Monthly Archives: June 2010

MIT Sloan Admissions Deadlines for 2010-2011

MIT Sloan recently released its application deadlines for the 2010-2011 season. Here they are, followed by our comments in italics:

MIT Sloan Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 26, 2010
Round 2: January 4, 2011

MIT Sloan’s Round 1 deadline is virtually unchanged from last year, but its Round 2 deadline moves up by almost two weeks. This continues a trend that we have seen at other top business schools, which seem eager to push the Round 2 deadline to as close to the holiday season as possible.

Sloan only has two main admissions rounds, so there’s no “Round 3 or not Round 3” dilemma with Sloan. But, just because Round 2 is Sloan’s final round, you shouldn’t assume that applying in Sloan’s Round 2 is as bad as applying in Round 3 anywhere else. If you need those two additional months to get your application in order, then we recommend you take that time to improve your chances of success.

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Wharton Admissions Essays for 2010-2011

Wharton’s application essays for the 2010-2011 admissions season have recently been released. Pay attention, because there are some big changes afoot in Wharton’s application this year!

Wharton’s 2010-2011 MBA admissions essays are below, followed by our comments in italics:

Wharton Admissions Essays

Required Question
What are your professional objectives? (300 words)

This question is new this year. At its core, it is still in many respects a “Why an MBA?” essay. (Note that those questions don’t come up in any other essay here, so you will need to address them here.) Also note that, while this seemingly mandatory question only requires 300 words, Wharton gives you 600 words for each of the other, more introspective essays. Clearly, the Wharton admissions committee is more interested in getting to know you as a person than as a professional. Business schools always say that, but Wharton is really putting this idea into action.

Still, it is critical that you use this essay to properly “set the stage” for the rest of your candidacy. It’s only 300 words long, but after reading this essay admissions officers should clearly understand where you want to go in your career and why a Wharton MBA makes sense for you now. Wharton doesn’t ask “Why Wharton?” and you don’t have many words to spare, so don’t devote too many words to answering this here. You have 1,800 – 1,900 words (across your three other essays) to help lead them to the conclusion that you’re a great fit with Wharton.

Optional Questions

Respond to three of the following four questions:

  1. Student and alumni engagement has at times led to the creation of innovative classes. For example, through extraordinary efforts, a small group of current students partnered with faculty to create a timely course entitled, “Disaster Response: Haiti and Beyond,” empowering students to leverage the talented Wharton community to improve the lives of the Haiti earthquake victims. Similarly, Wharton students and alumni helped to create the “Innovation and the Indian Healthcare Industry” which took students to India where they studied the full range of healthcare issues in India. If you were able to create a Wharton course on any topic, what would it be? (700 words)
  2. If you were worried about demonstrating your knowledge of (and fit with) Wharton, here’s your chance to show some of that here. The risk for many applicants will be in overreaching with this essay and discussing something too high-minded to be believable (e.g., “I want to start a class on providing drinking water to Third World nations.”) The Haiti and India examples will likely contribute to that problem. If there’s something you’re truly passionate about, this is a great place to discuss it, but it does NOT have to have the impact on the social good that the Haiti example provides. What are you passionate about? How would you want to educate your Wharton classmates on it?

  3. Reflect on a time when you turned down an opportunity. What was the thought process behind your decision? Would you make the same decision today? (600 words)
  4. This is a terrific “introspection” question. MBA admissions officers really want to see self-awareness and introspection in applicants, and this question provides that. Don’t worry if the opportunity that you turned down seems small — you don’t need to blow them away with the “sexiness” of the opportunity. Also, note the emphasis on your thought process; that’s far more interesting to Wharton than what the actual opportunity was. Help them understand why you made the decision, what you learned about your wants and values in the process, and how it’s shaped you as a person. Also, answering “No.” to the last part of the question is okay. Having the humility to wish you could make a decision over again is one terrific sign of introspection and maturity.

