Monthly Archives: September 2009

Why More Women Aren’t Going to Business School

Recently Fortune magazine ran an piece titled “Why More Women Don’t Get MBAs.” The article was mainly an interview with Elissa Ellis Sangster, executive director at the Forté Foundation (a Veritas Prep partner), which didn’t yield a lot of big “A ha!” insights, but did offer some interesting facts and thoughts about the continued gender gap in management education.

Interestingly, although law school are medical school classrooms now tend to hold as many women as men, women still tend to make up about 30% of a typical business school classroom (about the same percentage as twenty years ago). This statistics is especially surprising given the push that so many of the top school have made to improve their diversity, the pressure that companies have applied to those schools to produce a more diverse graduating class every year, and the work of organizations such as the Forté Foundation. If all of these important parties can’t move the needle, then what’s going on?

Sangster suggested a few reasons why women are still far less likely than men to pursue an MBA:

  • Women are still very concerned about the challenge of balancing home life, work, and school if they go back to school;
  • There still aren’t many business role models after which women can pattern themselves;
  • Many women doubt whether they have the quantitative and analytical skills needed to excel in a graduate business program;
  • Their employers aren’t eager to lose them and let them go back to school.

Since 2001 the Forté Foundation (along with other, similar programs) has done a lot for women to take some of the mystery and apprehension out of business school and the MBA admissions process. But, of course, there still seems to be a lot of work to do. Veritas Prep is proud to partner with the Forté Foundation to help achieve this goal and make the business school classroom a less foreign place for women in the workforce!

Chicago Booth’s Rose Martinelli on Leadership

Earlier this week Rose Martinelli, Chicago Booth’s Associate Dean for Student Recruitment and Admissions, weighed in with a blog post about how an applicant can demonstrate leadership even if he or she doesn’t manage people on the job. She had this to say:

First, leadership encompasses much more than managing people. The vast majority of applicants will not likely have had the opportunity to officially manage people yet, but have had opportunities to “lead” ideas, sports teams, student groups, and, of course, make life decisions.Think about how you’ve impacted an organization or decision recently. It’s likely you did not have hierarchical authority, but you were successful because of your influence, effective communication skills, and your ability to motivate people toward a shared goal.

So think broadly about the topic of leadership recognizing that each person has their own unique style. Make sure that you explore your leadership style as you prepare for your MBA experience. It’s one of the biggest developmental challenges you will face throughout your career.

This is very consistent with what we discuss in Your MBA Game Plan — leadership is not merely a title or position that you hold. It’s a set of traits and behaviors that allow you to consistently make a positive impact on those around you, even if you’re not officially their boss. This is also consistent with what Veritas Prep discussed recently in an MBA admissions video on how MBA applicants can demonstrate leadership.

For more about getting into Chicago Booth and other top business schools, subscribe to our blog. And, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

2009 Forté Forum: Coming to a City Near You

Women who are considering getting an MBA should check out Forté Foundation’s 2009 Forum, happening now.

Attendees can:

  • Learn about the career opportunities enabled by an MBA degree
  • Connect with representatives from top business schools to help you get started on the admissions process
  • Network with women like yourself who are also interested in pursuing an MBA
  • Hear first-hand from a panel of women who’ve already received their MBA

The upcoming events are as follows:

  • September 21st: San Francisco
  • September 22nd: Los Angeles
  • September 23rd: Chicago
  • September 29th: New York I
  • September 30th: New York II
  • October 1st: Boston

There’s still time to register for most cities. Visit the Forté Foundation’s web site to learn more and to register!

Columbia Business School Essays and Deadlines for 2009-2010

Continuing our analysis of the top MBA business schools’ application essays for the coming admissions season, here are Columbia Business School’s essays and deadlines for the September 2010 intake. Our comments follow in italics:

Columbia Business School Application Deadlines
Early Decision: October 7, 2009
Deadline for International Applicants: March 3, 2010
Deadline for U.S. Citizens & Permanent Residents: April 14, 2010

(No big changes here. These deadlines are nearly identical to last year’s.)

Columbia Business School Admissions Essays

  1. What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (750 words)
    (This is a fairly standard question that you no doubt have seen on other applications. Make sure, though, that you adequately explain why Columbia is THE best place for them to earn their MBA. The school’s big name and proximity to Wall Street are obvious advantages, but what else does Columbia offer that you can’t find anywhere else?
  2. Master Classes are the epitome of bridging the gap between theory and practice at Columbia Business School. View the link below. Please provide an example from your own life in which practical experience taught you more than theory alone. Watch the video. (500 words)
    (This question was new last year, but carries over unchanged this year. Columbia’s emphasis on its Master Classes is clear — the admissions committee seeks applicants who have rolled up their sleeves and made thing happen, rather than pure theorists. They’ll also looking for introspection — ideally you can illustrate what you learned, the impact it had on you, and how it made you a better business manager or leader.)
  3. Please provide an example of a team failure of which you’ve been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently?
    (This question is also the same since last year. Every year we talk to many clients who ask, “Are you sure I should discuss any failures in my application?” Yes, you definitely should, as long as you can show how you grew from the experience. In this way, your answer could end up overlapping with your answer to #2. So, it’s best to not use a failure story for the second question, and to save your failure story for this question.)

For more advice on applying to Columbia, visit Veritas Prep’s Columbia Business School information page. And, to get the most up-to-date information on Columbia and all other top business schools, be sure to follow MBA Game Plan on Twitter!

