Monthly Archives: October 2008

HBS on Late Letters of Recommendation

Earlier this week Dee Leopold wrote a post on the HBS admissions blog describing how the admissions committee handles late letters of recommendation. Here is an excerpt:

If an application has two submitted recommendations, we send it out for review by the Admissions Board in the round in which the application arrived. If the third recommendation comes in, we make every attempt to add it to the file. Since the file can be in any number of places and we can’t stop the reading flow, we can’t promise that the recommendation will be added before review is complete.

Applications with only one submitted recommendation are held up for the next round.

We know that letters of recommendation can be the most frustrating part of the MBA application process, since you have less control over them than any other part of the application. Even with careful planning and preparation, you may find that your recommendation writers simply don’t (or can’t) make enough time to write personal, passionate letters that support your candidacy.

The best thing to do, of course, is to start the process early enough that your recommendation writers have plenty of lead time, and to build in some buffer time in case anything goes wrong. But, if you’re stressed because your recommendation writers are running late, just know that HBS and other schools will not use it as a reason to ding you immediately. They know that coordinating recommendation writers can be like herding cats. The best prepared applicants will have their ducks in a row (I’m running out of expressions that use animals), but the world will not end if one of your recommendation writers is running late. Timing is critical, but quality always trumps everything else.

Like everything else in the application processm, preparation is key. If you’re looking for more guidance, our MBA admissions consultants can help you properly prepare the people who will writer your letters of recommendation.


In the Media: The GMAT vs. GRE Question

Inside Higher Ed’s Scott Jaschik just wrote a story about the Educational Testing Service’s push to replace the GMAT with its own GRE exam as the standardized test for business school admissions, and he turned to our own Chad Troutwine for his take on this budding competition:

Chad Troutwine, CEO and co-founder of Veritas Prep, a high-end test-prep service for the GMAT, said that the the news from ETS could be significant. Troutwine said that ETS has faced “two big liabilities” in trying to promote the GRE. One has been a fear that minority test takers do not perform as well as white students — something that is expected to change with next year’s addition of the non-cognitive tests. The second problem was the lack of “hard data that the GRE was as predictive as the GMAT,” Troutwine said.

If the ETS data stand up, he said, many business schools are likely to be “agnostic” on the two tests, seeing the flexibility as a “costless way” to attract more applicants. “The tests are very similar,” he said. “This could be very big news.”

At the same time, Troutwine said that the key question is whether business schools accept the ETS comparisons as valid: “Will the business schools accept that calibration? It’s one thing for ETS to say that a score on the GRE equates to a score on the GMAT, but will the business schools accept that in the same way ETS does?”

Click here to read the whole story. While the number of business schools that accept the GRE is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of schools that require the GMAT today, ETS is sure to keep pushing to sign up more schools. Even if the GRE never catches up to the GMAT, this push could ultimately force the Graduate Management Admission Council to respond in some way.

Speaking of the GMAT, if you’re preparing for the test now, try our free practice GMAT test.

This Year’s Job Prospects for MBAs

A recent article in Time described the worsening job prospects for business school students in light of the economic downturn. At schools that just a year ago were begging their students to honor their job interview commitments, some second-year students are now worried if they’ll receive any job offers by the time they graduate next spring.

Heads of career services offices at many top schools all describe the same attitude among employers: “Wait and see.” Many companies have instituted headcount freezes, and even at ones that haven’t, hiring managers are being given fewer offers to make. Today they’re much more afraid of hiring too many MBA grads than hiring too few — they know that they’ll always be able to go back to campus in early 2009 and pick up a few more new hires if they need to.

What can business school students do? Proactive job seekers are looking beyond the on-campus recruiting process to find opportunities on their own. And they’re also widening their job search to consider careers outside of banking ans consulting. Joining a smaller firm may come back into fashion as some companies that normally couldn’t make much impact at a top school find that many grads now eagerly attend their information sessions.

The worst time to be in school is right when the economy takes a turn for the worse — there’s nothing like having a job offer rescinded. For people who apply to business school this year, though, the question is: What will the economy look like in two or three years? That’s anyone’s guess, but here’s hoping that the worst of the unpleasant surprises are behind us.

Yale Dean Joel Podolny to Step Down

Big news at Yale… Yesterday the Yale School of Management announced that Joel Podolny will leave his post as dean of the school to join Apple as vice president and dean of the company’s coming Apple University. Effective November 1, Professor Sharon Oster will take the reins as interim dean while the school conducts a search for Podolny’s permanent replacement.

It’s an understatement to say that Podolny has made a big impact on Yale in his three and a half years there. The number of applications to Yale has increased by 50% over the past five years and the school’s full-time faculty has grown by 20% (even as the school has deliberately reduced its class size). And while a school is so much more than its building, Yale SOM’s new campus (scheduled for completion in 2011) will stand as a testament to Podolny’s last impact on the school.

