Prove You Are Ready to Go From College to MBA

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Younger MBA applicants can demonstrate leadership through initiatives or programs they’ve launched

Over the past decade, business schools have become increasingly open to admitting younger applicants, realizing that such candidates can make significant contributions to the classroom dynamic despite their lack of post-college professional experience.

It’s important to understand, though, that such candidates must demonstrate a high level of talent, academic strength and promise if they hope to persuade a top-tier MBA program to take a chance on them.

If you’re a college junior or senior wondering whether pursuing an MBA degree straight after college is the right move, you need to do some serious introspection. You must convince the MBA admissions committees that you don’t need those two-plus years in the workforce first. You’ll have to show that you come to the program armed with the knowledge, maturity and experience that most people take those extra years to acquire.

[Consider going directly from college to an MBA program.]

Also, know that some schools – such as Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the University of California—Berkeley Haas School of Business, among others – have fairly firm work experience preferences, so make sure to check with the schools that interest you before making your decision.

Here are three key qualities you will need to demonstrate to admissions committees as a young business school applicant.

Maturity: A key way to demonstrate maturity in your applications is to show that you have experience handling adult issues and problems and that you’re not intimidated by older, more senior professionals. Your letters of recommendation can speak to your level of maturity and focus, particularly how you compare to other people your age.

Choose recommenders such as a summer employer, internship supervisor or other individuals who can objectively assess your professional promise and comment on your managerial abilities. Some MBA programs, such as Columbia University’s Columbia Business School, will accept a second recommendation letter from a professor.

Remember, maturity isn’t a matter of growing older – it’s a matter of growing wiser. Since you can’t focus on how long you’ve been doing something, instead demonstrate how you’ve grown, from your values to your view of the world.

This should go without saying, but make sure your MBA application process doesn’t include active participation from your parents. At this critical career crossroads, the admissions committee wants to see applicants who have demonstrated leadership and wisdom, both of which are hard to convey with parents chiming in at every step.

[Submit a business school application with limited work experience.]

Leadership: This requirement is always daunting for younger applicants, but take comfort in the fact that leadership doesn’t necessarily have to happen in a workplace context.

Can you show that you launched initiatives, programs or ventures of some kind? Were you a teaching assistant? Perhaps you started a small business while in school, led a nonprofit, founded and led a club or spearheaded a major fundraiser.

To stand out in the eyes of the admissions committee, you need to provide hard proof that you made a difference. But it’s not about the scale of your achievements – rather, it’s the fact that you made your mark.

Also, don’t neglect to mention teamwork. Your leadership experience may arise from an extracurricular activity, and sensitivity to teamwork and collaboration in any leadership story demonstrates maturity and people skills.

Make sure the admissions committee can see that you have lots of interesting experiences and insights that would allow you to actively participate in class discussions with stories that will benefit fellow students.

[Showcase these five key qualities in your MBA application.]

Confidence: It’s fine to be ready for business school, but are you truly going to benefit from skipping those two years of work experience? Is b-school just a solution to the question of what to do after college, or is it truly a logical next step for your career?

Maybe you’re at a pivotal point in the company you started but desperately need to learn the general management tools to make it succeed. Or perhaps someone wants to recruit you sooner rather than later.

You’ll need to convince the admissions committee that you are ready for an MBA and that you have crystallized professional goals. Show how your background to date has given you a true taste of what you want to do with your career and that you’re confident that this is the best next step for you.

Your job as a younger MBA applicant is to search internally for what you have to offer. Think about what you want to gain from and what you can contribute to an MBA program.

If you can demonstrate maturity, highly focused career goals, leadership skills and enough life experience to contribute to an incoming class, your age or thin amount of work experience becomes far less important to admissions committees.

Here’s how you can score a tuition-free MBA

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The average MBA tuition costs between $55,000 and $68,000 a year, according to U.S. News. The average debt for new grads at some of the top business schools can range from $59,000 to over $120,000. But at University of the People, you can score a tuition-free MBA with little to no debt, says founder Shai Reshef.

“Higher education can be affordable, and accessible and high quality,” he tells CNBC Make It.

In 2009, Reshef officially launched University of the People, the first tuition-free, accredited online university. Immediately after launching, Reshef says he was swarmed with top educators who wanted to partake in his business.

The concept is simple. The university is completely run by volunteers, from the professors all the way up to the provost, who volunteers from Columbia University, says Reshef. The school also boasts volunteer professors and advisers from notable colleges like Oxford, Harvard, Duke University and UC Berkeley. Currently, the university has more than 6,000 volunteer professors, Reshef says.

Meanwhile, the number of interested students has risen each year. When the online university first launched, the school had 500 students. In three years, the number of students jumped to 10,000 and Reshef believes that it will double by the end of this year.

The school first began offering tuition-free associate and bachelor’s degrees in business administration and computer science. “We started with both of the most in-demand degrees that are most likely to help students find a job,” says Reshef.

The university later introduced a health science track and then a graduate business degree in 2016. “The MBA is our fastest growing program,” Reshef says. That’s not surprising. According to U.S. News, a new MBA grad can earn up to $164,000.

