News, advice and resources for business school applicants

Admissions Tips

Browse our weekly admissions tips, or choose the category most relevant to you: researching, planning, applying, deciding.


Admissions Tip: The Interview Final Touch

interview-questionsOver the last months, we’ve focused on helping applicants prepare to answer the various questions they’ll be posed during their interviews, but there is one in particular to which we have not paid much attention.  Today, we wanted to offer a few tips in navigating the nearly inevitable interview finisher: “Do you have any questions for me?”

This seems like a harmless inquiry, and indeed poses a great opportunity, but there’s actually a fine line to walk here.  You certainly want to take advantage of this opportunity to show the interviewer that you appreciate his or her time, perspective and knowledge.  In determining what to ask, however, you need to avoid those questions to which you could easily find an answer on the school’s website (remember that it’s imperative that you show you’ve done your homework), as well as those that are so specific or obscure that they will stump the interviewer.  Another sort of question to avoid are those that seem to be critical of the program or too concerned with other applicants; now is not the time to ask about application volume or the strength of the pool this year. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Waitlist Correspondence

waitlistedIn addition to actively evaluating the applications of Round Two applicants at this time of year, many top programs revisit their Round One waitlists and consider the strength of those individuals with respect to the new information about the pool.  While schools vary in their receptivity to correspondence from applicants, those programs that do welcome additional materials offer a great chance for waitlisted candidates to reaffirm their interest in the school and keep themselves fresh in the mind of the adcom.

With the second-round notification dates for a number schools coming up in a matter of weeks, we wanted to offer some tips to students who have been waitlisted at such correspondence-friendly programs while there’s still some time to tip the balance in their favor.

It’s clear that you should take advantage of this chance to add to your file, so the first real step is determining what you want—and need—to communicate in your waitlist correspondence.  We suggest that you begin by revisiting your application with a critical eye.  Being waitlisted is ultimately a positive sign of the strength of your candidacy, so it’s likely you’ve put together a very solid set of materials; you do, however, want to consider what you might have done to make your application even better.  For instance, if your comments in your essays focused primarily on your work experience, you might want to convey some information about your outside interests and activities in your waitlist letter. Continue reading…

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Find Out How You Compare to Other Applicants With MBA LiveWire

Are you curious about how your peers are doing as they navigate the MBA admissions process? If so, you’ll be pleased to learn about the launch of Clear Admit’s MBA LiveWire! The MBA LiveWire shows admissions results submitted by our site visitors in real time. You can use the LiveWire to check out the profiles of applicants who have been accepted, rejected, invited to interview, or waitlisted at top business schools! If you have received an invitation or decision notification, you can also share your results to help other nervous applicants.  MBA LiveWire entries are anonymous and take only a few seconds to submit.

Below is a snapshot of the LiveWire, but we recommend that you take a look for yourself to stay on top of the latest results.

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View the results or submit your own!

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Admissions Tip: The Waitlist

wait-listWhat should an applicant do when placed on the waitlist at his or her dream school?  While most applicants regard the waitlist in a negative light (we’ve even heard it described as “a sort of purgatory prior to getting dinged”), the best approach is to view the glass as being half-full (especially for R1 waitlisters).  In all cases, getting waitlisted is much better than getting denied.

Here are a few tips to help you navigate this often difficult and mysterious process:

1) Know your file.  Before you can develop a waitlist strategy, you need to understand where you may have fallen short in the application process.  Read over your file with a critical eye and try to identify any weaknesses.  Talk to anyone you know who might be able to give you feedback (MBA students at the target school, former admissions officers, admissions consultants, etc). Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Choosing Between Business Schools

choosingWith the majority of schools having released their Round One decisions, many successful applicants will soon be facing the enviable – but often agonizing – decision of choosing between programs.  Though we know that those of you in this position will already be juggling an overwhelming amount of information about the schools on your short lists, we wanted to offer a few pointers to consider as you identify and evaluate the most important facts and factors in making the choice between b-schools.

1) Immerse yourself.  If you have not yet visited campus, go to the school and see what you think of the environment. Be sure to attend classes, talk with students, tour the facilities, and so on.  Even if you have already made the trip, it’s a good idea to attend the school’s events for admitted students to meet your potential classmates.  After all, these are the folks whose thoughts you will be hearing in class for two years and who will making up your future network. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Round Two Recap and Advice

deadlineAs we prepare to bid goodbye to 2014 and greet the deadline-packed first month of 2015, we would like to take the opportunity to recap the upcoming Round Two deadlines and offer some advice for hardworking applicants.

