Prove You Are Ready to Go From College to MBA


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


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


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

3 Factors to Help Determine Target MBA Programs


Prospective MBA students should consider whether the MBA program’s culture is a good fit.

While the majority of business school applicants we’ve surveyed in recent years say reputation is the most important factor they consider when choosing which MBA programs to target, prospective students should consider other equally – or perhaps more – important things as well.

Round one application deadlines are just around the corner, and you’ll need to finalize your shortlist of programs ASAP. Look beyond rankings and reputation to weigh these other aspects that will help you narrow your choices to the MBA programs that will truly meet your professional and personal needs.

1. Flexible or fixed curriculum: There are two common approaches to coursework at the world’s top business schools: one is a first year of foundational classes followed by second-year elective coursework tailored to your specific objectives and the other is a flexible curriculum from the outset.

Which option is right for you depends entirely on your professional background, career goals, personal preference and, often, skill areas that need strengthening. A required core curriculum provides all students with a broad understanding of business fundamentals and is a format common to schools such as Harvard Business School, Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business and University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business.

A flexible curriculum – like that found at London Business School, Stanford University Graduate School of Business, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and the University of California—Los Angeles’ Anderson School of Management – allows students to design their MBA program in a way that best accommodates their career objectives.

There’s an upside and downside to having a required core curriculum. For students who already have a deep background in, say, finance or marketing, the first-year experience may be somewhat boring academically. The considerable benefit of having all students take the same core classes early on is that the shared experience fosters strong social connections among classmates.

A final thought on MBA courses and their importance where school selection is concerned: Only apply to programs where you can clearly see how its core and elective courses over the next two years will thoroughly prepare you to reach your post-MBA professional goals.

2. Career services: When you’re researching potential business schools, one of the most important and often overlooked things to consider is the career center. After all, a primary reason for going for an MBA is to land a much better job upon graduation, and business schools know that a major selling point for MBA programs is their alumni’s career success rate.

Several programs involve the career center in the admissions process to make sure the applicant’s professional goals can be reached using the school’s resources. Having well-defined career goals is crucial to determining the best MBA program for you, so find out whether the career services office specializes in specific industries or sectors or has dedicated consultants for each industry. And if you are interested in working for specific companies after you graduate, don’t forget to call those companies directly and ask them where they recruit.

Some career services departments also include personal and leadership coaching, knowing that tomorrow’s MBAs will change jobs more often than previous generations and, therefore, need transferable tools and skills for long-term career success. You are ultimately the one in charge of your professional growth, so once admitted, stay proactive and start working with the career services department as soon as you hit campus.

3. Community culture: In SBC’s 2016 survey of MBA applicants, a mere 12.7 percent of respondents said that the MBA program’s culture was the most important factor influencing their decision to attend a particular business school. This is surprising, since we believe that finding that good fit with the MBA programs you’re targeting is one of the best predictors of your overall enjoyment of the b-school experience.

If you’re an applicant for whom getting into the best-ranked school takes precedence over all other considerations, the vibe of the school’s MBA community won’t matter. If that’s not you, talk to current and former students, visit the campus and evaluate your interactions with the admissions team to find out how comfortable you would be attending the program.

Are there clubs you can’t wait to join? Trips abroad that sound fascinating? Experiential learning opportunities that are completely in synch with your personal or career goals? A friendly or more competitive energy on campus? There are so many factors that shape the MBA experience – try not to focus too heavily on rankings and prestige over finding a program where you will truly be able to thrive.

For some applicants, there may be a clear winner after studying all of the quantitative and qualitative data. Or after researching all of these elements, you may still feel pulled in different directions. But at least you have a head start in finding the programs that fit you best.

Credit: Usnews



My MBA at Harvard Business School (HBS) is over, but I will harbor memories from my two years there for a long time. I had some incredible experiences, met inspiring friends and professionals, visited fascinating places and – last but not least – reflected a lot. It has been a transformational experience not only professionally and academically but especially personally. As I embark to go back to what MBA students usually call “real life” (vs. bubble MBA life), these are the seven key lessons I plan to take with me.

