News, advice and resources for business school applicants

Planning Tips


Admissions Tip: Dealing with a Ding

Admissions Tip: Dealing with a Ding

With many MBA programs beginning to release their R2 decisions, the spring notification season will soon be coming to a close.  While we would like to hope that today’s topic isn’t apropos for too many of our readers, we wanted to offer some advice to applicants who’ve been rejected from their preferred programs and are planning on reapplying next season.  While it’s important to take some time to deal with the disappointment, it’s never too early to begin thinking about the next season, and there are a number of steps you can take to improve your candidacy and move toward a stronger application.

1) Reevaluate.  While it’s certainly difficult when things don’t go as planned, this is actually a great chance to take stock of your career and goals and to make sure that an MBA is still a logical and necessary step at this point.  It’s this sort of reflection that can lead to refined career goals and a clearer sense of the reasons you need a business education. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Planning for the GMAT

Admissions Tip: Planning for the GMAT

For all you “early birds” who are planning to apply to business school this fall, we wanted to offer a few tips on managing your time as it relates to the GMAT exam.  Because this is an important element for many applicants in determining at which schools they will be competitive, it’s best to prep intensively and get this out of the way early in the process.

You should ideally be finished with the GMAT by mid-summer.  The reason for this is that you will want to reserve the months of August, September and October for essay writing, school visits, managing your recommenders and other miscellaneous application-related tasks.  The last thing you want to be doing in September is juggling the demands of GMAT prep alongside your MBA applications, your responsibilities at work, your extracurricular involvements, etc. 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: Drafting A Resume

ResumeAs candidates tackle interviews and preparation for Round 2 applications, we would like to revisit an important aspect of the application: the resume. Given the many roles that the resume plays in the business school application process, drafting a resume (or CV) is an excellent starting point for someone embarking on the next round of MBA applications. Here are several reasons why now is the time to focus on polishing your resume:

1) Crafting a resume can serve as the creative starting point for candidates trying to develop their positioning strategy and career goals for the MBA admissions process. Distilling all relevant educational, professional and extracurricular experiences into a coherent one-page document can be an eye-opening exercise. This step is helpful to many applicants because it can reveal overarching themes in their work and activities or bring to light key selling points in their profile. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Plan of Attack

plan-of-attackWith November underway, Round Two deadlines for a number of programs are just around the corner.  As most applicants are targeting multiple schools and still working to narrow down their school selection, we wanted to take some time today to stress the importance of taking a deep breath and a step back and formulating a timeline for the coming weeks.  Establishing a set of incremental goals with regard to essay composition and recommender management at this point in the season will help you to avoid feeling overwhelmed and ensure that your aims are realistic.

One of our most important pointers pertains to the process of writing essays.  The urge to make progress on multiple fronts leads many applicants to work on essays for several schools in parallel, an approach that can be problematic.  One reason for this is that when one spends time immersed in three sets of essays at once, it’s easy to lose sight of the full picture he or she is presenting to any one school.  While it’s important to be oneself in the application process, it’s also crucial that an applicant tailor his or her materials to each school, a process that is made harder when constantly going back and forth among responses for various programs.  Another issue is that it’s easy to waste time implementing the same edits across documents for multiple schools, or to lose track of what one has changed in which essay.  For these reasons, we generally recommend focusing one’s full essay-writing attention on one program at a time. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Interviewing the Interviewer

Interview QuestionWe’ve been offering a good deal of advice lately on how to conduct oneself and prepare responses to MBA interview questions.  Today we’d like to highlight the importance of thinking about what you might ask. Virtually all business school interviewers conclude their discussion by offering the applicant a chance to ask some questions about the program.  While it might be tempting to claim that you’ve already learned all you need to know about the school, this is actually a great opportunity to gain additional insight, show your enthusiasm about a specific element of the curriculum or community, and demonstrate that you appreciate the opportunity to learn from your interviewer’s experiences.

