News, advice and resources for business school applicants

Application Tips


Admissions Tip: Crafting Strong Essays – The Rewards of Reflection

Admissions Tip: Crafting Strong Essays – The Rewards of Reflection

With several of the leading schools having already released their essay questions for this admissions season, we’re sure that quite a number of early birds are eager to get a jump on the process in order to complete as many applications as possible by Round 1.  As applicants find themselves brainstorming for essay topics, we wanted to offer a few tips on presenting yourself and your experiences as advantageously as possible. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Approaching the Career Goals Essay

Admissions Tip: Approaching the Career Goals Essay

Though essay questions tend to vary year to year, the two things that nearly every prospective student can count on being asked are “What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals?” and “How will Business School X help you achieve these goals?”

These are the fundamental questions of the entire application process; identifying clear answers will help in everything from creating a list of target schools to communicating effectively with recommenders and interviewers down the line.  As such, it’s a great idea to begin drafting answers to the Career Goals essay early and often!  To help you get started, here are some general pointers: Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Avoiding Red Flags

Admissions Tip: Avoiding Red Flags

When applying to the top schools, it is important to avoid “red flags” in your application.  For the uninitiated, red flags are negative items that stand out in your file and may result in rejection from business school.  While most applicants understand the basic red flags, like a 2.4 GPA or a recommendation letter that raises serious concerns about the candidate’s maturity, there are many less obvious triggers. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Addressing Academic Strengths

Admissions Tip: Addressing Academic Strengths

While we devoted time last week to advice on addressing weaknesses in one’s academic record, today we wanted to explore the other side of the issue: the strengths that lie in your undergraduate record.

Beyond issues of aptitude or previous achievement, there are a number of other things that your academic profile might say about you.  For instance, if you have a range of quant-focused classes in your record, this might create the impression that you are well prepared for the sort of coursework you would undertake in business school.  Meanwhile, if you have pursued extensive coursework in an area beyond the more traditional disciplines of economics, business administration or engineering, this could indicate some unique interest or perspective that you would bring to the classroom. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Addressing Academic Weaknesses

Admissions Tip: Addressing Academic Weaknesses

To follow up on last month’s advice about GMAT preparation and timing, we wanted to offer some general comments about the role of academics in the admissions process.  Many candidates considering business school focus on the credentials they will hold and the network that they will join upon graduation, but it is important to keep in mind the academic experience at the heart of any MBA program.  Because a business school is, after all, a school, it makes sense to begin your consideration of your profile by thinking about your academic aptitude and track record to date.  Your performance in your educational endeavors up to this point will be treated as a predictor of your success in business school. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Late Round Considerations

Admissions Tip: Late Round Considerations

After a relatively sleepy February, March will soon be upon us with its extensive list of application deadlines and decision notification dates.  Let’s take a look at part of the long list of Round 3 (or 4 or 5) deadlines spread over the next two months:

Feb. 27th: LBS R3 (5:00pm GMT)

March 3rd: IESE R3 (11:59pm UTC)

March 4th: INSEAD R4 (11:59pm CET)

March 11th: Berkeley/Haas R3 (11:59pm PST) 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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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: Avoiding Common Pitfalls, Part II

pitfallLast week we offered some advice to help applicants avoid common pitfalls in writing their essays for the Round 2 deadlines.  This week we’d like to offer some more advice.  Although these tips might not apply to everyone or to every school, these are some good basic strategies to employ.  For personalized advice about your applications, contact Clear Admit directly.

1.    Think strategically when delving into anecdotes that are highly personal.
  While breaking up with your college sweetheart may have had some impact on who you are today, you’ll want to be careful about using personal matters as the basis for an essay.  While there are certainly exceptions, we find that examples from the professional sphere or from extracurricular activities typically make for stronger, and more compelling, essays, as they speak to the things that the admissions committee cares the most about, including qualities and skills that relate to professional success. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Avoiding Common Pitfalls, Part I

avoid pitfallToday we would like to offer a handful of essay pointers in brief in order to help applicants avoid common pitfalls as they gear up for the Round Two deadlines.  While we should caution that every applicant is unique and that some of these tips may not apply to everyone, we wanted our readers to have an introduction to some of the basic strategies they should be employing.  As always, contact Clear Admit directly for more tailored advice to your candidacy.

1.    Remember your reader. 
In application essays and résumés, applicants often get caught in the technicalities of their work, losing their reader in jargon.  Keep it simple in order to make your discussion easy for your non-specialist audience to understand.  Such clarity will help the reader to appreciate the nature and significance of your work. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: The Long Essay

Long EssayEssay content you’ve polished for one school often serves as a great starting point for the next application, but as we’ve often said, customizing this text for the school in question is key.  One particular challenge we see applicants struggle with each year is effectively expanding a short essay they’ve written for one program in responding to a question on the same topic but with a longer limit.  With this in mind, we’d like to offer some pointers on converting condensed comments to more extensive remarks.

1) Expand in proportion.  When taking an existing response as a starting point for crafting a longer document, one good rule of thumb is to build upon each subject to more or less the same extent.  While elaborating on your work to date might involve less time and work than the more research-intensive “why School X” discussion, it’s generally prudent to maintain balance among subjects and provide all of the major pieces of information a school requests in equal measure. Continue reading…

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