1. Prioritize ruthlessly

As most MBA students learn, especially during the first weeks at business school, the academic, social, and professional activities are so plentiful that it becomes unfeasible to participate in each and every one. It would be great to do them all, but that is not possible. The solution is not easy: learn to say ‘no’, or as a famous poster shown in my office used to say you need ‘ruthless prioritization’. During business school, I learnt to focus on questions like how to prioritize my time, what matters most to me, what is important but not a priority, and to spend my time purposefully. Also post-MBA, I have planned to spend weekly time reflecting on whether I am devoting the right amount of time to the activities and people that matter most to me.

2. Be yourself

During my time at HBS, there were some moments where students shared some very personal stories from their past. Several students cried in front of large crowds. They opened themselves up. They became so vulnerable. At first, I was surprised how they were willing to share their deeper selves. Afterwards, I felt much more connected and closer to them. I felt that they had removed all barriers. They were so authentic. I will not be afraid to show my emotions and who I am. I will not be afraid to also show my weaknesses. I am confident that this is the only way I will be able to be myself. Some people will like it, others will not. However, at least, they will know me for who I am and not someone else.

3. Be patient and persistent

I spent two years applying to HBS. The first time I was rejected and HBS did not even call me for an interview. Had I not been patient, I would not have had the privilege to live such a great experience. The second time I applied, I reflected a lot about the reasons I was rejected and I tried to improve my application as much as I could. It took lots of efforts, time, energy, and patience. If I think about the achievements I am most proud of, I can easily realize that they took time, persistence, and lots of failures. Sometimes we want to have something immediately and I am that type of a person. But that is not always possible. Post-MBA, I want to continue being patient for the things I care the most.

4. Just ask

How many times do you get tempted to ask for something but you do not, due to a fear of rejection? How many times have you wanted to connect with someone but you are unable to do so because you are afraid? How many times have you missed an opportunity because you were shy? It happened to me many times both at work and in my personal life. During a sales class at HBS, a Professor pushed us to “just ask” in order to overcome our fear of being rejected. He suggested that we connect with people we would not have been comfortable reaching out to. That week, whenever I met someone I wanted to talk with, I approached him/her. Sometimes, I was rejected. However, I was surprised my requests were accepted many more times than I thought. That boosted a tremendous volume of confidence. Post-MBA, I do not want to be shy nor afraid of being rejected. Opportunities arise when we’re brave enough to seek them out.

5. Seek out diversity

At HBS you are often asked to work as a team. HBS students tend to be fairly opinionated and their opinions tend to be very different. During group work I was initially certain my way of thinking was the right one. Yet at the end of the project, I realized often that a specific point I had not understood led the project to new directions and ways of thinking. Post-MBA I will seek out diverse points of view both at work and in my personal life. Working in a diverse environment requires lots of flexibility and patience to understand different points of view and adapt to various ways of thinking, interacting, and communicating. However, I cannot emphasize enough how much being in a diverse environment has taught me about myself and about other cultures.

6. Be grateful

Graduation day is a day I will never forget in my life. I was very proud of myself on that day. But even more, I felt very grateful. I felt grateful towards my family. I felt grateful towards so many people who had filled me with continuous affection and support. I felt grateful towards HBS as an institution allowing me to live such a transformational experience. I want to continue manifesting my gratitude towards people and institutions that have given me so much. And even more, I would really like to start impacting the lives of people in a positive way as a tribute to the many people who helped me get where I am today.

