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Vantage Point Admissions Consultant
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Vantage Point Admissions Consultant
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Vantage Point Admissions Consultant
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Is a One-Year MBA Program Right for You? [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Is a One-Year MBA Program Right for You?
In a climate where there has been [url=https://poetsandquants.com/2020/04/06/the-student-revolt-over-mba-tuition/?pq-category=business-school-news/]increased debate[/url] about the ‘value for money’ you get from a traditional full time MBA program, you may wonder whether a one-year MBA program is an option worth considering. After all, the cost of attending these programs can be significantly lower than their two-year counterparts. At [url=https://www.kellogg.northwestern.edu/programs/full-time-mba/tuition-financial-aid.aspx]Kellogg[/url], for instance, the all-in cost for the one-year MBA is estimated at $141,000 compared with roughly $214,000 for the two-year option. And these figures don’t take into account the shorter duration of time you are out of the workforce.

Another factor in the ‘pros’ column is that one-year MBA students have full access to the classes, professors, and clubs as those in the traditional two-year format. They get to network with a global and highly diverse class of peers and leverage the resources of the full time MBA career center. And, by not having to juggle a ‘day job’, they can focus their attention on absorbing everything they can from the business school experience (yes, even the [url=https://poetsandquants.com/2019/01/01/which-m7-school-parties-the-hardest-this-survey-found-out/?pq-category=business-school-news/]travel and partying[/url] that many look forward to after several years in the workforce).

Seems like a no brainer, right? As you may have guessed, it’s not that simple.

[b]One-Year MBAs Work for a Niche Type of Student  [/b]
The most significant difference between one-year and two-year MBA programs is that the former does not allow for a formal summer internship, which is oftentimes a necessary step for those making a career pivot. One-year students enter the full-time recruiting cycle alongside second years (fresh off their summer internships) in the fall and must compete accordingly.  Depending on staffing needs, certain companies may not even return to campus to recruit full time hires, instead relying on the pool of summer interns that have ‘passed the test’ and received offers to return after graduation.

For some, the lack of a summer internship is not a concern. Those with offers to return to their pre-MBA employer, for instance, or someone planning to launch an entrepreneurial venture (or commit to an existing one full time) after graduation. The common thread is that these students don’t need the summer internship to ‘put theory into practice’ in a new field or prove to potential employers that they will be successful in a new function or industry.

[b]Prior Business Coursework is Often Important[/b]
While many of the top programs stop short of making it a requirement, prior business coursework (in other words, a business focused undergraduate degree) is helpful for those considering a one-year MBA.

In most cases, one-year students bypass the most basic core courses or take them on a condensed timeline. Admissions committees need to have confidence that an applicant will be successful in this rigorous format. Foundational knowledge of and strong performance in fundamental business coursework is the best way to put their minds (and your own) at ease.

[b]Which Programs Offer a One-Year Option?[/b]
Several of the top US-based MBA programs have well-established one-year options. Kellogg’s ‘1Y’ program was one of the first and remains one of the largest. While technically longer than one year in duration at 16 months, Columbia’s ‘J-Term’ where students start in January instead of August also fits the bill. Outside of the ‘M7’, Cornell and Emory also offer one-year options.

In addition to the ‘general curriculum’ programs, Cornell and Stern offer one-year ‘Tech MBAs’ and Stern offers a one-year ‘Fashion and Luxury MBA’. These highly specialized programs are targeted at those already in the focus industry who wish to remain there after graduation.

It seems that new programs are entering the one-year space each year, so this list is far from exhaustive! It also doesn’t include European MBA programs, many of which are shorter in duration than the typical two-year track of US programs.

At the end of the day, for someone with the right profile, a one-year MBA can be a great option, allowing you to fill in skill gaps on an expedited timeline and likely at a reduced cost.

Need help determining if a one-year MBA is right for you? Click [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]here[/url] to request a free consultation.



The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/05/18/is-a-one-year-mba-program-right-for-you/]Is a One-Year MBA Program Right for You?[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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How Much Time Does It Take to Apply to B-School? [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How Much Time Does It Take to Apply to B-School?
A question we often hear this time of year is “when should I start working on my MBA applications if I’m applying in the fall?” It seems so far away…

But it’s not! You can guess where we’re going with this. The answer is that you need to start right now. Seriously, the amount of time you devote to putting together a well-researched and well-crafted application package has a strong correlation with your outcome. On average, our clients start working with us five months before the deadlines (and some start a whole year in advance).

The top MBA programs typically release their applications in June. Ideally, you start in the spring and tackle the ‘low hanging fruit’ before this happens. By ‘low hanging fruit’, we mean taking the GMAT/GRE, [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/03/15/comparison-of-top-mba-programs/]researching schools[/url], talking to alums and current students, crafting your [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/03/01/how-to-make-your-resume-mba-ready/]MBA resume[/url], and solidifying your [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/03/08/mba-career-goals-part-i-crafting-a-compelling-short-term-vision/]post-MBA career goals[/url].

[b]Essay Writing is a Beast, But It Is Critically Important[/b]
Getting a head start in the spring allows you to hit the ground running and be efficient with the essay writing process, which is really where the heavy lifting comes in. On average, we see applicants writing 10-20 drafts of their essays for the top MBA programs. Our double admits this past year (those who got into HBS and Stanford) wrote a minimum of 12 drafts of each essay (the max was 27 in case you were wondering).

Why does it take so long? Because iteration is a critical part of making your applications, especially your essays, as good as they can possibly be. When we work with clients, we’ll often begin by brainstorming potential material and then iterating a few times on a high-level outline. This ‘prewriting’ process can easily span a week or two, which takes us to the beginning of July. If you plan to write a minimum of ten drafts (which you should) and are also juggling a full-time job, it’s easy to see how the timeline can close in on you. Especially if you are applying to a handful of schools!

Clients are often skeptical that they will write 10-20 drafts of an essay, so here’s a general example of how that might play out. Draft one is where you take a shot at one of the themes you had in mind. Draft two is about taking that story or theme up a level so that you are focusing on one clear idea. Draft three is refining that content so that it generally fits within the word limit. Draft four is about shuffling the flow of the essay so that the reader can “skim” and still understand the power of what you’re trying to say. Draft five incorporates more of your feelings and the “why” behind the stories in the essay. Draft six incorporates comments that your colleagues gave you about how you’re coming across. Draft seven is where you refine the way that you explained your key stories to make them more “to the point”. Draft eight is where you add a powerful ending. And so on, and so on. This process varies by person, but in general, plan on the essay writing phase taking 25+ hours per school. Don’t rush this – it’s critical.

[b]So, What Does an Ideal Timeline Look Like? [/b]
Back to our main point: if you know that heavy lifting is coming, plan for it. Start now and trust us, you’ll be glad you did. You’ll feel more prepared and confident when you finally hit the submit button in the fall.

Below is the timeline that we generally recommend for a Round 1 applicant.

[img]https://vantagepointmba.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/MBATimelinev4-768x380-1.png[/img]

And as always, reach out to us with any questions! We are still taking clients for round 1 and round 2 of this year’s application cycle. You can request a free initial consultation with one of our MBA admissions consultants by completing the form located [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]here[/url].



The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/05/24/how-much-time-does-it-take-to-apply-to-b-school-2/]How Much Time Does It Take to Apply to B-School?[/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Essay Advice – UVA’s Darden School of Business [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Essay Advice – UVA’s Darden School of Business
And so, it begins…the first 2021-22 MBA application is live! Last week, the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business opened their application, which again includes a variety of short answer essay prompts (although they’ve been tweaked slightly from last year). They will continue to offer an early decision round, with both binding and non-binding options. In other exciting news, they shared that they plan to begin the year with normal operations and in-person instruction!

