News, advice and resources for business school applicants

Research Tips

Advice on how to navigate the sea of information about your target programs and identify the most useful sources and details.


Admissions Tip: School-Hosted Blogs

Admissions Tip: School-Hosted Blogs

As the summer progresses and applicants begin researching their target schools in more depth, we would like to highlight a valuable research tool: school-hosted blogs.  The last few years have seen a significant increase in the number of MBA student blogs hosted by schools’ admissions offices, as well as in admissions offices’ use of blogs to keep applicants informed of deadlines, admissions policies and events.   Continue reading…

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A Look Inside the Clear Admit School Snapshots

Last week, we announced the release of our 2015-2016 School Snapshots. We’ve been thrilled by the warm reception they’ve received from the MBA applicant community: in the past week, there have been nearly 1,000 Snapshot titles downloaded!

Wharton School Snapshot Page 2For our readers who haven’t yet downloaded their Snapshots, we wanted to offer a closer look at what you’ll find inside each our 27 titles. In order to illustrate the sort of information you’ll find in these four-page program overviews, we’ve not-so-randomly chosen the Wharton School Snapshot (we’re based in Philadelphia, after all). Let’s look inside! Click on the thumbnail to the right to see a full-sized page.

The Snapshots provide an overview of the academic curriculum and learning environment at each school, including the number of study abroad opportunities, interdisciplinary offerings, and dual degree options. You’ll also learn about the number of active student clubs, as well as particularly popular annual events that students look forward to at each program. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Going Beyond School Websites

Admissions Tip: Going Beyond School Websites

In keeping with the recent Admissions Tips we have posted for the new crop of applicants to the Class of 2018, today we want to offer some tips on engaging the community of one’s target programs.  Communicating with b-school insiders can be beneficial for a number of reasons: In addition to learning about a given school and your potential fit, you’ll also generate material for your essays, demonstrate your interest in the program, and perhaps even make an ally or two.  In your efforts to go beyond the schools’ websites and promotional materials, we recommend reaching out to individuals in a few key groups: Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Considering the Campus

Admissions Tip: Considering the Campus

Continuing our series of admissions tips geared towards those individuals who are just beginning to think about their MBA applications, we wanted to offer some advice on factors to consider with respect to a school’s facilities and location.  Whether speaking with current students or touring the campus for oneself, it’s helpful to approach these information-gathering experiences with as clear a sense of what matters to you as possible.  Here are a few broad categories to consider: Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: The Comparison Trap

comparisonWe wanted to take some time today to discuss a frequently made mistake in the application process.  In their desire to make their case to their target MBA programs, many applicants devote sentences and even paragraphs to explaining why the school in question is their “first choice” and arguing its superiority over other schools.

Though certainly understandable, this is actually not a very productive exercise.  Let’s consider a few reasons why from the schools’ point of view:

Tell me something I don’t know.
  A popular strategy – and not always bad one – for applicants seeking to demonstrate their fit with one school above any other is to study its website to understand the program’s self-determined selling points, and then profess an interest in those.  The thing that essay writers don’t always consider is that while a school’s distinguishing characteristics might be the factors that set it apart from others, this is not necessarily what the admissions committee wants to read about in an applicant’s essays.  The very admissions officer reading your file spends months every year pushing this marketing message out to prospective students.  Members of Harvard’s and Darden’s admissions staff know all about the merits of the case method, Kellogg and Duke’s admissions committees are already up to their ears in team orientation, and Stanford and Yale could not be more aware of the benefits of a small class size.  This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t touch briefly on these key points (the schools highlight these for a reason), only to suggest that to put together a really compelling application, it’s important to push beyond high-level differentiators and immediate association and demonstrate that you’ve learned about the program on a deeper level.  In making room for this level of detail within a restrictive word limit, cutting other schools out of the picture is a great starting point. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Off-Campus Information Sessions

Admissions Tip: Off-Campus Information Sessions

For all those applicants who have recently opened a calendar to plot out the next few months only to realize they can’t possibly fit in campus visits on top of full time jobs and essay writing, never fear!  It’s true that traveling to a school’s campus is the ideal way to learn about their MBA program, but visiting is often not a viable option for applicants who are located remotely or unsure of their level of interest in a given school.  The good news is that business schools might very well come to them.  Many b-schools are getting ready to hit the road and embark on worldwide tours to dispense information and recruit qualified applicants.  Such events offer a great opportunity for interested students to meet with admissions staff (and sometimes with current students and/or alumni), learn about the program and ask specific questions.