Reshef says he founded University of the People because there are over a million people a year who are qualified for higher education but can’t attend due to factors like cost.

In his 2014 TED Talk titled an “Ultra-low-cost college degree,” he says that he wants to democratize higher education “from being a privilege for the few to a basic right, affordable and accessible for all.” His speech has since amassed over 4 million views.

“We provide an opportunity for people who have no other opportunity,” Reshef tells CNBC Make It. The university’s founder believes that with time, we will see not only more online universities, but also cheaper or free education.

“In online, there are no limits,” he says. “Every single university is now offering online courses so movement is on its way.”

Reshef does note that students who are accepted to the school must pay $100 for each exam that is required. However, he says the total cost is significantly lower than the “quarter of a million for standard colleges.”

As online universities become a more popular option for students, they will also affect the price of tuition at brick and mortar institutions, says Reshef. Costs like campus maintenance and technological fees will no longer be relevant and “prices will go down because there will be less demand,” he explains.

“[Colleges] will have to justify the costs if they don’t keep up,” Reshef says. “There will be price pressure on every university.”

Reshef admits that online universities are not yet the top choice for a majority of people. However, he points to the fact that his graduates have landed jobs at in-demand companies like Google, Amazon and IBM as a testament to the quality of education they receive.

“People who are educated are more likely to find better jobs,” says Reshef. “We train people to be entrepreneurs and to be creative.”

He adds, “They are people likely to be a force behind new entrepreneurship and to create businesses in their communities.”

Credit: CNBC

Tippie College of Business Abandons Its Full-Time MBA

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The University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business is scrapping its full-time MBA program to focus on part-time and shorter, specialized courses, highlighting how some business schools are struggling to attract time-poor and cash-strapped managers.
The school announced on Tuesday that the full-time MBA program will be phased out by 2019, as it shifts to shorter programs. Tippie said it planned to introduce several specialized master’s programs over the next three years while also increasing investment in part-time and executive MBA programs for working professionals.

“Adapting to the market is key for growth in any organization, and we’re seeing clear shifts in what students and businesses need,” said Sarah Gardial, school’s dean.

“Both are expressing preferences for non-career-disrupting options for the MBA, while others are increasingly drawn to the focused education provided by master’s programs in specific subjects.”

‘There’s a shrinking market for the full-time MBA,’ says Tippie dean

He told the Wall Street Journal: “We’ve finally gotten to a tipping point where we can no longer deny there’s a shrinking market for the full-time program.”

Tippie is the latest in a line of business schools to shutter their full-time, two-year MBA courses. Wake Forest University’s business school said it would abandon its program in 2014, while the Virginia Polytechnic Institute said it would discontinue enrolling people in its MBA in 2013.

The moves come as many young professionals are questioning both the time and monetary cost of attending a traditional, campus-based MBA program. Not only must they pay tuition for a course of two years, but forgo lost earnings otherwise made during that period. Arizona’s W.P. Carey School of Business reflected this trend when it scrapped tuition fees for its MBA and began offering it scot free.

Tippie’s announcement also comes as the market for the full-time MBA begins to shrink, although it remains valuable in terms of improving career progression. In the US, 53% of business schools running full-time, two-year MBA courses reported a decline in application numbers in 2016, according to the Graduate Management Admissions Council. At Tippie, annual enrolment fell from 140 to 100 students in the full-time program between 2010 and last year.

Specialized master’s programs are on the rise

Conversely, applications to shorter, specialized masters programs are on the rise. According to the latest GMAC data, the percentage of candidates considering specialized master’s degrees – such as the Master in Management – has increased from 15% in 2009 to 23% in 2016.

Tippie introduced a Master of Science in Business Analytics degree in 2014, and graduate enrollment has grown 517% in less than three years, due to growing demand for data science expertise in management. The school will also introduce a master’s program in finance in 2018.
Many business schools have launched specialist master’s degrees in recent years to capitalize on this demand. This month, Harvard Business School announced plans for an online business analytics program for MBAs. Others have preferred to offer specializations within their existing MBA programs. INSEAD recently revamped its MBA program, adding tracks in digital transformation and fintech.

Credit: topmba

UT McCombs School Fall 2018 MBA Essay Tips

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The UT McCombs School of Business is a globally recognized MBA program, located in Austin, Texas, a center of technology and business for the region.

When approaching these essay questions think about the reasons you are pursuing an MBA, particularly at McCombs. Thorough school research will help you come up with specifics, by taking to current or former students, visiting campus, or attending admissions events.

Stacey Kammerdiener, Senior Texas Full-Time MBA Admissions Officer advises, “While it may be tempting, do us (and yourself) a favor and avoid the snooze-fest/shock-factor extremes. Instead, approach your essays genuinely and with reflection.” More advice can be found at the Texas MBA Insider blog.

ESSAY ONE

Introduce yourself.
Select only one communication method that you would like to use for your response.