Application Run Down
The deadlines are as follows:

Early Action – 9 September 2021

Round 1 – 6 October 2021

Round 2 – 5 January 2022

Round 3 – 6 April 2022

The essay prompts include:

  • Tell us what you would want your Learning Team to know about you that is not on your resume. (150 words)
  • Darden strives to identify and cultivate responsible leaders who follow their purpose. Please respond to one of the following prompts (200 words)
    • Option 1: Tell us about a time when you acted with a team to solve a problem or seize an opportunity. What role did you play? What did you learn from this experience?
    • Option 2: Tell us about a time you acted to solve a problem for the greater good. What drew you to this issue? What did you learn from this experience?
  • The Darden School develops practices and cultivates a culture that reflect and incorporate the worldviews of its many community members. In this inclusive culture, the community learns important — and sometimes uncomfortable — lessons from one another, resulting in more conscientious global leaders and citizens. Please respond to one of the following prompts (200 words)
    • Option 1: Share a time when you learned something related to diversity, equity or inclusion that was previously unknown to you? How did this experience impact your perspective?
    • Option 2: Share a time when you advocated for a perspective, identity or community different from your own. How did this experience impact your worldview?
  • What is your short-term, post-MBA goal and how does it align with the long-term vision you have for your career? (150 words)
  • The Batten Foundation Worldwide Scholarship provides all Darden students in our full-time MBA program with an opportunity to participate in a Darden Worldwide Course. If you could choose any location in the world, where would you want to travel, and why? (55 words)
How To Tackle These Essays
The biggest challenge of the Darden essays is their limited word count – it’s really hard to write a robust and compelling answer in 200 words or less. That’s basically two paragraphs! On the flip side, because you are asked to write about a variety of topics, it’s somewhat easier to paint a multi-dimensional picture of yourself and what you bring to the table.

Make Every Word Count
This advice applies to all MBA essays but is even more critical here – make every word count! This is not the place for loosely worded sentences with a lot of ‘fluff’ (or any fluff, quite frankly). Your language should be concise and each word you choose should be done with purpose. That’s the only way you’ll be able to pack in everything you want to say and show the adcom how incredible you are!

From a process standpoint, with answers this short, it’s often best to start long and edit down. By long, I don’t mean 1000 words. But early drafts that are up to double the allotted word count is okay in this case. As you iterate, think of ways to say something in one word instead of several and enlist the help of a trusted friend or family member to determine which details you can cut while still sharing necessary context.

Tell Your Own Story
When I work with clients on the Darden essays, I generally advise them to resist the temptation to look at each question and ‘see what story pops into their head’ as an answer that fits. This is letting the application tell their story instead of them actively managing the narrative. Instead, we revisit their personal branding and pull out the critical stories we have identified that support the picture they want to paint of themselves. Then we bump these stories up against the prompts and see what works!

For instance, a past client wanted to position herself as an accomplished athlete with a passion for mentorship and proven ability to unite teams around a common goal. With this branding in mind, we told stories about her time as a D1 athlete, her experience tutoring students from an underserved area, and how she united a virtual work team during the pandemic (the prompts were slightly different last year, as previously mentioned). We then filled in the rest with her career goals and a unique answer to where she would like to travel. She told the story she wanted to tell within the confines of the application, as opposed to letting the application define what she shared.

If you need help with your MBA applications, including Darden, click here to schedule an initial consultation.

The post Essay Advice – UVA’s Darden School of Business appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
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MBA Deadlines ’21-’22 : Updated Releases! [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: MBA Deadlines ’21-’22 : Updated Releases!
*Updated June 7, 2021

It’s that time of year! The top MBA programs are starting to release their deadlines and applications. Now is the time to pick your first school and start drafting essays in order to be ready for the September and October deadlines. Over the next few weeks, all of the deadlines and essay topics should be released.

Remember, when to apply matters. Early action programs tend to have higher acceptance rates but are typically binding commitments. Round 1 is the optimal round for most applicants, especially those with 4+ years of work experience or who are applying from an over-represented background like consulting. But at the end of the day, the most important factor is [b]what[/b] you submit. So, our advice is typically to weigh the factors but don’t sacrifice quality for speed (see our longer article on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/06/11/round-1-or-round-2/]Round 1 vs. Round 2[/url] if you’re debating right now).  Please note that we did not include Round 3 deadlines below as they are not ideal for most applicants.


[b]Early Action[/b]
[b]Round 1[/b]
[b]Round 2[/b]

Chicago Booth


Sept 23
Jan 6

Columbia
Oct 6
n/a
Jan 5 (scholarship)

UVA Darden
Sept 6
Oct 6
Jan 5

Duke Fuqua




HBS

Sept 8
Jan 4

INSEAD (Sept entry)




Kellogg

Sept 15
Jan 5

Michigan Ross


Sept 20
Jan 10

Dartmouth Tuck





Wharton

Sept 8
Jan 5

Yale SOM




Stanford




MIT Sloan




Haas




NYU Stern








The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/06/07/mba-deadlines-21-22-updated-releases/]MBA Deadlines ’21-’22 : Updated Releases![/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Networking For Your MBA Applications [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Networking For Your MBA Applications
In the already subjective MBA application process, “networking” can seem particularly abstract. What exactly is networking in this context? Do you really need to do it? How do you get started?

What Is Networking?
Let’s start there. Some folks think networking is very transactional or artificial (i.e. schmoozing), where you reach out to someone to “get something” like a favor, information, or introduction to another person. While that may be true for some people, it’s not the approach we recommend.

Simply put, networking is building relationships. In the case of your MBA applications, it’s building relationships with a variety of folks who are connected to the application process in some way. It’s a two-way street, where you get to know people and they get to know you.

So “networking” is just a fancy way of saying “meeting new people”, right? Yes, but it’s more than that; you want to be strategic in your approach. Invest your efforts in building relationships with folks who can help guide and inform your MBA application process. This could be a former classmate from undergrad who is a first-year student at HBS. By scheduling time to chat with her, you’re sure to gain valuable insights about the school, its culture, essay tips, etc. And who knows, maybe she’s recruiting at your company for a post-MBA role and you can share your experience with her in return.

It’s ultimately up to you to find the networking approach that feels comfortable and authentic, but rest assured that making the effort will contribute to stronger applications.

Why Is Networking Important?
Why, exactly, does networking contribute to stronger applications? Simply put, your competition is doing it and if you’re not, you risk losing out. More importantly, networking can help you put together a more cohesive and compelling application, which increases your chances of admission. Let’s dig into how that plays out.

First and foremost, networking is an opportunity to discover new things about a school, a career path, a company, etc. that can help you solidify your fit and “reasons why” for any of them. Most of the time, that kind of information can’t be found on a website. Trust us, providing a thoughtful and well-researched answer to “why school X is the right fit for you and your goals” can be the difference that gets you admitted.

What Not to Do
It should go without saying that all social etiquette rules apply in MBA application networking, but just as a quick refresher, here are a few key “DON’Ts”.

DON’T wait until the last minute. Networking should be approached like a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, so start early – like now! Waiting until two days before the deadline to reach out to a current student with a list of questions whose answers you will plug into your “why school X” essay will not do you any favors.

DON’T ask basic or shallow questions. When you’ve finally nailed down that coffee with an alum from your dream school, don’t waste their time asking questions whose answers you could easily find on your own. Instead, come with thoughtful questions whose answers will truly further your understanding of how the school fits with your goals and objectives. You want the other person to be impressed with your level of research because, who knows, they may end up advocating for your candidacy if they also feel like you’re the right fit for their school!

DON’T be disrespectful of or ungrateful for the other person’s time. MBA students, alums, representatives from admissions, etc. are all busy and while they’re happy to help, it takes effort on their part. So be sure to express your gratitude for their time and input. If they tell you they can only spare 20 minutes, remain vigilant of the time. Those manners will go a long way in leaving a good impression.

