May 8, 2013
Time: 9:30pm-11:00pm ET/6:30pm-8:00pm PT
What: GMAT Bootcamp
Hosts: Kaplan GMAT Instructor Team — Justin Doff, Teresa Rupp, and Lucas Weingarten
Why: To learn the strategies you need to build the speed and accuracy to tackle the most advanced content on the test.
Listen up, people! You’ve got somewhere to be on Tuesday, May 14, 2013! One of Kaplan’s Elite GMAT instructors, Justin Lawrence Doff (shown here), will be on-camera and coming to you live from Los Angeles, CA dead-set on a singular agenda: arming you with what you need to conquer the most advanced attacks the GMAT has to throw at you. Learn how to set the pace on the climb to the top scoring tiers and, most importantly, how to maintain that level of performance to the end.
It’s bootcamp*. Expect to work hard and to make gains. No matter where you are in your GMAT prep cycle, Kaplan GMAT Bootcamp is designed for the GMAT warrior within us all.
We are saying ‘JUMP!’ and you are saying ‘HOW HIGH?’ See ya Tuesday.
*But don’t worry. We aren’t going to yell at you.
As a part of the Road to Business School event series that will take place in August, we’ll be featuring a different business school every week to help you explore your options. Keep in mind that the schools featured will be participating in our upcoming business school fairs, so you’ll have the chance to meet them in person or virtually during the Road series.
Finding the right school for you is always a challenge. Take the time to dig in and get to know each program as you do your research. Get started with this week’s spotlight on WPI.
Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) School of Business
WPI is the third oldest technological university in the US and ranked among the top universities in the country. They are located in the heart of New England’s technology corridor, home to many of the world’s leading companies.
Their mission is to develop innovative and entrepreneurial leaders for a global technological world. Their approach delivers theory combined with hands-on practice solving real world problems for real companies. The Graduate Qualifying Project is an essential component of the Innovator’s MBA program. You’ll form the ability to bring together sound management & technological insight and anticipate & capitalize on technological change. In short, you’ll stand out from the crowd.
Key facts about the WPI MBA:
If you’re an experienced professional looking to advance your career, take a look at The Innovator’s MBA. With remarkable flexibility and expected rigor, WPI’s program develops innovative and entrepreneurial leaders for a global technological world. WPI offers three tracks to pursue an MBA degree in a part-time program that has been ranked #1 in the Northeast for five years running and is currently ranked # 8 in the U.S.
Aspiring MBA candidates will find the graduate qualifying project (GQP) to be the ultimate challenge. The GQP requires the ability to apply the skills, methods, and knowledge gained through study while solving a significant problem for a real client organization. The GQP can also deliver a great return for the students as well; many later receive job offers from the companies that sponsored their projects. It’s the applied learning that gets results for the client and the student.
At WPI-like so many modern businesses-technology is the foundation of what they do and how they do it. Innovation, entrepreneurship, globalization and leadership are intertwined into virtually every course in the program.
WPI School of Business offers a wide array of Master of Science degrees (MS) for those interested in applying their experience in a path different from that of the MBA student but just as rigorous and relevant to today’s global and technological environments.
Last summer, the GMAT made the most major change to its format in 15 years by replacing one of the essays with the Integrated Reasoning (IR) section. Since then, GMAT test-takers have been wondering how IR impacts their b-school applications. As it turns out, business schools are wondering exactly the same thing.
In the IR section of the GMAT, test-takers evaluate data in graphs, spreadsheets, and charts, similar to the materials they will eventually see in business school. In theory, IR can better assess students’ ability to perform the tasks expected of them in business school and the work world. Nearly a year after the inclusion of IR, the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), who administers the GMAT, and business schools nationwide are taking the first steps to determine what role IR should play in the admissions process.
Bloomberg Businessweek recently reported that business schools across the country are actively assessing the significance of IR performance on students’ eventual success in business school. While IR isn’t currently being given much weight in the admissions process, largely because many applicants took the GMAT before the test change and therefore do not have IR scores, business schools are analyzing IR data to get a better understanding of the role it will eventually play in admissions. Dan Poston, of the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, states, “We want to see how it [IR] plays out…We want to see how predictive it is of student’s success at school.”