• Write an essay (250 words), OR
• Share a video introduction (one minute)

For an open-ended essay with a creative option (the video) it can be daunting to think of a topic. Rather than focusing on how you are going to communicate, start thinking about what you want to communicate to the Texas MBA admissions committee by introducing yourself to your new study group.

The best essays will dive deep into your motivations and aspirations, perhaps getting into your cultural background, formative moments in your life and friends, family and colleagues who have influenced you. To identify one or two key stories you may want to tell, think about those pivotal moments of change in your life.

For many people the transition from high school to college and from college to work led to personal change. Others had formative childhood experiences or experiences that led to shifts in perspective like travel or living outside your home country. Any one of these moments could be a good way to illustrate who you are and what motivates you.

Once you have identified the content of your essay you can decide how to present it. A video could give you the opportunity to add elements of emotion, such as humor, that are harder to convey in writing. A video also allows you to include graphics, photos or other visual elements. If your story fits better into a written narrative you may choose the written essay instead.

If you choose a video essay you will still want to write a script for your video. Think about the bullet points you want to cover, and any important points you need to convey. If you decide to talk into the camera, rehearsing will be especially important, and consider having a friend or family member there so you can talk to a person instead of the camera. If you are able to edit the video after you record footage it will be easier to keep it smooth and on topic. Either way, make sure you take the time to record several takes of the video content so you can choose the best one to submit to McCombs.

ESSAY TWO

Picture yourself at graduation. Describe how you spent your two years as a Texas MBA student, and how that experience helped to prepare you for the post-MBA world. (500 words)

This essay is your opportunity to demonstrate strong fit with the Texas MBA program. As part of your homework before starting this set of essays you have hopefully learned as much as possible about the school, now you can bring in your own aspirations and goals. Use your imagination to think about how you might describe your MBA experience at graduation. You’ll likely have experienced both professional and personal growth, and met interesting people who will be part of your lifelong network.

To help you get started, research some of the unique opportunities at McCombs like the Venture Labs, if you have entrepreneurial dreams, and The MBA+ Program, with opportunities to work with influential companies through a variety of touch points. Being part of the city of Austin is another unique benefit to the program that you may want to consider in the context of your background and goals.

For example, perhaps you were interested in working for a major technology firm to learn product management skills to use in starting your own business. While at McCombs you might have tested ideas with the Venture Labs, and also consulted for major companies like Adobe or HP to learn how large companies worked. These experiences were likely formative as you made career plans.

Don’t forget the personal – McCombs has an active and engaged student culture with many student organizations you likely joined. And your classmates and friends you made in the program were definitely an influence as well.

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Which MBA Programs Should Be On Your List?

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Outside the Wharton School on the University of Pennsylvania campus

Many students who are applying to business school know they want to go to a top school, but don’t know how to come up with a target list. You might have an idea from rankings, which are a place to see the names of schools, but I’ll say it right here: It’s not useful to just go through the rankings list and pick the top 4 or 5. You can be more thoughtful than that. But how do you begin?

10 Things You Can Do Right Now to Start Your List of Schools

Here are 10 things you can do right now to figure out which school should be on your long list. Unless you absolutely hate a school because of its location, or you think everyone you’ve ever met from that school is a weenie, keep an open mind about schools you simply want to research. It doesn’t mean you have to apply, or if you get in, go. But it helps you clarify your thinking.

Ask trusted friends

Ideally, you want to ask friends who know what they are talking about, who have applied, rather than those who are just reading rumors on the internet. Work colleagues, alumni of your undergraduate school all might have some insights from their own experiences.

Think of people you know and admire who hold an MBA

Ask them why they chose that school and how it helped them become who they are.

Look up people in your target field and see where they went to business school

LinkedIn has a variety of free ways you can search to figure that out (just make sure you put in “MBA” a search parameter). Or find the profiles of executives at companies you like and deconstruct their career paths.

Pick a school, any school, and look at their employment reports

It’s worth it to wander around the career section of a school’s website See who recruits at the school, check out top employers, dig into the actual names of companies that employ students. Also, LinkedIn can help you here – especially if you know the right tricks.

Go to in-person events.

Because it is summertime when I am writing this, going to class is usually not an option. But every business school goes on international and national road trips. These incredibly worthwhile presentations include a mix of admissions officers, current students, alumni, and sometimes senior faculty. The best way to get a seat is to get on the school mailing list so they can email you details of all upcoming events. Let me say that again in italics: The best way to get a seat is to get on the school mailing list so they can email you details of all upcoming events. Note: you will not get dinged from a school if you register to a big event and cannot make it.

Read through school websites.

Not just the overall marketing material and student voices, which are helpful, but look at the academics. Look at courses, concentrations, special research centers, and initiatives. Many schools have special centers for entrepreneurship and social innovation; but what about real estate, health care, luxury goods, data analytics, or global operations?

Look at the school profiles.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term, a school profile gives the demographics and breakdown of an entering class. Importantly, you’ll find the average (and hopefully range of) grades, scores, years of work experience, geographic breakdown, previous industry, and more fun statistics to see if you are in the ball park for that school. Be realistic, but don’t consider these numbers gospel. In the case of GPAs, for example, schools are more interested in the quality of your transcript as well as the absolute number.

