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The Truth about Round 3 [#permalink]

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New post 17 Jan 2017, 20:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: The Truth about Round 3
If you’re wondering where the last 5 months went, how they flew by in a blur, you’re not alone! If the first two, and in some cases three, applications deadlines for the top MBA programs somehow got away from you, you’re also not alone!  And now you’re probably questioning if it’s worth applying in round 3 or waiting until next year. While we can’t make the decision for you, we can tell you the truth about round 3 from our experience so you’re as informed as you can be as you decide what’s right for you.
-Chances go down, way down*. Unfortunately, by the time round 3 comes around, most of the class at any of the top programs has been filled with prior round applicants. In many cases, the adcom is also re-evaluating waitlist candidates alongside round 3 applicants so competition is fierce for a finite number of seats. Although the schools don’t publish acceptance rates broken out by rounds, our friends atPoets & Quantshave done some digging and have estimated the admissions % per round based on self-reported data from GMAT Club. This is by no means a perfect sample, so please take it with a grain of salt – but it can be used directionally.
*On average. You’ll see a greater drop-off among the very top programs with less so across many lower ranked programs and European programs.
-Adcom is refining, not building the class. At this point in the application cycle, the adcom has been reviewing applications for 5 months, if not more. This means that the chances that they’ve admitted other applicants that are similar to you are quite high. It also means that the bar is set that much higher for you to distinguish yourself and stand out as a candidate vs. your predecessors. Perhaps most importantly, however, we’ve consistently heard from adcoms at the top programs that they look to round 3 applicants to refine and fill any gaps in the final composition of the class. While that’s much more art than science, it does present a challenging case for many traditionally over-represented applicant profiles (i.e. consultants, IB/PE, engineers from India, etc.) This is not to pick on these folks, but the reality is that the chances that a top program has a lack of consultants, for example, among its pool of admitted students is simply lower. Have consultants ever been admitted in round 3? Of course! But that just means they had something else highly unique and differentiated about their profile that added to the diversity of the class.
-Scholarship money is typically less available. Some schools consider all applicants – no matter the application round – for merit-based and need-based scholarships/fellowships. Others, such as Columbia Business School, have a January (or early spring) deadline in order to be eligible for scholarships and fellowships. Since the timing and process around financial aid varies from program to program, we suggest confirming that for your specific list of schools. However, even if your school(s) awards financial aid on a rolling basis, the funds left over for round 3 applicants are simply lower as earlier applicants will have received priority.
-Additional considerations for international applicants. Lastly, if you’re an international applicant, most schools recommend that you apply in round 1 or round 2 in order to give yourself plenty of time for visa processing, housing arrangements, etc. It’s not impossible to make the timing work for round 3 but it will most likely be stressful. Also, as noted on HBS’s admissions page, applying in the last round will also give you less time to work on your English proficiency, if that’s something you need to improve on in preparation for the academic rigor of the MBA.
Although round 3 does come with its risks, it’s not all downside. Every year, dozens of fantastic candidates are admitted in round 3. If they weren’t, the schools would just do away with the late round(s), right? In our experience, round 3 could be right for you if:
1.You have a tight and differentiated application. The adcom expects round 3 applicants to be that much more buttoned up. (After all, you’ve had more time to work on your applications than prior applicants.) If you’ve done the hard work of putting together a compelling story, thoughtful and well-written essays (this takes multiple edits and drafts), and a great GMAT score, then it could be the right time for you to apply.
AND / OR
2.A compelling reason for your round 3 timing. The adcom will often expect you to have a compelling reason for why you waited until round 3 to apply to their program. Sometimes circumstances such as an illness or military service push you into round 3. Sometimes it’s the timing of wrapping up an important project at work, travel, or a promotion. No matter what it is for you, be sure to explain your reasoning and don’t leave it to assumption.
Not too certain after all if round 3 is right for you? Well, it may be worth waiting until round 1 of next year if:
1.You’re a younger applicant. If you have <3 years of work experience, which is below average for the top MBA programs, it may serve you well to get 6+ more months on the job before applying. During that time, you could strengthen your leadership experience, manage summer interns, take on a new innovative project, etc. which could all serve to improve your profile.
2.Generally, your app isn’t the best it could be (GMAT, ECs, leadership experience, etc.)If you’re aiming for the top programs and there are any aspects of your application that you could still impact for the better, it may be worth focusing on getting those right before you apply. No matter what the timing, we always advise our clients to submit their applications when they’re in the best place possible.
3.You don’t want to risk being a reapplicant. Reapplicants to most top programs bear the burden of showing what changed and improved since their prior application. In many cases, it’s tougher to show a meaningful improvement in your application – one that would cause the adcom to turn a ding into an acceptance – in 3 or 4 short months between your round 3 decision and when you would start on round 1 apps for the following year. If you have your heart set on going to a certain school and you decide to apply round 3, that’s a risk you run.
We wish you the best of luck with your applications, whether you decide to gun it for round 3 or start fresh in round 1 next year! If you’d like a professional perspective on your specific situation or advice on how to approach your applications, our team is ready to help! Reach out for afree consultationtoday!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

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MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
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What You Can Do Now to Prepare for R1: Best Practices from Last Year' [#permalink]

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New post 23 Jan 2017, 12:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: What You Can Do Now to Prepare for R1: Best Practices from Last Year's Success Stories
It may be “only January” now, but for most busy MBA applicants, the deadlines sneak-up faster than you think. As such, we compiled a list of best practices from our clients this past year that can help guide you over the next few months.
Schedule Your Class Visits Now
“I visited all of my target schools the year before. I’m so glad I did because my list shuffled quite a bit - my “dream school” changed twice.” - Kellogg Admit
If you plan to apply round 1 (which you should if you’re this early in the process, in most cases), there’s a very small window of opportunity in the fall to squeeze in a class visit before the actual deadlines. So, we recommend that you visit over the next few months. Visiting helps you to assess which schools may be the best fit for you, and it also gives you 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. Those who visit almost always write better essays than those who don’t, from our experience.
Take the GMAT ASAP
“I wish I’d taken the GMAT earlier. Originally I was targeting a whole different set of schools, then when I got my score I had to re-evaluate at the last minute.” - HBS admit
Knowing your GMAT score in advance can help you a) better focus your school research; b) help determine if you need to take extra classes in advance of applying (eg. to offset a weaker score); c) ensure ample time to retake the test if you desire; and d) take that burden off your plate, enabling you to focus on the higher-level, strategic aspects of the application such as defining your story and goals.
Activate Your Network
“I arranged to have coffee with several of my MBA co-workers a full year in advance. It was invaluable because they flagged issues for me that I would never have considered on my own. They also helped me start to think about why an MBA might be the right or wrong decision for me.” - Wharton admit
An MBA is more than an academic degree. It’s a full program with many aspects and attributes that are often hard to understand without having been there yourself. Seek-out those in your network who can talk to you about their MBA experiences. Having these conversations early will help you not only collect information to accelerate your process (eg. information on school cultures, different career paths etc); but it could also lead to stronger advocacy for you by these individuals as they write your recommendations later on. Everyone likes to see someone being proactive!
Flag Your Weaknesses So You Have Time to Do Something About Them
“I took two online accounting courses before I applied since my college grades were less than impressive. They took forever. I never could have completed them alongside the essays.” - Haas Admit
It’s not too hard to find information on what the schools are looking for. In fact, we havetwo webinarson our website that walk through exactly that. Think through where your areas of weakness are and create an action plan to address those issues over the coming months. Typical areas of weakness include low undergrad grades / GPA, low GMAT score, limited extracurricular involvement, limited leadership experience, etc. Though you can’t change the past, you can always mitigate the potential negative impact of anything that’s less than perfect on your profile.
Start Thinking About Your Goals As Soon As Possible
“Fortunately I wasn’t going to go to business school unless I knew what my specific goals would be coming out. So I forced myself to do a lot of research and determine a few paths that I’d realistically want to go down. This turned out to be a lot of work and I’m glad I did this well in advance.” - Fuqua admit
Being able to articulate why the MBA is the right degree for you and what you plan to do with it is extremely important. There are limited spaces available in each top MBA program, so they want people who they know will leverage the MBA to do great things. For 75% of the people we work with, defining their goals is one of the hardest parts. It takes time, conversations, research and 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, feel free to reach out if you have any questions!
www.vantagepointadmissions.com
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
Contact us for a Free Consultation!

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What You Can Do Now to Prepare for Round 1: Best Practices from Last  [#permalink]

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New post 24 Jan 2017, 11:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: What You Can Do Now to Prepare for Round 1: Best Practices from Last Year's Success Stories
It may be “only January” now, but for most busy MBA applicants, the deadlines sneak-up faster than you think. As such, we compiled a list of best practices from our clients this past year that can help guide you over the next few months.
Schedule Your Class Visits Now
“I visited all of my target schools the year before. I’m so glad I did because my list shuffled quite a bit - my “dream school” changed twice.” - Kellogg Admit
If you plan to apply round 1 (which you should if you’re this early in the process, in most cases), there’s a very small window of opportunity in the fall to squeeze in a class visit before the actual deadlines. So, we recommend that you visit over the next few months. Visiting helps you to assess which schools may be the best fit for you, and it also gives you 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. Those who visit almost always write better essays than those who don’t, from our experience.
Take the GMAT ASAP
“I wish I’d taken the GMAT earlier. Originally I was targeting a whole different set of schools, then when I got my score I had to re-evaluate at the last minute.” - HBS admit
Knowing your GMAT score in advance can help you a) better focus your school research; b) help determine if you need to take extra classes in advance of applying (eg. to offset a weaker score); c) ensure ample time to retake the test if you desire; and d) take that burden off your plate, enabling you to focus on the higher-level, strategic aspects of the application such as defining your story and goals.
Activate Your Network
“I arranged to have coffee with several of my MBA co-workers a full year in advance. It was invaluable because they flagged issues for me that I would never have considered on my own. They also helped me start to think about why an MBA might be the right or wrong decision for me.” - Wharton admit
An MBA is more than an academic degree. It’s a full program with many aspects and attributes that are often hard to understand without having been there yourself. Seek-out those in your network who can talk to you about their MBA experiences. Having these conversations early will help you not only collect information to accelerate your process (eg. information on school cultures, different career paths etc); but it could also lead to stronger advocacy for you by these individuals as they write your recommendations later on. Everyone likes to see someone being proactive!
Flag Your Weaknesses So You Have Time to Do Something About Them
“I took two online accounting courses before I applied since my college grades were less than impressive. They took forever. I never could have completed them alongside the essays.” - Haas Admit
It’s not too hard to find information on what the schools are looking for. In fact, we have two webinars on our website that walk through exactly that. Think through where your areas of weakness are and create an action plan to address those issues over the coming months. Typical areas of weakness include low undergrad grades / GPA, low GMAT score, limited extracurricular involvement, limited leadership experience, etc. Though you can’t change the past, you can always mitigate the potential negative impact of anything that’s less than perfect on your profile.
Start Thinking About Your Goals As Soon As Possible
"Fortunately I wasn’t going to go to business school unless I knew what my specific goals would be coming out. So I forced myself to do a lot of research and determine a few paths that I’d realistically want to go down. This turned out to be a lot of work and I’m glad I did this well in advance.” - Fuqua admit
Being able to articulate why the MBA is the right degree for you and what you plan to do with it is extremely important. There are limited spaces available in each top MBA program, so they want people who they know will leverage the MBA to do great things. For 75% of the people we work with, defining their goals is one of the hardest parts. It takes time, conversations, research and 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.
---------------------------------------------------
So how does all of this apply to your specific situation? Great question! We’d love to chat with you about your profile and help answer any questions you have about your MBA application journey. That’s why we offer our free 30-minute consultation.Sign up to speak with one of our MBA admissions experts today!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
Contact us for a Free Consultation!

