Monthly Archives: March 2009

Stanford Puts out the Call for More Round 3 Applicants

Wow, Stanford GSB wants more applicants?? Last week Derrick Bolton posted a message on Stanford’s blog encouraging anyone who’s on the fence to pull the trigger and apply to Stanford this year, by the school’s Round 3 deadline. Could Stanford really need applicants this year? Is the school trying to pad its numbers?

Probably not. While it’s doubtful that an MBA program such as Stanford needs more applicants, this year Stanford’s Round 3 admissions deadline (April 8th) is nearly three weeks later than last year’s, and no top MBA program has a Round 3 deadline nearly as late as Stanford’s. We’re not sure of Stanford’s reasons for this change, but it could be that Stanford made this move to snag a few extra top-tier candidates that HBS and Wharton, etc., may miss out on because of their earlier R3 deadlines. Now that Stanford is the last top school accepting applications for the Class of 2011, perhaps Bolton has so far been underwhelmed by the number (and quality?) of applicants that this strategy has brought in this year.

On the Stanford blog he writes:

The media hype says that business school applications soar when the economy is bad and, as such, there won’t be any spots left for third round applicants. This simply isn’t true. And we worry that some great people may delay applying because of these misperceptions. Historically, we’ve found that applications follow demographic cycles more than economic cycles.

We assure you that we admit outstanding individuals in all three rounds–this year is no exception. While it is true that the final round typically is smaller than the first two, we do admit excellent candidates in Round 3–including our current Director of MBA Admissions.

So the real question to ask yourself is when do you want to enroll? If the answer is September 2009, then you should apply now in Round 3. If you’re admitted, great. If not, then you’re in a better position for September 2010 having already begun the self-reflection process for your first-round application.

Odds are that you decided months ago to apply this year, or you already know that you definitely won’t apply any sooner than this coming fall. It’s good to see messages like this coming out of a top-tier MBA program, because it suggests that your chances this year may be a little better than some expected, but our advice remains the same: Only apply when you’re ready, and only when you have a competitive GMAT score, can get outstanding letters of recommendation, and have enough time to create strong admissions essays. Don’t apply in Round 3 just on a lark!

For more advice on applying to Stanford GSB, read Your MBA Game Plan or follow us on Twitter.

Admissions Updates for HBS and Wharton Applicants

Earlier this week Harvard Business School and Wharton provided important updates for applicants on their blogs. For anyone who is currently waiting to hear back from Harvard or Wharton, the next several weeks figure to be an important time. In the case of Wharton Round 2 applicants, today was an especially big day.

On the Harvard Business School admissions blog, Dee Leopold provided an update for applicants in all three of Harvard’s admissions rounds. She wrote:

Round One Waitlist – We will be extending offers of admission to about 40 round one waitlisters shortly after April 2. We will continue to maintain a waitlist and Eileen Chang will send out an update in early April.

Round Two Notification – April 2 is the notification date. All decisions will be released online – you will receive an email instructing you to check your status. We won’t be making any congratulatory phone calls in advance of April 2!

Round Three Interview Invitations – Many, but not all, will go out on April 3.

Meanwhile, over at the Wharton admissions blog, the team posted an update specifically for Wharton’s Round 2 applicants:

All Round 2 applicants who were invited for interviews: you will receive your admissions decision tomorrow. You may check your decision status at that time through your online application. We will also make every effort to contact all new admits via telephone or e-mail.

Return here tomorrow for an announcement that decisions have been released and for more details…

Good luck to everyone!

That post was written yesterday, meaning that by now many of you should have heard from Wharton… Hopefully you got some good news today!

For more regular updates on HBS, Wharton, and other top business schools, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

New Nine-Month Masters Program from Duke’s Fuqua School

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business continues to innovate. The school has just announced a new master’s program designed to provide basic entry-level business skills to recent college graduates and advanced degree holders with no prior full-time work experience.

