Monthly Archives: July 2011

Five Things We Like About the Haas School of Business

The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley draws applicants from all over the world. Given the school’s intimate learning environment and strong ties to Silicon Valley, it’s no surprise that so many applicants apply to Haas every year. 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 Haas applications.

If you’re considering applying to Haas, ask yourself: How do you know if Haas really is a good fit for you? And, perhaps more importantly, how do you know if the Haas admissions committee will decide that you’re a good fit for the school? Today we look at five things that we think really set Haas apart from other top business schools:

The Haas Culture
Regular reader of our blog know how much we like Haas’s culture. How that culture translates for students is in extensive collaboration inside and outside of the classroom. Teamwork is the cornerstone of the Haas experience. Small groups are formed in practically all classes, allowing students to exercise different team roles based on their interests and areas of expertise. Versatility is often a prized attribute of Haas students in the eyes of employers, and is one reason why the school places graduates into such a broad range of industries and functions.

One thing that really stands out about Haas is its focus on technology and the school’s ability to place students into the tech industry. Haas sends over 25% of each graduating class into the tech sector, which is high compared to other top tech programs like MIT and Stanford but about the same in absolute number of placements. This is of course enabled by the school’s proximity to Silicon Valley as well as the wealth of resources available on the larger Berkeley campus, particularly in the engineering school. Haas offers a distinctive Management of Technology certificate (open not just to business and engineering students but other UC Berkeley grad students as well, such as those in Environmental Design). The Haas Technology Club is one of the largest and most active student groups on campus. The Haas School even has a CIO (Chief Information Officer) featured on the Leadership page of its website.

The Haas tagline for some time has been Leading through Innovation, and the Innovative Leader is now a hallmark of the school’s marketing message. The school combines theoretical and experiential learning opportunities to develop confidence and judgment for real-life situations. Industry thought leader Henry Chesbrough is a professor at Haas, and a deep set of electives in open innovation, product development, and design are natural complements to the strong entrepreneurship support expected from a top business school.

Social Entrepreneurship
Haas prides itself on being the preeminent institution for research, teaching, experiential learning, and community outreach in areas of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Woven into the core curriculum, Haas offers more than a dozen different programs and initiatives around social responsibility and business sustainability. Nonprofit management is also a focus here. With the University’s radical history and the very liberal government and policies in the surrounding City of Berkeley, it is to be expected that many are attracted to Haas because of an interest in changing the world. This is a positive quality that can be nurtured through the ecosystem of the Haas School, including the Center for Nonprofit and Public Leadership and a specialized curriculum, plus a range of social venture courses.

Global Reach
While most top business school talk about having a “global perspective,” Haas is one of the few that combines its international focus with its emphasis on experiential learning. The International Business Development program places about 150 students a year in all corners of the globe for three-week consulting projects. This program allows students to confront and solve business challenges in unknown business settings, forcing them to apply innovative thinking and problem solving skills while developing a global business mindset. While the MBA itself is sometimes seen as a little regional — most graduates stay on the West Coast after finishing the program — Haas has an expanding network of connections in the business and academic communities around the world and 31% of full-time MBA students come from overseas.

To learn more about Haas and other top-ranked MBA programs, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!


Kellogg Application Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management recently released its admissions essays and application deadlines for the Class of 2014. We dig into them below.

Pay special attention to the school’s two-part application process. Each round has two deadlines — one for Part 1 and separate one for Part 2. This confuses many applicants every year, so pay attention!

Here are Kellogg’s admissions essays and application deadlines, followed by our comments in italics:

Kellogg Admissions Deadlines for Part 1: Off-Campus Interview Requests
Round 1: September 22, 2011 (Oct. 18 for on-campus interviews)
Round 2: December 14, 2011 (Jan. 10 for on-campus interviews)
Round 3: March 22, 2012 (Apr. 5 for on-campus interviews)

Kellogg Admissions Deadlines for Part 2
Round 1: October 18, 2011
Round 2: January 10, 2012
Round 3: April 5, 2012

These dates are virtually unchanged since last year. Note that applying in Round 1 means that you’ll get a decision from Kellogg by December 19, giving you plenty of time to pull together additional Round 2 applications in January, if needed.

Kellogg School of Management Application Essays

  • a) MBA Program applicants – Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing an MBA. (600 words)

    b) MMM Program applicants – Briefly assess your career progress to date. How do the unique characteristics of the MMM Program meet your educational needs and career goals? (600 words)