GMAT vs. GRE: GMAC Pokes Holes in the GRE Comparison Tool

ETS has made some significant inroads into the GMAT’s market share with its own GRE over the past year, but GMAC is now hitting back with a new article on its site that questions teh validity of ETS’s GRE Comparison Tool for Business Schools.

“This GRE comparison tool is not as precise at it may appear, and using it is not as straightforward as presented. The comparison tool is about averages. Admission decisions are about individuals,” argues GMAC in the article on its site.

GMAC’s argument against the tool was primarily a statistical one:

“As a specific example, for a GRE verbal score of 660 and quantitative score of 670, the tool would predict a GMAT Total score of 650. In this case, 1 in 4 people with this predicted score would actually earn 600 or below if they were to take the GMAT exam. In addition to prediction error, there is also measurement error in both the verbal and quantitative GRE scores, so the chance that this individual would actually score something close to 650 is extremely thin.”

Going further, GMAC then raises the question of whether comparing students with actual GMAT scores to those with predicted scores is fair: “To use predicted GMAT scores along with actual ones unfairly penalizes both sets of test takers, because applicants with valid GMAT scores could be displaced by applicants with predicted scores that are much too high.”

Interestingly, ETS launched the GRE Comparison Tool GRE® Comparison Tool at www.ets.org/gre/comparison about a year ago, but now that web address redirects to a promotion encouraging business schools to start accepting the GRE. Maybe GMAC was able to apply enough pressure to get ETS to remove the tool? Maybe ETS decided it needs to go back to the drawing board?

While we expect that the GRE is here to stay in the graduate management education admissions business, we agree with GMAC that the GMAT is still the most proven measure of the skills an MBA applicant needs to succeed in the classroom. If you’re thinking about grad degrees and general and are only somewhat interested in earning an MBA< then perhaps the GRE is the better place to start. If you are certain that a top-tier MBA is what you want, however, the GMAT is still your best bet.

Michigan (Ross) Application Essays for 2009-2010

Today we look at The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business’ admissions essays. Ross’s admissions essays actually carry over completely unchanged vs. last year, and so our analysis remains pretty much the same.

When a school carries over the same essays from one year to the next, that’s usually a sign that its essays are working well for the admissions office, meaning that they do a good job of helping the admissions team separate out the great applicants from the merely good ones. So, make sure you’re sufficiently answering the questions they ask! That’s always important advice, but in this case it’s even more important than it normally is!

Here are the Ross essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Admissions Essays
Long Answers:

  1. Briefly describe your short-term and long-term career goals. Why is an MBA the best choice at this point in your career? What and/or who influenced your decision to apply to Ross? (500 words)
  2. Describe your most significant professional accomplishment. Elaborate on the leadership skills you displayed, the actions you took and the impact you had on your organization. (500 words)
  3. (This question is all about leadership. Ross not only wants to know what you accomplished, but also wants to understand exactly what you did to make it happen. Also, note that this question emphasizes the impact that your actions had on your organization. More than your role or job title, admissions officers care about what positive impact you truly have on those around you.)

Short answers:

  1. If you were not pursuing the career goals you described in Question 1, what profession would you pursue instead? (For example, teacher, musician, athlete, architect, etc.) How will this alternate interest contribute to your effectiveness in solving multidisciplinary problems? (300 words)
    (This essay provides a good opportunity to show another side of you that may not otherwise come out in your application. As long as you can tie it back to one of the core dimensions in your application, don’t be afraid to write about something that seems to be off the wall here.)
  2. Describe your experience during a challenging time in your life. Explain how you grew personally, either despite this challenge or because of it. (300 words)
    (As is the case with all “challenge” questions, the most important part is the second one — describing what you learned and how you changed as a result. While many schools ask more job-related failure/challenge questions, Michigan’s focus here appears to be a little more on your personal life. If your best story is a job-related one, that’s not out of bounds, but make sure you can tie it back to what you learned and how you grew.)

Optional Question:

  1. Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy?
    (If you really do feel the need to explain something, then address it and move on. In other words, don’t dwell on it or provide that weakness with more stage time than it deserves!)

To stay up to date on admissions trends at Ross, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

HBS 2+2 Program Admissions Statistics Just In

This past week Harvard Business School released its admissions decisions for the HBS 2+2 Program. HBS has admitted 115 students — nine more than last year — according to an interview with Dee Leopold in the Harvard Crimson.

This year 843 rising college seniors applied to the program, an increase of more than 33% since last year, when 630 students applied. The number of admitted applicants also increased (from 106 last year), although the overall acceptance rate has dipped to just 13.6% (from 16.8% in 2008) because of all those additional applicants.

The growing number of applicants is at least in part a reflection of how much work the HBS admissions office did this past year to spread the word about the program. The HBS 2+2 staff visited nearly 60 undergraduate colleges and universities, according to the article. As word of mouth grows and HBS continues to market the program, we expect the number of 2+2 applicants to keep growing significantly over the next few years.

In the article, Leopold made a concerted effort to dispel the notion that the 2+2 Program is a Harvard-only program. Still, with nearly a quarter of the program’s admits coming from Harvard College, the program still has some work to do in diversifying its student body.

Also, anyone who is worried about being “too old” for HBS likely won’t be pleased to see that HBS has carved out another nine seats for 2+2 students. While this trend does not help you if you’re already out in the working world, we still believe that HBS will have to add another section to its class by the time the first 2+2 cohort — which graduated from college this past spring — enters HBS in Fall 2010.

To stay on top of all HBS 2+2 Program news, be sure to follow MBA Game Plan on Twitter!