How to Get Started
There really isn’t a wrong way to start building your MBA network. However, if we had to recommend an ideal network, it would be comprised of: (1) current students and/or alums from your target schools, (2) colleagues/former classmates/mentors with MBAs, and (3) people in your target post-MBA industry/function. (Note that these three categories are not mutually exclusive – most likely one person will fall into more than one bucket.)

Start with your existing network and think of people who fall into one or more of these categories. Then reach out to them for a phone call or COVID-friendly coffee. After each meeting, be sure to ask that person to connect you with someone else from his/her network who could be helpful in your application process. Then repeat.

Even if you know current students or alums from your target schools, you should also engage with the schools directly. With school visits still on hold, this can be as easy as attending a webinar hosted by admissions. These are great opportunities to hear what the schools believe are their selling points while giving you a chance to ask questions. It also indicates to the adcom that you’re serious about their program and have made the effort to get to know them.

Lastly, you can take advantage of third-party platforms and events to further build out your network. LinkedIn, MBA forums (reddit, GMAT Club, Beat the GMAT, etc.), and formal networking events (Poets & Quants is hosting a couple this year, for example) are all great places to engage if you feel like your network is still a bit sparse.

If this seems like a lot of work, it is! But it should be fun. After all, an expanded network is one of the most valuable benefits of an MBA. Getting started on this during the application process will only give you a head start once you arrive on campus in the fall. Best of luck!

Did you know that we include a networking component in our Comprehensive Packages? That’s how important it is! Your consultant will help you create a networking plan and will even facilitate introductions to a post-MBA professional (in your desired career path) and/or a current student or alum of your dream school to supplement your independent efforts. Request an initial consultation to learn more about how we can help you in your application process!

The post Networking For Your MBA Applications appeared first on Vantage Point MBA.
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Essay Advice – University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Essay Advice – University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business
Michigan Ross’ full time MBA application is live! This midwestern stalwart prides itself on its collegial culture and focus on action-based learning. Its location in one of the preeminent ‘college towns’ and passionate alumni network also count as some of this program’s key selling points.

If you’re considering applying to Michigan Ross, here is what you need to know:

Application Run Down
The deadlines are as follows:

Round 1: 20 September 2021

Round 2: 10 January 2022

Round 3: 4 April 2022 (please do yourself a favor and don’t wait for Round 3)

The essays include:

Two short answer questions (100 words each; 200 words total) where you choose one prompt from each of two ‘groups’

Group 1:

  • I want people to know that I:
  • I made a difference when I:
  • I was aware that I was different when:
Group 2:

  • I am out of my comfort zone when:
  • I was humbled when:
  • I was challenged when:
One essay (200 words) that answers the following:

  • Michigan Ross is a place where people from all backgrounds with different career goals can thrive. What is your short-term career goal and why? (200 words)
How To Tackle These Essays
The format of Ross’ essays really speaks to the culture of their program. While they are clearly interested in your career goals (hence the focus of the longer essay), they also want to get to know you personally, as evidenced by the short answer section.

Use Stories to ‘Show Not Tell’ Who You Are
Since they are asking to get to know you on a deeper level, give them what they want! In your short answers, think of stories that exemplify the qualities about yourself that you want to showcase (i.e., your personal brand) and see which of the prompts they may fit within. The prompts are intentionally broad, so use that leeway to your advantage.

Importantly, make sure the two stories you tell highlight different attributes, so you paint a robust and multi-dimensional picture of yourself.  Perhaps from Group 1, you use the second prompt to highlight the time you formed a nonprofit organization to benefit a cause about which you are passionate. This demonstrates initiative and the ability to rally others around a common purpose. Then from Group 2, you use the middle prompt to talk about a failure and what you learned from it (yes, talking about failures is ok!). This shows you are self-aware and have a growth mindset.

Don’t Forget the ‘And Why’
When it comes to answering the career goals essay question, the last few words of the prompt (‘and why’) are perhaps the most critical. The adcom doesn’t just want to know what you want to do after graduation, they want to know why this is your goal.

While somewhat counterintuitive, the ‘why’ for your short-term goal might actually lie in your long-term career goal. For instance, perhaps you are targeting a post-MBA role in social impact consulting because it will give you the ‘reps’ you need to, one day, run the CSR function of a large corporation.  I know they’re not directly asking about your long-term plans, but nine times out of ten its hard to make a compelling argument for a particular short-term career path without talking about where it will ultimately take you.

If you need help with your MBA applications, including Michigan Ross, click here to schedule an initial consultation.

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Should You Retake the GMAT/GRE? Answer These Five Questions to Find Ou [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Should You Retake the GMAT/GRE? Answer These Five Questions to Find Out
“Is my test score strong enough?” That question is plaguing hundreds, if not thousands, of MBA applicants this time of year. By now, many MBA hopefuls have taken the GMAT or GRE at least once, but aren’t sure if their score is “enough” to get them into their dream programs.

While a test score is only one data point in a holistic application process, it packs a big punch, especially if you’re part of an overrepresented applicant pool (finance, consulting, Indian IT/engineering, etc.). There is really no downside to retaking the test, except for the time and associated fee it requires, so it’s an option worth considering. If you’re applying to the top MBA programs, you want to ensure you’re putting your best foot forward at every opportunity.

If you’re waffling about whether to give the GMAT or GRE another go, here are a few questions to consider:

1. Is your score below average for your target schools? If so, by how much?
If your GMAT score is 30+ points below your target schools’ average (or 6+ points below average for the GRE), you’re part of an over-represented applicant pool and your undergrad GPA is also below average, it’s probably worth seeing what you can do to bring your score up.

However, if everything else about your application wows, including unique work experience, a stellar undergrad GPA, and impressive extracurriculars, you may feel more comfortable applying with a so-so test score.

2. How many times have you taken the test and how far have you come since your first attempt?
If you took the GMAT or GRE once and were disappointed by your score, it likely makes sense to retake it. Most applicants take their chosen standardized test more than once; our clients have typically taken it at least 2-3 times. The admissions committee actually looks favorably upon multiple attempts, as it shows dedication to the application process.

However, if you’ve taken it four or more times and still haven’t achieved your target score, you may want to focus on other areas of the application and adjust your school list so that you’re hedging your bets. That said, if you’ve made moderate gains with each retake, you may still have runway and should probably try again.

3. How hard did you study? Did you really give it your all?
Ask yourself if, in your heart of hearts, you have upside left in your score. If you took a reputable course, did all the homework, drilled incessantly on your weak areas, and took real practice tests then you may not. You could retake the test and possibly squeeze out another 10 points (in the case of the GMAT), but it’s arguably not worth it for that little movement.

On the other hand, if you took the test with no structure or strategy to your studying, you might be able to improve quite significantly. Take the time to prep properly and then schedule a retake. Whether your best score so far has been a 620 or 720 (again, in the case of the GMAT), if you have this kind of upside left, why not capture it?

4. How does your score compare to your practice test performance?
This is another way to determine if you might have upside in your score. If you took full simulated practice tests and consistently scored better than you did on the actual test, you may have just had an off day.

If your actual score reflects your practice test performance and you were simply hoping to get lucky and do better, it’s probably not worth planning a retake.

5. How much time do you have left before the deadlines?
If it’s less than, say, two months and you still have a lot of work left to do on your applications, your time will be better spent on higher-return efforts, such writing killer essays. However, if you’re reading this at the time it was published (June), you still have a good three months before the earliest round 1 deadlines, so we say go for it!

You could consider postponing your applications to round 2 if you’re committed to improving your test score and you don’t have time to do it all, but that’s not an option for everyone (those who want to take advantage of an early decision option, for example).

Ultimately, whether a test retake makes sense is a very individual decision that depends on the nuances of your situation and application profile. If you have any further questions about what the right decision is for you, our team is happy to help! Click here to schedule a free consultation with an experienced admissions expert who can weigh in on your decision and provide a helpful evaluation of your profile.