  5. Describe a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself? How did this experience help to create your definition of failure? (600 words)
  6. This is the only question that carries over from last year, although the last part is new. As with all failure-related questions, the key is to put enough emphasis on what you learned. This sort of self-awareness is what admissions officers typically look for when they ask a “failure” question. Also, ideally you will be able to describe a later time when you applied what you learned to a new situation to avoid a similar failure.

  7. Discuss a time when you navigated a challenging experience in either a personal or professional relationship. (600 words)
  8. This question is also new this year, although, at its core, it’s similar last year’s Question #2, which asked about a time when you had to accept the perspective of people different from yourself. You need to demonstrate empathy, maturity, and a willingness to consider others’ points of view. Where it differs is that it takes a little emphasis off of the idea of diversity and explores tough relationships of all types. As we said last year, it’s most important here that you can make clear why the situation was challenging, what you did to overcome it, and — hopefully — how you were successful. Even if you weren’t successful, though, what’s most interesting here is what you learned in the process.

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Yale SOM Admissions Essays and Deadlines for 2010-2011

The Yale School of Management recently released its application deadlines and admissions essays for the 2010-2011 application season. Here they are, followed by our comments in italics:

Yale SOM Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 7, 2010
Round 2: January 6, 2011
Round 3: March 17, 2011

Yale’s deadlines have changed very little since last year. The one exception is Yale’s Round 3 deadline, which is one week later than it was last year. Note that, like some other top MBA programs, last year Yale pushed its Round 1 deadline up to early October, which enables the school to render decisions on Round 1 applications before the holidays (and before the Round 2 deadlines come in early January). If Yale SOM is your top choice — or one of your top choices — this gives you a chance to take a strong shot at the school early and apply to your backup schools in Round 2 if you don’t get good news from Yale.

Yale SOM Admissions Essays

Short Answers
Please answer each of the four questions below with a short paragraph of no more than 150 words. This is an opportunity to distill your core ideas, values, goals and motivations into a set of snapshots that help tell us who you are, where you are headed, and why. (600 words total)

  1. What are your professional goals immediately after you receive your MBA?
  2. What are your long-term career aspirations?
  3. Why are you choosing to pursue an MBA and why now? (If you plan to use your MBA experience to make a significant change in the field or nature of your career, please tell us what you have done to prepare for this transition.)
  4. What attracts you specifically to the Yale School of Management’s MBA program?

These short essays carry over unchanged from last year. These essays really challenge you to be succinct and get right to the point in answering the school’s questions. But, we think that’s okay. Each questions covers a topic that you should be well prepared to answer by now. Yale just wants you to cut the fat and get right to the point, so the best thing you can do is answer these questions head-on. Question #3 is especially interesting… Yale SOM, like all schools, is especially interested to know how well you will do in the post-MBA job market. Career switching is fine, and is even a great reason for pursuing an MBA, but you need to show that you’ve done your homework and are realistic about your intended career.

Personal Statements
Choose two (2) of the following topics and answer them in essay form. Please indicate the topic numbers at the beginning of your essays. (500 words maximum per essay)

While last year Yale asked everyone to answer the “leadership style” question, now that question is just one of five questions that applicants can choose from. Since Yale has kept the question, it must give the school what it wants, but Yale must have gotten enough good info from the other questions that it now wants to give every applicant the chance to choose which two essays will work best for him or her.

  1. What achievement are you most proud of and why?
  2. What is the most difficult feedback you have received from another person or the most significant weakness you have perceived in yourself? What steps have you taken to address it and how will business school contribute to this process?
  3. Describe an accomplishment that exhibits your leadership style. The description should include evidence of your leadership skills, the actions you took, and the impact you had on your organization.
  4. An effective leader for business and society is one who is able to hear, understand and communicate with people from all segments of society. In order to educate such leaders, Yale SOM is committed to promoting diversity and creating a community that cultivates a wealth of perspectives. In this spirit, describe an instance when, as part of a team, you played a role in bringing together individuals with different values or viewpoints to achieve a common goal.
  5. For Reapplicants (answer this topic plus one (1) of the other topics): What steps have you taken to improve your candidacy since your last application?
  6. Question #1 may remind you of Harvard’s “three most substantial accomplishments” essay. Of course, here you can devote 500 words to just one accomplishment, allowing you to go into more detail. The “why” is really what matters here — in your life until now, if you can pick just ONE thing, it had better be good. And not just impressive, but also consistent with the overall story you present in your Yale SOM application.

