April 25, 2013
These days, as candidates consider their strategies for the coming MBA admissions cycle, many have a logical question in mind: How many business schools should I apply? The answer, of course, varies dramatically from applicant to applicant, but the golden rule is that you should only apply to an MBA program if you have enough time to make your application the best it can be. So, if you have time to “perfect” only three applications, then you should focus on applying to just three schools—and not consider submitting five “average” applications.
In terms of a target number—assuming that time is not a factor and you can commit yourself to all of your applications—five or six is generally optimal. With five or six applications, you can apply to a mix of reach, competitive and safe schools and can thereby truly cover your bases. Of course, each applicant has his or her own risk profile and timing to consider, but for most candidates, applying to too few schools can increase the risk of not being admitted, and applying to too many can be overkill.
To get some professional advice on your MBA applications or the business school admissions process, contact mbaMission for a free 30-minute consultation at www.mbamission.com/consult.php.
April 18, 2013 by mbaMission
As admissions consultants, we know firsthand the intense pressure candidates feel, and we sometimes wish we could convince you that small points are really just … small points. We get asked, “Should this be a comma or a semicolon?” and want to respond, “Please trust us that the admissions committee will not say, ‘Oh, I would have accepted this applicant if she had used a comma here, but she chose a semicolon, so DING!’” That said, we are certainly not telling you to ignore the small things—the overall impression your application makes will depend in part on your attention to typos, font consistency and grammar, for example—but we are encouraging you to make smart and reasonable decisions and move on. You can be confident that your judgment on such topics will likely be sufficient.
We realize, however, that you can get too tense and worried sometimes to hear us, so we were delighted to see this post by Allison Davis, the associate director of MBA admissions at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, on the school’s admissions blog:
Worry that it’s there, but not about where…
Recently, I held two webinars for Round 1 applicants to answer your last-minute questions. Many of your questions had to do with small, logistical details like…Where do I put my CFA? How do I abbreviate an award that won’t fit? Should I put my 40-hour weekend job in the part-time or full-time employment section?
We’re glad you’re paying attention to the instructions and trying to represent yourself carefully and correctly. Please be assured, however, that your admission decision will not hinge on whether you put information in one box or another. We read everything you submit. If you’re not sure where to put something, just do what makes sense. Feel free to include a brief explanation in the Additional Information section of your application.
And, yes, don’t forget to run spell check.
Music to our ears—and, we hope, to yours.
If you do have questions about your MBA applications, feel free to sign up for a free 30-minute consultation with an mbaMission senior consultant.
Business School Spotlight: The Isenberg School of Management at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
April 17, 2013 by Kaplan GMAT
This week we are continuing the ramp up to our Road to Business School event series in August by spotlighting another one of the prestigious schools that will be in attendance: The Isenberg School of Management. The Isenberg School of Management’s beliefs are rooted in the power of collaboration, adaptability, and a strong work ethic. Above all, they value innovative multi-disciplinary project-based learning, and a close personal connection between students, faculty, and the vast network of successful alumni. The school is located at the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst – a resource-rich, public research institution renowned for its accomplishments in technology, entrepreneurship and sustainability.
You’ll have the opportunity to meet with representatives from The Isenberg School of Management at our upcoming Road to Business School fairs. Don’t miss your chance to meet one-on-one with admissions representatives from this highly respected program. Register today!
The Isenberg School of Management, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst
The Isenberg Full-time MBA is a 2-year residency program designed for individuals who want an on-campus experience and desire to specialize in a specific area of business. The first year is focused on core business curriculum while the second year provides the freedom to focus on your particular area of interest. The Isenberg experience offers individual attention, a collaboration culture, exceptional ROI, and long-term career success. The Isenberg MBA gives you the freedom to complete your degree on your own terms. It’s about options – the flexibility to pursue your studies full-time at their flagship campus, completely online from anywhere in the world, or in a blended format at one of their satellite campus locations in Massachusetts. Online and blended options offer the same AACSB-accredited curriculum and accomplished faculty as full-time, traditional classes – the difference lies in the freedom and convenience provided by these alternative venues. Rigorous regardless of its flexible format, the Isenberg MBA provides up-to-date knowledge and skills for today’s complex business environments.
Isenberg attracts motivated students from all 50 states and 19 foreign countries and continues to garner attention from the nation’s biggest, most profitable, and most influential companies – over 47% of students in the program are employed by Fortune 100 companies. As one of the first major accredited business schools to pioneer offering graduate education online, the Isenberg MBA is enterprising, with a strong emphasis on experiential, collaborative learning.
The Isenberg MBA has received ongoing national recognition including:
#6 Best Online MBA Program under $50,000 (The Best Colleges, 2011)
#8 Top Part-time Best Business School in the Northeast (BusinessWeek, 2011)
#10 Smart Choice Online MBA programs (SuperScholar, 2012)
#18 Top 25 Online MBA Programs (The Best Colleges, 2011)
#28 Best Part-time MBA (US News, 2012)
The School is also home to the Center for International Securities & Derivatives Markets, the Virtual Center for Supernetworks, the Mark H. McCormack Center for Sport Research & Education, the Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and the Chase Career Center, a professional development resource tailored especially for the needs of business students.