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Wharton's MBA for Executives - Impressions from a Current Student [#permalink]

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New post 25 Jan 2017, 20:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Wharton's MBA for Executives - Impressions from a Current Student
Last year I had the privilege of working with Tom*, an applicant to the Wharton MBA for Executives Program in San Francisco. After his first term, Tom has offered his insight and advice for those considering theWharton EMBA.
1) What has surprised you the most about the program?
Tom: The biggest surprise was how much work this program really is. Even with all of the warnings from faculty and alumni, it was still a shocker to me. Term 1 was definitely the most stressful term since everyone was trying to adjust to the new lifestyle as well as proving that they belonged in the program. It felt very competitive (in a good way) and it took quite a bit of work just to keep up with the rest of the class.
2) What did you wish you had known before you started and what were the challenges that you faced?
Tom: The biggest challenge I faced was how to manage my time and relationships with family, friends and loved ones. Since it’s such a demanding program, sometimes I didn’t realize how much time I spent on school work. In the beginning, there was a lot of emotional stress between my wife and me. Eventually, we realized that it wasn’t just me who had to adapt to the new lifestyle. It took a while for us to find the right balance, and communication was key during these tough times.
3) What is your favorite aspect of the program and what is the best thing about Wharton?
Tom: As cliche as this sounds, it’s all about the people you meet in the program. When we introduced ourselves on the first day, it was amazing to learn how much people had accomplished in their lives and careers. Also, it was very easy for me to connect with most of the classmates. I love my study group and we just clicked from day 1. A lot of people have similar interests, so it’s very easy to make friends and have fun even with the crazy workload.
4) How do you balance work, life and school?
Tom: A good calendar definitely helps, and I made sure to share my school calendar with family and work. But the most important lesson was that I couldn’t possibly be perfect in all 3 areas, so I had to figure out my priorities. I am very fortunate to be in a very accommodating company. My boss fully understood my school situation, so he did his best to reduce my workload. In terms of school, I had to decide between grades vs. networking, and I chose the latter. As for personal life, I definitely had to say no a lot to friends and family. Just learn to apologize and tell them that you will make it up once school is over in 2 years. Also, forget about hobbies (half joking).
5) How has the program impacted your performance at work - eg. are you using what you learn in the classroom back at the office?
Tom: I think it depends on what type of work you do. For me, I initially learned quite a bit about people management and leadership, so I was able to quickly start applying some of that in my day-to-day work. However, most of the classes in year 1 are core foundational courses, so it’s hard to apply basic economics or accounting theories at this point. Year 2 will offer a lot of practical skills since it’ll be mostly elective courses.
6) What advice do you have for those considering the Wharton EMBA program now?
Tom: Most people in the program arenotexecs at this point in their careers. More than half of the class are in their late 20s or early 30s. For me, I felt that I was not qualified when I first started looking at the program. If you are uncertain, contact Wharton and they will let you know if you are qualified or not. Also, be confident and don’t ever think that you are not qualified. In addition, have your life and work in order before starting this program. Some people try to juggle all three at the same time. It will not work, and it will just create unnecessary stress. Finally, don’t think that only full time students get to party. We know how to have fun and we make sure that there is at least one event for every class weekend.
If you're wondering whether the Wharton EMBA program, or an EMBA in general, is right for you, please reach out to us. We've worked with applicants to all of the top full time, part time and executive MBA programs and can help you think through your strategy.
www.vantagepointadmissions.com
*Tom is not this student's real name. Due to the small class size, he asked to be unnamed in order to be more candid.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
Contact us for a Free Consultation!

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Financial Times Global MBA Rankings 2017 Released Over the Weekend [#permalink]

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New post 30 Jan 2017, 12:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Financial Times Global MBA Rankings 2017 Released Over the Weekend
Here we go again! Financial Times kicked off a new year of MBA rankings over the weekend. The FT ranking stacks up 100 MBA programs from around the world (not only U.S. schools) and is often considered the most credible and reliable of the global rankings publishers. (This is not an endorsement of the FT rankings over any other methodology but is purely a reflection of our own experience and feedback we’ve received from our clients over the years.) That’s not to say there weren’t a few surprises. Here are the highlights:
Image
Source:Financial Times Global MBA Ranking 2017
INSEAD remains #1 for the second year in a row. According to FT, INSEAD is “distinguished not only by its one-year program but also a strongly international culture, based on its two campuses, and one of the most extensive and diverse alumni networks.”Stanford GSB climbed 3 spots from last year to reclaim its #2 rank (the last time it was ranked #2 was in 2014), while Wharton gained 1 spot to come in at #3.Surprisingly, HBS follows at #4, down 2 spots from last year.Haas and MIT Sloan, who were part of the top 10 last year (#7 and #9, respectively), dropped into the double digits this year for a tie: Haas down 6 spots and MIT Sloan down 4 spots to tie at #13.Newcomers to the top 10 are two Spanish programs: IE Business School came in at #8 (from #12 last year) and IESE came in at #10 (from #16 last year).Special mention goes to Cambridge Judge which hopped up 5 spots to claim #5 this year.As a whole, US programs are the biggest gainers in the ranking, with 51 programs collectively rising 55 spots (net) in the rankings vs. last year.  The 28 European programs in the ranking declined as a whole (net -35 spots) but still comprise half of the top 10.
A full analysis of the rankings is availablehere.
Note: These rankings are based on surveys of the business schools and their 2013 graduates. The methodology considers 20 different factors including graduates’ salary increase, international composition of the schools’ faculty, board, study body, etc., among others. If you’d like to nerd out with the nitty gritty of the ranking criteria, a full explanation is availablehere.
We say this a lot but it bears repeating: the rankings should not be the end-all-be-all of your school selection process. They should be one data point of many as you decide what programs are the best fit for you and your goals. While there is likely a meaningful difference between the #1 program and #78, small shifts from year-to-year do not indicate that the caliber of your dream school just went out the window – or went through the roof! Said another way, HBS is still HBS, even though it was ranked #4 this year by FT.
Wondering if the rankings even matter? One of our admissions experts weighs in on that very questionhere.
Questions about the rankings or how to approach the school research process? We’re happy to help! Register for ourfree consultationtoday and we’ll help point you in the right direction.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
Contact us for a Free Consultation!

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There ARE Dumb Questions: Pitfalls to Avoid in Your MBA Interview [#permalink]