Look at all-in costs and probabilities of financial aid.

Combine this with their work on current costs of business school, and you might add or subtract some schools.

Look at a map.

Even in this global world, location does matter. But do keep an open mind. Most schools are right near major airports, so you can explore and interview without too much trouble. Still, location tends to have a visceral pull, especially if a spouse or significant other are coming along for the ride. (And yes, ask for their input.)

Look at rankings.

Of course, they matter. But be smart about them. They are imperfect, and they shouldn’t drive your entire decision. Or you will drive yourself crazy, and life is so much better than that. A

Credit: Quants

Wharton To Ask Rec Writers For ‘Essays’

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Wharton School operations and innovation management professor Christian Terwiesch teaching class

After a major review, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School has decided to ask recommenders of its MBA applicants to effectively write two short essays on the candidates they are recommending.

The changes, effective with the upcoming 2017-2018 admissions cycle, occurred after the school surveyed more than 1,200 writers of recommendation letters and asked about their experience with the process. Vice Dean Maryellen Reilly, who deemed the overall “significant,” said they were being made “in an effort to get a deeper understanding of a candidate’s personal characteristics and their impact on others throughout their career.”

It’s a major changeup, in part, because business schools have been reducing the number and the length of essays for MBA applicants for several years now. At least on the surface, it seems ironic that a school would now decide to essentially ask recommendation writers for a pair of 300-word essays. The move also comes not long after several schools have moved to a common rec letter format to make it easier for recommenders to provide support for their candidates to several schools.

IMMEDIATE FEEDBACK FROM ADMISSION CONSULTANTS MIXED

But Wharton ostensibly thought it could improve on the current system after asking rec writers for their perspectives. “Utilizing their valuable feedback, in conjunction with conversations with writers at a variety of companies and Wharton stakeholders, we have revised and improved how recommenders provide information on who a candidate is both personally and within an organization,” wrote Deputy Vice Dean Maryellen Reilly in a blog post about the change.

Several MBA admission consultants, however, weren’t nearly as enthusiastic about the change, largely because they saw it as an additional burden on recommenders. That could encourage more recommenders to ask applicants to write the essays for their approval. “For the personality traits, the good news is that Wharton is trying to get authentic and thoughtful responses from recommenders, rather than literally ‘check-the-box,’” says Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions. “Because there are truly no right or wrong answers, hopefully, students won’t be as anxious about not being top at everything. For the qualitative questions, It’s great that the essay question specifically says up front, “give examples.” Maybe that will bring more substance into some of the high-praise-but-fluffy recommendations that don’t differentiate candidates in the least.

“On the downside,” she adds, “moving away from the common application questions that have been asked by other top schools really does put more of a burden on the recommender. That has all sorts of repercussions that increases anxiety for the student and might even mean that Wharton loses some applicants. Not sure that’s an optimal outcome for anyone.”

APPLICANTS MORE LIKELY TO SUCCUMB TO ‘YOU-WRITE-IT-I’LL SIGN-IT’

Linda Abraham, founder and CEO of Accepted.com, agreed. “Even those inclined to write their own recs are more likely to succumb to the time-saving temptation of you-write-it-I’ll-sign-it if they have to write two additional, distinctive responses to the open questions posed in the Wharton rec,” she says. “This would be especially true for applicants applying to more schools.”

Jeremy Shinewald, founder and CEO of mbaMission, sees an upside and downside to the change. “Unquestionably, relative to other schools, Wharton will get more thoughtful and colorful letters from those who take the recommendation process seriously – the questions almost force that outcome,” he says. “Unfortunately, they may also serve as a catalyst for those recommenders who may not want to put the time in and who may not put the time in and decide to shirk their responsibilities altogether. Because a truly excellent letter of recommendation can be a very powerful differentiator for any applicant, we strongly advise our clients to meet with their recommenders and discuss the process and more so what it means to write a standout letter.

“In doing so, we always advise our clients to be ready to diplomatically push back against a boss who says “write it yourself.” There is a reason why the schools want recommendation letters – they want insight that an applicant just can’t objectively and compellingly state about themselves. So, we may emphasize an extra level of preparedness for pushback to our Wharton applicants, because it will serve them well. They will have a better chance of getting in if they can persuade their recommenders to embrace the process.”

Credit: Poetsandquants

Tuck’s Own Insider Guide To Its MBA Essays

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Tuck School of Business

These days just about every business school has a blog or two that regularly dispenses advice to MBA applicants. And, of course, there is no shortage of places you can go on the web to get perspectives on exactly how to respond to a specific essay question at a given school, whether it’s the blog of an admissions consultant or even Poets&Quants.

But it’s rare when that advice is as clear and concise as the insider’s guide published recently by Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business which has long had a reputation as one of a handful of schools that really get to know the candidates who apply there.

As the admission folks at Tuck put it, “Within days of publishing these essays, there will inevitably be sources willing to help you analyze Tuck’s questions, as well as our thought process behind them. Instead of relying on second-hand advice, here’s all the guidance you need to write an excellent essay—straight from the admissions committee.”