For more information on the Isenberg School of Management at UMass Amherst, please visit: www.isenberg.umass.edu/mba.
“Do I need to provide a separate transcript from the institution where I studied abroad for my junior year, even though these grades show up on my ‘home’ university’s transcript?”
“I completed military service before my undergraduate education. Can I still count these years in my ‘full-time work experience since graduation’ total?”
These are just a few of the many technical questions that can arise as you complete the short-answer portion of your business school application (depending on the nature of your candidacy). The reason these and many other questions can be so bewildering is that often, no clear answer can be found in the school’s application materials, and tremendous variation exists from one MBA application to the other.
Generally, candidates tend to think of the MBA admissions office as an impenetrable black box, but the truth is that these offices are open and available to applicants and indeed want to clarify these kinds of small technical issues that candidates may be encountering. Although you should take care to not be a pest and should definitely not repeatedly call the admissions office, if you have a small question or two that seem to have no clear-cut answers, do not be afraid to call. Why not take the guesswork out of the equation and be certain of what the admissions committee expects?
If you would like to ask us a question about your MBA applications, sign up for a free 30-minute consultation at http://www.mbamission.com/consult.php.
Business school aspirants can take a variety of steps to enhance their candidacy—from boosting their community and personal profiles, to pursuing additional classes, to reinvigorating relationships with potential recommenders. Some applicants might even consider seeking a new position with a different firm or industry. But is this a good idea?
If you are contemplating such a move, the first thing to consider is your tenure at your current firm. If you have been at your firm for less than one year, changing positions is generally unwise. MBA admissions committees tend to appreciate consistency and frown on what they perceive as opportunism. So, if you have had several positions in the past that you have held for approximately one year or less, staying put and proving your commitment may be a good idea. If, however, you are a long-serving employee and want to embark on a new path, a move may bolster your profile.
Beyond the tenure issue, the question becomes: Are you moving horizontally or vertically? If you are changing positions and gaining an increase in salary and responsibility, you are almost always making a wise choice and are most often insulated from concerns about tenure. MBA admissions committees want to know that you are a rising star. So, if you can gain greater responsibility in the next nine months, then you should grab that opportunity. As we often tell candidates, “What is good for your career is almost always good for your MBA candidacy.”
However, before you move on, you may also want to consider whether you will be burning bridges at your existing firm. Maintaining your references is important, because you may need them in the short term. Further, you may want to ask yourself: Do I have enough time to achieve something impressive at my next firm? If nine months is sufficient time to add to your professional/personal narrative, then a new position may be worth pursuing. However, if you are joining an organization that has a one-year sales cycle, for example, you may not have much to offer and may want to think twice about a move.
Finally, we advise candidates to not pander to MBA admissions committees. If you think that a consulting or banking position will impress the admissions committee, but such a position is not part of your intended career path, making a move into one of these areas is pointless. Your potential move should be consistent with your personal goals, not with what you think an admissions committee wants—the committees want authenticity and differentiated candidates, not a cookie-cutter “type” of candidate from a specific field.
Still not sure if a career change is the right thing for you to do? For personal advice on changing positions before applying to business school, sign up for a free one-on-one consultation with an mbaMission senior consultant.
January 31, 2013 by Lucas Weingarten
A recent article on The Financial Times’ website does a good job capturing many of the messages I convey to my students about the decision to get an MBA and the admissions process that follows it. Through multiple interviews with current MBA students, admissions advisors, GMAC, and Kaplan’s own Andrew Mitchell the author paints a general but comprehensive picture of the main ideas aspirant MBAs must wrestle with: the decision to go, targeting schools, taking the GMAT, and putting together an application package.
The main message I support here is respect for the time commitment this endeavor demands. Underestimation is the name of the game for many. I have seen it countless times and make it a point to discourage procrastination and encourage an ample runway for anyone who is even considering applying to a business school. Here are two blog posts you should read: One and Two.
When you dissect the long process from decision to admission, each step along the way is important—each will require full attention and focus. Take the GMAT, for example. Superficially, the GMAT often seems like a small slice of a big pie. After all, people who decide to go to graduate school in business are usually very smart, driven, and accustomed to high performance. Lots of folks have done very well in previous academics as well as achieved top scores is past standardized tests like the SAT or ACT.
However, an oft misunderstood phenomenon regarding graduate school admissions is something Andrew Mitchell, director of Kaplan Test Prep’s pre-business programs, notes in the FT article. “[B]y the time potential students sit [for] the GMAT they are joining a rather elite group of very capable prospective applicants who are all dedicated to succeeding on the exam and the admissions process.” Translation: There are small fish in a big pond full of very hungry sharks. Are you a fish or a shark? Prove it.
Where are you in all of this? What are your goals and how have you begun to set the stage for success? Have you tried and failed before, but are now back and fighting? Tell us your story!!
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