7. Dream big and take risks

“I want to create a firm that allows space travels.” “I want to help in reducing famine in African countries.” “I want to revolutionize the way education works.” I have never been in a place where people thought as big as they did at Harvard. They had dreams that are very hard to realize. Yet these are their dreams and they are willing to invest lots of time and energy fulfilling them. They are willing to take risks. Post-MBA I want to dream big and take risks. Taking risks can be pretty daunting. However, not taking risks signifies renouncing your dreams, which would be far worse. **** Now that I’ve graduated from HBS, I hope to continue to apply these lessons in my daily life. And I hope they’ll be helpful to anyone considering applying to Harvard Business School. Credit: Sharing from Marco De Curtis – HBS alumni

2,056 Accepted to Harvard Class of 2021

Dean Fitzsimmons

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67.

UPDATED: March 31, 2017 at 1:21 a.m. 

Harvard admitted 5.2 percent of applicants to the College’s Class of 2021 Thursday, accepting 2,056 students of the nearly 40,000 applicants and posting an acceptance rate roughly equal to that of last year.

Harvard offered 1,118 students admission to the College Thursday through the regular application process. They join 938 applicants who were notified of their acceptance last December under the early action program into the Class of 2021.

After receiving a record 39,506 applications, the College’s acceptance rate is marginally lower than that of the previous year—5.20 percent this year, versus 5.22 percent for the Class of 2020.

The pool of accepted students represents a small decrease in total percentage of minorities from previous years, with largest decreases in Latino admits—from 12.7 percent for the Class of 2020 to 11.6 percent for the Class of 2021—and Native American admits, from 2.2 percent to 1.9 percent.

Certain racial groups, however, did see increased representation. African American students make up a record-high 14.6 percent of admitted students, an increase from 14.0 percent last year.

Amid a lawsuit alleging that Harvard discriminates against Asian American students in its undergraduate admissions processes, Asian American students make up a 22.2 percent of the admitted class, up marginally from a then record-high 22.1 percent last year.

Students who will be the first in their family to attend college comprise 15.1 percent of the admitted pool. The College will dedicate a new part-time “student advocate” to advising first-generation and low-income students, though Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana rejected a proposed summer program tailored towards those students earlier this semester.

Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid William R. Fitzsimmons ’67, a first-generation college student himself, attributed the slight increase in part to the “startup grant,” a program started last fall that gives approximately one-fifth of incoming Harvard freshmen—many of whom are first-generation—$2,000 to adjust to extra costs in the first months of college.

“I’m very excited because I would have received one,” Fitzsimmons said. “I think you end up with enormous freedom and flexibility, especially in that critical first year.”

Slightly less than half—49.2 percent—of the accepted students are women, up from 48.4 percent the previous year.

In a slight downward trend, 15.5 percent of students indicated interest in studying the humanities, down from 16.9 percent the previous year. A plurality—26.5 percent—indicated interest in the social sciences, while 19.3 percent said they planned to study computer science and engineering.

International students comprise 11.4 percent of the admitted pool, and Fitzsimmons said he did not see an impact on international applications despite uncertainty generated by President Donald Trump’s recent orders limiting travel and immigration from a number of countries.

Fitzsimmons said the admissions department’s decisions were partly influenced by a report published last year encouraging admissions officers to evaluate college applicants beyond academics and traditional extracurriculars.

“I look at [the report]’ as one of these really important long-term efforts of breaking down stereotypes of what colleges are and what they’re trying to do,” he said. “We value whatever it is that people have done in addition to study.”

Admitted students will have the opportunity to stay at Harvard for Visitas, which is scheduled to run from April 22 through 24. Students will then have until May 1 to respond to their offer of admission.

Applicants to the seven other Ivy League schools also received admissions decisions Thursday. Yale—which will open two new residential colleges in the fall—accepted a record 2,272 students, or 6.9 percent of its total applicant pool. Columbia posted the second-lowest acceptance rate in the Ivy League, at 5.8 percent, while Princeton offered admission to 6.1 percent of applicants. Elsewhere in Cambridge, MIT accepted 7.1 percent of its applicants earlier than this month.

—Staff writer William S. Flanagan can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @willflan21.

—Staff writer Michael E. Xie can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @MichaelEXie1.