May 15, 2013
Still trying to formulate your list of target b-schools? This week we are spotlighting another top-notch program located in sunny California that is bound to make its way into your top ten: UCLA Anderson School of Management. If you are searching for a historically renowned program positioned in the heart of Southern California, Anderson might just be the program for you.
You’ll have the opportunity to meet with representatives from the Anderson 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!
UCLA Anderson School of Management
Founded in the depth of the Great Depression, UCLA Anderson School of Management now ranks among the top-tier business schools in the world. An award-winning faculty renowned for research and teaching, highly selective admissions, successful alumni and world-class facilities combine to provide an extraordinary learning environment in the heart of Southern California.
UCLA Anderson represents a select group of diverse and talented individuals from more than 50 countries around the world and a network of more than 37,000 accomplished and accessible alumni. The school is strategically located in Los Angeles, the business hub of the West Coast and the gateway to South America and the Pacific Rim. The same entrepreneurial spirit that first drew people to the promise of the “City of Angels” provides the driving force behind the most diverse city in the US in its employment base, number of citizenships represented, languages spoken and cultural opportunities. As part of the Anderson program, students will not just witness the excellence that is there now, but will have a daily stake in building on it.
February 22, 2013
Just read an article titled ‘Is the MBA Relevant for Entrepreneurs?’ This is an interesting topic for me for a couple of reasons. First, I completed my MBA with dual concentrations in Entrepreneurship and Finance. The latter was a result of happenstance more than an actual interest in finance. I inadvertently satisfied the requirements for the concentration and find it almost comedic that I ended up with one. The former, however, was a target from the start.
Pursuing entrepreneurship as an academic discipline is an interesting undertaking and there are many out there who believe the mettle entrepreneurship requires cannot be learned, or, at the very least, it cannot be taught. It is this notion that strikes another chord with me. Coming from an undergraduate background in fine arts, I’ve run across the you-are-either-born-with-it-or-you-aren’t idea many times before.
I am among the group that holds entrepreneurship (and artistic endeavor for that matter) can be both taught and learned. I have been on both sides of this coin—i.e., the learning and the teaching—although I must admit that my hands-on foray into the world of entrepreneurship did result in, well, figuring out a way not to do it. Nonetheless, I maintain that success as an entrepreneur is much more a product of skills than personality traits. I will accept that certain folks have characteristics that lend themselves well to pursuing entrepreneurial ventures, but anyone with the desire to push forward a viable idea can do so. Entrepreneurial education just helps to make sure the execution is more likely to result in a sustainable business that is as strong as it can be.
Interestingly, entrepreneurship as an MBA concentration has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several decades. Many MBA aspirants have targeted business school as an opportunity to shore up knowledge, skill, and a network in order to pursue the dream of starting, sustaining, and perhaps even ultimately exiting one or more businesses. Academia has responded in kind. Not only will you find e-ship as a concentration at countless b-schools, but you will also find professors at universities who have dedicated their research lives to the activity, entrepreneurship centers housed within the walls of these universities that aim to support and nurture entrepreneurs and their ventures, and several annual b-school rankings, both graduate and undergraduate, centered around e’neurship that are highly competitive.
Whether an MBA is relevant for you and your entrepreneurial goals is something each individual must answer for themselves. In fact, honest introspection is precisely what admissions committees want most from applicants (read this recent Forbes article on that very idea). However, it is going to be very difficult to construct an argument about anything inherently irrelevant about utilizing an MBA education in order to help advance your career goals, whatever they may be.
Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance of drawback, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and endless plans: The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves, too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way.
Whatever you can do or dream you can begin it! Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
– Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
February 19, 2013
How many self-assessment tools for personal development are out there? Let me Google that for you … Well, I don’t know about you, but the ocean certainly seems red with more than 4.7 million search query results.
If you are looking for such a tool or wondering about any that are particularly relevant to meeting your academic and career goals, let me focus your search by directing you to GMAC’s ReflectTM. Developed by GMAC in partnership with Hogan Assessments, Reflect offers clients a unique report and subsequent action plan, including resources, that are presented from a business perspective using business language.
After purchasing the tool for $99.99, customers take approximately 45 minutes to answer more than 500 dichotomous questions (i.e., true/false, yes/no) and immediately receive quantified ranking across ten different competencies. From operational thinking to strategic vision, from resilience to interpersonal intuition, each of the competencies are presented alongside details, actions, and benchmarks. For the next three years, participants can work to complete prescribed actions, utilize embedded resources to do so, and track their personal developmental progress.
Perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of Reflect is the action-oriented focus coupled with resources with which individuals can complete those actions. After all, there is little value in reading a descriptive assessment report without any prescriptive information that allows you to strive toward betterment. This notion is precisely what underpins Kaplan’s Smart ReportsTM technology.