In an email to the Yale SOM community, Podolny expressed his bittersweet feelings about leaving behind Yale for Apple:

So even as I am excited about this new chapter in my life, I am very sad to be leaving SOM. However, I can state unequivocally that I would not consider leaving if I did not feel that the school was on a strong footing. As a school, we know who we are. We have embraced our distinct mission, and are singularly and fundamentally focused on cultivating a distinct model of leadership, a model that can and should be applied across industry and sector. We know we will soon have a spectacular new campus that will support and sustain our educational model. As a community of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends, we know what we must do to execute on the unique and necessary MBA curriculum that we have pioneered.

Podolny won’t actually join Apple until early 2009, and will stay on the Yale faculty and will continue to teach until then. He and the school are doing the right thing by getting the transition started now.

While we at Veritas Prep were mainly asking “What does this mean for Yale?” when we first heard the news, it also makes us wonder about Apple and its education initiatives. The company has in some ways returned to its education roots by embracing how colleges use its iPod and iTunes system to allow students to access a library of course lectures. While many in the press have speculated that the company’s Apple University will be a training program for employees, we wonder if it’s actually a much broader digital education play that Apple may make in the next couple of years.

For more advice about applying to Yale, visit the Veritas Prep Yale School of Management information page.

HBS Interviews: Dee Leopold on Round One

The other day Dee Leopold posted a message on the HBS admissions blog regarding the school’s upcoming wave of Round One interview invitations. HBS will start contacting applicants to set up interviews on November 12, with many of the interview requests going out the following week.

As HBS and other top schools often do, Leopold reminds applicants that the timing of the interview invite is strictly a function of when the application is reviewed in the process — it’s not a reflection on the strength of one’s candidacy. There’s also no rhyme or reason in terms of alphabetical order, geography, or the date when the application was received. In other words, don’t bother trying to divine your chances based when you receive (or don’t receive) an interview invitation!

Leopold finished the post with a plug for the updated entrepreneurship info on the HBS web site. A few times lately we have heard HBS representatives emphasize the program’s entrepreneurship-related content… Something to keep in mind if you are an HBS applicant with a sincere interest in this area.

For more advice on applying to HBS, visit our Harvard Business School information page. For more advice on how to nail your HBS interview, take a look at our MBA admissions interview preparation service.

Announcing Our Law School Admissions Contest!

To introduce our new law school admissions consulting services, Veritas Prep has announced a contest for law school applicants. The contest winner will receive a complimentary Veritas Prep Admission Brief consulting package that includes comprehensive assistance with the application process for three law schools. The Admissions Brief is a $3,100 value, and includes:

  • An admissions consultant from the school of your choice to personally work with you throughout the entire law school application process
  • The Veritas Prep Law School Game Plan™ – a proven approach to help you gain perspective and shape every component of your application
  • An admissions consultant who has been through this exact process and can suggest proven techniques
  • Insider opinion from recent graduates of the nation’s top law schools to make sure you are applying to the right schools
  • Winning suggestions identifying and maximizing those community service and work experience elements that will appeal to the admissions committee
  • Guidance to help you construct powerful and persuasive essays
  • Editorial critiques that focus on grammar, content, and style
  • Customized feedback to help you craft the best possible resume
  • Proven strategies to solicit effective letters of recommendation

Don’t miss your opportunity to win free admissions consulting services to help maximize your candidacy for admission to the nation’s top law schools!

To Enter:

In one page, using any media of your choice, explain why you want to become a lawyer. Submissions must be received by 4pm PDT on November 15, 2008. Please email your entry to our law school admissions consulting team at

As you prepare your application, visit our site to learn more about our law school admissions consulting services.

Announcing New GMAT Prep Course Offerings

As you may have read earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal article linked to this space, business school applications are expected to peak this year by a larger margin than at any other point in history. With the impending competition for slots in top schools compounded by uncertain job security throughout the global economy, MBA admissions consultants and GMAT instructors like me are in the unfamiliar position experienced most by rock stars and Broadway performers – “extended by popular demand”.

To assist the multitude of potential MBA applicants who need to put together applications in short order before the January deadlines, Veritas Prep has just announced the addition of new end-of-2008 course schedules from coast to coast:

  • Beginning on Monday, November 3 in Beverly Hills, California, Veritas Prep will run an additional 42-hour Full Course schedule (Monday/Wednesday, 7 to 10 p.m.)
  • Beginning on Saturday, December 13, Veritas Prep will run an additional 36-hour Weekend Course Schedule in New York City (Midtown Manhattan location)

For information on these and the dozens of other Veritas Prep GMAT prep courses that are scheduled to begin in the upcoming weeks — including a worldwide round of Full Course offerings beginning the final week of October — take a look at our GMAT course schedule options.