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Essay Advice – University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Essay Advice – University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School
Wharton’s 2021-22 essay questions are out and offer a fresh twist on last year’s questions! As in prior years, their prompts are direct and allow enough word count to paint a robust picture of who you are and why Wharton is right for you (and vice versa). As such, I often recommend that my clients tackle this application first. The deadlines are also early in each round, which lends additional credence to this approach.

If you’re considering applying to Wharton, here is what you need to know:

Application Run Down
The deadlines are as follows:

Round 1: 8 September 2021

Round 2: 5 January 2022

Round 3: 30 March 2022 (please do yourself a favor and don’t wait for Round 3)

There are two required essay questions:

  • How do you plan to use the Wharton MBA program to help you achieve your future professional goals? You might consider your past experience, short and long-term goals, and resources available at Wharton. (500 words)
  • Taking into consideration your background – personal, professional, and/or academic – how do you plan to make specific, meaningful contributions to the Wharton community? (400 words)
How To Approach These Essays
As I mentioned earlier, the Wharton essay questions read as fairly straightforward. That’s great, but don’t let it lead you down the path of writing boring essays (which can tend to happen, if I’m being honest).  Run of the mill essays do nothing to help you stand out from the sea of applications Wharton receives. Additionally, while Wharton allows for a generous word count to cover the content they’ve asked for, you will absolutely need to be strategic about what you include – and don’t.

Your Career Goals Are the ‘Anchor’ For Essay One
So, where do you start? When it comes to the first essay, the critical thing to keep in mind is that all of your content should be ‘anchored’ by your short- and long-term career goals. If you haven’t given robust thought to these and done your due diligence to ensure they are sound, now is the time to do so.

Once you have defined and refined your career goals, you need to think backwards and forwards. What do I mean by this? By thinking backwards, I’m encouraging you to think about the formative experiences that led you to your post-MBA career goals. Perhaps in your work as a consultant you were staffed on a healthcare project that opened your eyes to how complex yet exciting the healthcare industry can be. This sparked your interest in shifting to a strategy role within a healthcare company where you can make a lasting impact on the industry and those it touches. Tell this story so the adcom can really feel your passion and the authenticity behind your goals.

By thinking forwards, I’m recommending that you think very specifically about the skills you need to build in order to be successful in your target career. Then, research and describe the unique elements of Wharton’s program that will help you to build them. If the examples you cite are offered by other business schools, they are not specific enough to make a compelling argument as to why Wharton will best position you for success. Getting this part right takes work and that is exactly why it matters.

Focus Essay Two on Being a ‘Giver’ Not a ‘Taker’
When it comes to the second essay, take a cue from what Wharton professor extraordinaire Adam Grant’s concept of ‘givers and takers’. Whereas the ‘why Wharton’ section of the first essay can cover what you will ‘take’ from the experience, this essay should focus on the ways in which you will be a ‘giver’ while at Wharton and even after graduation. A giver ‘…[looks] to help others by making an introduction, giving advice, providing mentoring or sharing knowledge, without any strings attached.’

To be in a position to ‘give’, you need to have a unique knowledge base, personality trait, or past experience from which others will benefit. This is the crux of the essay. It is, first and foremost, the place to share what distinguishes you from other applicants. Because the first essay is so career focused, I urge my clients to write about something personal here.

For example, a past client discussed how she would use the determination that had helped her overcome personal challenges to motivate her peers in Wharton Women in Business. She went on to describe a specific area of programming she would bring to the club that tied in with some of the personal challenges she had conquered.  The essay was strategic, specific, and thoughtful (and it was successful in earning her an acceptance with full scholarship).

If you need help with your MBA applications, including Wharton, click here to schedule an initial consultation. We look forward to speaking with you!

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The HBS Essay: Where to Start [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: The HBS Essay: Where to Start
At first glance, the Harvard Business School essay question, which remained unchanged again this year, seems fairly simple. What more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? However, after giving it some thought, many candidates find themselves quite lost, trying to figure out what the adcom is looking for and which experiences from their background would be best to include.

What Does HBS Look For
As a starting place, it’s important to keep in mind the qualities HBS seeks in its MBAs. HBS looks for: 1) Habit of Leadership, 2) Analytical Aptitude and Appetite; 3) Engaged Community Citizenship. It wants strong leaders who will change the world. Nearly every successful candidate meets the criteria above, so it’s important you demonstrate all of these throughout your application (but not necessarily all in the essays).

Ultimately, the essay is the place where they will get to know you beyond the nitty-gritty things you provide elsewhere in your application. As such, it’s important to get personal. The goal is to show who you are, what drives you, and what has helped you become who you are today (and that person today is a strong, amazing leader). Your essay should be centered on a thesis that crystallizes this overarching insight about yourself.

We’ve had applicants write about personal mantras that coaches gave them, childhood experiences or cultural influences that impacted the way they think, hobbies that helped them think outside the box, etc. Your experiences and accomplishments don’t have to be massive things, relatively speaking – not everyone has started a non-profit or is on a mission to save the world — but they should be significant to you and your evolution as a person. So settle in and get comfortable turning the microscope on yourself!

Frameworks to Consider
From our years of advising successful applicants to HBS, we find that it’s helpful to brainstorm leveraging frameworks that can help tie various elements of a candidate’s profile together.  This approach provides some structure while leaving plenty of room for personal expression and creativity. To start, consider how your own story could fit into one of the following:

1) Life Theme: is there something from your life that’s been a theme and you can point to how it’s impacted you personally, professionally and otherwise? It can be cultural heritage, family, traditions (large and small), etc. We’ve even had clients write about something as simple as a hobby like soccer or riding horses.

2) Defining Trait: pick a trait that you believe really exemplifies who you are. For example, we recently had a client write about how he got comfortable not always being the best and sometimes being the worst; and how overcoming his fear of failure led him to some of his greatest achievements.

This is probably the most common tack to take. GSB’s prompt in prior years has been “What matters most to you, and why?” and sometimes people find that to be an easier framework to think inside. This approach could result in a similar essay for HBS and Stanford GSB.

3) A Passion: Pick something about which you’re really passionate. Maybe you have a strong passion that drives your goals? In the past, we’ve had clients write about diversity and inclusion, wanting to change industries, etc., but it’s atypical to spend an HBS essay focused on work.

Structure Ideas
Once you’ve brainstormed possible theses and the underlying stories you could use to support them, begin building an outline. Ultimately, you want an essay that is no more than two pages and follows a structure somewhat like the below. In reality, your essay will be more like 8-9 paragraphs because your stories can take up multiple paragraphs.

P1: Intro (summarizes the main point and is unique/interesting enough to pull the reader in)

P2: Context / history of what you asserted about yourself in P1 (the ‘origins’ story, if you will)

P3: Example story from some point in life (can be any time really)

P4: Example story from another point in life (stories should demonstrate leadership as much as possible – these should be your most impressive stories of stepping up to the plate)

P5: Conclusion

What to Avoid
You should never write about “Why HBS” or really “Why MBA.” HBS has never directly asked ‘why HBS’ and that is intentional – they are confident that their program sets its graduates up for success as leaders. Word count spent detailing ‘why HBS’ is word count you don’t have to spend talking about yourself and that’s a missed opportunity. It’s possible that you integrate some “Why MBA” in the conclusion but try to avoid that initially and see how it goes.

In addition, be careful not to spend too much of the essay focused on work. It is our strong, strong recommendation that your overarching essay topic should not be anything professionally specific or undifferentiated like a banking deal team story. If you include something like this, make it an example story somewhere in your essay, not the essay topic itself.

An Example of Success
Because it’s often hard to put theory into practice, below is a sample essay from one of our clients who was accepted. You can also find it here, along with some color commentary from our team.