    These questions are almost the same as last year’s, with the only difference being the addition of the “unique characteristics” phrase in the question for MMM (which is a Kellogg MBA plus a Master of Engineering Management from the McCormick School of Engineering). That addition suggests that, if you apply to that program, Kellogg wants you to go beyond platitudes and information easily found in brochures, and demonstrate that you really understand how the program is unique among joint degree programs. Beyond that, these are the same “Why and MBA? Why now?” questions that you will see on nearly every top business school’s application. One challenge that you will face is BRIEFLY describing your career progress until now, and then devoting enough space to why an MBA is right for you, why now is the right time, and why specifically Kellogg is the ideal MBA program for you. While there is no hard rule, ideally the backward-looking part of this essay will take up no more than half of the total word count. Admissions officers will learn enough about your professional background from the rest of your application (your CV, your data sheets, your letters of recommendation, etc.), so no need to completely rehash it here.
  • Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experiences. (600 words)This question has been the same for several years now, and so our advice remains the same. The best examples of responses to this question are ones in which the applicant focuses on no more than two or three mini stories. The fewer, the better, since including too many examples means that no one story will have very much impact. Be as specific as possible here, rather than discussing leadership in broad terms or with vague generalities. When discussing what areas you want to develop, be realistic about what you will learn in the classroom — Kellogg knows that you won’t emerge from a classroom lecture as a completely polished leader. Discuss what you want to learn at Kellogg, but also tie it back to the “real world” and your post-MBA career goals.
  • Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would you and your peers select you for admission, and what impact would you make as a member of the Kellogg community? (600 words)This question also carries over unchanged since last year. It is actually quite similar to an even older Kellogg essay question, which encouraged applicants to evaluate their applications as if they were admissions officers. Note that the emphasis is now on how a STUDENT member of the admissions committee would look at your application, driving home the emphasis that Kellogg places on fit with its culture. This is a terrific opportunity to highlight the two or three core themes that you want to make sure jump out from your application. While Kellogg looks for some humility in every one of its students, don’t be a afraid to toot your own horn a bit here… This is your chance!
  • Complete one of the following three questions or statements. Re-applicants have the option to answer a question from this grouping, but this is not required. (400 words)
    a) Describe a time you had to inspire a reluctant individual or group.
    b) People may be surprised to learn that I…
    c) The riskiest personal or professional decision I ever made was…

    Questions A and C are new this year, although each is essentially a rephrasing of a past question. Question A, which used to ask you to describe a time when you “encountered resistance in a professional team setting,” has now shifted a bit to place the emphasis on “inspiring” someone, which we think is an interesting choice. This is a great place for you to share a story that shows off your leadership abilities, empathy, or teamwork skills. If the word “inspire” is too intimidating (it shouldn’t be!), think of a time when you had to convince someone to go along with a plan or come around to your way of thinking.

    Question C used to ask, “The best mistake I ever made was…” The change here suggests to us that the Kellogg admissions team wants to move the emphasis away from “mistake” (which many applicants assume is synonymous with “failure”) and get to know your decision-making process for any big decision, regardless of whether it turned out well. This question gives you a chance to show off some serious introspection, making a potentially very valuable one to use in your Kellogg application. And don’t automatically assume that your decision MUST be one that turned out well. Mistakes and “I wish I had done this a bit differently”-type stories can still work well for you here.

    Question B, which has been around for a long time, lets you have some fun and discuss some less obviously MBA-related traits. Don’t underestimate how important these traits are to admissions officers; they truly do want to get to know you “beyond the numbers.” Ask yourself this: After an admissions officer has read more than 25 applications in one long evening, what about your application will make her specifically remember you?
  • Required essay for re-applicants only — Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 words)

    This last question says it all when it comes to describing what every top MBA program looks for in any re-applicant. Ideally you will have at least one or two significant achievements or experiences that will bolster a weakness that may have kept you out of Kellogg last year. The most obvious examples are a big promotion at work, a higher GMAT score, or strong grades in some post-college coursework, but anything that demonstrates leadership, teamwork, maturity, or innovation — if one of these was a weakness in admissions officers’ eyes last year — can help your candidacy.)
  • To learn more about Kellogg and other top-ranked business schools, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Five Reasons to Apply to MIT Sloan

MIT’s Sloan School of Management boasts an innovative curriculum, a strong track record with employers, and a wonderful new building. If you’re investigating top business schools, especially those with a strong analytical bent, then MIT Sloan should be on your shortlist.

But, how well do you really know MIT Sloan? And how do you know if you should apply to Sloan? Today we look at five reasons why you should apply. If more than one of these apply to you, then you should give Sloan a close look:

You’re an entrepreneur, especially in tech.
While it’s probably obvious that MIT would be a good school for someone interested in tech ventures, what may be surprising to some is that Sloan is strong on all things innovation. No matter what type of entrepreneurial business you want to launch, you’ll find good support for it at MIT.

You’re interested in banking.
Many people may not realize how extensive the finance resources are at MIT, nor how deep its roots in the field. Regardless of where you earn your MBA, you will likely learn about the Black-Scholes formula to model the market for a particular equity. Fischer Black and Myron Scholes originated this model, and Robert Merton published a paper on it — all of them professors at MIT. MIT offered courses in finance before most other schools, and it remains a strength of the program, sending almost a quarter of graduates into finance careers.

You’re interested in supply chain management or operations.
With the LGO program and the opportunity to take classes campus-wide at MIT, Sloan students interested in a career in manufacturing or logistics have a wealth of resources and the best academic researchers in the world at their disposal.