Some of the top schools are already on the road, so we recommend looking into the travel schedules for programs of interest and planning accordingly.  Keeping in mind that these schedules are updated and amended throughout the fall, here are some of the top programs’ itineraries for the months ahead: Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Using Rankings to Your Advantage

rankThere are numerous sources that can knowledgeably rank the “top” MBA programs.  However, because business schools receive different rankings depending on the sources’ criteria, it can be difficult to understand which are the “best” schools.  Therefore today we’d like to talk about how b-school applicants can use rankings to discover the “best” schools—for them.  Although the general merits of each school are important, we also believe that it is important for MBA applicants to rank schools based on their individual needs and interests.  Therefore we encourage students to use official MBA school rankings in the following ways:

1. Use rankings to create a consensus.  Sources rarely have the exact same rankings as each other, and therefore trying to determine the “top five” schools can be frustrating.  However, it’s best to compile these different sources of rankings to form a consensus regarding the top schools.  For example, if your target program is consistently listed in the top 15, regardless of its individual ranking among different sources, you should feel confident that it is regarded as a top school by industry professionals and future employers.  You may not be able to pinpoint the ultimate “number one” school, but you will be able to distinguish between the different tiers of schools. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: School-Hosted Blogs

mba-graduateAs the summer progresses and applicants begin researching their target schools in more depth, we would like to highlight a valuable research tool: school-hosted blogs.  The last few years have seen a significant increase in the number of MBA student blogs hosted by schools’ admissions offices, as well as in admissions offices’ use of blogs to keep applicants informed of deadlines, admissions policies and events.  Both types of blogs are useful throughout the admissions cycle; the factual information in the admissions office blogs is helpful in understanding and planning for the application process, while the student blogs offer valuable insights into student life, culture and academics.

Below we’ve provided links to some of the active blogs hosted by the leading MBA programs.

Admissions Office Blogs:
Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Visiting the Campus

campus visitAs many applicants are finding out at this time of year, conducting thorough research on MBA programs is an essential step in formulating a list of target schools and crafting convincing essays.  Surfing the web and speaking with friends and mentors are great starting points in identifying programs of interest.  However, to really get a feel for a school and determine whether it’s a good fit for one’s goals and personality, applicants need to dig deeper and gain some firsthand experience with the program and the people.  Visiting the campus is a great way to gather this kind of information, and it can also be advantageous in the application process.  Although most formal campus visit programs will not start until the fall (when classes are in session), we’d like to offer a few “head start” pointers for getting as much mileage as possible out of a trip to your target program.

1) Make yourself known.  Putting forth the effort to travel to a school is a signal of interest in the program that the adcom loves to see, however, you need to let them know that you’ve made the trip.  It is possible to communicate this in your essays and interview, but the simplest route is often to register for a visit through the admissions office.  Not only will most schools arrange for you to sit in on a class and have lunch with current students, but many will also make a note of your visit and include it in your file.  Be sure to Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Going Beyond School Websites

300px-Gsb_buildings1In keeping with the recent Admissions Tips we have posted for the new crop of applicants to the Class of 2017, today we want to offer some tips on engaging the community of one’s target programs.  Communicating with b-school insiders can be beneficial for a number of reasons: In addition to learning about a given school and your potential fit, you’ll also generate material for your essays, demonstrate your interest in the program, and perhaps even make an ally or two.  In your efforts to go beyond the schools’ websites and promotional materials, we recommend reaching out to individuals in a few key groups:

Current Students – People who are currently enrolled in a given program can obviously provide the clearest picture of the present state of the school community.  They are often more capable of evoking their school’s overall culture than brochures put out by the admissions offices and can describe to prospective students the ins and outs of academic and extracurricular options.  In addition to reaching out to friends and acquaintances who are studying at a given school, it’s also wise to get in touch with the leaders of clubs and programs in which you are interested. (Their contact information is generally available through the website.)  This will help you to understand the impact you could make while on campus and provide a sounding board for the ideas you plan to share with a certain student group or organization. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Considering the Campus

stanfordContinuing our series of admissions tips geared towards those individuals who are just beginning to think about their MBA applications, we wanted to offer some advice on factors to consider with respect to a school’s facilities and location.  Whether speaking with current students or touring the campus for oneself, it’s helpful to approach these information-gathering experiences with as clear a sense of what matters to you as possible.  Here are a few broad categories to consider:

1) Facilities – Are state of the art classrooms and impressive new architecture a priority for you?  Would you prefer a school that is headquartered in a single building to one spread over a larger campus?  What about wireless access and use of technology in teaching?  If any of these factors are of significant importance and could tip the balance between schools on your list of target programs, you’ll want to do this sort of research up front.  If visiting yourself, we’d recommend that you take pictures or write up your thoughts after the fact while your impression is still fresh in your mind.

Continue reading…

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