GMAC has released some key data on the IR section, based upon results of the more than 123,000 test-takers who have taken the GMAT since IR was added to the test. GMAC reports that the distribution of scores is normal and without bias against any subgroup of test-takers. In short, these results suggest that IR has the potential to be a valid predictor of student success in b-school.
In addition to analyzing data from GMAC, some schools are directly studying the connection between IR and student performance. For instance, at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, a group of 60 second-year students will complete the IR portion of the GMAT. Their IR scores will then be compared to their success in core courses in order to determine whether IR performance positively correlates with b-school performance.
The obvious question for GMAT test-takers is how they should approach IR in order to put together the best application package possible. While IR may not play a major role in the admissions process for the next few years, a solid IR score can only help applicants. As Dawna Clarke of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business notes, “IR will help prospective students more than it will hurt them…If you are not ‘quant strong,’ but you have strong IR skills, then this test will help you shine.”
When I was a college English teacher, I regularly warned my students about the dangers of plagiarizing their assignments. In addition to pointing out that plagiarism is simply unethical, I made it clear that plagiarists would be punished, through a failing grade on an assignment, expulsion from class, or even academic probation. Nevertheless, every semester I would catch at least a few students who either missed my warnings or chose to ignore them.
Today, some business school applicants take the same risks, ignoring schools’ warnings about plagiarism and submitting plagiarized essays, despite the steep penalties should they be caught. A recent article in U.S. News and World Report reports that both Penn State’s Smeal College of Business and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management recently rejected over 60 applicants due to plagiarized material. Additionally, Northeastern University’s D’Amore-McKim School of Business has identified 50 cases of potential plagiarism, which are currently being investigated.
In today’s digital world, plagiarism is easier than ever–students can easily buy or copy essays from the comfort of their own bedrooms–but plagiarism is also more easily detected. Penn State, UCLA, and Northeastern are among the more than 100 colleges and universities that use Turnitin, software that checks for original work and flags potential plagiarism. Turnitin compares papers to other student papers within its database, public web pages, and commercial pages from books, newspapers, and journals, making the task of identifying plagiarized essays much simpler for admissions officials.
In short, plagiarism might be easy, but it’s not worth the risk. So, now that you’ve reaffirmed your aversion to plagiarism, what can you do to put together a solid MBA application essay? Here are few tips:
- Start thinking about your essays sooner rather than later. The earlier you start brainstorming and writing your essays, the more time you’ll have for revision and improvement.
- Be specific about who you are, why you want to go to business school, and what your goals are. The best way to stand out is to demonstrate your passion for your career interests and goals. Check out last week’s blog “Add Depth to MBA Application Essays by Owning Your Goals” for suggestions for making your essays more specific.
- Get feedback. Have a variety of people read your essays. Get feedback from friends, family members, AND co-workers so you can revise your essays from several different perspectives. You don’t need to go overboard–commentary from too many people can become overwhelming–but the insights of several different people will help you perfect your essay.
- Most importantly, be true to yourself. Business school is a big investment, and as much as you want schools to accept you, you also want to select a program that is right for you. Putting your true self forward in your essays will help to ensure that the programs you are accepted to will be good fits for you and your goals.
November 2, 2012
I want to make an appeal to all the business school applicants out there to be a real person, not a robot! A few weeks ago I was at a networking event here in Berkeley. I was enjoying connecting with friends and potential business partners. Then, up walks this very awkward MBA student. He was clearly very smart and very nice. However, the conversation went something like this:
Him: I think we met before. [Awkward pause while he stands too close to me for the culture]
Me: Yeah you look familiar, where was that?