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New post 01 Feb 2017, 08:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: There ARE Dumb Questions: Pitfalls to Avoid in Your MBA Interview
Image
After interviewing MBA hopefuls for Kellogg over the past six years, I can solve the apparent mystery of whether or not the questions you ask at the interview matter:  undoubtedly,they do.  Like the overall admissions process, much of the interview is subjective.  There is no quantifiable formula to determine how well you did. In fact, it's much more art than science.
As such, it's important to remember the psychology behind making a good first impression. For most people, this is pretty intuitive for the majority of the interview - arrive on time, look presentable (the part), smile, speak with confidence and enthusiasm, and articulate your goals and rationale clearly and concisely. Yet, many people forget that the questions you ask the interviewer at the end of the interview are important too.
Why? The questions you ask can demonstrate how interested you are in the program as well as how much research you've done and how much thought you've put into this decision. In addition, the questions you ask often demonstrate how well you engaged and listened to the interviewer (a proxy for how well you'll do working with others in a team environment). Perhaps more importantly, the questions you ask are a very important tool for engaging your interviewer and winning him or her over.
Consider this - "people like people who are interested in them". This is just human nature. So, your opportunity to ask questions at the end of the interview is also your opportunity to help your interviewer connect with and like you! And given how subjective all of this is, including the interview reports that we all write after each interview, you definitely want them to like you and want to support you!
That said, below is a list of common mistakes that I've seen in the Q&A portion of the interview:
1) "I already know everything."Oh really? Well, that's no fun. As a Kellogg alum, I really look forward to answering questions about the school. It matters enough to me that I volunteer as an interviewer, so clearly you can infer that I love talking about how awesome Kellogg is. Please don't take this opportunity away from your interviewer! If they get to spend the last 5 minutes reminiscing about how much they loved business school, the interview will end on a high note and they'll associate you with that high note! Feeling aside, "no questions" essentially equals "no intellectual curiosity" to most interviewers. We just spoke for 20-30 minutes. If you don't have any questions, that's not very natural.
2) "I know so many alums that they've already answered my questions".So, you don't care what I think? This is not the sentiment you want to leave with the one alum whose opinion actually does count. Another approach would be to leverage what you've already heard and talk to your interviewer about it and/or ask his or her opinion. You can say that you've heard the school plans to go in X direction - can your interviewer talk about that trend? Or that the alumni network in the Bay Area is really strong - can your interviewer talk about his or her experiences with it? It's great to show how much research you've done and how many people from the school you've engaged with - leverage that with your interviewer as much as possible!
3) "What did you dislike about the program?"Ok, so you may think that this is a great demonstration of intellectual curiosity and critical analysis (great skill sets to demonstrate for b-school). However, let's think psychology again:  do you really want to end your interview with your interviewer talking about more negative things? You want your interview to end on a higher note. Critical questions are great for your alumni friends and info sessions. You want your interviewer to wrap-up the interview inspired and excited for your matriculation to the school!
Instead, focus on finding out interesting or subjective information about the program. For example, my favorite question (for adcom interviewers only) is what recruiter feedback has been. Big recruiting firms tend to back-channel info to admissions about the perceived quality of candidates and that's super interesting for applicants. Inherent in a neutral question like this will often be some pros and some areas of development (for the school). But allowing them to talk about both is key!
4) "Where else did you apply?"Though personal enough to engage your interviewer in conversation (good), this question can send the wrong signal. To many people, a question like this may be subtly asking "are there better options out there" or "was this school your first choice". These are great questions for your alumni friends and family, but again, this could go in a direction that puts a damper on your actual interview. Focus on the positive - how awesome the program is and how much you want to go there. This is a one-way street:  they don't have to sell you - there are whole weekends for that later on. But you do have to sell them in order to get to that stage. If they get the sense that you're not interested, that could tank your interview and all of a sudden all of your awesome answers from the previous 30 minutes are out the window in a single sentence.
5) "Is an MBA worth it?"If you are asking this in the interview, then you are demonstrating a complete lack of having prepared for this process. This question should have been vetted WELL in advance of being invited to interview. Now, you can ask questions about how the MBA in particular has helped your interviewer - this is fun for them to discuss! You can also ask what the top thing they feel like they got out of the MBA was.
6) "What percent male/female was last year's class?"Any question like this is completely off limits because the data is available in less than three clicks on Google. Never ask a question that is directly answered in the school's publications - website or otherwise. You can pull down the recruiting report as well as the class profiles and course offerings yourself (and if you haven't done this, they will wonder if you really put thought into your research). Avoid asking hard facts because they are probably already out there somewhere (and if they aren't, they won't tell you anyway).
So, what can you focus on? Ask questions that are
a) confirmatory (eg. I heard, I saw etc....what do you think?);
b) subjective (eg. what did you find most useful.....what is the most popular....)
c) lightly personal (for alum interviewers) (eg. what is the "must do"...)
d) higher level (eg. I saw that the core curriculum shifted to X, is that driven by.....)
In addition, be sure to consider who your interviewer is. An alum isn't going to be able to tell you what feedback recruiters are giving the school, but he or she can discuss the strength of the alumni network in the city you both live in.
If you're preparing for your interviews and looking for advice or a mock interview to trial run your strategy, please reach out!
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Good things come to those who DON’T wait: 10 Dos and Don’ts for gettin [#permalink]

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New post 04 Feb 2017, 10:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Good things come to those who DON’T wait: 10 Dos and Don’ts for getting off the waitlist
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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. And the “yet” is what I’m writing about today. What can you do to get out of waitlist limbo? Inspired by our experience with our clients over the years, here’s a list 10 DOs and DON’Ts for actively managing your waitlist status. Hint: don’t justwait!
DO
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 what to do next – how to opt in to the waitlist (if needed), what kinds of updates the school accepts and how to submit them, contact information for your waitlist manager, etc. – and a variety of other FAQs.  Note that this information can differ from school to school so if you’re on more than one waitlist, it’s still important to understand how the process is different at each school and what levers are at your disposal. Then you can start planning out your waitlist strategy.
2. Take an honest assessment of your application and identify any opportunities for improvement.Chances are your time on the waitlist will span a number of months, which may give you room to address some of the weaknesses in your application. Maybe your GMAT score was a bit below average for that school, or maybe your quant score was on the low side (rule of thumb for the top programs is >70 percentile). If so, it could be worth considering re-taking the GMAT. Below average GPA? Consider enrolling in an online class (think statistics, accounting, finance, etc.) from an accredited institution to provide further evidence of your academic aptitude. On the younger side in terms of work experience? Now’s a great time to step up your leadership at work and provide further evidence of your professional maturity and impact. Ultimately, that weakness is different for each applicant so it’s important to take a critical eye to your application (and perhaps get a second opinion) and determine where and how you can improve.
3. Remain proactive.I’ll say it again but the key to a successful waitlist strategy is action. By remaining active and including your waitlist manager in your updates, you’ll become a familiar face (or at least familiar name) that will be top of mind as the adcom continues to evaluate the waitlist. Most schools provide a number of options to submit updates and you want to take advantage of as many of them as you can. Once you’ve done 1. and 2. above, we suggest laying out a timeline of your updates, spaced 3-5 weeks apart that will take you through April or May. Here’s a list of several ways you can strengthen you profile while on the waitlist (not an exhaustive list but certainly a great place to start):
Submit update letters (can include a promotion at work, new GMAT score, information on a class you’re taking, new extra-curriculars, additional reasons for fit with a program, how you’ll contribute to the school, etc.) The key to these update letters is to provide new information, not to repeat material already included in your application. The only thing worth repeating is your love of and commitment to the school – and why.If you have any timing issues or deadlines that will impact your enrollment decision (i.e. the deposit is due on school X in March but you’re on the waitlist for school Y, which is your #1 choice), let the school know about that. Don’t demand a decision by that date but by letting them know your constraints, it could expedite a decision.
Submit a new letter of recommendation.Visit the school, sit in on a class, meet with admissions (even for only 10-15 minutes).Connect with your interviewer and ask for their advice on any next steps you can take. This is most relevant if your interviewer was an alum or current student of the school. (Use your judgement on this one in terms of how the interview went, how receptive you think your interviewer would be to providing further guidance, etc. In some cases, you might not feel comfortable reaching out to your interviewer and that’s OK.)
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 think outside the box and get a little creative (as long as it doesn’t go against the school’s waitlist instructions). Given what you’ve identified as opportunities to strengthen your application, think about the best way to convey that new information. For instance, more schools are accepting video letters now (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 for you. Another idea is to have a current student or alum who knows you well submit a letter of support for you (detailing 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 will want 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, you want to 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 got out and say it directly.
DON’T
1. Freak out, panic, or lose hope.I know this one is easier said than done but now’s not the time to despair. It’s easy to feel powerless when tossed into waitlist limbo but your efforts (and emotions) are best spent on taking constructive action. Stay confident (if you’re on the waitlist, it means that you have what it takes) and try to not to compare yourself to others. Put your head down and focus on 1.-5. above. We’ve seen applicants get off the waitlist as late as July 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 formula to getting off the waitlist. 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. What’s done is done at that point, and again, your efforts will be best spent on taking actions to strengthen your profile and maximize your chances of admission.
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 admissions 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 a press release vs. an essay.
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 waitlist-ee but you also want to be thoughtful in every interaction and update you provide. In other words, you want to be proactive without being overly aggressive. Remember that the adcom may be evaluating your inter-personal skills and determining whether they feel comfortable with you representing the school in front of recruiters. The schools have a reputation to uphold, after all. So you want to make sure that your behavior is desirable.
5. Get complacent.After all your hard work of strategizing on your applications, sprucing up your resume, writing countless essays, and everything else that goes into the application process, you may feel reluctant to load up your to-do list with more application “stuff”. After all, you were planning on having multiple acceptance letters in-hand by now, right? However, now’s not the time to get lazy or give up. Life is busy and you surely have other commitments taking up your time but a short-term investment in re-taking the GMAT (ugh!), visiting the school, crafting an update letter, etc. has the potential for long-term pay-off. So get going!
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On the waitlist and wondering what your next steps should be? We’re happy to help! Sign up for afree consultationtoday and get personalized advice fromMelody or Meredith.
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Haas Part-Time MBA: Advice from a Current Student [#permalink]

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New post 06 Feb 2017, 09:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Haas Part-Time MBA: Advice from a Current Student
Over the last few years, the University of California Berkeley's (Haas) Part-Time MBA program has been consistently ranked as one of the top part-time programs in the country. Last year,U.S. News and World Report once again ranked Haas #1 overall, ahead of other longstanding high-ranked programs, Booth and Kellogg. For those who are considering whether the Haas Part-Time MBA might be right for you, we asked one of our former clients to provide insights from her experience as a current student. See below for what she had to say!
1) What has surprised you the most about the program?
The weekday program was absolutely the right choice for me.  I was originally signed-up for weekends because I thought it would be easier to condense it all into one day, and that it would result in less time commuting.  I thought class on weekday nights would just be too much.  However, I've found it to be great!  It's nice to break it up throughout the week, and I often look forward to going after work and seeing the friends I've made. I took one Saturday class, and the full day was so exhausting that at the end of the day I was so grateful that I didn't have to do it every Saturday!
Another surprising thing is the wide range in ages, and finding out that age really doesn't matter.  It doesn't affect how insightful you can be in class and it doesn't affect who you socialize with.  It's also inspiring to see people handle the program while also planning weddings or having kids or starting a new business.
2) What did you wish you had known before you started and what was a challenge?
Group work can be challenging.  I lucked out and was assigned to an awesome group.  However, we all live really spread apart in the Bay Area and all have full-time jobs and personal commitments, so it can be tough to find time to meet.  Also, different people have different priorities, so some group members may care more about grades, and others may just care more about the learning experience.
3) What is your favorite aspect of the program and what is the best thing about Haas?
Of course, the people.  Everyone is really supportive, and our cohort has gotten really close.  When we did a public speaking workshop, it felt like a safe space because you knew everyone was going to give you honest feedback, but from a kind place.  And we have fun!
4) How do you balance work, life and school?
I try to set aside specific times for homework (e.g., Mondays for group meetings, and Wednesday evenings and Sunday afternoons for homework).  I also find myself trying to fill-up little bits of time here and there (e.g., if someone is late meeting me for dinner, I pull homework out of my purse and just start reading).  Commuting is also a great time to do homework as well.  I've tried to make a really big effort to still see my boyfriend and friends regularly; planning ahead is key.  Also, realize that you can't do every single social event at school, and you have to pick what will be the most meaningful for you.
5) How has the program impacted your performance at work - e.g. are you using what you learn in the classroom back at the office?
There was an exercise in marketing class that was relevant for my job, and I felt great about being able to share the framework with my team at work.  I do work less hours than I did a couple years ago.  You have to know what projects are most important, and focus more on the core work instead of volunteering for side projects.
6) What advice do you have for those considering the part time program now?
Visit the school. If you can, visit both a weekend class and a weekday class to get a feel for what will work best for you. Make sure you know why you want to get an MBA and why you think part-time is a better fit for you (than full time).
As always, we are here to help if you are debating whether the Haas Part-Time MBA (or any part-time program) is right for you!
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A Real INSEAD Interview Experience [#permalink]