The school’s new Master of Management Studies in Foundations of Business (MMS) program consists of 12 business courses taught over four six-week terms. MMS coursework will cover all of the basic areas of business training: finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, operations, decision analysis and management. All MMS courses will be taught by the same Fuqua faculty that teaches in the core MBA program. The first MMS class will enter Fuqua this fall.

The MMS program requires no previous business studies, although a basic knowledge of calculus, statistics and computer skills is required. For students who enter the program with no training in these areas, “boot camps” in statistics and computer skills are available. It’s noteworthy that, while the majority of the MMS program’s students will be recent college grads, it is actually designed for anyone with little or no work experience, including Master’s degree and PhD holders.

Is this program right for you? While there is no single rule that can be applied to everyone, we often tell our MBA admissions clients that they’re better off getting at least a couple of years of full-time work experience before they pursue a graduate business degree. We still believe this to be true, although there may very well be a place for programs such as MMS in the education market.

If you have just graduated from college and think you will one day want to earn an MBA, then we recommend getting two to five years of work experience before applying to business school. However, if you don’t plan on pursuing an MBA and want a basic level of business training in order to get your professional career started, then the Master of Management Studies program may be a good fit for you.

For more information about Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, visit the Veritas Prep Fuqua information page.

More Americans Choose European Business Schools

Given the turmoil on Wall Street and the dim job market in the U.S. right now, it’s not surprising that many international applicants have decided not to come to the U.S. to pursue an MBA this year. Even more interesting, however, is that apparently many Americans also also now considering earning their MBAs abroad.

An article in last week’s Wall Street Journal describes the trend of more and more Americans deciding to go abroad for their MBA programs. Not only do schools such as INSEAD and IMD provide Americans with an opportunity to broaden their worldview, but they also offer a nice sort of career diversification in that they tend to attract a more diverse array of corporate recruiters than do American business schools.

According to the article, at some top European schools, only about 20% of the graduating class lands in finance, compared with up to 60% at some U.S. schools. While this has traditionally been a weakness for European prorgams in attracting top applicants who want to eventually pursue high-paying jobs, in today’s climate it’s one reason why more American than ever have sought out these programs.

Another advantage that many European schools offer is that their programs are shorter than most American schools’ programs, which, among other things, means that they can be significantly less expensive. While we tend to discourage applicants from choosing based on costs alone, this often significant difference can be hard for someone to ignore when they’re still paying off old student loans and are about to leave their job to take on even more debt.

The European programs aren’t content to just let Americans beat a path to their doors — they’ve made a point of aggressively reaching out to U.S. students in order to capitalize on this trend. As a result of the macro trend and these recruiting efforts, schools such as Oxford’s Saïd Business School have interviewed 60% more American applicants this year than last year.

The pendulum is swinging towards the rest of the world right now… Will it one day swing back towards American MBA programs when the economy recovers? What do you think? Comment and tell us!

New HBS 2+2 Program Podcast

In a new podcast on the HBS web site, Assistant Director of MBA Admissions Kerry McLaughlin, interviewed Andrea Kimmel from HBS 2+2 Program admissions, and Mark Michaelman, a recent 2+2 Program admit from Northeastern University. The podcast provides a nice overview of Harvard’s rationale for launching the program last year, as well as gives useful advice for rising college seniors who will apply to the program this year.

Kimmel explained that the impetus for creating the HBS 2+2 Program was when the admissions office noticed who wasn’t applying to HBS. Explained Kimmel, “We realized there was a real opportunity to start to talk to younger people who maybe would never have business or an MBA degree on their radar screen.” The admissions officers especially had scientists, engineers, liberal arts majors in mind when they created the program. Their mission: To turn them on to the idea of a graduate business education before they go too far down another professional path.

Even though the HBS 2+2 Program attracted more than 630 applicants in its first admissions cycle (and admitted 106 of them), the school will continue to aggressively spread the word to attract an even more diverse applicant pool this year. “Since launching it, we have been on over 80 college campuses, and that number continues to grow,” said Kimmel. “We’re looking forward to having an even higher number of applications in the second year.”