Interestingly, the Reflect project was originally began under the auspices of creating a soft-skills assessment for admissions committees at business schools to use when making admissions decisions. It was thought that such an assessment would be a useful complement to the hard skills assessment of competencies the GMAT quantifies. As the product development team moved forward, it became apparent that “soft-skills are coachable and not appropriate for high-stakes testing,” said Andy Martelli, VP of GMAC product development, as paraphrased here. During a product preview event in held last year in Chicago, Mr. Martelli went onto explain that the target customers of Reflect were business school students interested in identifying strengths and weaknesses in order to zero-in on specific behaviors they can work to modify during the time spent pursuing and professionally implementing an advanced degree in management.
If you have used Reflect, please give us your feedback below!
February 14, 2013
Business school candidates are often asked to share examples of a variety of experiences with MBA admissions committees for their MBA applications. We always encourage applicants to truly reflect on their lives and consider all potential stories—academic, professional, community, extracurricular, athletic, international, personal and more. However, questions inevitably arise: “Can I use stories from high school and college?” “Can I use a story from four years ago?” ”How far in the past is too far in the past?” Although no definitive rule exists, with the exception of questions that specifically ask about personal history or family background, schools generally want to learn about the mature you—the individual you are today. So we ask, “How long have you been the you that you are today?”
When considering experiences that occurred long ago, ask yourself, “Would this impress an MBA admissions committee today?” If you ran a few successful bake sales six years ago when you were in college, this clearly would not stand the test of time and impress strangers today. However, if, while you were still a student, you started a small business that grew and was ultimately sold to a local firm when you graduated, you would have a story to tell that would likely impress an admissions committee.
Inevitably, judgment is always involved in these decisions. Nonetheless, we offer this simple test as a starting point to help you decide which stories to share.
February 12, 2013
Many business school candidates struggle to define their long-term goals in their application essays. Although short-term goals should be relatively specific, long-term goals can be broad and ambitious. Regardless of what your short- and long-term goals actually are, what is most important is presenting a clear “cause and effect” relationship between them. The MBA admissions committee will be confused by a long-term goal that lacks grounding. Still, you should not interpret this to mean that you need to choose one industry and state that you will stay in it for your entire career. You can present any career path that excites you—again, as long as you also demonstrate a logical path to achieving your goals.
For example, many MBA candidates discuss having ambitions in management consulting. Could an individual with such aspirations justify any of the following long-term goals?
A) Climbing the ladder and becoming a partner in a consulting firm
B) Launching a boutique consulting firm
C) Leaving consulting to manage a nonprofit
D) Leaving consulting to buy a failing manufacturing firm and forge a “turnaround”
E) Entering the management ranks of a major corporation
The answer is yes! This candidate could justify any of these long-term goals (and many others), as long as he/she connects them to experiences gained via his/her career as a consultant. With regard to your goals, you need not feel constrained—you just need to emphasize and illustrate that your goals are logical, achievable and ambitious.
February 7, 2013
In recent years, the job market has faltered due to the lagging world economy, and MBA grads were hit just like everyone else. However, a recent survey conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), who administers the GMAT, reveals that employment is up for 2012 MBA grads. Of the 4,444 MBA and other graduate-level alumni surveyed, 92% were employed three months after graduation–6 percentage points higher than reported by graduates in last year’s survey. Additionally, 77% of those surveyed this year reported that their starting salary met or exceeded their expectations, and 76% stated that they could not have gotten their jobs without their graduate management education.
Dave Wilson, GMAC president and CEO, attributes this year’s higher employment percentages to the improving world economy, stating, “As the economy improves in many parts of the world, employers who are hiring look for skilled managers to lead the way. MBAs and other graduate degrees provide the skills people need to manage tough problems in today’s complex marketplace.”
Compensation for 2012 MBA graduates differed most significantly by work location, with Europe featuring the highest median salary ($105,120) and Central Asia the lowest ($27,818). The median salary in the U.S. was $83,000, with Canada just slightly behind at $81,443 (all salaries are expressed in USD). Also, compensation varied between full-time two-year and one-year MBA programs: graduates of two-year programs reported a median salary of $85,000, while graduates of one-year programs reported a median salary of $59,000.
These promising survey results demonstrate that now is a great time to move forward with your plans to get your MBA. Check out other Kaplan GMAT blog posts for tips on getting started with the process, and look for upcoming free Kaplan GMAT prep and admissions events at kaplangmat.com.
The summary report of the 13th annual GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey can be found at gmac.com/alumniperspectives.
January 24, 2013
Framing. We all do it. In order to get what we want, we take information and communicate it so as to please, mollify, or otherwise woo the recipient of the information in order to increase the chances that the outcome will result in our favor. As with many other ethical dilemmas, a clear boundary might exist (i.e., outright lying to someone, although “Santa is real, my child” hardly seems unethical to many), but it is surrounded by a vast hazy shade of grey. For example, can omitting information equate to lying? Sure, but is that always the case?
“Who baked these cookies?”
“I did,” says the guy that cut open the tube of dough, arranged globs on a flat piece of metal, and inserted everything into a hot oven.
A recent article from PoetsandQuants.com delves into the common practice of individuals undergoing thorough background checks by third party companies after acceptance into an MBA program. This check occurs before the “all clear” is officially declared by the institution and the applicant becomes an active student. Basically, an applicant passes all admissions obstacles and processes and is accepted into the program. At that point, all records from the accepted cohort are sent to an agency and each person’s application information is scrutinized thoroughly.