Him: So what do you do? [Clearly checking off the box of ‘how to network’ and not listening to my question]
Me: I am working on a music tech startup that…What are you up to? [Planning my exit already – this is totally weird]
Him: So how are you liking the program? [Still no connection to what I just said]
[We have a 3 minute, totally boring and disconnected conversation about nothing while I drink my beer as fast as is socially acceptable so that I have an excuse to get out of there…]
This kind of thing goes on far to often. Smart people go around checking off the boxes of “how to network effectively” at these events while totally alienating their audiences and leaving a wake of boredom and discomfort behind them. If networking is not something you’re comfortable with, by all means, read up on how to do it well. Read all you want. But when you walk into the room, toss the book out the window! Even though the room is full of consultants, bankers, engineers, and entrepreneurs, we are all, first and foremost, human beings. Just act like a human being. Talk to other people like they are human beings. Ask them about their lives and how their day went? Listen to what they say…empathize. Make a personal connection with people. Talk to them about their stories and share yours.
This stuff is extremely important in the bschool admissions process. We’ve spoken on this blog about the importance of crafting a great story for your business school application essays. In order to do this, you need to understand the various aspects of your experience at a very deep level so that you will be able to find the common thread that connects your past experiences to your future goals in a compelling way. However, while the essays are extremely important, their real function in most cases is to get you through the door for an interview. If you write a great story and then act boring and awkward at the interview, the whole show is going nowhere. You need to live and breathe your story, weave it into your life in a meaningful way, and learn how to share it with others when you meet them.
I’m not advocating that you bombard people with a canned bshcool story. That happens all the time and it’s very awkward. What I am suggesting is that you internalize your story so that everything from your handshake and eye contact to the way you answer questions is congruent with the story you’re writing in your life. Human beings are storytellers. That’s how we create meaning. A great story draws us in and makes us care. That’s what you need to do. And to get there…focus on being a human being, not a robot!
October 5, 2012
Since most readers are all studying hard to get into business school, I thought that today I would throw a strategy question out there for discussion. Read through the following situation and post your thoughts in the comments. I will let a few days go by to gather ideas, and then I’ll chime in.
You are the CEO of a trucking company, and you are thinking about entering a new market. You will only invest the resources to enter one of the two markets that are available to you. You need to decide which market is most attractive.
In the first market, another trucking company is already serving customers. This company has invested $100 million in their operations and their cost to serve the customer is $.003 per mile.
In the second market, a train company is already in operation and serving customers. This company has also invested $100 million in their operations and is able to serve the customer at a cost of $.003 per mile.
Which market do you enter and why? For this example, assume that the quality and convenience of both services from the customer perspective is absolutely equal.
September 24, 2012
We all assume we know ourselves well. We think we know about our strengths, weaknesses, achievements, passions, and goals. We think that since we are the protagonists in our lives, the various threads, lessons and insights should be clear. We assume a lot…Then we start to write a b-school admissions essay. What happened to all that insight?
Right now many readers are either busy writing their applications for first round deadlines or are finishing up the GMAT and shooting for the second round. Either way you are smack up against the challenge of finding insight and inspiration. The only difference is whether you are confronting it now or you have no idea what’s about to hit you (but will be bludgeoned soon nonetheless). There are a multitude of ways to find inspiration and insight. Here’s one that has its origins in design thinking.
Design always comes back to sticky notes in one way or another. These little guys are one of the best inventions ever made. Even as a tech-lover, I have to admit that nothing has come even close to physical sticky notes. So gather a bunch of them along with a Sharpie marker and some of those little dot stickers.
Bring all of this to a big blank wall in your house. Start by writing one fact about yourself on each sticky note and sticking it on the wall in any random spot. Keep it simple; don’t write an explanation or an essay. Just write the one fact (it’s very important that it’s just one per note). What do you write? It could be an accomplishment, trait, strength, weakness, passion, goal, aspiration, experience, etc. The point is to keep writing until every important detail you can think of about yourself and your life is up on that wall. If you want, you can have a friend or family member look at it and add anything that’s missing. You could even involve them in the process from the beginning if you feel that they would have fun and contribute things that you might miss.
Once everything is up on the wall, start grouping items that seem related in some way. This process is called Affinity Diagramming. The idea is to be creative and keep moving things around until it just feels right. This is best done with more than one person in the mix. If there are two or three of you involved, be chaotic, with everyone moving things (and re-moving them) at the same time. In about 5 minutes or so, you will arrive at state of equilibrium.
