Monthly Archives: June 2011

Five Things You Should Know About INSEAD

If you’re investigating at top-ranked business schools, especially those with a strong global footprint, then INSEAD should be on your list. Every year we hear from many applicants who are intrigued by the school’s one-year, two-campus MBA program. If you’re thinking applying to INSEAD, ask yourself: How do you know if the school really is a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the INSEAD admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school?

Here are five things that many applicants think about INSEAD, but need to explore further before they apply to the school:

INSEAD is in France so I need to speak French to apply.
No — but you need to speak a second language to gain entry (and a third to graduate). Courses are taught in English, not French, and the program rotates through the different campuses — and in fact, applicants to the program are not guaranteed that they will be assigned to one location or the other to start the program, and a large number switch campuses at least once. The main language requirement to apply is to be fluent in English, though students must be familiar with at least one more language before entering, and must demonstrate a working knowledge of a third during the course of study.

INSEAD is only good for someone who wants to work in Europe.
The location in France can be an advantage if your goals are to stay in Europe however many American graduates do return to the U.S. after finishing school. The job search can be more difficult for these students, but that can be true for American graduates of any international program, including those at London Business School, HEC Paris, IE, IESE, among others.

INSEAD students are older.
Actually, the average age in each intake is currently 28 — the same as for American schools such as Stern and Haas. The average age decreased in recent years as INSEAD has accepted a wider range of candidate profiles. Successful applicants at INSEAD definitely are able to articulate how they are ready for the experience, and often students will have already led rich lives with diverse and impressive accomplishments.

All INSEAD students are sponsored.
Just like with other full-time MBA programs, some students do have their tuition covered by their employers and will return to work after graduation, but the vast majority are self-funded. (The number of sponsored students increased in the past year, no doubt a result of the economic downturn that made the security of staying with their employer more enticing for those pursuing their MBAs.) The major exception to this are students who come from the Big Three consulting firms — McKinsey, Bain and Booz. These students typically are sponsored, in exchange for a commitment to return to their firm. However, candidates may be pleased to note that all three of these marquee companies recruit a large number of additional INSEAD graduates each year.

Since it’s a top-ranked program, INSEAD must require a stratospheric GMAT score to get in.
Actually, GMAT scores on average are lower at INSEAD. This program, as some other international schools do as well, values a variety of attributes in a profile, with test scores being just one. As with any MBA program, a high GMAT can help, and a low GMAT can hinder, a candidate’s chances, but there are lots of other factors taken into consideration by the INSEAD Admissions Committee when evaluating an application.

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Five Reasons to Consider NYU Stern

NYU’s Stern School of Business boasts an innovative curriculum and terrific location make it one of the first schools that many MBA applicants consider, particularly those who are interested in pursuing careers on Wall Street. If you’re aiming for top tier MBA programs, particularly ones with strong ties to the banking sector, then you’re almost certainly thinking about applying to Stern. But, besides knowing that it’s a top-ranked school that sends many grads into finance careers, how well do you really know Stern? How do you know if it’s a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the admissions committee will decide you’re a good fit for Stern?

Today we go beyond the obvious and look at five reasons why you should consider applying to Stern:
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Four Thing We Like About Duke’s Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business gets its fair share if applicants every year. Given the school’s tight-knit community and knack for producing good grads, it’s not surprising that so many applicants think about applying to Fuqua. What does surprise us, though, is that so few of those applicants really know the school beyond its obvious strengths. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they start crafting their Fuqua applications.

Today we look at four things that we like about the Fuqua School of Business:

Collaborative Leadership
Duke is focused most of all on collaborative leadership. Other than Kellogg and perhaps UCLA Anderson, few business schools can cite that as the program’s most distinguishing feature to the degree that Fuqua can. This breaks down as collaboration as embodied in “Team Fuqua” and the emphasis on student involvement across the educational experience, and leadership such as all business schools emphasize, but none in quite the same way as Duke with their “Leaders of Consequence.”

Leaders of Consequence
Duke has a stated goal: to create so-called “Leaders of Consequence” a phrase that we believe was coined by Dean Blair Sheppard around 2008, when he assumed leadership, and which has since been refined to “global leaders of consequence”. This “leaders of consequence” concept is so important that it comes into play within the Fuqua application essays. While a concrete definition is lacking, suffice it to say that Duke feels a leader of consequence is adaptable, down to earth, and ethical. As Dean Sheppard put it, they want to produce graduates “who can drink champagne with the rich and famous and can drink chai with those who that’s all they can afford.” In terms of an application, like other top schools, Duke’s admissions teams are looking for people who have made a difference in their jobs and in their communities, and who seek an MBA from Fuqua in their quest to make a real impact on the world in the future. See our discussion of the current essay questions below for more on the “leader of consequence” concept and how it plays into admissions at Duke Fuqua.

Expanding Reach
Fuqua like to say it is “rethinking the boundaries of business school” and as already discussed, has systematically broadened its reach both geographically, being the only school that has a firm presence in major centers around the world, and demographically, by offering compelling options to students in various phases of their careers and from different populations.

Open Interview Process
Fuqua strongly encourages candidates to travel to Durham and visit campus, and while you’re there, interview with a student. This Open Interview option is available only in the earliest part of the admissions cycle each year, usually starting in mid-September and running through October. Scheduling opens in August for these limited slots. You need not have your application completed in advance of the Open Interview; it is characterized more as an “evaluation” than an interview.

