If you would like personalized advice on your post-MBA plans, reach out to schedule a [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]free 30-minute consultation[/url].



[b] [/b]

              

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/03/22/mba-career-goals-part-ii-crafting-a-compelling-long-term-vision/]MBA Career Goals – Part II: Crafting a Compelling Long-Term Vision[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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How to Develop Your Personal Brand [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How to Develop Your Personal Brand
In our recent series on developing compelling MBA career goals (click to read [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/03/08/mba-career-goals-part-i-crafting-a-compelling-short-term-vision/]Part I[/url] and [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/03/22/mba-career-goals-part-ii-crafting-a-compelling-long-term-vision/]Part II[/url]), I discussed how these goals are an integral component of your ‘personal brand’. So, what is a personal brand exactly and how do you go about discovering yours?

[b]What Is a Personal Brand and Why Does It Matter? [/b]
The personal brand you present in your MBA application is essentially its thesis statement. It clearly and concisely describes the unique perspective or skillset you will contribute to your target program’s class. Additionally, it presents the ambitious and inspiring goals you have for your future career and communicates how an MBA from ‘School X’ will help you achieve them.

Said a slightly different way, your personal brand is a marketing pitch – it sells you and your vision to the school you hope to attend.

Why is having a cohesive personal brand so important? Remember that the admissions committees at top MBA programs are [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2016/09/12/inside-the-black-box-what-happens-after-you-hit-submit/]reading thousands of applications[/url]. After reading yours, you want them to be able to easily summarize to the other members of the committee who you are and why they should be excited to have you on campus. If they can’t, you risk having your application lost in the pack.

[b]When and Where Do I Start? [/b]
For those of you planning to apply this year, it is never too early to start nailing down your personal brand. It will be the backbone of your application, particularly your essays. I can’t stress enough how important it is to give your personal brand the focus is deserves.

Separately, in addition to crafting a stellar [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/03/01/how-to-make-your-resume-mba-ready/]MBA resume[/url], this is something you can do before schools release their applications in early summer.

To help you get started, below is an abbreviated version of the process we take our clients through to discover and refine their personal brands. Take a few moments to walk through the exercise and see what you come up with. To refine your brand, seek multiple opinions and talk it through with someone you trust.

The ultimate goal is to have a clear statement (comprised of no more than three sentences) that describes you and your goals.

[b]Initial Framework[/b] 
Answer the questions below to establish the key components of a good personal brand:

[list]
[*]What skills / experience do you have today?[/*]
[*]What is unique about you?[/*]
[*]What are you passionate about?[/*]
[*]What will you accomplish in the future (long-term goals)?[/*]
[*]What do you need to do to accomplish your long-term goals (work experience, skills, etc.)?[/*]
[/list]
[b]The “Personal” Details[/b]
Next, answer the following questions to determine which personal details can support and enhance the initial framework above. What about you is the most unique and can help explain your passion and/or vision for the future?

[list]
[*]What has made you who you are today?[/*]
[*]Who has made you who you are today?[/*]
[*]What has been the most influential experience in your life to date?[/*]
[*]What is unique about the way you grew-up or your career to date?[/*]
[*]What are you most proud of and why?[/*]
[*]Whom do you most admire – which qualities in particular and why?[/*]
[/list]
[b]Tying It All Together[/b]
Now, look back at your initial framework. What connection can you draw between your personal details and your vision of the future? Did a particular personal experience spur your interest in your long-term goals?

Tying your formative experiences and future goals together is undoubtedly the hardest part of this exercise. This is where it is often helpful to get an outside opinion or two, as it can be challenging to take an objective lens to your own life!

Remember, your personal brand should be a sincere representation of you and your goals. Don’t try to tell a school what you think they want to hear. The best personal brands are authentic and rich with depth and thoughtfulness. For most people, nailing down a personal brand takes a good bit of iteration until you have that coveted “aha moment”!

If you would like some assistance homing in on a strong personal brand, or with anything else related to the MBA application process, click [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]here[/url] for a free consultation.



The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/03/29/how-to-develop-your-personal-brand-2/]How to Develop Your Personal Brand[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Negotiating MBA Scholarships – It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask (Politely and Hu [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Negotiating MBA Scholarships – It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask (Politely and Humbly, That Is)
If you were lucky enough to emerge from the Round 2 business school application process with one or more acceptances in hand, congrats! It was competitive year, made even more challenging by the inability to visit and network with schools in person.

A subset of you may have even received offers of scholarship money to help offset the very significant cost of attending a full time MBA program. In such uncertain times, this had to have been incredibly welcome news.

However, while it is obviously a good problem to have, scholarship offer(s) can make the decision about where to attend business school more complicated than anticipated. Perhaps you were accepted to your top choice program but received a sizeable scholarship offer from a school you viewed as more of a ‘safety’. Are the incremental benefits of the higher ranked program enough to offset the higher cost to attend?

The decision can be downright anxiety-provoking and it’s an incredibly personal one. However, if you are truly torn and the decision boils down to the cost differential, it doesn’t hurt to ask your dream program if they can help.   

[b]Come from a Place of Authenticity [/b]
Given that it doesn’t hurt to ask (you’ve been accepted already, after all), you can bet that schools receive quite a few requests for additional scholarship money. If you’re lucky enough to have been accepted to multiple programs, the goal is not to throw requests at the wall to see what sticks, so to speak.

Your approach should be targeted and specific. If you can’t honestly say (not that you will be this explicit in your request, but as a thought exercise) that if School A offered you $X you would attend, think long and hard about whether it makes sense to ask. Schools can usually see through requests that aren’t sincere, making them a waste of your time as well as theirs.