“My upbringing taught me to be proudly self-reliant. My mother, a construction worker by day and a waitress by night, worked relentlessly to afford to keep us in a strong Massachusetts school system. And her busy work schedule forced me to take on a high level of responsibility from a young age. By the time I was 10, I knew how to make dinner for myself and my younger sister. If I wanted to get ice cream with my friends, I earned money by babysitting for my neighbors. I had to spend extra time on my homework as I often did not have a second set of eyes checking for mistakes. Though the self-reliance I built was something I was proud of, the challenge was that these experiences also made me naively believe that I could tackle any obstacle by myself, and that I did not need help from others to achieve my goals.

However, my perspective changed when I was diagnosed with type I diabetes at the age of 13. I was initially unaffected by my diagnosis and insisted on doing my own insulin shots at the hospital as soon as the nurses would let me. Due to some unfortunate timing, I was forced to spend my third and final night at the hospital alone. During that quiet night my new reality finally sank in, and I started to question my ability to handle this challenge alone. Luckily, when I left the hospital I was assigned a fantastic team of nutritionists, nurses, and doctors who taught me how to manage my condition. But gradually, my appointments with this team became less frequent. As the only diabetic in my family, I felt isolated as I struggled with the daily ups and downs of diabetes. After years of staunch independence, I felt myself suddenly wanting a broader community for support.

I found this community initially on the softball field. I had been playing softball since the age of eight but the game took on new meaning after my diagnosis. Putting on my uniform and stepping onto the field, I bonded with a group of individuals focused on one goal: winning. Out of this mindset grew unconditional friendships and when low blood sugar forced me out of a game, every player would check on me and cheer loudly when I when went back on the field. In return, I put everything I had into our games; I even sport a permanent scar on my left leg from constantly sliding into bases. During my 2008 season on my college varsity softball team, Coach Tom asked us to write down our unique strengths. The day before playoffs, each player received a ball with a written quote encapsulating this self-evaluation. I now keep this softball on my desk at work to remind myself of my individualized mantra: “I may not be the biggest or the strongest, but I always give 100% of myself to the team”.

As a varsity softball player in college, my team devotion was tested when an over-zealous slide into third base sidelined me for most of the season. I was initially devastated by this accident: for years I had gauged my contribution to the team by my statistical performance, and I felt insignificant without this data. Fortunately, I discovered a renewed sense of purpose mentoring one of our struggling freshmen, Rachel. I empathized with Rachel’s frustrations and feelings of isolation, recalling my own emotions from that third night in the hospital. Together we worked tirelessly to improve her fielding skills and I felt immensely proud when Rachel fielded several games successfully later that season. This experience taught me that the impact I could have as a leader on a team was as important as the impact I could have at bat or in the outfield. I’ve carried this lesson with me to my Boston co-ed league where I currently add value to my team of talented but relatively inexperienced softball players every week by strategizing field positioning, directing base runners, and rallying morale. Each community I become a part of ―be it the leading bank where I now work, my coed softball team, or my volunteer leadership committee― receives the same level of collaborative enthusiasm from me. My experiences on the softball field have taught me the value of teamwork and leadership, which have become core to my personality and vital to my professional success. By knowing how to work with and motivate large groups, I have been able to lead cross-sector research projects at a leading bank, revealing unique investment insights. During these projects I have taken responsibility for ensuring that a team objective is established and that everyone contributes, leading to great successes and promotions not only for me but also for my teammates. And going forward, I believe that these qualities will enable me to become an effective and influential executive at a company focused on improving the quality of care and the quality of life for all individuals like me living with diabetes and seeking their own ”teams” for support.”

We hope this helps get you started with the HBS essay! The ambiguity of the question makes it tough, but with self-reflection, vulnerability, and patience you can write a great essay and hopefully have a bit of fun with it along the way.

If you would like some personalized guidance, click here to request a free 30-minute consultation!

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Essay Advice – Kellogg School of Management [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Essay Advice – Kellogg School of Management
Kellogg’s 2021-22 application is open! If you’re considering applying to Kellogg, here is what you need to know:

Application Run Down
The deadlines are as follows:

Round 1: 15 September 2021

Round 2: 5 January 2022

Round 3: 6 April 2022 (please do yourself a favor and don’t wait for Round 3)

There are two required essay questions, which remain unchanged from last year:

  • Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)
  • Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)
There is also a third required essay for those applying to a specialized MBA program and/or for those who are reapplying. Finally, Kellogg has three video essay questions – you can find advice for approaching these here.

How To Tackle These Essays
While it’s always crucial to present yourself in an authentic and individual way, it’s helpful to keep in mind the qualities Kellogg seeks in its applicants. As Kate Smith shared in a recent blog article, Kellogg ‘…develop[s] leaders who are empathetic, innovative and who harness the power of diverse teams to meet complex challenges.’ Aim to put your own personal spin on this statement and share experiences that demonstrate it resonates with you.

Think Long and Hard About the Story You Select for Essay One
As the first essay prompt indicates, Kellogg is looking for you to share one concrete ‘story’ in your answer. So, essentially, you have one shot to demonstrate why, as proven by a past experience, you will make an indelible mark on their incoming class. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one story, so it’s important to choose wisely.

Our recommended approach is to brainstorm a variety of stories you could potentially use here and not simply go with the first one that comes to mind. Just because an accomplishment was personally significant to you doesn’t mean it is the best material for this essay.

As general guidance, we would steer you towards a professional example that is relatively recent (within the last two years) and involved teamwork of some kind. Kellogg wants to see the kind of leader you are today and given the heavily team-oriented nature of the program, telling a story about a time you accomplished something without the help of others doesn’t demonstrate the fit they are looking for.  Further, gravitate towards a time where you acted outside of your day-to-day job responsibilities (maybe you took the initiative to fix a process that was broken or launched a new employee resource group at your company) – this is how you hit on the ‘brave leadership’ element Kellogg is looking for.

Essay Two Should Blend the Personal and Professional
When it comes to the content for essay two, it should nearly always include some discussion of your future goals. If you’ve done robust personal branding work, these goals are rooted in your values and passions, exactly what this essay is looking for.

Thinking holistically about the Kellogg application, there really isn’t another place to talk about your vision for the future and how an MBA fits into it. As such, this is the ideal place to include it.

That said, the whole essay probably shouldn’t be forward looking. You want to show that you’ve put your values into practice through your past choices and actions too. Maybe the same value that led you to your pre-MBA career (drive for excellence, a desire to overcome challenges, etc.) is also influencing your future goals and decision to pursue an MBA.

If you need help with your MBA applications, including Kellogg, click here to schedule an initial consultation.

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MBA Deadlines ’21-’22 : Updated Releases! [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: MBA Deadlines ’21-’22 : Updated Releases!
*Updated June 7, 2021

It’s that time of year! The top MBA programs are starting to release their deadlines and applications. Now is the time to pick your first school and start drafting essays in order to be ready for the September and October deadlines. Over the next few weeks, all of the deadlines and essay topics should be released.

Remember, when to apply matters. Early action programs tend to have higher acceptance rates but are typically binding commitments. Round 1 is the optimal round for most applicants, especially those with 4+ years of work experience or who are applying from an over-represented background like consulting. But at the end of the day, the most important factor is [b]what[/b] you submit. So, our advice is typically to weigh the factors but don’t sacrifice quality for speed (see our longer article on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2019/06/11/round-1-or-round-2/]Round 1 vs. Round 2[/url] if you’re debating right now).  Please note that we did not include Round 3 deadlines below as they are not ideal for most applicants.


[b]Early Action[/b]
[b]Round 1[/b]
[b]Round 2[/b]

Chicago Booth


Sept 23
Jan 6

Columbia
Oct 6
n/a
Jan 5 (scholarship)

UVA Darden
Sept 6
Oct 6
Jan 5

Duke Fuqua




HBS

Sept 8
Jan 4

INSEAD (Sept entry)




Kellogg

Sept 15
Jan 5

Michigan Ross


Sept 20
Jan 10

Dartmouth Tuck





Wharton

Sept 8
Jan 5

Yale SOM




Stanford




MIT Sloan




Haas




NYU Stern







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Networking For Your MBA Applications [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Networking For Your MBA Applications
In the already subjective MBA application process, “networking” can seem particularly abstract. What exactly is networking in this context? Do you really need to do it? How do you get started?