Here’s how Tuck is helping applicants do their best MBA application:

1) (Required) What are your short and long-term goals? Why is an MBA a critical next step toward achieving those goals? Why are you interested in Tuck specifically? (500 words)

This question is as straightforward as it seems. Pursuing your MBA is a big commitment. There has got to be a good reason for this, right? We want to know that reason. What do you hope to be doing after graduating from an MBA program? How does your path thus far play into that? If the logical path isn’t clear, make sure you tell us why you’re making this transition.

Also, we want details! You want to lead a company, make decisions, problem solve, help people? Great, but does that mean consulting or product management? Healthcare or technology? What companies interest you? What roles do MBAs play in those fields? Pulling out these details will not only make you a more competitive applicant, but will also give you a great foundation when presented with all your career possibilities. Business school is great for exploring different industries, roles, and companies, but without a plan it can be overwhelming.

As for the final part of the question, every MBA program is different. What about Tuck specifically will help you get from where you are now to where you want to be in 3, 5, or 15 years? As an admissions committee, we have only 285 seats to fill every year. We want to make sure we’re offering this incredible opportunity to those who 1) understand why they’re in an MBA program to begin with, and 2) are excited about spending two transformative years at Tuck.

What programs, classes, clubs, treks, or activities does Tuck offer that will help you achieve your personal and professional goals? It’s true that we like people who are enthusiastic about Tuck—we want students who will dive in, not blend in! However, that doesn’t mean that you should try to flatter your way in. There are many, many opportunities at Tuck—you owe it to yourself to do some research and figure out those that are truly most appealing to you.

Other tips:

If you can take Tuck’s name out of this essay and replace it with another school’s name and it still makes sense, then you need to go back and show you know what makes Tuck (and the other MBA programs you’re considering) unique. We don’t want a laundry list of classes, clubs, or qualities at Tuck. We know what Tuck has. We want to know that you understand why those things are meaningful to you. Be authentic, be straightforward, be specific, and tell a story that makes sense.

2) (Required) Tuck’s mission is to educate wise leaders to better the world of business. Wisdom encompasses the essential aptitudes of confident humility, about what one does and does not know; empathy, towards the diverse ideas and experiences of others; and judgment, about when and how to take risks for the better.

With Tuck’s mission in mind, and with a focus on confident humility, tell us about a time you:
received tough feedback, experienced failure, or disappointed yourself or others. How did you respond, and what did you learn about yourself as a result? (500 words)

Life isn’t all successes; there are plenty of failures in there too. We are not trying to bring in a class of perfect people. We’re looking for people who are self-aware, growth minded, and humble, people who recognize those less-than-perfect moments or traits in themselves and then figure out where to go from there. That’s why we focus on confident humility.

Tuck is small in size and big in collaboration. It’s not about being right, being the best, or winning. We don’t seek success at the expense of others. You won’t blend in or be anonymous. You will work with diverse people, with different ideas, perspectives, and experiences that shape them. In business school (and life!), you will be one smart and talented person among many smart and talented people.

We love that our students listen and learn from each other in class and over dinner, that they lean on their study group mates in areas where they’re less strong, and that recruiters highlight how Tuckies stand out as being able to work well with just about everyone.

We’re looking for honesty in this essay. This is not a trick question. We’ve all received tough feedback, failed, or disappointed someone. Show us personal accountability and action. And like the first essay, details are important. Be specific enough that we get a clear picture of the situation, the result, and your role in it. Finally, don’t get to the end and forget the last part of our question: How did you respond, and what did you learn about yourself as a result?

Other thoughts: Stick to one particular example instead of a string of several instances, and avoid being too vague. Consider both your immediate reaction and your reaction once given time to think and reflect.

3) (Optional) Please provide any additional insight or information that you have not addressed elsewhere that may be helpful in reviewing your application (e.g., unusual choice of evaluators, weaknesses in academic performance, unexplained job gaps or changes, etc.). Complete this question only if you feel your candidacy is not fully represented by this application.

Optional is optional! We are NOT docking you for an empty optional essay. Actually, quite the opposite; if you give us an extra five paragraphs to read and it’s not necessary, we will question your judgment or your ability to express yourself succinctly elsewhere. For example, you do not need to further declare your love for Tuck here when you can articulate that in the first essay and the interview.

Reasons you should use this space:

Explaining an unusual recommender, or why you didn’t include your current direct supervisor.
Explaining a particularly incongruent semester/class from undergrad, or a poor record overall.
Anything else that may need additional explanation—as in, without it we will not understand the true context behind something.
A good rule here is to keep it to a reasonable length. If you’re unsure if you should explain something, err on the side of including it—just do so as succinctly as possible.

4) (To be completed by all reapplicants) How have you strengthened your candidacy since you last applied? Please reflect on how you have grown personally and professionally. (500 words)

This question is very straightforward, but similarly to the optional essay, try not to repeat a bunch of stuff from elsewhere in the application. Naturally, it might happen here and there, but use your best judgment. If you received reapplicant feedback, you should specifically address that feedback—all of it.