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New post 08 Feb 2017, 14:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: A Real INSEAD Interview Experience
INSEAD takes a different approach to the interview than many other top schools.
All interviews are conducted by alumniYou'll have two interviews (with two alumni selected based on their backgrounds)Interviews can be longer (over one hour is common)Interviews are not blind
In general, applicants tend to describe the INSEAD interview process as more in-depth. For an illustration of this, below we have laid-out an overview of the interview experience of an applicant who interviewed last year. As you will see, INSEAD's interview is focused on how you will contribute, what your leadership potential is, and gaining an understanding of really "who you are" and what drives you.
Jonathan's INSEAD Interview Experience
I had two interviews: one with a more senior guy, who had completed INSEAD 20 years ago (nine years at McKinsey and now in PE); and one with a more recent alumna who had graduated five years ago (had worked in Telecom in Brazil and is now in Pharma in Switzerland.  Overall, I think my interview with the senior person was more challenging and could have gone better.
I was expecting the senior interviewer to be looking for leadership potential and the recent alumni to be looking for my "fit"; and that was exactly my experience.
The interview with the more senior alum started with him asking me to present my story and who I am, which I did very high level. Then he started going through my CV and asking questions about my university experiences such as why I majored in biology, why I attended Harvard for undergrad, and why I had served in the military. He then moved on to my current role at (a large technology firm) where he phrased his questions like a mini-case-study.  He wanted to know more details about a recent project that I had led including detail surrounding our customers, our model, and why we approached the project like we did.  Finally, he ended by asking me what actions I would take immediately if I were to be named the CEO of my company. The whole thing lasted a little over an hour with the final 10-15 minutes devoted to my questions.
My second interviewer had prepared 10 questions for me in advance of our meeting. She was more interested in understanding my reasons for choosing INSEAD, why I wanted to pursue an MBA, why now, and how I would contribute to the class. During my answers to the final part, she stopped me to do a slight deep dive on my travel (where have I traveled, why, what did I do there, etc). She then shifted gears to discuss my goals in-depth. We talked about my plan to go into consulting and then to a strategy role in tech. She gave me feedback on my goals since she pursued an internship in consulting, and that part of the interview was very conversational. After discussing my goals, she opened it up to my questions, which lasted another 10-15 minutes. The total time for my second interview was approximately an hour and a half.
Overall, I felt that the INSEAD interviewers were very well prepared to speak with me and that they seemed to have an opinion that they wanted to validate.
Debrief: What Does This Mean for You?
Jonathan's experience is similar to other INSEAD applicants. Of course, alumni interviews will always vary - there is no strict guidebook - but you should expect a similar lay-out with deep dives on your experience, personal interests and your goals and rationale for an MBA. Ensure that you know the program inside and out. Alumni are very passionate about their alma maters and showing that you are equally as passionate can win you bonus points! And of course, ensure that you know what makes INSEAD "the business school for the world"! INSEAD's unique diversity and culture are near and dear to your interviewer's hearts, so you cannot research enough to prepare.
As always, we are here if you have any questions about your INSEAD applications!
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School Choice: How to Decide Where to Apply [#permalink]

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New post 14 Feb 2017, 15:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: School Choice: How to Decide Where to Apply
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​“Where should I apply??” That’s invariably one of the first questions that anyone thinking about getting an MBA asks us. And it’s a question that takes some diligence, and perhaps some introspection, to answer.
You want to be thoughtful about school selection for a couple of reasons. First, the application process is expensive and time-consuming. So, you want to limit your list to a small number of schools that make the most sense for you while maximizing your chances of admission. In other words, you want to maximize the ROI of your application efforts. Second, “fit” plays a huge role in the admissions process. If you don’t make the effort to research which schools are right for you and why, you’ll have a hard time articulating that in your essays and convincing the adcom that their school is the right place for you. So, let’s dive into a great way to approach the school selection process.
Know your range
A great place to start choosing schools is the rankings. (Stay with me here!) There are a number of different rankings out there with different findings, so we suggest familiarizing yourself with a few of them. With your GMAT score and undergraduate GPA in hand, you can go down the rankings lists and find the programs where your stats meet the average. That will give you a good idea of the range of schools where you’re competitive and where you’re a bit of an outlier. Other factors such as age, work experience, nationality, etc. will then skew your range up or down slightly. You may need to do some additional research to understand how your work experience compares to past admitted students, for example. Similarly, nationality can work for you or against you, depending on how many applicants from your country apply to your schools. If you're not sure where you stand, this is a great opportunity to get a profile review by a professional through the forums or through the free consultations that most of the admissions consulting firms offer.
Note: That’s not to say that you shouldn’t apply to your dream school even if you fall outside of its range; but in those cases, it always makes sense to hedge your bets with a couple of target and/or “safer” schools. (No top school is “safe”, but there will be programs where your profile is more competitive than their averages.)
Narrow down from there
Once you have an idea of where you’re competitive, then you can start narrowing in on the specific schools and identifying the ones that are the best fit for your profile and objectives. Whether you have your heart set on HSW and are trying to decide which one or two other programs you’ll select in order to minimize your risk, or if you’re simply focused on getting into the “best” program you can, here are some factors to consider in your research.
Teaching method: this is a big one, particularly if you're considering HBS or Darden where the case method dominates most of the curriculum. If you’re not sure what the case method is, we strongly suggest reading up on it because it creates a unique classroom dynamic (relies on class participation – students do 85% of the talking in class, involves cold-calling, requires thorough preparation of the case prior to class, etc.)  The other teaching methods you’ll find in the top programs are lectures and experiential learning (think immersion classes, team-based exercises, etc.)  Pay attention to this and how it differs between schools because it will have a big impact on how you learn for the next two years.
Academic strength or research focus: let's start by clarifying that all of the top MBA programs offer a general management education with a broad selection of electives across all business subject areas (marketing, finance, operations, entrepreneurship, etc.) In other words, you will have access to fantastic professors and cutting-edge academics inanysubject no matter which school you attend. Gone are the days of Wharton being only a "finance" school or Kellogg being only a "marketing" school. With that said, certain programs may offer greater resources or specific programming dedicated to your area of focus. For example, Columbia has the Value Investing program, Wharton has the Health Care Management major, NYU Stern has the Luxury Marketing specialization, etc. Depending on which industry or function you’re targeting after business school, it may make sense to apply to programs that have a strong legacy in that field, either from the strength of the curriculum, breadth of electives, caliber of the faculty, prominence of research, or otherwise.
Recruiting power: this goes hand in hand with the previous point. Applying to schools that have a history of placing graduates in your dream job(s) simply makes sense. Nearly all of the top programs publish employment reports for each graduating class so you can dig through those to understand who recruits at the school and on what scale. Generally speaking, all of the top schools will have diversified employment reports but you may see some bias. Wharton towards PE or Yale towards social impact, for example. (That's not to say that you should automatically write-off a school simply because your target industry isn't the #1 recruiting industry. It's simply another factor to consider.)
Class size: this one really boils down to personal preference. Programs like HBS and Wharton, for example, have large class sizes (>850 students) while others like Haas and Tuck have more intimate class sizes (<300 students). The size of your class will play a big role in the type of experience you have during your two years on campus. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of each and determine which one is better aligned to your objectives. For example, small programs boast tight-knit, congenial communities while larger programs offer greater breadth and diversity in each class.
Culture: this one is a bit trickier to figure out, especially when you’re just starting the research process. It’s hard to really understand how the schools are different from simply browsing their websites. This is where engaging with the school (visiting campus, attending info sessions, etc.) and speaking with alums and current students really pays off. After a couple different discussions, you’ll start to get a sense for how the programs are different from each other. In terms of which culture is right for you, that’s a matter of personal preference. If you have a fierce independent streak, then maybe Booth is right for you. On the other hand, looking for a supportive, team-oriented environment? Kellogg or Tuck may be right up your alley. Lastly, we’ll say that while certain programs may have “reputations” that you’ve heard of, we recommend doing your own independent homework and deciding if you agree or not (they're often over-stated, over-simplified, or out-dated in our experience).
Location: this is one that we encourage you to be flexible with as much as possible. Remember that it’s only for two years and all of the top programs have widely influential brands that will in no way limit your career options to a 50-mile radius from campus. On the other hand, if your post-MBA goals are concentrated in a specific geography (i.e. NYC for finance and fashion, Bay Area for tech, etc.) then it does make sense that programs in those areas would rise to the top of your list. If you have a strong affinity for urban vs. rural locations, don’t ignore it entirely – just don’t let geography be the sole deciding factor.