What Is Networking?
Let’s start there. Some folks think networking is very transactional or artificial (i.e. schmoozing), where you reach out to someone to “get something” like a favor, information, or introduction to another person. While that may be true for some people, it’s not the approach we recommend.

Simply put, networking is building relationships. In the case of your MBA applications, it’s building relationships with a variety of folks who are connected to the application process in some way. It’s a two-way street, where you get to know people and they get to know you.

So “networking” is just a fancy way of saying “meeting new people”, right? Yes, but it’s more than that; you want to be strategic in your approach. Invest your efforts in building relationships with folks who can help guide and inform your MBA application process. This could be a former classmate from undergrad who is a first-year student at HBS. By scheduling time to chat with her, you’re sure to gain valuable insights about the school, its culture, essay tips, etc. And who knows, maybe she’s recruiting at your company for a post-MBA role and you can share your experience with her in return.

It’s ultimately up to you to find the networking approach that feels comfortable and authentic, but rest assured that making the effort will contribute to stronger applications.

Why Is Networking Important?
Why, exactly, does networking contribute to stronger applications? Simply put, your competition is doing it and if you’re not, you risk losing out. More importantly, networking can help you put together a more cohesive and compelling application, which increases your chances of admission. Let’s dig into how that plays out.

First and foremost, networking is an opportunity to discover new things about a school, a career path, a company, etc. that can help you solidify your fit and “reasons why” for any of them. Most of the time, that kind of information can’t be found on a website. Trust us, providing a thoughtful and well-researched answer to “why school X is the right fit for you and your goals” can be the difference that gets you admitted.

What Not to Do
It should go without saying that all social etiquette rules apply in MBA application networking, but just as a quick refresher, here are a few key “DON’Ts”.

DON’T wait until the last minute. Networking should be approached like a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time, so start early – like now! Waiting until two days before the deadline to reach out to a current student with a list of questions whose answers you will plug into your “why school X” essay will not do you any favors.

DON’T ask basic or shallow questions. When you’ve finally nailed down that coffee with an alum from your dream school, don’t waste their time asking questions whose answers you could easily find on your own. Instead, come with thoughtful questions whose answers will truly further your understanding of how the school fits with your goals and objectives. You want the other person to be impressed with your level of research because, who knows, they may end up advocating for your candidacy if they also feel like you’re the right fit for their school!

DON’T be disrespectful of or ungrateful for the other person’s time. MBA students, alums, representatives from admissions, etc. are all busy and while they’re happy to help, it takes effort on their part. So be sure to express your gratitude for their time and input. If they tell you they can only spare 20 minutes, remain vigilant of the time. Those manners will go a long way in leaving a good impression.

How to Get Started
There really isn’t a wrong way to start building your MBA network. However, if we had to recommend an ideal network, it would be comprised of: (1) current students and/or alums from your target schools, (2) colleagues/former classmates/mentors with MBAs, and (3) people in your target post-MBA industry/function. (Note that these three categories are not mutually exclusive – most likely one person will fall into more than one bucket.)

Start with your existing network and think of people who fall into one or more of these categories. Then reach out to them for a phone call or COVID-friendly coffee. After each meeting, be sure to ask that person to connect you with someone else from his/her network who could be helpful in your application process. Then repeat.

Even if you know current students or alums from your target schools, you should also engage with the schools directly. With school visits still on hold, this can be as easy as attending a webinar hosted by admissions. These are great opportunities to hear what the schools believe are their selling points while giving you a chance to ask questions. It also indicates to the adcom that you’re serious about their program and have made the effort to get to know them.

Lastly, you can take advantage of third-party platforms and events to further build out your network. LinkedIn, MBA forums (reddit, GMAT Club, Beat the GMAT, etc.), and formal networking events (Poets & Quants is hosting a couple this year, for example) are all great places to engage if you feel like your network is still a bit sparse.

If this seems like a lot of work, it is! But it should be fun. After all, an expanded network is one of the most valuable benefits of an MBA. Getting started on this during the application process will only give you a head start once you arrive on campus in the fall. Best of luck!

Did you know that we include a networking component in our Comprehensive Packages? That’s how important it is! Your consultant will help you create a networking plan and will even facilitate introductions to a post-MBA professional (in your desired career path) and/or a current student or alum of your dream school to supplement your independent efforts. Request an initial consultation to learn more about how we can help you in your application process!
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Hello world! [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Hello world!
Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start writing!
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The HBS Essay: Where to Start [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: The HBS Essay: Where to Start
At first glance, the Harvard Business School essay question, which remained unchanged again this year, seems fairly simple. What more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy? However, after giving it some thought, many candidates find themselves quite lost, trying to figure out what the adcom is looking for and which experiences from their background would be best to include.

What Does HBS Look For
As a starting place, it’s important to keep in mind the qualities HBS seeks in its MBAs. HBS looks for: 1) Habit of Leadership, 2) Analytical Aptitude and Appetite; 3) Engaged Community Citizenship. It wants strong leaders who will change the world. Nearly every successful candidate meets the criteria above, so it’s important you demonstrate all of these throughout your application (but not necessarily all in the essays).

Ultimately, the essay is the place where they will get to know you beyond the nitty-gritty things you provide elsewhere in your application. As such, it’s important to get personal. The goal is to show who you are, what drives you, and what has helped you become who you are today (and that person today is a strong, amazing leader). Your essay should be centered on a thesis that crystallizes this overarching insight about yourself.

We’ve had applicants write about personal mantras that coaches gave them, childhood experiences or cultural influences that impacted the way they think, hobbies that helped them think outside the box, etc. Your experiences and accomplishments don’t have to be massive things, relatively speaking – not everyone has started a non-profit or is on a mission to save the world — but they should be significant to you and your evolution as a person. So settle in and get comfortable turning the microscope on yourself!

Frameworks to Consider
From our years of advising successful applicants to HBS, we find that it’s helpful to brainstorm leveraging frameworks that can help tie various elements of a candidate’s profile together.  This approach provides some structure while leaving plenty of room for personal expression and creativity. To start, consider how your own story could fit into one of the following:

1) Life Theme: is there something from your life that’s been a theme and you can point to how it’s impacted you personally, professionally and otherwise? It can be cultural heritage, family, traditions (large and small), etc. We’ve even had clients write about something as simple as a hobby like soccer or riding horses.

2) Defining Trait: pick a trait that you believe really exemplifies who you are. For example, we recently had a client write about how he got comfortable not always being the best and sometimes being the worst; and how overcoming his fear of failure led him to some of his greatest achievements.

This is probably the most common tack to take. GSB’s prompt in prior years has been “What matters most to you, and why?” and sometimes people find that to be an easier framework to think inside. This approach could result in a similar essay for HBS and Stanford GSB.

3) A Passion: Pick something about which you’re really passionate. Maybe you have a strong passion that drives your goals? In the past, we’ve had clients write about diversity and inclusion, wanting to change industries, etc., but it’s atypical to spend an HBS essay focused on work.

Structure Ideas
Once you’ve brainstormed possible theses and the underlying stories you could use to support them, begin building an outline. Ultimately, you want an essay that is no more than two pages and follows a structure somewhat like the below. In reality, your essay will be more like 8-9 paragraphs because your stories can take up multiple paragraphs.