Quite fairly, schools want to be sure that folks are who they say they are, and that no one has been admitted to their program on the back of false information. It is unfortunately easy to imagine someone attempting to defraud the admissions process. Further, the ramifications of a successful con are abhorrent. Thus, background checks are common practice and have been for quite some time.
No big deal, right? Just tell the truth; it’s that easy.
Yet, as illustrated in the above example, the truth is easy to manipulate. What’s more, the manipulation of truth is exactly what we all do all the time. Heck, if we didn’t, nothing would get done because of all the explaining and tangential footnotes! But, the facet more relevant here is the manipulation of information (aka, framing) all aspirant graduate students, employees, fiancés, etc. engage in so as to get what they want.
While the stress of background checks are blown way out of proportion by many out there, the article does present examples that illustrate how comprehensive and obtrusive these investigating companies can be in their process.
The key takeaway is that when you are composing your application packages, clarity and disclosure are the words of the day and reign in that spin doctor sitting on your shoulder.
Are you a recently admitted student that has gone through a background check or about to? Are you nervous about it? Are you confident about it? Is there just one nagging thing you think could possibly be misinterpreted? Share your thoughts!
Bloomberg Businessweek posted and article titled Understanding the MBA Application Background Check. The FAQ style write-up does well to illuminate the process and demystify what happens and why. Definitely give it a read!
January 17, 2013
We often get questions about part-time MBA programs and their value. We thought it would be good to take a look at some of the pros and cons of this MBA option.
As for the pros, the one candidates cite most frequently is that the part-time MBA has a limited opportunity cost. Unlike the full-time MBA student, the part-time MBA student does not miss out on two years of salary and still has the opportunity to earn raises and promotions while completing his/her studies. Furthermore, firm sponsorship seems to be more prevalent for part-time MBAs, so candidates who have this option can truly come out ahead, with a free education and continued earning throughout. Beyond the financial rationale, many part-time MBA students see an academic advantage; they can learn both in the classroom and at work and can then turn theory into practice (and vice versa) in real time, on an ongoing basis. Of course, a cynic might add that another pro is that part-time MBA programs are generally less selective. So, some candidates who may have had a hard time getting accepted to a traditional two-year program may have a better chance of being admitted to a well-regarded school in its part-time program rather than in its full-time program.
As for the cons, many part-time MBA candidates feel that the comparative lack of structure means that networking opportunities within the class are more limited. While one part-time Kellogg student could complete the school’s MBA program in two years, another might complete it in five. As a result, with candidates completing the program at such different paces, students will not likely see each other regularly in the same classes, at the same social events, etc. In addition, in a traditional MBA environment, academics always come first; in a part-time environment, work typically comes first, and academics come second (or even third, after family). In other words, the full-time program generally involves greater intensity with regard to the classroom experience, given that it is the sole focal point of students’ lives. Another thing to consider is that some MBA programs do not offer all of their “star” faculty to part-time students (something that candidates should definitely ask about before enrolling) and offer limited access to on-grounds recruiting.
With this post, we are not trying to offer a definitive “answer” or present a bias for a particular kind of program, but are simply trying to present some objective facts for candidates to consider as they make informed choices for themselves.
For one-on-one advice, sign up for a free 30-minute consultation with an mbaMission consultant.
January 17, 2013
Most business schools will ask an applicant’s recommenders to describe a weakness of yours, or a time when they offered you constructive feedback. You may face great temptation to ask your recommenders to avoid writing anything critical or to present a “disguised strength” as a weakness. Your recommender might write something like one of the following entirely disingenuous statements, believing that he/she is helping you, when in fact he/she is not:
- “John needs to learn to balance his work and home life better—he is always at work, making sure that he stays on top of every detail.”
- “Mary is a perfectionist and holds others, who just may not be capable, to the same high standard that she holds herself.”
Alternatively, a recommender who is afraid of hurting your candidacy may write about a “professional development” weakness, focusing on a business skill that you have not yet had the opportunity to learn or develop, rather than describing an area in which you need to improve:
- “Rodney is an excellent communicator in small group settings; he has not, however, had the opportunity yet to give presentations to large groups, and I think doing so is the next important step in his career path.”
- “To move to the next level, David needs to start sourcing his own deals, rather than just working on deals that others have found.”
This may be shocking, but admissions officers understand and know that there is no such thing as a perfect employee or MBA candidate and are skeptical of the sincerity of any recommender that presents you as such. Such falsely positive comments do nothing to help the admissions committee get to know you better and instead undermine the integrity of your recommender’s letter. Although you do not want your recommenders to present unprofessional traits (e.g. “Denise is lazy”), recommendation letters should involve honest, detailed reflection using a critical (not negative) eye.
You should also avoid presenting “disguised strengths” in any essay prompt that asks for a weakness, such as Harvard Business School’s “Tell us about something you wish you had done better” or Dartmouth Tuck’s “Describe a circumstance in your life in which you faced adversity, failure, or setback…” See our essay analyses for strategies for writing these types of essays.