Now that you know what you should be looking for, where do you find it? Unfortunately, there’s no one-stop-shop for school research so time and effort dedicated to getting to know your programs will be important. In our experience, these are some great resources to get you started – the more you read and learn, the better. If you’re working with a consultant on your application process, this is where he/she can help guide you towards schools that match your criteria but it’s still up to you to do your homework.
School websites: you should really plan on familiarizing yourself with most of your target schools’ websites. An often over-looked page, in our experience, is the “About” page or “Mission Statement”. This gives you an idea of the highest-level objectives that the school is pursuing, upon which all of the other program elements are built. (For example, Columbia celebrates its unique placement at "the very center of business". That’s so core to “who” Columbia is that it’s even built into one of the essay questions.)
Objective school profileson sites like Poets & Quants and Clear Admit: these profiles are great to get all of the program information in one place.
Rankings publishers(U.S. News & World Report, Financial Times, etc.): these are also great for aggregating data points and easy comparisons between schools.
Attending info sessions(webinars if you can’t attend in person): this is a must-do, particularly if you can’t visit campus.
Most importantly, you can’t beat speaking with alums or current students and visiting campus: this is where you can learn from someone who’s walked the path before you or is currently living it. These folks went through the application process themselves not that long ago and will give you candid answers to your questions, helping you really picture yourself on campus. Campus visits are equally valuable. I equate them to meeting a colleague in person for the first time after you’ve been communicating with them over email for the past 6 months. Not only is it great to put a face to the name but they often end up being different than what you had pictured in your head.
Honorable mention goes to the forums(GMAT Club, Beat the GMAT, reddit, etc.): while these can be great sources of anecdotal information and feedback, that information is not verified and you never know the qualifications of the person on the other end. So don’t boycott the forums but take them with a grain of salt. When in doubt, look for a more thoroughly vetted source of information before jumping to conclusions.

Bottom Line
Deciding which schools to apply to is more art than science. Start early and you’ll begin to get a “gut” sense for the programs that are right for you on multiple levels. Try to keep an open mind while still remaining true to yourself and your goals. An MBA from a top school is way too expensive for you to be anything less than 100% happy and excited about the 2 years that lie ahead. Best of luck!
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We’re always happy to chat about school selection or any questions you have about the MBA application process. Send us an email ator sign up for afree consultation. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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Starting Your Start-Up: Do You Need an MBA? [#permalink]

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New post 28 Mar 2017, 16:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Starting Your Start-Up: Do You Need an MBA?
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If you’re smart, motivated and have a good idea, then what value will an MBA really bring to you? Everyone knows that any good start-up requires a lot of trial-and-error, learning-by-doing, and sometimes learning-through-failure to actually get to the right place. Though you can't necessarily get this from an MBA, MBA programs do provide some fast-track learning and benefits that could essentially accelerate your idea and growth potential. Below are a few considerations that we’ve heard from start-up founders coming out of business schools. If you want to hear this straight from the source, NPR’s“How I Built This” podcast profiles the founders of Warby Parker, a disruptive eyeglasses start-up that came-out of Wharton towards the end of the last recession.
So here we go - how can an MBA help you and your start-up goals?
Co-founders:Looking for a partner? There are a lot of people who either come to business school with the itch to “create something” or develop it after many classes focused on how to find white space in an industry or how to create value for different parts of a value chain. Your MBA classmates bring with them a diverse skill set, so when you put all of those different perspectives in one room, the ideas tend to flow. This means that if you’re looking for a partner, your classmates could provide an excellent option. And it isn’t bad to know that your co-founder will also be sitting in classes thinking through how those topics and ideas could enhance your business idea!
Strategic “Testers”:MBA students are critical. If you ask your fellow classmates to test out a new product you’re designing or simply opine on your business idea, they won’t just respond with raw emotion or preference. MBA students are trained to look at decisions from multiple angles. Even if they like your idea, they’ll be the first ones to try and point out potential flaws or downfall areas. Don’t be offended - this is what you want when you’re starting out!
People to Challenge You:You don’t want the first person who really challenges your idea to be that big, coveted customer you were hoping to secure in order to launch your new company. Professors, classmates, alumni, and speakers on campus will confidentially give you opinions that at face value may seem severe ("This is going to change the industry!" or "This will never work because..."). In the podcast I mentioned above about Warby Parker, a professor told them that the idea wouldn’t work. Then they lost Wharton’s case competition. But those big challengers, those who viewed themselves as the authority on such things, were the BEST people to challenge the entrepreneurs early-on (oh and now they are valued at $1 billion!) As they launched, I'm sure it helped that they had been so rigorously challenged and felt like they’d already "run the gauntlet", if you will.
Access to Potential Supporters:Every business school wants that rock star alum who created a disruptive solution and changed the world. So they provide you with many, many outlets for finding that idea and not only creating a great business plan but also raising money. Most MBA programs offer an entrepreneurship class (or entire track) that walks you through creating a business plan for your idea. Then, many plans from those classes go on to participate in case competitions or present at different events with the prize being money to help you get going and sometimes even mentorship from successful business leaders. I judged a case competition a few weeks ago where the the grand prize was $10k in non-dilutive award money. But more than the money, seeing all of the ideas and meeting all of the people focused on the same sector provided invaluable learning for those who participated. MBA programs LOVE to run or engage their students in these types of events.

So, for those of you who are seeking to be the next Warby Parker guys, keep in mind that in order to demonstrate that you're serious, the MBA admissions committee will want to understand not only the general direction of your ideas, but they'll also want to understand "why" you're focused on starting your own company and how you, in particular, could be the next big thing. You don't have describe your business plan in full - in fact they expect that you'll still have some work to do there - but be intentional about explaining what drives you and what you're passionate about so that they can see the burning desire of an entrepreneur between the lines.
As always, we're here to help if you have any questions as you get started with your MBA research!
www.vantagepointadmissions.com
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Acceptance to an M7 in Round 3? Yes it's possible! [#permalink]

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New post 05 Apr 2017, 11:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Acceptance to an M7 in Round 3? Yes it's possible!
Round 3 (“R3”) deadlines are upon us, which for some applicants represents the last chance for 2017 admission to an MBA program or a “do-over” round for applicants who came out of Round 2 (“R2”) with unsatisfactory results for any number of reasons. As we discussed inThe Truth About Round 3, chances of admission in R3 are notoriously low, particularly at the top programs. However, they’re not impossible, and if you’re either considering throwing in a “hail mary” application in R3 or you’re hoping to better gauge your odds, we thought it would be helpful to hear from a successful R3 applicant to an M7 program from a few years back.
So we interviewed Lisa*, who applied to Columbia Business School one day before the final deadline in April. (Please note that we did not work with Lisa on her applications; she is a classmate of Vantage Point Co-Founder, Melody. However, given the volume of inquiries we receive from applicants considering R3 timing every year, we think it’s valuable to share a real example of someone who navigated the process successfully.)
Here’s a bit more about her profile:
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Nationality: Canadian
Gender: Female
GMAT: 700
GPA: mid-80% from University of British Columbia (in Canada)
Pre-MBA Background: marketing & advertising from Ogilvy, then product marketing at Virgin Mobile – all in Toronto. 5 years of work experience at the time of application submission
Extra-curriculars: checked the box, nothing stand-out
Goals: ST – management consulting, LT – entrepreneurship

Now let’s dive into our conversation!
Did you apply to any other schools in Round 3?
Columbia was the only school for R3 but I had applied to Booth and Duke (Fuqua) in R2 and had been admitted to both with scholarships.
Why did you choose R3 timing for your Columbia application, especially since Columbia has rolling admissions? In other words, why didn’t you start sooner?
Well, I wasn’t really planning on applying to Columbia initially but after attending the admitted students weekends for Booth and Fuqua, I wasn’t really excited about either one. I had cousin who was a current student at Columbia and who encouraged me to apply because she said that I should be super excited about any program that I’m committing two years of my life to. After further researching Columbia, I realized that it was a great fit for me and my goals. In terms of my decision to apply so late in the season, there was really no downside for me because I already had two acceptance offers to choose from.
Did you know that the odds of admission were significantly lower (statistically speaking) in R3 vs. the earlier two rounds? If so, what made you decide to go for it anyways?
Yes, I knew the odds were lower but the upside far outweighed the downside in my situation. I really didn’t have much to lose except for the time and money that went into the application itself. I went into it fully knowing the other downsides as well (no scholarships, low likelihood of securing on-campus housing, etc.) but I was willing to go without those for the chance of getting into a school that I would be happier attending.
How did your timing impact your overall application strategy? Did you think about your essays differently than you might have if you had applied earlier (i.e. more pressure to be unique, perhaps)?
No, not really. I had put a lot of work into developing strong applications for R2 and I knew my “story” was working because I had been admitted to two other schools already – so no need to fix what wasn’t broken. I put my Columbia application together in 2 weeks and leveraged a lot of the prior strategy, essays, and core message that I had developed for my other applications. If I had not been admitted to any programs in R2, then yes, I definitely would have re-evaluated my approach.
How big of a role did timing play in your application components? (i.e. did you address it directly in your essays, your interview, etc.)
Great question but no, I didn’t address it at all and frankly, it didn’t come up even in my interview. But I hear that’s often not the case for R3 applicants so maybe my experience was unique!
Ultimately, you were admitted to Columbia! Bravo!
Yes, I was! And I didn’t think twice about accepting the offer, even though it didn’t come with a scholarship. Fit was more important to me than anything and I knew that Columbia was the place for me. I only wish I had been more thorough in choosing schools earlier in the process!
To what do you owe your success so late in the game, do you think?
I honestly think it was a combination of things, along with a bit of luck. My cousin definitely helped guide me and I know she put in a good word for me with someone she knew in admissions. But I’m not going to pretend that was a “silver bullet”. I think my confidence helped a lot too – I didn’t go into it discounting myself or feeling like an underdog. I figured I’ll never know for sure until I try. I think my personal story was also a compelling one – I’m a first generation immigrant to Canada from Russia and I think I did a decent job at conveying how my family history has impacted my drive and my goals – i.e. story of a woman pursuing her passion because other women in her family before her couldn’t. That personal story together with my slightly less traditional professional background probably helped me stand out so late in the season. I imagine admissions saying “wow, we don’t have one of her in our class yet!”
Would you do it all over again if you could, or would you have started earlier?
Well, yes, of course I would have started earlier! I could have gotten scholarship money, at the very least.
What advice do you have for applicants considering applying in R3 or 4?
Well, I’d say apply earlier! But if that’s a moot point and you’ve decided to go for it in R3, give it your all. Make sure that your application is at its best in every way possible. Make sure your story, your goals, your reasons for pursuing an MBA, your reasons for applying to school X, etc. are very well-articulated. And I think you should be thoughtful about school selection. I applied to Columbia because I had done my homework and determined it was the right fit. That likely contributed to my acceptance. If you’re applying to schools in R3 out of desperation or a final attempt to get in “somewhere” instead of the “right where”, that could easily work against you so watch out. Lastly, be confident, believe in yourself! When classes start in the fall, everyone is equal, no matter in what round you were admitted.
Great insights from Lisa! We hope this gave you some added clarity, or at the very least, some added confidence going into R3 or even R4. Late round applications aren’t right for everyone and if you can delay until R1 of the following year, that very well may be the best option for you – especially if you’re an over-represented applicant profile (i.e. banker, consultant, Indian engineer, etc.)  But if you’ve decided to go for it, Lisa’s experience shows some key best practices for R3 success: apply to the right schools (and do your homework on those schools), submit your very best application, and believe in yourself.
If you have any questions about your late round applications, please reach out to us. We’re happy to help. You can sign up for afree 30-minute consultation. Best of luck & we look forward to hearing from you!
* Name has been changed for privacy purposes.
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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How to Overcome a Low GPA in Your MBA Applications [#permalink]