    Question #2 really gives you a chance to show off your self-awareness, making it one of our favorites. Applicants are understandably uneasy about discussing their weaknesses and failings, but being able to show how you maturely and constructively handled tough feedback — and then how you put that feedback to use in a later situation — is a terrific thing for your candidacy.

    For many applicants, the best example to use here may overlap with Question #1, so we expect that many applicants will find themselves having to choose between #1 and #3. Question #4 may reflect an evolution in Yale’s thinking… Two years ago, the question was “What unique attributes would you bring to Yale,” but now the school is interested in seeing how you worked with and brought together people with different viewpoints. This ability to work well with others is a trait that Yale SOM really prizes in its applicants.

Applying to Yale SOM or other top business schools this year? Don’t forget to subscribe to this blog and to follow us on Twitter for more advice on the business school application process!

MBA Grads Grow More Confident About the Job Market

A new survey released by GMAC earlier this month reports that new MBA grads are growing more confident about the economy, despite a drop in the percentage of grads who have jobs compared to last year.

According to the latest GMAC Graduate Management Education Graduate Survey, the percentage of full-time two-year MBA program grads who had an offer of employment prior to finishing school dropped to 40% this year, down from 50% in 2009. The numbers are even worse for part-time MBAs: 22% of part-time grads had a job offer before graduation, down from 38% in 2009.

Although these numbers look pretty grim, about one-third of grads who said they felt the global economy is stable or strong, up from just 9% a year ago. So, what gives? How could optimism bounce back while the job picture actually gets worse by some measures?

GMAC’s news release doesn’t go so far as to answer this question, although it may simply be a matter of “bad news fatigue,” and our tendency to doubt that things can stay this bad for that long. Not many MBA grads (other than perhaps a handful of older part-time MBAs) are old enough to remember the last time the U.S. or global economy last went through an extended rough patch, in the late 1970s. So, for most of these grads, two years into a recession, one can’t help but ask, “This thing has to be over soon, doesn’t it?”

Or, do these grads know something we don’t? Maybe they’ve noticed that more companies are returning to campuses to interact with students, even if the job offers aren’t yet flowing more yet. GMAC echoed this idea in its announcement, mentioning that the increased optimism among graduates mirrors the trend highlighted in the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, which found that employers are finally shifting their attention back to expanding their businesses. If that’s the case, then maybe this really is the first sign of a light at the end of the long, dark jobs tunnel.

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Duke MBA Application Essays for 2010-2011

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business has released its admissions essays for the 2010-2011 season.

Regarding word counts, note that Fuqua doesn’t provide specific word limits, but rather asks that applicant limit each essay to no more than two pages, with a font size no less than 10-point and 1.5 line spacing. They ask applicants to “respond fully and concisely” to each essay.

Here are Fuqua’s essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Duke (Fuqua) Application Essays

  1. Describe your vision for your career and your inspiration for pursuing this career path.

    Overall, your approach to this question will be very similar to your approach to other “Why an MBA?” / career goals questions. While you should save the “Why Duke?” material for Question #3, be as specific as possible about how you see your career progressing over the next ten to twenty years. Do you want to dive right into industry and get your hands dirty? Learn as part of a larger operation and “grow up” as a leader, eventually taking the reins of a division within a large company? This is where you need to show that you’ve at least thought these things through, even if you know that you may change your mind one day. And by “specific” we don’t mean that you must spell out that you will spend exactly four years as a management consultant, then three years as a business development manager, etc. Rather, you must show that you can “tie it all together” and envision a realistic career path for yourself after graduating from Fuqua.