P1: Intro (summarizes the main point and is unique/interesting enough to pull the reader in)

P2: Context / history of what you asserted about yourself in P1 (the ‘origins’ story, if you will)

P3: Example story from some point in life (can be any time really)

P4: Example story from another point in life (stories should demonstrate leadership as much as possible – these should be your most impressive stories of stepping up to the plate)

P5: Conclusion

What to Avoid
You should never write about “Why HBS” or really “Why MBA.” HBS has never directly asked ‘why HBS’ and that is intentional – they are confident that their program sets its graduates up for success as leaders. Word count spent detailing ‘why HBS’ is word count you don’t have to spend talking about yourself and that’s a missed opportunity. It’s possible that you integrate some “Why MBA” in the conclusion but try to avoid that initially and see how it goes.

In addition, be careful not to spend too much of the essay focused on work. It is our strong, strong recommendation that your overarching essay topic should not be anything professionally specific or undifferentiated like a banking deal team story. If you include something like this, make it an example story somewhere in your essay, not the essay topic itself.

An Example of Success
Because it’s often hard to put theory into practice, below is a sample essay from one of our clients who was accepted. You can also find it here, along with some color commentary from our team.

“My upbringing taught me to be proudly self-reliant. My mother, a construction worker by day and a waitress by night, worked relentlessly to afford to keep us in a strong Massachusetts school system. And her busy work schedule forced me to take on a high level of responsibility from a young age. By the time I was 10, I knew how to make dinner for myself and my younger sister. If I wanted to get ice cream with my friends, I earned money by babysitting for my neighbors. I had to spend extra time on my homework as I often did not have a second set of eyes checking for mistakes. Though the self-reliance I built was something I was proud of, the challenge was that these experiences also made me naively believe that I could tackle any obstacle by myself, and that I did not need help from others to achieve my goals.

However, my perspective changed when I was diagnosed with type I diabetes at the age of 13. I was initially unaffected by my diagnosis and insisted on doing my own insulin shots at the hospital as soon as the nurses would let me. Due to some unfortunate timing, I was forced to spend my third and final night at the hospital alone. During that quiet night my new reality finally sank in, and I started to question my ability to handle this challenge alone. Luckily, when I left the hospital I was assigned a fantastic team of nutritionists, nurses, and doctors who taught me how to manage my condition. But gradually, my appointments with this team became less frequent. As the only diabetic in my family, I felt isolated as I struggled with the daily ups and downs of diabetes. After years of staunch independence, I felt myself suddenly wanting a broader community for support.

I found this community initially on the softball field. I had been playing softball since the age of eight but the game took on new meaning after my diagnosis. Putting on my uniform and stepping onto the field, I bonded with a group of individuals focused on one goal: winning. Out of this mindset grew unconditional friendships and when low blood sugar forced me out of a game, every player would check on me and cheer loudly when I when went back on the field. In return, I put everything I had into our games; I even sport a permanent scar on my left leg from constantly sliding into bases. During my 2008 season on my college varsity softball team, Coach Tom asked us to write down our unique strengths. The day before playoffs, each player received a ball with a written quote encapsulating this self-evaluation. I now keep this softball on my desk at work to remind myself of my individualized mantra: “I may not be the biggest or the strongest, but I always give 100% of myself to the team”.

As a varsity softball player in college, my team devotion was tested when an over-zealous slide into third base sidelined me for most of the season. I was initially devastated by this accident: for years I had gauged my contribution to the team by my statistical performance, and I felt insignificant without this data. Fortunately, I discovered a renewed sense of purpose mentoring one of our struggling freshmen, Rachel. I empathized with Rachel’s frustrations and feelings of isolation, recalling my own emotions from that third night in the hospital. Together we worked tirelessly to improve her fielding skills and I felt immensely proud when Rachel fielded several games successfully later that season. This experience taught me that the impact I could have as a leader on a team was as important as the impact I could have at bat or in the outfield. I’ve carried this lesson with me to my Boston co-ed league where I currently add value to my team of talented but relatively inexperienced softball players every week by strategizing field positioning, directing base runners, and rallying morale. Each community I become a part of ―be it the leading bank where I now work, my coed softball team, or my volunteer leadership committee― receives the same level of collaborative enthusiasm from me. My experiences on the softball field have taught me the value of teamwork and leadership, which have become core to my personality and vital to my professional success. By knowing how to work with and motivate large groups, I have been able to lead cross-sector research projects at a leading bank, revealing unique investment insights. During these projects I have taken responsibility for ensuring that a team objective is established and that everyone contributes, leading to great successes and promotions not only for me but also for my teammates. And going forward, I believe that these qualities will enable me to become an effective and influential executive at a company focused on improving the quality of care and the quality of life for all individuals like me living with diabetes and seeking their own ”teams” for support.”

We hope this helps get you started with the HBS essay! The ambiguity of the question makes it tough, but with self-reflection, vulnerability, and patience you can write a great essay and hopefully have a bit of fun with it along the way.

If you would like some personalized guidance, click here to request a free 30-minute consultation!

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Essay Advice – Kellogg School of Management [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Essay Advice – Kellogg School of Management
Kellogg’s 2021-22 application is open! If you’re considering applying to Kellogg, here is what you need to know:

Application Run Down
The deadlines are as follows:

Round 1: 15 September 2021

Round 2: 5 January 2022

Round 3: 6 April 2022 (please do yourself a favor and don’t wait for Round 3)

There are two required essay questions, which remain unchanged from last year:

  • Kellogg’s purpose is to educate, equip and inspire brave leaders who create lasting value. Provide a recent example where you have demonstrated leadership and created value. What challenges did you face and what did you learn? (450 words)
  • Values are what guide you in your life and work. What values are important to you and how have they influenced you? (450 words)
There is also a third required essay for those applying to a specialized MBA program and/or for those who are reapplying. Finally, Kellogg has three video essay questions – you can find advice for approaching these here.

How To Tackle These Essays
While it’s always crucial to present yourself in an authentic and individual way, it’s helpful to keep in mind the qualities Kellogg seeks in its applicants. As Kate Smith shared in a recent blog article, Kellogg ‘…develop[s] leaders who are empathetic, innovative and who harness the power of diverse teams to meet complex challenges.’ Aim to put your own personal spin on this statement and share experiences that demonstrate it resonates with you.

Think Long and Hard About the Story You Select for Essay One
As the first essay prompt indicates, Kellogg is looking for you to share one concrete ‘story’ in your answer. So, essentially, you have one shot to demonstrate why, as proven by a past experience, you will make an indelible mark on their incoming class. That’s a lot of pressure to put on one story, so it’s important to choose wisely.

Our recommended approach is to brainstorm a variety of stories you could potentially use here and not simply go with the first one that comes to mind. Just because an accomplishment was personally significant to you doesn’t mean it is the best material for this essay.

As general guidance, we would steer you towards a professional example that is relatively recent (within the last two years) and involved teamwork of some kind. Kellogg wants to see the kind of leader you are today and given the heavily team-oriented nature of the program, telling a story about a time you accomplished something without the help of others doesn’t demonstrate the fit they are looking for.  Further, gravitate towards a time where you acted outside of your day-to-day job responsibilities (maybe you took the initiative to fix a process that was broken or launched a new employee resource group at your company) – this is how you hit on the ‘brave leadership’ element Kellogg is looking for.

Essay Two Should Blend the Personal and Professional
When it comes to the content for essay two, it should nearly always include some discussion of your future goals. If you’ve done robust personal branding work, these goals are rooted in your values and passions, exactly what this essay is looking for.

Thinking holistically about the Kellogg application, there really isn’t another place to talk about your vision for the future and how an MBA fits into it. As such, this is the ideal place to include it.

That said, the whole essay probably shouldn’t be forward looking. You want to show that you’ve put your values into practice through your past choices and actions too. Maybe the same value that led you to your pre-MBA career (drive for excellence, a desire to overcome challenges, etc.) is also influencing your future goals and decision to pursue an MBA.

If you need help with your MBA applications, including Kellogg, click here to schedule an initial consultation.