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New post 11 Apr 2017, 11:02
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How to Overcome a Low GPA in Your MBA Applications
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Low undergrad GPA? 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 this is one of the easiest items to mitigate in your MBA applications.
For most people, college was several years ago, and you’ve come a long way:  started your career, accepted a promotion, and maybe even started managing a team. Though your progress since college will be advantageous in addressing the admissions committee’s questions about your leadership potential, skill set, and sometimes analytical skills; it doesn’t answer the question of how well you can handle a classroom or academic environment.
Though MBA programs often emphasize the “programmatic” nature of the degree (the internships, seminars, experiential learning opportunities, conferences, trips, networking etc), an MBA is still a master’s level degree with master’s level classes. And as such, the coursework demands that you are able to perform in the classroom (study, apply theories to cases, pass tests, etc). And 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 GPA from undergrad is not at or above the average for your target schools? Whenever I’m advising an applicant with a low GPA, I focus on two things: 1) explain; and 2) overcome.
Note that I did not use the word “justify”. Explaining is not making excuses; explaining is simply stating how it was and how it’s better now (whatever “it” was). Importantly, 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 a while to really perfect your time management skills and figure out how to prioritize effectively. In fact, it shows a great deal of maturity and self-reflection. However, you must immediately follow that statement by pointing to how you’ve overcome that issue (eg. point to your higher GPA in your previous master's program, the fact that you manage multiple projects at a time now with no issues, etc). Be brief but be specific - you don’t want to leave anything to assumption or have them think that you are being vague because the real reason is that you just partied too much.
All of this information, in addition to any other necessary explanations, will go into the optional section of the application. This section is where you can directly point out that certain areas of weakness, including a low GPA, are not reflective of the strength of your candidacy.
So, in addition to explaining why your GPA from undergrad was low, you also want to note in this section what you’ve done to prove your academic ability. The best “proof” of course is to take a post-grad class and show the admissions committee that you can handle the academics like a champ.
A large percentage of my clients taken some sort of online or in-person class to bolster their applications (I’d estimate over 50%). And fortunately there are great options for every work and life schedule.
On the higher end of commitment level would be in-person classes at a local community college or university continuing education department. These work well for people who learn best in a group setting and want to hunker down and complete the class on a more concrete schedule. Attending an in-person class, per se, isn’t necessarily viewed more favorably in this day in age, but it has the advantage of a more structure for those who prefer that setting.
Online classes offer more flexibility, or go-at-your-own-pace programs that are appealing to those who travel for work or have less control over their day-to-day schedules. Online classes also range in commitment level and costs. On the lower end of the commitment and time spectrum,MBAMath.comcosts $149 for modules spanning subjects such as statistics, accounting and financing that can be completed in 20-40 hours. On the higher end of commitment and time isHarvard’s HBX CORe, which costs $1,950 and is estimated to take approximately 150 hours to complete. Of note, many estimate that a rather large percentage of HBS admits have taken HBX CORe (this is anecdotal, of course).
Other popular options includeWharton’s Coursera courses(the graded versions - there are many different classes and you can subscribe to the specialization for $79 per month) andUC Berkeley’s extension(approximately $1,000 for an accounting course that spans approximately 45-50 hours).
The most popular courses to take generally include accounting, statistics and/or calculus if you didn’t take it in college. This of course depends on how much quant work you’ve done in the past and how you scored.
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.
And aside from increasing your chances, taking additional coursework shows your commitment and willingness to prepare for the MBA experience, which of course signals that you are ready to get as much value out of the program as humanly possible (and they like that!)
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ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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Demystifying MBA Application Networking [#permalink]

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New post 18 Apr 2017, 12:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Demystifying MBA Application Networking
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In an already subjective and sometimes vague process, “networking” can seem particularly abstract or worse, can be simply another “thing” on your longMBA application to-do list. What is it exactly? Do you really need to do it? How will it help you get into your dream school? How do you get started? These are all questions that we’ve been hearing a lot lately from applicants. And understandably so. After all, there’s no hard deliverable attached to networking. However, we believe it’s a critical part of the MBA application process and now’s the perfect time to get started – before the essay questions are released and you’re managing a busy work schedule, summer vacations, and your apps. So we’ve broken it all down for you here in order to eliminate some of the mystery and ambiguity that surrounds networking.
WHAT IS NETWORKING?
Let’s start there. It’s easy to be confused about what “networking” even means. (I was certainly unsure about what it was when I first started with my MBA applications.) Some folks think it’s 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, that’s not the approach or attitude that we recommend. Instead, 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. Usually, the relationship is initiated because you have something in common – a friend, an interest, a hobby, an employer, etc. – but the relationship is nurtured because you invest in it and because both parties enjoy it and benefit from it.
Oh so “networking” is just a fancy way of saying “meeting new people”, right? Well, yes and no. Yes, because that’s often true but no, because it’s mostly about what happens after the initial meeting and more importantly, you want to be strategic in your approach. By that I mean that you want to invest your efforts in building relationships with folks who can help guide, mentor, and inform your MBA application process and avoid those who will be detractors. For example, your disgruntled colleague who doesn’t feel like the company “rewards” her for having an MBA may not be the best person to ask about the long-term value of the degree. However, reaching out to a former classmate from undergrad in February who’s a first year student at HBS and scheduling a phone chat with her, later meeting her for coffee when you visit campus in April, and then re-connecting with her a few weeks before you submit your application is a perfect example of networking. You’re sure to gain some valuable insights and advice about the school, its culture, essay tips, etc. through those interactions. 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 your own personal style of networking that makes you feel comfortable and authentic but rest assured that doing this right will only contribute to stronger applications.
WHY IS NETWORKING IMPORTANT?
Now you understand that networking is an important part of the application process but why exactly? You can look at this in a couple of different ways. If your competition (i.e. other applicants) is networking and leveraging all of the resources at their disposal to help inform and strengthen their applications and you’re not, you risk losing out. For an even better reason that doesn’t involve “because everyone else is doing it”, networking can help you put together a more cohesive and compelling application, which in turn increases your chances of admission to your dream MBA program. Let’s dig into how that can be.
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. And most of the time, that kind of information can’t be found on a website. For example, 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. (For a comprehensive guide on school selection,
Networking is also a tremendous opportunity to get valuable advice from folks who have been in your shoes. Learn about the unexpected benefits of an MBA from a recent graduate, learn from past MBA students’ mistakes, and get admissions “tips” from folks who have insight into the process. The advice you get along the way can help make the process more efficient, straight-forward, or at least slightly less stressful for you.
Lastly, the MBA application process can seem like a long, lonely journey and it’s nice to feel supported along the way. My clients are usually blown away (I know I definitely was) by how supportive and helpful current students, alums, colleagues with MBAs, etc. are once they find out you’re pursuing an MBA. MBA’s love to pay-it-forward so let them! Just be sure to be appreciative and stay in touch with them once you have news about decisions so they can remain invested in your journey.
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 is not an on-off switch and should be approached like a marathon, not a sprint. Building relationships, scheduling coffee chats, etc. takes time. So start early – like now! Give yourself space to follow-up with your new contacts and keep in touch with them throughout the process. 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, do your homework before the meeting and come with thoughtful questions whose answers will truly further your understanding of how the school fits with your goals and objectives. (Here’s a more comprehensiveschool selection guideif you’re just getting started.) You want the other person to be impressed with your level of research because who knows, they may end up being an advocate for your candidacy if they also feel like you’re the right fit for their school!
DON’T be disrespectful or ungrateful for the other person’s time: MBA students, alums, representatives from admissions, etc. are all very 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 and say your thank-you’s and goodbye’s when it’s up. Those manners will go a long way in leaving a good impression.

HOW TO GET STARTED
With all that said,  there’s really no wrong way to start building your network. In thinking about what the ideal network looks like, it’s comprised of current students and/or alums from your target schools, colleagues/former classmates/mentors, etc. with MBAs, and 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.)
An easy place to start is with your existing network – people from work, your undergrad, personal circles, etc. who have MBA’s or are somehow connected to an MBA program.  Make a list of these individuals and start reaching out to them for a coffee chat, after-work cocktail, or phone date. Be present during these conversations and take mental note of what you discussed. If you chatted about a particular current event or recent trend in your industry, for example, send that person an article on the relevant topic a couple of weeks later to show that you give as well as receive. 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 the some of the folks above are current students or graduates from your target schools, you should also make a plan to engage with the schools directly. A great way to do this is through a campus visit, ideally coordinated through the school so you have a chance to sit in on a class and meet current students in addition to sitting through a presentation from admissions. If a school visit isn’t possible, plan to attend an in-person information session (the schools host multiple info sessions in major cities around the world so look out for the dates when they’ll be visiting your city) and at the very least, a live 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. In the case of live info sessions, local alumni as well as representatives from admissions typically attend these events so it’s a great time to initiate a dialogue with a few of those folks. Those conversations could even turn into a follow-up meeting or call, depending on how well you connect with them. Not only will engaging with the schools in as many ways as possible help you determine which programs are the right fit for you and why, but it indicates to the adcom that you’re serious about their program and have made the effort to get to know them. Some schools make this a critical part of their admissions decisions so it’s worth putting in the time (i.e. more is more!).
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, one of the most valuable benefits of an MBA is the network so getting started during your applications will only give you a head start once you arrive on campus in the fall. Best of luck!
www.vantagepointadmissions.com
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
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What you need to know if you're applying to Columbia Business School [#permalink]