Word Counts: All noted word counts are meant as a guideline. While we’re not going to count every word, if your essay is exceptionally short, you either haven’t explained something fully, or simply did not put in much effort; if your essay is exceptionally long, you should consider revising it to be more succinct.

Credit: Poetandquants

30 Tips For Your MBA Admissions Success

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ucla-prestige-bruin-walk-angled_orig

Fortune may favor the brave, but when applying to business school it is careful planning and meaningful self-reflection that win the day.

With round-one deadlines for the world’s top MBA programs less than six months away, this is the time to put together a plan for admissions success. You’ve got a lot of ground to cover:

• Introspection about your personal and professional goals

• Research to identify the schools that match your objectives

• Study for the GMAT or GRE, and any courses that boost your academic record

• Outstanding professional performance to strengthen letters of recommendation

• Purposeful community engagement and genuine leadership opportunities

• Outreach to b-school students and alumni combined with campus visits

That’s quite a to-do list, but MBA admissions success doesn’t just happen — you create it. And that means accepting all the challenges that are involved, and not just pursuing the ones you like.

(Photo by Jens Schlueter/Getty Images)

You don’t have to go to business to make a success of your life, but this is your chance to shape your own path, and not rely on somebody else’s. To more accurately quote business philosopher Jim Rohn, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”

So where do you get started? Pursuing the theme of insightful quotes, I asked my colleagues at Fortuna Admissions for their advice, based on years of insider experience working in the admissions offices of the world’s top business schools.

Here are their 30 tips for MBA admissions success.

Self-Awareness And Defining Your Personal And Professional Goals

1. “Be your authentic self in your application. The most engaging candidates strip away the pretence, and don’t try to fit into a mould.” – Judith Silverman Hodara, Wharton

2. “Start with good questions — they are the best way to find great answers. Business schools want to know more about you than just your resume. They want to get a sense of what makes you tick. What do you want from your career? What are your strengths and weaknesses? What have you learned about yourself from times you have excelled and times you have failed? Don’t skimp on introspection—or waste the gift of choice.” – Caroline Diarte Edwards, INSEAD

3. “Spend time talking to many people in careers that seem interesting to you so that by the time you apply, you have a much better sense of your post-MBA plans. If you’re looking to make a career transition, consider speaking to people at your current company in positions that you’d like to go into after your MBA since they could be great resources that are highly accessible.” – Dina Glasofer, NYU Stern

4. “When talking about your long-term goals, think big. You will inspire the reader with your plans to change the world, not with your goal of retiring at 50. Find the thread that links your past decisions with your future goals. Make sure your story makes sense with a clear vision of where you want to go.” – Heidi Hillis, Stanford GSB

Selecting And Researching Your Target Schools

5. “Don’t settle for the ordinary — by definition a stretch school is within reach and by stretching yourself you will improve your reach. Believe in yourself, so that the admissions office can believe in you.” – Julie Ferguson, Chicago Booth

6. “Look beyond MBA rankings. List the factors most important to you and talk to students and alumni to help assess the fit.” – Dina Glasofer, NYU Stern

7. “Don’t settle for general statements about the school. Repeating well-known facts proves nothing. Identify and be able to explain your personal passion for the school.” – Karen Ponte, London Business School

Mastering The GMAT

8. “If you’re going through hell on data sufficiency or critical reasoning, keep going. You may have to fight the GMAT battle more than once to win it.” – Judith Silverman Hodara, Wharton

9. “Improving your GMAT score by 100 points is achieved in 10 point increments. Test success is the sum of small efforts practiced day in and day out.” – Cassandra Pittman, Columbia Business School

Personal Branding

10. “Think like a marketer — define and design your brand. What’s your unique expertise and contribution to the MBA program? Leverage that in each part of the application.” – Katherine Johnson, Harvard Business School

11. “As you look to set yourself apart, consider the lens that has influenced your worldview—and then find ways to project that understanding of yourself into your application.” – Brittany Maschal, Wharton

12. “Every school wants diversity – think how could your professional background, upbringing, nationality, age, future ambitions or interests add a unique dimension to your MBA class.” – Melissa Jones, INSEAD

 Resume

13. “Be specific – demonstrate your value with objective evidence, don’t just ask the reader to take your word for it.”  – Jodi Keating, Wharton

14. “Tone back the technical language and take it back to basics, highlighting the skills relevant to the role and ones the school will be looking for.” – Nicola Sandford, INSEAD

15. “There is probably someone applying to your target school with the exact same job title as you. Your resume needs to show exactly why you are better at that job.” – Jodi Keating, Wharton

Application Essays

16. “Telling a story that illustrates the type of person you are has far more impact than telling the reader what kind of person you are.  Show, don’t tell.” – Heather Lamb Friedman, Harvard Business School

17. “In your essays, go for the why, not the what. The resume tells what you did, it is up to the essays to explain what motivated you.” – Heidi Hillis, Stanford GSB

