Monthly Archives: December 2008

GMAT Prep and MBA Admissions: The Best of 2008

There goes another year! As 2008 winds down, we thought we’d share some of our most popular posts and most interesting topics from the past 12 months:

Thanks for reading, everyone! Best wishes for a terrific 2009!


HBS Admissions Podcast

Recently the Harvard Business School admissions office posted a podcast interview with Dee Leopold, Managing Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid.

The interview started off with the question that Leopold hears most often: “What are you looking for in an applicant?” Leopold broke it down into “qualities” and “experiences,” and explained that they look for common qualities but diverse experiences in the incoming class.

For qualities, Leopold highlighted the following:

  • Solid values and integrity — No surprise here. HBS and all other programs won’t even consider someone who may seem unethical.
  • Ability to thrive in an analytical environment and academic setting — As described in Your MBA Game Plan, this is one the key dimensions that you must show in your application. We at Veritas Prep refer to this as “Innovation.”
  • Initiative — How can you show you how you go above and beyond what’s normally expected of you?
  • Curiosity — Another part of what we call “Innovation.” Show that you want to learn more about what makes the world tick.
  • Maturity — This is another one of the four important dimensions that we describe in Your MBA Game Plan.
  • Perspective — Do you have self-awareness? How have your experiences shaped your outlook on the world?
  • Sense of humor — Yes, even HBS wants to see applicants who don’t take themselves too seriously. We believe this a sense of humor is a clear sign of maturity, humility, and self-confidence.

Note that Leopold didn’t mention “leadership.” She went on to explain that, “We’re looking for leaders who have these qualities (above). We don’t think that ‘leadership’ as a one-size fits all or something that is a list of things on your resume. We think that leadership, and the way you lead, is as exciting a dimension of diversity as any of the other things I mentioned.”

There’s a lot of great information in the podcast, and this is just a sample. Go here to listen to the entire podcast.

One other note: Leopold mentioned that HBS is visiting a lot of college campuses this year, to open more undergrads’ eyes to HBS and the value of an MBA. This is just one more sign of HBS’ effort to attract and accept more candidates with very little job experience. Take note of this if you’ve been out of college for a couple of years and are wondering whether you should apply now or in a couple of years. “We are encouraging people to think about business school earlier in their lives,” Leopold said.

While she also went on to say that this is not bad news for more experienced applicants, we believe that HBS’ vision of the typical first-year student has permanently changed vs. ten years ago (i.e., it has become younger). If you apply later in your career, expect that HBS will have a lot of questions about why you waited.

Visit Veritas Prep for more information on Harvard Business School and the HBS 2+2 Program.

MBA Admissions Tips from Yale

Recently the Yale School of Management admissions office posted some admissions tips for those applicant who are working on their Round Two deadlines. Among the tips that they offered:

  • Review Your Essays — Before you submit your application, it’s important to review your essays to be sure your goals are well articulated and you’ve covered all the points you want to convey. You may also want to have a friend or family member proofread them because it’s always helpful to have a second pair of eyes to catch things you may have missed. Just remember essays should be entirely your own work.
  • Send Your Official Test Score Reports — If you haven’t already, designate Yale SOM to receive your score reports electronically. If we don’t receive your report close to the admissions deadline, the review of your application may be delayed.
  • Make Your Resume Stand Out — Instead of just listing your job responsibilities, be sure you’ve highlighted special projects and new initiatives that have contributed to the success of your office.

Also, the Yale admissions office reports that they have sent out about two-thirds of the total candidates whom they plan on interviewing from Round One. So, if you haven’t yet heard anything from Yale about an admissions interview yet, don’t worry — they may just not have reviewed you application yet. And, they may keep sending out interview invitations right up until the decision deadline, so there’s still plenty of time to hear from Yale!

Just a reminder that Yale SOM’s Round Two deadline is January 7, 2009. If you would like some last-minute help on your Yale essays, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA essay editing services.

Happy Holidays from Veritas Prep!

All of us at Veritas Prep want to with you a wonderful holiday season. For those of you who are rushing to get your business school applications done before the second-round deadlines take a look at our sample MBA essays for some inspiration and an idea of what works and what doesn’t.

Beyond that, take a breather, relax, and treat yourself to some R&R before the deadlines come!