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New post 21 Apr 2017, 07:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: What you need to know if you're applying to Columbia Business School
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Columbia Business School is one of the top MBA programs in the world and receives over 6,000 applications every year across its August and January entry options. With an acceptance rate hovering around 17% (for the class of 2018), it takes more than just a great GMAT score to make the cut. Diversity, leadership, impact, perseverance through adversity, vision, and ambition are just a few marks of successful applications. If you’re considering throwing your name in the hat and applying to join the class of 2020, you’re surely eager to learn everything there is to know about “getting in”. Well you’re in luck! Vantage Point Co-Founder, Melody, recently had the chance to sit down with Michael Robinson, Director of Admissions for Columbia Business School, over lunch to gain a bit more insight into the school’s latest approach and thinking. Here are the key takeaways from that conversation.
BUT FIRST, THE NUMBERS
Out of the 6,000 yearly applicants, about 70% are qualified "on paper", which means that over 4,200 applicants are real contenders in this game of musical chairs.To drive that point home, the average GMAT score of the entire Columbia applicant pool is 710, with Columbia’s admitted student GMAT average only a bit higher at 720. What does that tell you? Differentiation is king; your GMAT score is only part of the equation in getting admitted.Ultimately, out of 6,000+ applicants, Columbia admits around 750-770 students to fill a 550-student class (August entry), with the balance comprising the January entry class.
WHAT IF I’M WAITLISTED?
Columbia uses the waitlist to learn more about candidates and to fill gaps from admitted students who don't accept their offer.  If the admissions committee had specific concerns about your application, those will be communicated to you directly by your assigned waitlist manager. The reality, though, is that the strength of the waitlist pool tends to mirror the admitted class and being placed on the waitlist is not necessarily a sign of a weak application.  Since more students are admitted than there are spots (by about 38%; this practice is common across all of the schools, by the way), the waitlist acceptance % is quite low. (Unfortunately, that % varies every year so Michael was unable to give me an exact number.)What does this mean for you? If you’re waitlisted, don’t despair, it could still work out for you but we would advise you to line up a plan B to be realistic.
DO THE NUMBERS ABOVE CHANGE IF I’M A RE-APPLICANT?
Probably! Columbia likes re-applicants. According to Michael, the chances of admission for a reapplicant are actually higher than for a first-time, regular decision applicant. (How much higher, he was unable to say.) But that's in part because reapplicants are more likely to apply in early decision, which provides an advantage because of the school’s rolling admission process. Reapplicants tend to learn from their prior experience and tend to take a more focused and humble approach in their essays.If you’re a re-applicant, we strongly advise you to re-apply in the early decision round to maximize your chances.
OK SO WHAT DOES ADMISSIONS LOOK FOR?
Besides all the standard stuff (leadership, impact, teamwork, analytical abilities, etc.), Columbia looks for a sincere and genuine passion and enthusiasm for participating in and strengthening Columbia’s community. It's important to show evidence of how you made efforts to get to know the school. If you didn't visit campus, which is fine if you live far away, you should plan to attend an info session, reach out to current students/alums, etc. This is especially important for NYC applicants.Admissions is going on the road starting in July and hosting info sessions in major cities around the world so international applicants should watch out for those dates.In reading essays, Michael cares less about "what" you've done and more about 'how well" you've done it.When it comes to career goals, the "why" is very important, particularly if the applicant is planning a career switch. They look for candidates who are proactive about creating their own opportunities; candidates who will take ownership for their career outcomes.  They like candidates who are always preparing themselves for a job that doesn’t exist yet.  Providing evidence of meetings you've had with prospective employers, other research you've done, etc. is a great way to show that your goals are realistic. Naturally, a red flag is when it's evident that the applicant expects the school to "get them the job."Columbia cares about your extra-curriculars! They want to see how you’ve gotten involved in your ecosystem at home and work. They're looking for students who will be active and contribute to the community.
ANY FINAL ADVICE?
Columbia admissions loves meeting prospective students and those interactions can absolutely contribute to the final admissions decision! Michael always makes himself available for informational chats with anyone who requests one. He’s a busy man so try to get on his calendar sooner rather than later!  That said, know that it’s much easier to connect with the ‘Officer of the Day (OOD)’ who is available from 9am to 5 pm EST. They also encourage you to engage with current students and alumni as they feel that this is the best way to truly understand the community at CBS.
We hope this leaves you empowered and excited to tackle your Columbia application! There’s a lot to do so now’s the time to get started! If you have any additional questions about Columbia or the MBA application process in general, we’re happy to help. Simply sign up for our30-minute free consultationto get personalized advice on your profile and plans! Best of luck!
www.vantagepointadmissions.com
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

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http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
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Your MBA Plan for the Next Two Months [#permalink]

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New post 01 May 2017, 10:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Your MBA Plan for the Next Two Months
Image
This year's MBA applications will be released by the schools sometime in June or July (on average). So what can you be doingnow? A lot. If you start now, then you can knock out some of the low hanging fruit and be ready to hunker down once the applications come out.
First thing’s first - if you haven’t taken the GMAT, get on that asap. And if you have a low undergrad GPA or GMAT, then you also need to start looking atonline or local community college classes.
But what else can you be doing? Below we’ve laid out a high level plan that resembles what we use with many of our clients at this phase of the application process. Start early and we promise you’ll be happy you did!
Resume:Don’t just copy and paste the resume you used to get your last gig. An MBA application resume is a little different. The main adjustments you should make involve a) removing industry-jargon (eg. “full stack”, “dry powder” etc); b) focus on accomplishments and leadership versus hard skills or tasks; c) ensure you’re covering the big things the adcom looks for (leadership, teamwork, communication skills, problem solving abilities, analytical skills etc). The resume is where I have most of my clients start thinking about how to describe their past experiences in a way that makes sense for a broader audience, because you never know thebackground of who will eventually read your application.
Research: Thinking of applying to Kellogg? Hopefully you know all about the new building. At this point you have plenty of time to start researching things like this for your target schools in-depth. Googling and getting on their mailing lists are great first steps, but the best solution is always going to campus and/or speaking to an alum or current student. At the very least, use LinkedIn to find out who from your undergrad network went to your target schools and see if they’ll chat with you. Some schools will also set you up with current students if you don’t have colleagues or other means of getting in touch. It takes time to get more than just superficial knowledge of an MBA program, so start now. Those who have done their research and can be specific in their essays have a huge leg up.
Recommenders:  Start talking to your recommenders. Make sure they are ready and willing and very clear on how big of a commitment this will be. This is also a good time to mention how much prep material you’ll provide them to make the process just a little easier from their sides. A good recommender spends a lot of time writing concrete, glowing recommendations, so the sooner you can get them involved and ready, the better.
Story: Still not totally sure “why” you want to go to business school, or what you want to do upon graduation? NBD. But you need to use the next few months to start figuring this out. Research. I have my clients start with a matrix of careers, industries or jobs they think they are interested in, then pro / con each one. This exercise forces you to get to know the post-MBA career paths, what’s realistic,and what may be more or less interesting to you. The next step is to layout the “why” behind each career path you are interested in - how does your past professional or personal experience relate to your chosen path? Having a good foundation for what you want will ultimately help you better draw the connection between your goals and why a particular MBA program is right for you.

We’re always happy to help you get started on this path - feel free to reach out any time!
www.vantagepointadmissions.com
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

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http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
Contact us for a Free Consultation!

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Non-Traditional Applicant: Weakness or Strength? [#permalink]

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New post 11 May 2017, 13:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Non-Traditional Applicant: Weakness or Strength?
“I’m a non-traditional applicant – how do I offset this weakness in my application?”
“I think that my non-traditional background is a strength in my application because it differentiates me from all the consultants and bankers – do you agree?”
Image
So which one is it? Is a “non-traditional” pre-MBA background or career path a boon or a disadvantage for an MBA candidate? As in all things related to the MBA application process, it depends! But as an applicant, that’s something you have some control over -  namely how successful you are at leveraging that prior experience to tell a compelling story of leadership, impact, and of course, the need for an MBA.
Let’s start with an example to bring this to life. Two years ago, I worked with a client who came to me from one of the more unusual pre-MBA career paths I had seen. Charlotte* was a product specialist at a well-known auction house in New York. In short, she valued and categorized antique and rare furniture and prepared it for sale. While she attended an Ivy League undergrad, she was a liberal arts major and had also earned a master’s degree in art history. As an MBA applicant, she faced 3 key challenges: translating her work experience into qualities and competencies that are valued in business school, demonstrating analytical skills, and clearly explaining her path to and need for an MBA.
In our work together, Charlotte and I developed a strategy to address these challenges. In her resume, essays and letters of recommendation, we focused on several leadership experiences she had: leading a cross-functional initiative between her team and the marketing department, proactively resolving complex client issues, and taking on training and mentoring a new hire who was struggling in her role. In her resume, we made sure to quantify every possible achievement and highlight any analytical work she had done to help showcase her quantitative abilities. Lastly, we crafted a clear and compelling story for why she needed an MBA. She framed her experience as a cultivation of her passion for luxury goods and an opportunity to develop deep product expertise. However, she wanted to move up the supply chain, so to speak, into a more strategic role where she could drive decisions at the brand level for a product line or category. Given that she had little exposure to the subjects of finance, accounting, or corporate strategy in her past experience, an MBA was necessary to propel that next step in her career. This ultimately proved to be a winning strategy for Charlotte, as she was admitted to Columbia Business School, her top choice program.
So going back to the original question – is a non-traditional background a strength or a weakness? Charlotte’s experience is a perfect example of how a non-traditional background can be a strength. The key to her success was in identifying what the main pain points would be for the adcom in light of her background and addressing them head-on. Could Charlotte’s background have worked against her? Absolutely!  She could have failed to properly explain her background in terms that were relevant to the adcom and she could have failed to present a compelling argument for why she was pursuing an MBA. Either or both of those omissions could have led to a rejection. However, a lot of that was in her control.
All of the top MBA programs are looking to assemble highly diverse classes not only in terms of gender, ethnicity, and nationality, but also into terms of skills, backgrounds, and perspectives. So one thing is for sure when it comes to non-traditional applicants – the adcom will notice you. You will stand out in a pool of applicants comprised of way more “traditional pre-MBA roles”. However, what you do with that spotlight is up to you.
* Name has been changed for privacy purposes.
At Vantage Point, we love working with non-traditional applicants because of the unique challenge each of your stories brings. No matter where you are in the application process, our expertise and experience can help you lay out a clear path to admission to your dream schools. If you’d like to speak to an admissions expert about your MBA plans, sign up for afree 30-minute consultation. We look forward to hearing from you!
www.vantagepointadmissions.com
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
Contact us for a Free Consultation!