18. “Don’t just cut and paste essays from one school to another. Each application should feel like it was written specifically for that school, including concrete examples and specific school offerings rather than generalized statements.” – Dina Glasofer, NYU Stern

19. “Focus on depth over breadth! Talk in a non-technical manner when explaining your career — your file reader may come from a different background to you.” - Nonie Mackie, INSEAD

20. “Show self awareness. When talking about your weaknesses, be honest. A strength disguised as a weakness could very well backfire. Remember that you need to show that you still have something to learn.” – Michel Belden, Wharton

Extra-curriculars

21. “Go for quality not quantity. It’s better to get deeply involved in one thing you’re really passionate about, than to start four new activities simultaneously.” – Emma Bond, London Business School

22. “Devote your time and energy to something that supports your personal purpose in life. Don’t just get involved because it’s an admissions criterion. Do it because it genuinely resonates with who you are, your values, and your sense of purpose.” – Catherine Tuttle, Duke Fuqua

23. “Don’t underestimate the importance of your passions outside of work. The 10 years spent training as a ballerina shows dedication and drive, and can help you dance your way to the top of the applicant pile.” – Melissa Jones, INSEAD

Letters Of Recommendation

24. “Work on developing a relationship with your recommenders now so that when you ask them for a recommendation they are inclined to do so.” – Michel Belden, Wharton

25. “Don’t assume that your recommenders know what they are doing. Details, depth and insight add value; generalisations and do not. Help them to help you.” – Caroline Diarte Edwards, INSEAD

Interviews

26. “There is a misconception that schools are looking for perfect candidates, when in fact schools are looking for candidates with the right fit.” – Malvina Miller Complainville, Harvard Business School

27. “Practice, practice, practice! Have great examples to hand and a clear story, ensuring you tell the interviewer what you did do, not what you would do.” – Nicola Sandford, INSEAD

28. “Prepare your key selling points and stories ahead of time, and go into the room feeling confident that they wanted you there, and enthusiastic about the prospect of joining the school’s community.” – Malvina Miller Complainville, Harvard Business School

Staying On track

29. “Focus on what you can do, rather than what you cannot undo. A brand-new start is not an option, so put your energy into a brand-new ending.” – Brittany Maschal, Wharton

30. “When tackling the most challenging areas of your MBA application, get up early in the morning and be sure to complete these first!” – Nonie Mackie, INSEAD

It is clear from the insider experience of my colleagues, and decisions they made to admit certain candidates and reject others, that successful and unsuccessful applicants do not vary greatly in their abilities. They vary in their desires to achieve their goals. So what is to stop you?

Source: www.forbes.com

Writing tips for the new MBA admissions essays

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With MBA admissions essay requirements rapidly changing as schools and universities overhaul their MBA applications, one thing has become incredibly clear: the essay just isn’t what it used to be.

With MBA admissions essay requirements rapidly changing as schools and universities overhaul their MBA applications, one thing has become incredibly clear: the essay just isn’t what it used to be.

So how are MBA applications changing?

Some schools have added new components to their MBA application – like the Kellogg School of Management’s new mandatory video essay – or removed, reduced, or made optional portions of the essay segment. Why the new formats and new lengths? Soojin Kwon, director of admissions at Michigan’s Ross School of Business, told US News & World Report: “So many people were spending a lot of time on the essays and probably not as much time thinking about the other things…the whole purpose of the essay and the interview is to just get a better understanding of where they’re coming from and where they want to go to. And I don’t need to read 1,000 words, 2,000 words, to understand that.”

So how does an applicant get these new changes to work to his or her advantage? The prospect of a shorter essay – or one in a completely different format – can be daunting. But with the right attitude and approach, these new MBA admissions essays can actually provide a significant advantage.

In her blog, Kwon wrote that “our total maximum word count has been reduced by 450 words, and hopefully you’ll be able to use that found time to craft the most compelling essays possible.”

How does the MBA applicant adapt?

Avi Gordon, is the author of MBA Admissions Strategy: from Profile Building to Essay Writing. In his opinion, the most important things for an MBA applicant to remember while writing an essay or MBA cover letter–especially in one that is short, and therefore in which every word must be made to have the maximum impact – are as follows:

The Dos

•    DO remember to check spelling and grammar
•    DO actually respond to the question
•    DO write several drafts of each essay
•    DO tell stories from actual work experience
•    DO make sure that you accurately express your motivations and overall fit for the program

The Don’ts

•    DON’T praise the school (they know they’re good)
•    DON’T repeat items on your résumé
•    DON’T denigrate anyone or any organization
•    DON’T whine about life’s obstacles or blame others
•    DON’T state the obvious — if you are talking about water you needn’t add that it is also wet

Remember: keep your MBA cover letter and admissions essays unique

Jia Ma is IMBA marketing and admissions director at Beijing’s School of Economics and Management. He reflects that, “candidates always impress me most by [delivering] quick and genuine answers with great wisdom or humor.” The essay is one of the best opportunities for an MBA applicant to truly showcase character and distinguish him or herself as a valuable candidate.