[b]Adhere to Their Process[/b]
That said, schools are generally willing to entertain scholarship requests, particularly if you have a compelling alternative from a school they view as a peer / competitor for talent.

As a starting point, do some research or call admissions to determine how and where they would like you to send your request. Some schools have an online form they ask people to submit. Other schools will have you send an email to a specific inbox. Some may even ask for a copy of your competing scholarship award letter – it is safe to assume they will do this eventually.

[b]How You Ask Matters[/b]
Once you know the process, it’s time to frame up your request. It should be concise but also gracious and honest.

In addition to reiterating that you are thankful for the opportunity to attend, a best practice is to restate succinctly why the program in question is best suited to help you achieve your goals. Be sure to do this in a way that is unique to both you and the program at hand – if your ‘why school X’ argument could apply to any other program or any of your peers, it is not specific enough to be impactful.

Next comes your ‘ask’. Brief context is helpful so that they know your request is sincere. If you have a competing offer, mention it here. Or, if your financial circumstances have changed since you submitted your application, making it more difficult to afford tuition, be upfront about it. The rationale for your request, beyond just wanting to lower the cost of your MBA, goes a long way.

After you share your rationale, politely ask if they can reconsider you for scholarship opportunities. While you may have a ‘number’ in your head that would sway your decision, it’s best to keep your request open ended so as not to sound demanding. Close by thanking them for their time and, once again, for the offer of admission.

Keep in mind that it’s likely they will not be able to offer you additional funding. However, at least you know you’ve laid all of your cards on the table to make the best decision for your personal circumstances. Congrats again on your acceptances and enjoy the MBA journey!

[b]Other articles that may be of interest:[/b]
[url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2020/12/22/insights-from-mba-students-on-campusa-dose-of-hope-to-close-out-2020/]Insights from MBA Students on Campus[/url]

[url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/12/19/what-matters-in-choosing-an-mba-program/]What Matters in Choosing an MBA Program[/url]

[url=https://poetsandquants.com/2020/02/10/mba-scholarships-at-record-levels-with-awards-as-high-as-200k/2/]MBA Scholarships At Record Levels, With Awards As High As $200K[/url] (from Poets & Quants)

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/04/07/negotiating-mba-scholarships-it-doesnt-hurt-to-ask-politely-and-humbly-that-is/]Negotiating MBA Scholarships – It Doesn’t Hurt to Ask (Politely and Humbly, That Is)[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Successful MBA Applicants Have These Things in Common [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Successful MBA Applicants Have These Things in Common
While many people think of January as the time to reflect, I find that spring – with its first warm days, sunlight extending a little later into the evening, and flowers emerging from the ground – can be an equally optimal time to set aside habits that aren’t serving us and commit to goals for the coming weeks, months, and years. This is particularly true for those starting on their MBA journey, as the spring and early summer are when many applicants begin mapping out their approach and daydreaming in earnest about what it would feel like to attend their top choice program.

With that in mind, I’ve done some thinking about what qualities – at their core – set successful applicants apart from others who may not emerge from the MBA application process having reached their full potential.  I hope that they help guide the intentions you set for yourself as you embark on this transformative (and admittedly stressful!) journey.

1. They are self-aware.
Above all else, the commonality I see amongst the most successful applicants to top MBA programs is self-awareness. This often manifests itself into an easier time distilling down the values, passions, and motivations that guide their past decisions and future goals – all of which is critical material to nail in your MBA essays. Separately, strong self-awareness typically lends itself to deeper and more productive relationships with others, from which the best leadership and teamwork stories usually result.

2. They are open.
For many people, the toughest thing about writing business school application essays is getting comfortable sharing personal details. It can be surprising to learn that the admissions committees want you to let your guard down and share more about yourself than you would in a typical professional setting.

Trust me, it would be incredibly hard to differentiate between candidates if they were only judging you on your work experiences (consulting engagement stories really run together, I’ve read a lot of them) and GMAT scores. To truly assess your leadership potential and the value you would add to classroom discussion, they want to understand your unique perspective – one that was shaped by your upbringing, college experience, and personal hobbies.

If it is not your natural inclination to reflect on your values and motivations and then share them with perfect strangers, that is ok! But be prepared to get comfortable going down this path. Here is an exercise on developing what we call your ‘personal brand’ that might help.

3. They are curious.
When I speak to clients this time of year, they inevitably ask me what they should be doing right now to prepare for their applications. Hands down, my advice is to seek any and all information and truly listen to those who have come before you. In other words, network!

Nine times out of ten, applicants I speak with underestimate the number of conversations they need to have to adequately learn the subtle differences between top MBA programs. Remember that each person you speak with is just one opinion; to develop a robust perspective on how a school fits or does not fit your goals, you need to accumulate a variety of views.

Let’s go back to the admissions committee for a moment. Just as schools probably sound the same if you are only reading the generic language on their websites, applicants sound boringly similar if they speak in broad strokes about a school’s ‘culture’ and ‘experiential curriculum’. No matter how compelling your profile, they will be hesitant to admit you if you can’t articulate how you will leverage their program to achieve your goals.

So be curious and enjoy the process of learning about the experiences of others. Many of the details they share may not apply to you, but those that do will make all the difference in the world.

4. They are willing to put in the work.
Just as networking takes time and effort to do well, so does the broader application process. From arriving at compelling short-term and long-term post-MBA career goals to recrafting your resume for an admissions committee audience, a strong application can’t be done in days or even weeks.

Remember that you are competing for one of 300-1000 spots (depending on the program) with a pool roughly nine times as big as the incoming class based on the latest acceptance and yield data. Invest the time into crafting an authentic, well developed application and set yourself up for the best chances of success.

If you would like assistance, reach out for a free 30-minute consultation!

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Successful MBA Applicants Have These Things in Common [#permalink]
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