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Do This Before You Submit Your Round 1 MBA Applications! [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Do This Before You Submit Your Round 1 MBA Applications!
If you’re a round one MBA applicant and you haven’t had the “oh sh#t” moment yet, you’re probably not paying attention. Starting with [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/2021/07/11/the-hbs-essay-where-to-start/]HBS on 9/8[/url], round one applicants face a busy month as they finalize their applications and make last minute changes before the deadlines.

The team at Vantage Point MBA is here to help. Here is our seven-step process to maximize the last few weeks before applications are due:

[list]
[*][b]Set calendar reminders for each of your target schools[/b]. We get it. This sounds dumb. Please do it anyway.  Each year we hear from applicants who, despite spending months fine tuning their essays, still manage to miss the deadlines. In some cases, this is due to time zone differences and in others it is due to stressful periods at work. You’ve worked hard to get to this point, if you can get your applications out for round one, then do it.[/*]
[*][b]Check[/b][b] in with your recommenders[/b].  While some schools will be lenient around recommenders missing their delivery dates, it’s best not to tempt fate.  Reach out to your recommenders as early as possible to ensure that they are on track (if you haven’t already, make sure to give them talking points and/or explain your story to them) and ask them to give you a heads up when the recs are submitted.  Finally, once the recs are on their way, thank them. Send them flowers or a bottle of wine… whatever is appropriate but remember that recommenders have put in a lot of work on your behalf.[/*]
[*][b]Take a few days off[/b].  Seriously, just do it.  You have been synthesizing your life’s goals and accomplishments for weeks now, if not longer.  Not only do you deserve a break but taking some time off from your apps will allow you to come back with a clear head and a fresh perspective.[/*]
[*][b]Get a second set of eyes[/b].  If your essays are “pretty close to done,” then it’s time to get some feedback from a friend or colleague that you trust.  When they’re done reading your essays, ask them what the main takeaways are.  If their takeaways don’t line up with what you think is in the essays, it’s time to tweak and edit.[/*]
[*][b]Read your essays out loud[/b].  You probably want to clear out your apartment for this but take a few minutes and read your essays out loud to yourself.  After looking at a screen for hours on end, this is a great exercise to catch any typos and make sure that the essays flow and are readable.[/*]
[*][b]Work through your checklist[/b]. In addition to checking in with your recommenders, make sure that your transcripts, GMAT/GRE scores, and any other materials are ready to go or have already been submitted to your schools.[/*]
[*][b]Take a bow[/b].  You’re about to hit “submit” and start your MBA journey. Congratulations on a huge accomplishment and making one of the most important investments that you can – in yourself.  Business school is an awesome experience and you’re going to learn a ton. Come what may on decision day, you’ve given it your all, and you deserve to be proud of that.[/*]
[/list]
[b]Round One Application Deadlines (including time of day if not 11:59pm local time):[/b]

Columbia: Rolling

INSEAD: 9/07

Harvard Business School: 9/8 at [b]Noon ET[/b]

Wharton: 9/8

Stanford: 9/9 at [b]4pm PT[/b]

Yale: 9/14 at [b]5pm ET[/b]

Kellogg: 9/15 at [b]5pm CT[/b]

Ross: 9/20

Chicago Booth: 9/23

Tuck: 9/27 at [b]5pm ET[/b]

Sloan: 9/28 by [b]3pm ET[/b]

Darden: 10/6

If an outside opinion would be helpful, click [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/free-consultation/]here[/url] to schedule a free 30-minute consultation.

The post [url=https://vantagepointmba.com/do-this-before-you-submit-your-round-1-mba-applications-2/]Do This Before You Submit Your Round 1 MBA Applications![/url] appeared first on [url=https://vantagepointmba.com]Vantage Point MBA[/url].
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Essay Advice – Columbia Business School [#permalink]
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FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Essay Advice – Columbia Business School
Working on your Columbia Business School application? Here is what you need to know:

Application Run Down
Columbia is one of the only top schools where the timing of when you click “submit” can matter. Since Columbia has rolling admissions, it’s often to your benefit to submit your application early. This is an important one to stay on top of if it’s on your list.

Deadlines
J-Term Entry (January 2022):

  • Final – October 6, 2021
Regular Entry (August 2022) (70% of students):

  • Early Decision (Binding) – October 6, 2021
  • Scholarship Consideration – January 5, 2022
  • Final – April 8, 2022
Essays
There is one short answer question and three required essays:

  • Short Answer Question: What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)
  • Essay 1: Through your resume and recommendation, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what, in your imagination, would be your long-term dream job? (500 words)
  • Essay 2 and 3: Please respond to two (2) of the three (3) essay questions listed below:
    • The Phillips Pathway for Inclusive Leadership (PPIL) is a new co-curricular program designed to ensure that every CBS student develops the skills to become an ethical and inclusive leader. Through PPIL, students attend programming focused on five essential diversity, equity, and inclusion skills: Creating an Inclusive Environment, Mitigating Bias, Communicating Across Identities, Addressing Systemic Inequity, and Managing Difficult Conversations. Tell us about a time you were challenged around one of these five skills.  Describe the situation, the actions you took, and the outcome. (250 words)
    • Why do you feel Columbia Business School is a good fit for you? (250 words)
    • Tell us about your favorite book, movie, or song and why it resonates with you. (250 words)
How To Tackle The CBS Essays
While it may sound odd, you can tell a lot about a school from the essay questions they ask applicants to answer. Columbia’s essay questions demonstrate that it seeks students who have defined, well researched career goals, hence the robust word count allotted to essay one and pointed short answer question. CBS also places heavy emphasis on diversity – not just in background but also in thought – and developing leaders who embrace this as a core value. Essays 2 and 3 seek to understand the unique perspective you bring to the table and look for you to demonstrate that you share the school’s focus on harnessing diversity. Keep these nuances in mind as you craft your answers.

The ‘Why’ is as Important as the ‘What’ in Essay One
While the first essay prompt indicates that Columbia isn’t looking for a restatement of your resume, some insight into the past makes for a more powerful and authentic response. In addition to a clear and specific explanation of your goals, the most important thing to communicate is the ‘why’ behind them. And the ‘why’ is often rooted in your past experiences.

The key is to be targeted about which of your past experiences you include. Start by thinking about the defining elements of the career you will pursue post-MBA. For instance, perhaps your dream is to launch a new beauty brand. The defining elements of this path could be described as (1) entrepreneurship and (2) consumer focused. Share things from your past that explain why you have a passion for entrepreneurship and also why beauty / consumer goods will be your focus as opposed to another product or service. Perhaps you launched a side business in college and loved the thrill of building something from scratch. And maybe your personal experience has demonstrated a gap in the current beauty marketplace that you feel compelled to rectify. Tell these stories to help the reader feel your passion and the authenticity underlying your goals.

Be Strategic When Choosing Prompts and Material for Essays Two and Three
When it comes to selecting the two of three essay prompts to answer, be strategic. Think of your application as a holistic package and choose the questions that will highlight critical parts of your personal brand that you haven’t had the chance to communicate elsewhere.

Because there isn’t another discrete place to cover your ‘why Columbia’ messaging, I often encourage clients to answer the second prompt and then select one of the others. The catch is that this is arguably the hardest of the three questions to answer well. Doing so requires communicating that you understand the unique perspective you bring to the table (harkening back to my earlier point) – both the skills you have and also those you lack – and have done your research to understand how they benefit and benefit from CBS’ program.

Leverage your final essay as a ‘gap filler’. Think about the differentiating things you bring to the table, particularly those you haven’t covered elsewhere, and find a way to weave them in. If you answer the third prompt, for instance, you could choose a book or movie that resonated with you because the main character shared your cultural background, philosophy on life, etc. Despite what the prompt says, it doesn’t have to be your favorite of all time – it’s better to focus on something that will help explain your own diverse viewpoint to the adcom.

If you need help with your MBA applications, including Columbia, click here to schedule an initial consultation.

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Essay Advice – Columbia Business School [#permalink]
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