New admit Mark Michaelman then went on to describe the application process. Not surprisingly, the real challenge for a rising college senior is to balance schoolwork and the application process. “As long as you keep track of it and organize your schedule, it tends to be pretty straightforward.”

Kerry made a point of emphasizing that the HBS 2+2 Program will accept the GRE this coming year, which is consistent with the program’s mission to attract more applicants who may not have considered an MBA until now.

Read more about the program’s admissions essays and deadlines on our blog, and see how Veritas Prep can help you apply to the HBS 2+2 program this summer.

Let’s Not Dismiss the MBA So Soon

In yesterday’s Financial Times, Stefan Stern wrote an interesting piece titled Why MBA Bashing is Unfair. In it he argues that, while graduate business programs aren’t perfect and need to evolve, they are not churning out the sharp-elbowed, non-consequence-caring sharks that some in the media have accused them of producing. If anything, they are guilty of producing leaders who only manage by the numbers, and, because of their lack of true management experience, are unable to step back at times and think about an organization as a whole.

To be sure, the stereotype of the cocky MBA is somewhat deserved. Heck, recently one of Harvard’s own MBAs put out a book describing HBS as the “cauldron of capitalism” in his own unflattering words. But to say that “arrogance and greed” are solely responsible for our current economic troubles misses the larger point about the value that an MBA can provide.

Argues Stern:

The content of the course, while not exactly incidental, is really not the most important thing. It is the process itself: applying for a place, being admitted, meeting and working with faculty and contemporaries, and forming a new network, that matters.

This is what you find when you talk to sceptical MBA graduates who may not remember a great deal about the different modules they studied. Even they will describe their time at business school as a transformative experience. They went in one end as a fairly ordinary, apprentice businessperson. They came out the other ready to operate at a higher level.

This is what we at Veritas Prep always tell our admissions consulting and GMAT prep clients: The hardest part of business school may seem to be getting in, but once you’re in, what value you get out of the program is entirely up to you. There’s at least as much value in the chance to make new friends, get exposed to new viewpoints, and build an incredible new network, as there is in learning about the capital asset pricing model.

And, as McGill University professor Henry Mintzberg argues in the FT article, the real learning about how to manage still needs to occur on the job, after you graduate. That inevitably means that at some point a fresh MBA will be promoted into a role that he’s not yet fulled qualified for, but management must be learned in context. Today’s business leaders are at least as responsible for educating tomorrow’s leaders as any MBA program is. This has always been the case, and will continue to be true well after the current economic mess passes.

Graduate School Application Trends

Last week’s Economix blog from the New York Times featured the latest growth trends for the LSAT, GMAT, and GRE. Not surprisingly, the number of LSAT exams taken in 2008-2009 grew more than 5%, which coincides with the National Law Journal’s report that applications were up 4% vs. last year.

While the Graduate Management Admission Council hasn’t yet released its numbers for 2008-2009, it is expected to show steady growth vs. the previous year. It will be interesting to see if the overall number of MBA applicants grows much this year, given the uneven preliminary numbers we have heard from some of the nation’s top programs.

Not all of National Law Journal’s numbers point to strong growth. Interestingly, the actual number of law school applicants increased by less than 1%. So, not many more people applied to law school vs. last year, although those who did apply seemed to apply to more schools. Also, the number of GRE exams taken in 2008 actually was actually lower than the number taken in 2007, although that may have more to do with a change to the exam, which may have unnaturally increased the number of people who took the exam in 2007.

It’s uncertain how exactly the recession will impact application numbers when all is said and done, but it will be interesting to see where the numbers end up at the end of this application season. Will a surge actually come next year, or will this recession prove to be different than others? We will probably need to wait a few more months, when most top business schools start sharing their 2008-2009 numbers, before we know for sure.

If you decide to take the plunge and apply now, see how Veritas Prep’s admissions consulting services can help you.