    Also, even though the essay asks for your “career vision,” don’t miss the “inspiration” part of the question — this is Fuqua’s way of trying to understand the you’ve made up until now. In other words, this is the part of the essay where you need to describe your career choices and progress up until now. Your biggest potential mistake here is to give the impression of an applicant who’s applying to Fuqua simply because he’s bored or has stagnated in his current job. You always want to look like an applicant who is moving toward something great, not moving away from something bad.

  2. How will your background, values, and non-work activities enhance the experience of other Duke MBA students and add value to Fuqua’s diverse culture?

    This question is new this year, although Tuck last year Tuck had an essay question that was very similar. This essay gives you a good chance to specifically highlight any strengths or themes that you want to emphasize more in your application. Everything in your background applies: your work experience, your personal life, and your hobbies all make you unique. Some applicants see this and think, “Oh, it’s a ‘diversity’ question. I’m afraid I don’t bring much ‘diversity’ to the table,” but that’s simply not true. All applicants have some things in their backgrounds that make them interesting… Discuss them here! And, do it in a way that demonstrates that you “get” the values that Fuqua prizes — including teamwork, innovation, and a global perspective.

  3. Why Duke? (If you are interested in a specific concentration, joint degree, clubs or activities, please discuss how you would contribute to these in this essay.)

    Wow, that’s a short one! As mentioned above, in some respects Duke took last years’ Question #1 and chopped it into two questions: this year’s Question #1 and Question #3. Duke, like some other top schools that tend to sit just outside the top ten in the MBA rankings, gets a lot of applications from candidates who also have applied to Harvard, Wharton, etc., and the school is quite savvy at recognizing when an applicant is truly excited about Duke. This is your opportunity to demonstrate that you have really researched the program, understand its core values (mentioned above), and really want to spend the rest of your life as a member of the Fuqua community.

    Some applicants will surely rattle of names of classes, professors, and on-campus clubs, to show that they’ve done their homework. Instead of “showing off” like this, you should dig deeper, and force yourself to answer the question… Why Duke? Some pragmatic components to your response are totally fine — it has strong ties to the health care industry, which is what first drew you to the program, for instance. That’s a completely real, honest response. Then, starting there, move into how you can see yourself thriving in the Duke community. Show that you’ve done your homework, but also make sure that it all ties back to you as an applicant. This makes your answer more believable — and more effective.

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U.S. News to Gather GRE Data for MBA Rankings

Recently, on his Morse Code Blog, U.S. News Director of Data Research Robert Morse announced that this fall’s U.S. News survey will ask admissions offices detailed questions on GRE test scores and the number and the percentage Class of 2012 students who submitted them.

While Morse did not say that U.S. News’s 2012 MBA rankings will be based on any GRE data, he did say U.S. News “is considering changing its ranking methodology for the 2012 edition of the America’s Best Business Schools rankings… to include both the GMAT and GRE test scores of all M.B.A. students entering in fall 2010.”

In his blog post Morse points out that nearly 27% of the graduate business schools that U.S. News last surveyed are currently accepting GRE scores for admissions. Assuming that U.S. News does eventually decide to include GRE data in its rankings, it will be interesting to see how it manages it given that the majority of top schools still do not accept the GRE. Will it blend GRE and GMAT data by looking just at percentile scores? Will they only include GRE numbers when school report them, and ignore them otherwise? Could some schools try to game the system by deliberately withholding GRE data if it helps their U.S. News business school rankings? Time will tell.

There’s no denying that ETS has made impressive strides this past year in promoting the GRE as an alternative to the GMAT, although we still think the GMAT is the best measure of your academic potential in business school. If you’re an applicant, the question to ask is, “What do I want?” If you’re considering a variety of graduate program options (including business school), then the GRE may make sense. If you’re certain you really want to pursue an MBA, though, we still believe the GMAT makes more sense for you.

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