Here are a few simple guidelines to keep in mind while thinking about what you might ask:

1. Focus on the positive.  Now is not the time to conduct due diligence or express skepticism about a school’s academic program or career resources.  You’re still marketing yourself to the adcom at this stage of the process, so you’ll want to project enthusiasm and demonstrate a desire to become more familiar with a program’s merits and your potential fit. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: MBA Interview Prep

MBA-interviewWith interview invitations from a number of programs already on their way out to Round One applicants, we wanted to offer some more advice on this element of the admissions process.  Last week we posted some very basic etiquette information that will help candidates ensure that everything is in order on the big day.  Today, we turn our attention to some steps one can take to prepare for the interview itself.

1) Know what to expect. This might go without saying, but interview types and duration vary across programs.  For instance, nearly all invited Stanford applicants interview with alumni, while on-campus Wharton interviews are conducted by second-year students and admissions staff.  Candidates for Columbia admission participate in an informative resume-based chat, while HBS and MIT interviewers have in-depth knowledge of the applicant’s entire file.  Thinking carefully about the format of the interview and the person conducting it will influence the sort of questions you might come prepared to ask and help you arrive at a mindset conducive to success. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: MBA Interview Etiquette

Interview 2With interviews imminent for Round One applicants, we wanted to turn our attention to this important step in the admissions process and share a few very basic pointers on interview etiquette.  Though the content of your application materials and comments during the interview are of paramount importance, it’s also crucial to put one’s best foot forward and make a positive initial impression.  Here are a few guidelines for interviewing applicants to keep in mind:

1) Dress the part.  Unless meeting with an alum who explicitly specifies a more casual dress code, assume that business attire is appropriate.  We recommend that applicants dress conservatively, opting for a dark suit (pants or skirts are both fine for women) and a blue or white shirt.  Steer clear of flashy brand gear and loud ties, and go easy on makeup and fragrances; you want to be remembered for what you say and who you are, not what you wore. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tips: Common Recommendation Dilemmas

RecommendationAs many of our readers are aware, letters of recommendation are a central part of the application process.  We would like to take a look at how to handle the snags that often arise for applicants in unique employment situations.

The applicant who is most likely to have trouble finding a suitable recommender is either self-employed or works in his or her family’s business.  First, self-employed entrepreneurs by their very nature do not have a direct supervisor.  Similarly, an applicant who works for the family business may have trouble finding a non-related supervisor, or someone who can offer a truly objective opinion. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Applying to Business School as a Younger Applicant

Admissions Tip: Applying to Business School as a Younger Applicant

As many of our readers know, it has become increasingly common for younger individuals to apply to MBA programs.  Whereas the average age and years of work experience at the leading business schools has traditionally hovered at around 28 and five respectively, many programs are now carefully considering the more youthful end of the applicant pool.  Of course, the fact that admissions officers are taking a closer look at younger applicants does not mean that getting accepted to a top program is easy for this group.  In fact, it may be difficult for younger applicants to present themselves as fully prepared to contribute to an MBA program because they often lack leadership experience and extended business exposure.  This is especially true as they will be compared to their fellow applicants who have more years in the working world (often translating to more leadership experience and professional accomplishments).  With this in mind, we’d like to offer a few tips that will help younger MBA candidates leverage the strengths of their candidacies and become increasingly competitive applicants at their choice schools. Continue reading…

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Admissions Tip: Planning for the R1 MBA Deadlines

Admissions Tip: Planning for the R1 MBA Deadlines

Anyone who’s familiar with the MBA application process knows that August moves forward at an accelerated pace, and come September, entire weeks seem to disappear.  To help this year’s Round One applicants avoid the classic time crunch, today’s blog post offers some basic advice on how to approach the Round One deadlines at a reasonable pace.

Let’s start by taking a quick look some of at the published Round One deadlines for the top MBA programs: Continue reading…

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