After you reach that state equilibrium, think of a creative name for each grouping that captures its spirit or character. If you haven’t been working with anyone else, this is a good time to bring someone in. Stand back and look at what you’ve created. Write down any insights that pop out. At this point, you and your team will be able to makes some connections and draw some insight that you hadn’t seen before. Give everyone three dot stickers, each sicker is a vote. Have each person fix the stickers to the insights or individual notes that they find the most compelling. You will have the final say, but it is always interesting to see what other people think is important.
The last step is to map these insights to the various application components and develop a plan for how you can convey the richness, personality, and learning that is your life to the admissions officers at each of your business schools.
If you have questions about the process, please post them in the comments. Good luck!
September 1, 2012
The summer is wrapping up and first round business school application deadlines are looming. Many readers are busy filling out applications, having already made a decision about the types of programs they’re most interested in. Others are busy studying for the GMAT and might be so focused on test day that they haven’t even had time to narrow down the field. Whichever camp you’re in, you will, at some point in the near future, be deciding whether to go to school part-time or full-time.
A while back my colleague Lucas Weingarten wrote about that decision. He weighed in on the side of full-time programs because of the time they afford you to take advantage of activities outside the classroom. He kicked it to me to speak to the part-time side of the equation. One of the things he noted was how busy part-timers can be. If you look at the date on on his post and then look at the date on my post, you will see that his observation is completely accurate. However, my agreement with Lucas’ assessment stops there…more or less.
First off, let me say that I think the decision to go to school full-time versus part-time is an intensely personal one. Only you will really know what’s right for you. That being said, I’ll share my personal experience in the hopes that it will shed some light on your options.
I am currently working full-time, attending Berkeley Haas School of Business in the Evening and Weekend Program, starting a tech company, and somehow finding time to write a blog before I go for a run and meet friends for drinks in the city. Tomorrow I have some market research to do in the morning before going to the first Cal game in the renovated stadium (go Bears!). Then I go backpacking on Sunday before coming back full force to complete some customer development, a full day of work, and some homework on Tuesday. If that sounds tiring to you, you need to think carefully about part-time. But notice that there is a lot of fun mixed in there as well. We can’t be serious all the time!
I chose the part-time program for a number of reasons. First, most of my classmates will remain in the area post graduation. Since I love the bay area, this works great for me. I have a network of friends and colleagues at great companies in my area. Second, the people I am in class with are incredible. They have deep experience in their fields, many having owned companies or helped to bring significant innovations to market. I am constantly impressed by the people I meet. The students in the full time program are amazing as well. They just have a few less years in the workforce on average. That brings me to my third point about why I chose this program. I’m in my 30′s and the average age of my fellow classmates in closer to my own in this program than it would have been in the full-time program. There are other reasons, but you get the picture (Note that I completely omitted why I chose Berkeley over other schools. That is the subject of another post – I love it here!)
As for my experience in the program, it has been excellent. I’m not going to lie…the first year was intense! Lucas mentioned that his part-time peers didn’t have time to engage in activities outside of class (business plan competitions, etc). This is entirely consistent with my experience the first year. I had my hands full. However, I don’t see this as an issue. First, part-time programs are longer. I had no need to rush to get involved in things. I could take my time, learn the core skills, and jump into extra activities during years two and three. Furthermore, Berkeley classes integrate a lot of experiential learning. I worked on multiple real world consulting projects last year. My favorite was building a marketing strategy for a tech startup as part of our core marketing class.
So far the second year feels much different, we are taking fewer credits and spending longer periods getting to know each subject. My classes have significant experiential components, and I am finding the time to get involved in the clubs and activities that I watched fly by last year.
I think the point in all of this is that people and programs are different. Berkeley integrates the full-time and part-time students well. We share in a lot of the same events and opportunities, and the school makes the effort to expand the learning and options each year. These things may not be true at all schools. Do your research on the schools. Ask good questions to draw out the differences. By don’t stop there. Research your fellow students and yourself. Knowing what you are up for and who you’ll be in class with will help you make this important decision.
There are probably many more questions about full-time versus part-time programs. Post them in the comments, and we can continue the conversation.