That’s why it’s important to avoid uniform MBA cover letters and MBA admissions essays, despite the temptation to re-use them – particularly when other aspects of the MBA application process, such as GMAT preparation, appear to demand more time and attention.

“Standardized letters sent out to different schools are really obvious,” says Dirk Buyens, academic dean at Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School. “They show a lack of dedication.” Essay space is not for reiterating information easily gleaned elsewhere in your MBA application; it is for highlighting the fit between the MBA applicant and the school. Be sure to craft each MBA cover letter and essay with the school and program you are applying to in mind.

Most importantly, says Lynn Thornber, marketing and development coordinator at Durham Business School, “A failure to properly address the question asked is probably one of the most common mistakes, along with too much embellishment.” Since space is at a premium, now more than ever it is necessary to practice succinct and thoughtful expression.

Source: www.topmba.com

MBA Essay Tips

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Most graduate business programs require applicants to submit at least one MBA essay as part of the application process. Admissions committees use essays, along with other application components, to determine whether or not you are a good fit for their business school. A well-written MBA essay can increase your chances of acceptance and help you stand out among other applicants.

Choosing an MBA Essay Topic

In most cases, you will be assigned a topic or instructed to answer a specific question.

However, there are some schools that allow you to choose a topic or select from a short list of provided topics.

If you are given the opportunity to choose your own MBA essay topic, you should make strategic choices that allow you to highlight your best qualities. This may include an essay that demonstrates your leadership ability, an essay that showcases your ability to overcome obstacles, or an essay that clearly defines your career goals.

Chances are, you will be asked to submit multiple essays – usually two or three. You may also have the opportunity to submit an “optional essay.” Optional essays are usually guideline and topic free, which means you can write about anything you want. Find out when to use the optional essay.

Whatever topic you choose, be sure to come up with stories that support the topic or answer a specific question. Your MBA essay should be focused and feature you as the central player.

Common MBA Essay Topics

Remember, most business schools will provide you with a topic to write on. Although topics can vary from school to school, there are a few common topics/questions that can be found on many business school applications. They include:

  • Why attend this business school?
  • What are your career goals?
  • What are your short-term and long-term goals?
  • What will you do with your degree?
  • How will a degree help you achieve your goals?
  • Why do you want an MBA?
  • What matters to you most and why?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is your biggest accomplishment?
  • What is your biggest regret?
  • How have you failed in the past?
  • How do you respond to adversity?
  • What challenges have you overcome?
  • Who do you admire most and why?
  • Who are you?
  • How will you contribute to this program?
  • Why do you have leadership potential?
  • How do you explain weaknesses in your academic record?

Answer the Question

One of the biggest mistakes that MBA applicants make is not answering the question they are asked. If you are asked about your professional goals, then professional goals – not personal goals – should be the focus of the essay. If you are asked about your failures, you should discuss mistakes you have made and lessons you have learned – not accomplishments or success.

Stick to the topic and avoid beating around the bush. Your essay should be direct and pointed from start to finish. It should also focus on you. Remember, an MBA essay is meant to introduce you to the admissions committee. You should be the main character of the story.

It is okay to describe admiring someone else, learning from someone else, or helping someone else, but these mentions should support the story of you – not cover it up.

See another MBA essay mistake to avoid.

Basic Essay Tips

As with any essay assignment, you’ll want to carefully follow any instructions you are given. Again, answer the question assigned to you – keep it focused and concise. It is also important to pay attention to word counts. If you are asked for a 500-word essay, you should aim for 500 words, rather than 400 or 600. Make every word count.

Your essay should also be readable and grammatically correct. The entire paper should be free of errors. Do not use special paper or a crazy font. Keep it simple and professional. Above all, give yourself enough time to write your MBA essays.

You don’t want to have to slop through them and turn in something that’s less than your best work simply because you had to meet a deadline.

See a list of essay style tips.

More Essay Writing Tips

  • Take time to reflect on yourself, your goals, your accomplishments, your strengths, your weaknesses, etc. before you begin writing your essay.
  • Research the school until you have a good understanding of the school’s mission, culture, programs, and approach.
  • Create an outline to organize your ideas before you start writing.
  • Use anecdotes and personal stories to make your essay original.
  • Don’t be too academic – an MBA essay isn’t a term paper. It is a marketing packet designed to introduce you.
  • Be specific and detailed. Use examples. Support your statements.
  • Keep it real. You want to impress, but honesty is key.
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative. If you’re asked where you see yourself five years from now, you can avoid the standard answer and write a diary entry for that day in the future or pretend that you’re telling your children about your first job after grad school.
  • Make your essay interesting. Some admissions reps read more than 1,000 essays answering the same question. Hook them with the intro and keep them interested throughout to make your essay stand out among everyone else’s.

Remember that the #1 rule when writing an MBA essay is to answer the question/stay on topic. When you have finished your essay, ask at least two people to proofread it and guess the topic or question you were trying to answer. If they do not guess correctly, you should revisit the essay and adjust the focus until your proofreaders can easily tell what the essay is supposed to be about.

Source: www.thoughtco.com