First, a summary of this month’s deadlines along with the exact time each application is due:

Sunday, January 4th:

CMU / Tepper, 11:59pm EST

Monday, January 5th:

Duke / Fuqua, 11:59pm EST

Georgetown / McDonough, 5:00pm EST

London Business School (LBS), 5:00pm UTC

Michigan / Ross, 11:59pm EST

UPenn / Wharton, 5:00pm EST Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Essay Polishing

finish essayWe often stress that, to present oneself effectively in application essays, it’s critical to think carefully about what a given question is asking and what this might indicate about a specific school’s admissions priorities.  Of course, it’s also imperative to communicate clearly and appropriately regardless of the target program or particular inquiry.

As many applicants are working hard to finish their essays in time for the upcoming round 2 deadlines, we wanted to offer a few general guidelines to keep in mind during that final revision.  Time is tight, we know, but a few small changes can make a considerable difference, so today we’re going back to basics and offering a few broadly applicable tips on tone and style to keep in mind when polishing the written elements of your applications.

1. Be Professional.  While a number of schools ask fun questions and most urge applicants to be themselves rather than submitting “overly polished” materials, it’s important to remember that this is a graduate school application and you should approach your essays with a degree of formality.  You do want your unique narrative voice to come through, but even professional writers know to vary their tone based on their audience.  As such, you should avoid using slang and conversational speech patterns in your writing. Continue reading…

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How to Choose the Right MBA Program

ann richardsPerhaps you’re at the beginning stage of the important process to identify which MBA programs you’ll apply to. Maybe, with multiple acceptances in hand, you have the exciting and life-altering task of deciding where you ultimately want to enroll. In either case, Ann Richards, interim director of admissions at Cornell University’s Samuel Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management, has valuable insight to help you make the most informed decision possible.

“There are a handful of key elements that are essential when trying to choose the right MBA program for you,” Richards says. “Research, visit and conduct a self-assessment to understand what’s important to you,” she advises. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Understanding Background Checks

background-checkWith a slew of schools releasing their R1 notifications in the coming weeks, we know that many of our readers will be asking about the background checks conducted by leading programs.  Here are some quick facts to help explain the process:

1) What are background checks?  Background checks involve the verification of information that a candidate has provided in his or her MBA applications.  Although the process varies from school to school, it usually includes checking that an applicant attended the undergraduate (or graduate) school(s) that he or she claims to have attended, received the grades indicated and earned the GMAT score reported.  It also involves the verification of the candidate’s employment history, job titles, starting and ending dates and salary/bonus information.  Finally, some background checks involve contacting recommenders to verify their support and confirming applicant involvement in community activities. Continue reading…

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Kellogg Admissions Director Shares How School Assesses Candidates’ Interpersonal Skills

Kellogg01 editedThe director of admissions at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management has devoted a series of recent blog posts to demystifying the admissions process at the school. Her most recent post shares what she and her team are looking for as they assess candidates’ interpersonal skills.

How well a candidate fits with the school’s MBA program is a significant consideration for the Kellogg admissions team, as it is at many top programs. “Our community values collaboration, involvement and giving back, and we look for that in our applicants as well,” wrote Admissions Director Beth Tidmarsh in a blog post earlier this week. Candidates who thrive in team-based environments will fit in well at the school, she continued. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Navigating the Waitlist

waitlistWhile the past few weeks have seen a number of admits and rejections handed down to round one MBA applicants, the fate of many remains uncertain.  There is no reason for waitlisted candidates to lose hope, as the top programs admit a fair number of individuals from the waitlist in round two and thereafter, but we know that cautious optimism does not make the wait for an answer any easier.  To help those in this situation make sure that they’re doing all they can, we wanted to share a few waitlist tips:

1. Know
and follow—the rules.  Schools vary in their stances when it comes to interaction with those on the waitlist; some shun communication from applicants and even go so far as to discourage on-the-record campus visits, whereas others welcome correspondence and assign waitlisted candidates to an admissions office liaison.  We know that the natural impulse is to reach out to the adcom and update them on that recent promotion or the final grade from that accounting class you took to bolster your academic profile.  At first blush, it might seem that there’s no harm in sending a short letter or making a call, but no matter how exciting the information you wish to communicate, ignoring the adcom’s instructions is ultimately going to reflect badly on you.  Though such a policy may seem frustrating or unfair, it’s important to respect and abide by the preferences of each school. Continue reading…

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