Now for that run…
August 23, 2012
A few weeks ago, a group of break-dancers started dancing outside my GMAT classroom at a local university.
Now, a part of me thought this was very fun. I like to pretend I’m still cool to college students. So, I was smiling and trying not to bop my head to the music when I went out and asked them to turn down the music. They were pretty nice about it, too, and turned down their music. For about fifteen minutes. The second time I asked them to turn it down, I was a little less nice—and they were a little less happy to comply.
The third time, I didn’t ask. I called the Campus Police and had them rousted.
I felt bad about it. I was becoming “The Man.” I was an authority figure. I was stern. I wasn’t a “cool guy” anymore. But I got over my guilt quickly, by reminding myself that I was a GMAT teacher, and my students were GMAT students. We had goals to meet, and hours to work, and we couldn’t do that with techno blaring in through the closed door.
The lesson here is that being assertive is an important part of the GMAT preparation process. Of course, “being assertive” is not code for “being a jerk.” The last thing you want to do is alienate the friends and family who will support you if things get tough! But I’ve heard so many stories of students who didn’t stand up for themselves. One got stuck repeatedly answering the door to his apartment during a CAT, because his roommates had scheduled a delivery when they were out. Another had weekly family picnics; she couldn’t bring herself to tell her extended family that she needed a week or two off!
Preparing for the GMAT takes 120 to 150 hours, and it’s up to you to find that time. Spend time with your friends and family, but don’t let them become an obstacle. Tell them when you need time for a CAT. They’ll understand! A picnic, or a birthday party, or even an impromptu breakdancing session, is one day. The GMAT, your B-school, and your MBA can change the rest of your life.
August 22, 2012
That video clearly demonstrates the “primacy of doing.” Shinya Kimura gives us an amazing example of the power of experiential learning. Plus, it’s just one of the coolest videos I’ve seen…Now let’s talk about how that relates to business school.
In a previous post, I examined a recent article by Warren G. Bennis that dug up some old mud for both another throw and a fresh reassessment of the dirt and water. Mr. Bennis promised to follow-up on examples of positive movement away from his primary critique of management education: too much focus on faculty research and not near enough on practical, useful, applicable education.
So who is doing it right? Several examples abound, but Bennis starts with the top of the hill: Harvard Business School.
Harvard Business School Dean, Nitin Nohria, is lauded for the rapidity and significance of the changes he has made to the HBS curriculum over the last two years while simultaneously upholding and nurturing the long-standing culture of the hallowed institution. Among his initiatives, Nohria has implemented what he calls Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development (FIELD). The thrust of FIELD is to narrow and bridge the gap between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’—in other words, translate theory into practice.
Experiential learning is at the core of FIELD and is a pedagogical tool I have written about several times before. To Warren Bennis, the opportunity for MBA students to create a business then lead and manage it is precisely the type of opportunity so profoundly missing in management education. I could not agree more. With no reservations, I applaud HBS’s FIELD curriculum and hope the school’s role as a darling of media attention will inspire deans across the world to make certain their business students have similar requirements in the slog to an MBA degree.
In the end, education must be relevant. It must lay the foundation for lifelong learning in that those educated must be able to continuously augment knowledge forever-after they leave the gilded halls of academia. As I get older and as my long history as a formal student grows more temporally distant, it is this quality I hold most dear and is one I concurrently find so difficult to personify. Being inquisitive and staying abreast of current events is not enough. Education is about deconstruction, study of component parts, and reconstruction. Then, you must do it again and again to things you think you already know while at once taking on new and daunting material.
I can liken this experience to GMAT study (of course!). Simply reminding yourself of the properties of a triangle or a quadratic equation is simply not enough. A student must deconstruct the test and study what it is made of. Then, through application and practice, she reconstructs the test with a deeper understanding of what it really is. This process continues, cyclically, all the way to Test Day. After her GMAT course ends and her formal instruction is relegated to email exchanges between her and her instructor, the onus of learning is born solely by her alone. If the course has been successful and the resources are present for her to utilize, she can carry on her education and reach heights beyond her best days in class.
The experience of doing is what crystallizes knowing. We cannot have one without the other.