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Writer's Block? Ideas to Get Your Essays Started [#permalink]

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New post 31 May 2017, 13:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Writer's Block? Ideas to Get Your Essays Started
Many of the business schools have started releasing their 2017 - 2018 applications, including the much anticipated essay questions. For many, this is the fun part; and for just as many, this is the part they dread. Boiling down your accomplishments, passions, and goals to 500 - 750 words is no easy task. But step one is having something to write about in the first place. As such, below are a few tips to get you started as you think through the best topics for your upcoming MBA essay masterpieces!
Don’t be generic (aka. boring). If you were considering writing a beautiful essay about how you are awesome at building financial models and can’t wait to do that as a consultant after gaining stronger management skills in b-school...then forget about it. If that is in fact your storyline, that’s ok. However, it needs to be way, way, way more interesting and specific. And if that’s your storyline just because you don’t know what else to say, then it’s well worth your time to do some soul-searching and research to determine what it is that you are REALLY good at and want to do in the future. A good story and vision can outweigh weaker aspects of your application. And if you’re gunning for the top MBA programs, then you need an inspiring story or pitch just to be competitive.
Don’t forget the “why”.  Whether you are focused on starting your own company or you’re the person who truly wants to go into consulting after you graduate, it’s extremely important to explain WHY that career path matters to you and makes sense for you. Explain how you came to want to work in a particular industry and what your ideas are for transforming or enhancing that industry. Importantly, explain why it matters to you or is important to you.
Leadership stories.  If you are ever at a loss for what to write about, list out the leadership examples from your life that you are most proud of (both professionally and personally). Your leadership potential is important to highlight throughout your application, so these stories are likely a great starting point for determining essay content. Leadership stories that also include great examples of how well you work with many different types of people are even better!
Creativity.  Don’t go overboard, and be sure to know your audience (not all schools are open to this); but a little creativity can help set you apart. One of the best essays I saw for Stanford last year (from someone who was admitted!) took a very creative approach to answering the goals question and treated it like a reflection from the future (eg. 10 years from now looking back). She pulled it off really well and clearly the admissions directors took notice!
Uniqueness.  Oftentimes I see applicants who want to tell the admissions directors what they think they want to hear (eg. describing some generic “perfect” MBA candidate). Though you do need to position yourself in a way that appeals to what admissions is looking for, you need to remember that one thing they are looking for is your ability to add value and contribute something unique to the class.  They are always asking “who you will be” in the class.  MBA programs are searching for leaders who are dynamic, interesting, well-rounded, and can add something. Who you are, where you came from, your hobbies, and your personality are all very important aspects to convey.

Hopefully this gets you off to a great start! If you haven’t already, it’s important to ensure that you map out your plan for the next few months so that you have plenty of time to iterate on these essays. Most of our clients complete 10-20+ drafts of each essay before submitting, so be methodical in your approach and give yourself the time you need to feel great about your applications!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
Contact us for a Free Consultation!

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Writer's Block? Ideas for Starting Your Essays on the Right Path [#permalink]

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New post 31 May 2017, 14:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: Writer's Block? Ideas for Starting Your Essays on the Right Path
Many of the business schools have started releasing their 2017 - 2018 applications, including the much anticipated essay questions. For many, this is the fun part; and for just as many, this is the part they dread. Boiling down your accomplishments, passions, and goals to 500 - 750 words is no easy task. But step one is having something to write about in the first place. As such, below are a few tips to get you started as you think through the best topics for your upcoming MBA essay masterpieces!
Don’t be generic (aka. boring). If you were considering writing a beautiful essay about how you are awesome at building financial models and can’t wait to do that as a consultant after gaining stronger management skills in b-school...then forget about it. If that is in fact your storyline, that’s ok. However, it needs to be way, way, way more interesting and specific. And if that’s your storyline just because you don’t know what else to say, then it’s well worth your time to do some soul-searching and research to determine what it is that you are REALLY good at and want to do in the future. A good story and vision can outweigh weaker aspects of your application. And if you’re gunning for the top MBA programs, then you need an inspiring story or pitch just to be competitive.
Don’t forget the “why”.  Whether you are focused on starting your own company or you’re the person who truly wants to go into consulting after you graduate, it’s extremely important to explain WHY that career path matters to you and makes sense for you. Explain how you came to want to work in a particular industry and what your ideas are for transforming or enhancing that industry. Importantly, explain why it matters to you or is important to you.
Leadership stories.  If you are ever at a loss for what to write about, list out the leadership examples from your life that you are most proud of (both professionally and personally). Your leadership potential is important to highlight throughout your application, so these stories are likely a great starting point for determining essay content. Leadership stories that also include great examples of how well you work with many different types of people are even better!
Creativity.  Don’t go overboard, and be sure to know your audience (not all schools are open to this); but a little creativity can help set you apart. One of the best essays I saw for Stanford last year (from someone who was admitted!) took a very creative approach to answering the goals question and treated it like a reflection from the future (eg. 10 years from now looking back). She pulled it off really well and clearly the admissions directors took notice!
Uniqueness.  Oftentimes I see applicants who want to tell the admissions directors what they think they want to hear (eg. describing some generic “perfect” MBA candidate). Though you do need to position yourself in a way that appeals to what admissions is looking for, you need to remember that one thing they are looking for is your ability to add value and contribute something unique to the class.  They are always asking “who you will be” in the class.  MBA programs are searching for leaders who are dynamic, interesting, well-rounded, and can add something. Who you are, where you came from, your hobbies, and your personality are all very important aspects to convey.

Hopefully this gets you off to a great start! If you haven’t already, it’s important to ensure that you map out your plan for the next few months so that you have plenty of time to iterate on these essays. Most of our clients complete 10-20+ drafts of each essay before submitting, so be methodical in your approach and give yourself the time you need to feel great about your applications!
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
Contact us for a Free Consultation!

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How You Can Demonstrate Leadership in your MBA Applications [#permalink]

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New post 05 Jun 2017, 15:01
FROM Vantage Point MBA Admissions Blog: How You Can Demonstrate Leadership in your MBA Applications
Image
More often than not, when I bring-up the topic of how to demonstrate “leadership experience” in an MBA application, the response is “but I’m not in a management position”. Truly, that’s OK. The average age of most entering classes hovers around 26-28, so it’s not a surprise if you haven’t yet started managing a team. The truth is that many, if not most, applicants (and admitted applicants) to the the top business schools in the world have never had a direct report.
However, almost all of those admitted to the top MBA programs are able to demonstrate two things:
1) their inherent leadership qualities; and
2) their inherent leadership potential.
In the May issue of the Harvard Business Review, there is an intriguing article about the four leadership qualities that were found among the highest performing CEOs during a 10-year study. (On a side note, HBR is a GREAT publication if you’re interested in business school - I highly recommend that you subscribe or at least peruse the articles online from time to time).
The four things that HBR cited could be great thought starters for you as you consider how you’ll describe your leadership aptitude in your upcoming application essays. These are qualities that you can probably point to as either areas where you currently excel or areas where you want to excel (eg. why you are applying to business school):
DecisivenessAbility to Engage Others (eg. Motivate)Ability to Adapt Well to ChangeReliability (in Producing Results)
Even if you’ve only been working for a few years, chances are that you can give examples of how you’ve exhibited some of these leadership qualities. For example, if you work on a team, you should be able to point to a time when you’ve engaged others. Last year, I worked with a private equity associate who’d had to convince the leadership of one of his portfolio companies that they needed to renegotiate with their largest customer (even though that was culturally not the norm). I also worked with a consultant who’d needed to convince his team that on-the-ground research (literally door-to-door) was the way to go. Both of these examples ended in great successes but the real success (to the adcom) was the fact that these people were able to motivate those around them.
Similarly, stories about adapting to change lend themselves to describing how great your problem solving skills are. Perhaps your company was blindsided by Brexit and there was suddenly an unexpected need for reanalyzing your business unit’s sales strategy or the data that you use. Or maybe you worked in a company that was acquired. For example, I worked with a woman this past year who had amazing stories of how she’d worked with an acquiring company’s management team to ensure a smooth integration as they took over her firm. It not only showcased her ability to change but it also showcased her ability to get right in there and help solve the issues that would inevitably pop-up in any merger (even though this was far from her day job).
Many people cite their extracurriculars for leadership qualities and potential as well. Maybe you’ve been tutoring for an organization for several years and realized that the student drop-out rate was pretty high. And perhaps you were proactive in considering what the issues may be and submitted a proposal to the executive director; even though this was far outside of your volunteer scope within the organization. Being a reliable contributor who goes above and beyond when the situation arises is a great quality to demonstrate on your applications.
Remember, the key is showing that you are inherently a leader, not inherently an “order-taker”.
Many of the top programs have started releasing their essay topics for this year. Now is the time to get started if you haven’t already. Give yourself enough time to ensure that you are able to write winning essays that showcase all of your inherent leadership abilities and potential!
www.vantagepointmba.com
ForumBlogs - GMAT Club’s latest feature blends timely Blog entries with forum discussions. Now GMAT Club Forums incorporate all relevant information from Student, Admissions blogs, Twitter, and other sources in one place. You no longer have to check and follow dozens of blogs, just subscribe to the relevant topics and forums on GMAT club or follow the posters and you will get email notifications when something new is posted. Add your blog to the list! and be featured to over 300,000 unique monthly visitors

_________________

Vantage Point MBA Admissions Consulting
http://www.vantagepointadmissions.com
MBA Admissions Consulting: Reimagined
Contact us for a Free Consultation!

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How You Can Demonstrate Leadership in your MBA Applications   [#permalink] 05 Jun 2017, 15:01

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