You want to get into a sustainable business.
With the new Certificate in Sustainability at Sloan and its institute-wide sustainability initiative, MIT is leading the way in a focus on “green” business. While plenty of other schools have strong social venture programs, with more popping up all the time, the emphasis at Sloan is cutting-edge and integrated.

You’re a woman.
While strong female candidates are well received at most schools, MIT often gets fewer applications from women because of the misperception that it’s a techie school. The LGO program only has 25% women, compared to 34% in the overall MBA class — both these numbers are significantly smaller than the schools with the best ratios, including Wharton (40%) and Stanford (39%). Female applicants still need to present a strong profile, including a good GMAT score and academic history. However those who do have an exceptionally good chance of getting an offer from MIT.

To learn more about MIT Sloan and other top-ranked MBA programs, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Stanford GSB Application Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

Stanford GSB recently released its MBA admissions essays and deadlines for the 2011-2012 application season. You may notice some changes to the essays since last year and we’ll dig into those changes below.

Here are Stanford GSB’s application deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Stanford GSB Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 12, 2011
Round 2: January 11, 2012
Round 3: April 4, 2012

Stanford actually pushed back its Round 1 and Round 2 deadlines by a few days each, while its Round 3 deadline is two days earlier than it was last year. Note that applying in Round 1 means that you’ll be notified by December 14, giving you plenty of time to pull together additional Round 2 applications in January, if needed.

Stanford GSB Admissions Essays

  • What matters most to you, and why? (750 words recommended, out of 1,800 total)

    This question has been around for a long time. Believe it or not, it used to have no word limit. Now, the essay’s 750-word limit forces applicants to be a little more economical with their words. With this essay, take Stanford’s advice to heart: “The best examples of Essay 1 reflect the process of self-examination that you have undertaken to write them.” This question requires a great deal of introspection, after which you should create an essay that truly answers the question asked, whether or not you feel that it’s directly applicable to your candidacy. Obviously, the more relevant your essay is to the goal of getting into business school, the better, but where many Stanford applicants go wrong is by writing about grand ideas and using impressive-sounding words, rather than a real glimpse into who they are as a person. The latter is much more powerful and, ultimately, much more effective in getting you into Stanford GSB.

    Finally, consider this additional advice from the Stanford admissions team: “[The best essays] are written from the heart and address not only a person, situation, or event, but also how that person, situation, or event has influenced your life.”

  • What do you want to do—REALLY—and why Stanford? (450 words recommended)

    This question is an evolution one one that has been on Stanford’s application for a while. The part in ALL CAPS is especially new and noteworthy, and is a very obvious hint that the admissions committee has not felt like it’s been getting REAL (now they’ve got us using all caps, too) answers from its applicants in recent years. As we always say, when a school changes or eliminates an essay question, it’s a clear sign that the question hasn’t been doing its job, which is to help the admissions committee get to know applicants better and to separate the great ones from the merely good ones.

    Savvy applicant will notice that Stanford has dropped the “career aspirations” part from last year’s question. By making it a little more open-ended, Stanford is inviting you to dream big. They’re less interested in whether you want to do buy-side vs. sell-side research in the banking sector… They’re more interested in what you want to do with your life. Naturally, the job you take in the near term matters, but here is your chance to reveal some big dreams. If the first question is supposed to be a super-introspective look at you past, consider this the same exercise with your future. Don’t forget the “Why Stanford?” part, too. Obviously it’s a great school with a terrific brand name, but so what? Why is Stanford specifically the school that will help you achieve your dreams?

  • Answer two of the four questions below. Tell us not only what you did but also how you did it. What was the outcome? How did people respond? Only describe experiences that have occurred during the last three years. (300 words recommended for each)

    Option A: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.

    Option B: Tell us about a time when you made a lasting impact on your organization.

    Option C: Tell us about a time when you generated support from others for an idea or initiative.

    Option D: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined or established.

    Aside from a slight tweak to the wording in Option C, these essays all carry over unchanged from last year, and so our advice largely remains the same. What that tells us is that the Stanford admissions office likes what it got from applicants last year. For Option A, note the emphasis on “whose performance exceeded expectations”… Results matter, and you need to show them here. This is a classic Situation-Action-Result (“SAR”) question. Again, we love the “impact” idea in Option B… Stanford is looking for young professionals that leave a trail of success and positive, meaningful impact everywhere they go. If you have a good example to use, we strongly urge you to answer Option B.

    Over the years Option C has evolved from a question about overcoming an obstacle or failure to a question that gets at one version of leadership — motivating others to support your ideas. Stanford considers this type of persuasiveness a key ingredient in the future leaders that it wants to produce. Option D is another results-oriented question that also gets at a core component of leadership: the ambition and ability to do more than what is listed in your job description. We think the way this question is phrased may actually lead some to misinterpret it and tell an underwhelming story, but a great response will show you you tackled a problem or pursued an opportunity (in the workplace or in your community) that would have otherwise gone ignored. Again, this is a terrific sign of a budding leader… This is what Stanford wants to see!

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