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Six Reasons to Consider Stanford GSB

If you’re gunning for a top-tier MBA, chances are that you’ve at least considered applying to the Stanford Graduate School of Business. But, besides knowing that it’s a small, top-ranked school with strong ties to Silicon Valley, how well do you really know the school? How do you know if it’s a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the admissions committee will decide you’re a good fit for Stanford?

Today we look at six reasons why you might want to apply to Stanford:

You do not come from a technology background.
Despite a common belief to the contrary, Stanford does not have a high number of students who were in high tech either before or after going through their program. Only 6% of the Class of 2010 came from this industry, and even fewer were hired into technology firms upon graduation. Now, this does not include entrepreneurs who launched high-tech companies at Stanford, so the numbers are undoubtedly higher — and even more importantly, this does not mean that if you are a technologist, that you should in any way be discouraged from applying to Stanford. Your expertise would likely be highly valued on campus with so many erstwhile tech entrepreneurs around!

You earned your undergraduate degree in the humanities.
Stanford admits far more students who come from a liberal arts background than any other major — and far more of these humanities types than many other top schools. For the Class of 2011, nearly half (47%) studied humanities or the social sciences as an undergraduate. This compares with 36% from engineering, science, or math backgrounds.

You want to pursue a career in consulting.
With such a strong general management program, for over a generation, Stanford has been sending more graduates into consulting than any other industry. In 2009, almost a third of the class became consultants, with the majority of them moving into management consulting and a fraction going into strategy. This is at least partly attributable to the relatively high concentration of consultants entering the program. For the Class of 2011, 20% were consultants before business school.

You are interested in entrepreneurship.
This probably goes without saying: Stanford is a great place to launch a business. More than 40 graduates of the Class of 2009 (12% of the overall class) struck out on their own after completing the program — during the economic downturn, no less! The numbers have been even higher in more abundant times.

You’re thinking about a career in venture capital.
While fewer Stanford students go straight to venture capital than consulting or investment banking — less than 5% of each graduating class became VCs the past few years — it’s still more than at any other school.

You are a career switcher.
In years past, the GSB reported high numbers — well over 50%, and possibly as high as 80% — of graduates who landed in a new industry, and/or an entirely new functional area, than where they started before beginning their graduate education. The resources and format of the Stanford MBA can support those changing direction in their lives, and the environment of change even encourages it.

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Four Things We Like About Chicago Booth

Given its reputation in finance and as an overall program that turns out analytically superior grads, it’s no wonder that thousands of applicants aim for a seat at Chicago Booth every year. What is surprising, though, is that so few of those applicants really know the school beyond its strong rankings and location in Chicago. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they start crafting their Booth applications.

If you’re considering applying to Booth, ask yourself: How do you know if Booth really is a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the Booth admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school? Today we look at four things that set Booth apart from other top-tier MBA programs around the world:

A Quant Focus Beyond Finance
Chicago Booth possesses a strong reputation for its rigor, focus on analytics, and expertise in finance and economics — and, believe it or not, marketing. The finance and economics faculty members at Chicago Booth are outstanding, led by professors such as Eugene F. Fama, whom many call the “father of modern finance.” Chicago Booth is both deserving and proud of its “quant” reputation, but that tends to overshadow strengths in other areas Chicago Booth has been actively improving over the last decade. Not surprisingly, when a Chicago Booth admissions representative is asked, “What’s the one thing that applicants should know about Booth?” the answer will often mention Booth’s strengths in academic areas outside of pure finance — particularly entrepreneurship and marketing.

Unmatched Flexibility
With only one required class, Chicago Booth most definitely takes a different approach to the process of getting an MBA. They do foster training in the “language of business” as they call it — the fundamentals of economics, statistics, and finance — however the unique setup of the program means that students determine how they will meet the requirements of the degree. Chicago Booth is not a prescriptive environment, and the emphasis on — and appreciation for — ideas makes it a place for mavericks and renegades as well as more traditional types.

A Very Large Part-Time MBA Program
Chicago Booth is a big school, with about 3,500 active graduate students enrolled at any one time. (This compares to under 1,000 at Stanford.) The bulk of these students come from the two part-time study options (one Evening program, one Weekend program), totaling about 1,400 students between them. Another 1,100 students make up the full-time program, with about 550 students per graduating class. The balance of Booth’s students are in the EMBA and PhD programs and are found around the world at Chicago Booth’s other campuses. Unlike other schools, full-time and part-time Chicago Booth students often interact, since they sometimes take courses together.

Strong Emphasis on Employment
Perhaps nowhere else is the focus on getting a job as strong as it at Chicago Booth. As part of their application assessment, the admissions team carefully examines applicants’ career goals to ensure that they are achievable. And the school offers significant support to its students, both during their educational experience to construct a practical curriculum, and throughout the job search process too. The difference? There is also a strong emphasis on getting industry to hire Booth graduates. And Booth often seems quicker to publish current placement data on graduates than any other school (we have often felt that some schools were dragging their feet in releasing this data once the downturn hit). This access to data is also evidence of Booth’s commitment to transparency. Every top business school offers career services to graduates, however the support for and emphasis on successful placement out of the program is more significant at Chicago Booth than you may find elsewhere. This focus on graduate success is a key factor in Booth’s #1 position in the rankings in recent years.

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