Best wishes,
The Veritas Prep Team

NYU Stern Searches for a New Dean

Thomas Cooley, NYU Stern’s dean, has announced that he is stepping down from the post that he has held since 2002. The school has started its search for Cooley’s replacement. While Cooley’s announcement may seem somewhat abrupt, it sounds as though he simply wants to get back to more research and teaching.

It will surely take a lot of work for Stern to replace Cooley with someone just as capable. Under his leadership, the school hired more than 90 new faculty members and raised $190 million in its most recent fund-raising effort. Cooley also significantly increased NYU Stern’s international footprint, setting up join programs with schools in Asia and Europe.

If you’re applying this year, take a look at this year’s NYU Stern application essays, and visit the Veritas Prep Business School Selector to see what your chances of getting into Stern are.

Kellogg Mistakenly Sends Acceptance Letters to 50 Rejected Applicants

We wouldn’t wish this twist of fortune on anyone: This week about 50 applicants to the Kellogg School of Management received an acceptance letter from the school, only to find out later that it was the result of a computer glitch, and that they in fact had been rejected.

The applicants each received an email message with an attached acceptance letter. Kellogg official blamed the mistake on a “technical glitch” that occurred in an automated mail-merge process. The Kellogg web site always had the correct information, which applicants could see when they logged onto the site to check their status.

Understandably, some applicants prematurely started to celebrate. The Chicago Tribune quoted one applicant who excitedly called his parents and enjoyed a celebratory dinner before learning the bad news on the web site. Kellogg is going to refund his and everyone else’s $235 application fee, but of course that’s small consolation.

Something tells us that Kellogg won’t be doing any more mail merges any time soon…

For more information on applying to Kellogg, read about the 2008-2009 Kellogg admissions essays and application deadlines.

Our First Annual MBA Admissions Officer Survey Results

Last week we released the results of Veritas Prep’s first annual survey of MBA admissions officers, to uncover what’s happening in the field today and to help business school applicants anticipate future trends.

We enlisted the help of an independent third party to survey admissions officers at the top 30 business schools in the U.S. (as defined by BusinessWeek’s ranking system). The survey ran in October and November, and covered more than half of the admissions officers at these MBA programs.

Some findings were surprising, while others confirmed what we have been telling our clients for years. Among the most interesting results:

  • The biggest challenges institutions face are attracting more, better-qualified candidates, and supporting cultural diversity in their student bodies. Among desired changes that admissions officers would like to see in their applicant pool, diversity ranks first (87%), while 57 percent of respondents would like to see a larger applicant pool at their institutions.
  • The number of international applicants to leading U.S. business schools has increased over the past five years. Ninety-four percent of responding admissions officers report a moderate to significant increase in international applicants during the last five admissions cycles.
  • The number of admits straight out of undergraduate studies is on the rise. Despite the fact that 63 percent of respondents say professional experience is the most important factor in student selection, almost half (47%) report that the number of admits straight out of college has significantly or moderately increased compared to five years ago.
  • Careless errors ranked as the top faux pas committed by students during the application process. Inconsistency between institutional choice and students’ educational objectives and ambitions ranked second, and the inclusion of unrequested items and inappropriate interview conduct tie for the third most commonly witnessed application blunder.
  • Admissions officers view students that enlist the assistance of admissions consultants neutrally. While seven percent of respondents said that they view applicants who use admissions consultants positively, 80 percent view such students neutrally. In general, most admissions officers feel that admissions consultants help students identify the programs with which they fit best and clarify their career goals.
  • Admissions officers anticipate changes in the student application process in coming years. Most respondents believe the student application process will include more face-to-face or telephone interviews in the next five years (60%). While over half of admissions officers foresee the application process becoming less complex (53%), another forty percent predict the application process will become increasingly intricate in the coming years.

We especially found the learnings around diversity and the trend toward younger applicants to be most interesting. And while we were glad to see that nearly all MBA admissions officers view applicants who use admissions consultants neutrally or positively, we will continue to work to ensure that our clients get a great deal of value from their relationship with us — but only in a 100% ethical way. As always, we will never write our applicants’ essays or tell them what to say.

Visit Veritas Prep to learn more about how we can help you in the MBA admissions process.