Monthly Archives: February 2012

Get to Know: Harvard Business School

Not surprisingly, we get more questions about Harvard Business School than about any other MBA program. At such a highly visible school, it’s hard for changes to go unnoticed, but there have indeed been a lot of changes at Harvard recently. Among them are:

An evolution beyond the case method
What was sacrosanct at Harvard for generations was that 100% of courses were taught using the case study method. As many predicted when Dean Nitin Nohria arrived in Summer 2010, the curriculum is undergoing change. Starting with the class matriculating in Fall 2011, students will now have “field method” experiences as a counterpart to the case-based teaching. The first change to the curriculum is a year-long first-year course called FIELD, for Field Immersion Experiences for Leadership Development. FIELD features small-group opportunities for students to put what they learn into practice. The Class of 2012 will also see a reduction in the number of case-based courses and the introduction of new labs, similar to what schools like MIT have offered for some time.

A slight increase in average age of admitted students
Harvard has traditionally been very open to younger candidates, and has not been as fixated on years of work experience as some other schools. This preference for younger candidates may have reversed with the class starting at HBS in Fall 2011. Over a quarter of those accepted in this class graduated from college in 2007, which means that they have a solid four years of work experience before beginning their MBA. Harvard didn’t accept a single student straight from college this year into the full-time MBA program, either. It is highly unlikely that the pendulum will swing too far in the other direction — Harvard is almost certainly going to continue accepting high-potential early-career students. However, those with a few more years of work experience should also be encouraged by this trend.

An effort to broaden the professional pool beyond consulting and finance candidates
While consultants, investment bankers, and private equity analysts will undoubtedly make up the majority of classes of students entering Harvard for years to come, during this past year, these standard business school types weren’t welcomed as warmly as they typically have been. Harvard was more selective in choosing among these cohorts, and some very well-qualified candidates did not get offered a spot. This is likely due to Dean Nohria’s concern regarding the bad rap that business schools have gotten in the press and their perceived responsibility in contributing to the economic
crisis.

More women in the classroom
As a direct result of one of Dean Nohria’s new initiatives, 39% of the Class of 2014 are women. Harvard now rivals Wharton in this area. Harvard is also working to increase the numbers of women on the faculty and is sponsoring academic research on women in business.

A “normalization” of the HBS 2+2 program admissions
Coinciding with the increase in overall age of Harvard’s students, the Admissions Board also made an adjustment to the HBS 2+2 program. There are fewer special rules and policies surrounding an application to 2+2, and instead, it looks more like a formal channel for Harvard to attract qualified students earlier in their lives. College juniors and seniors can apply through 2+2 in a series of application rounds that work just like the standard MBA application rounds do, except that they’re staggered on an offset schedule from the main cycle, and the essay questions are slightly different. The HBS 2+2 program is at least as competitive, if not more so, as standard Harvard’s standard MBA program.

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Get to Know: Tuck School of Business

Tuck is quote popular among applicants we talk to, which is especially notable given the school’s small size. We are often disappointed, though, by how few Tuck applicants really know whether the school is good fit for them. We always urge these applicants to go back and do their homework a bit more before they begin the application process.

Are you thinking about applying to Tuck? If so, how do you know the Tuck admissions team will think you’re a good fit for the school? Today we look at four things that make the Tuck School of Business unique among top-ranked business schools:

Small classes, personal attention
Partly because of the remote location, and partly because of the small class size, Tuck has a smaller full-time resident faculty (less than 50) with fewer adjunct professors than other schools. However, the small class size also benefits the students, with a student/teacher ratio of about 10:1. The intimacy of the community is also enhanced by the fact that most first-year students live in dormitories on campus. (If you want to see what the Tuck dorms look like, check out the tour on the school’s YouTube channel.) This arrangement is not common at other full-time programs, where students tend to be more spread out, especially those in cities like New York and Chicago. Another novelty at Tuck that fosters relationships among the class? The first-year study groups rotate regularly, rather than remaining fixed, the way they typically are elsewhere.

Strong emphasis on professional experience
While some other business schools in its backyard have been welcoming younger and younger students, Tuck has held steadfast on its requirement for significant work experience prior to matriculation. The average age of a first-year is 28, and not a single person entered Tuck straight from college this year; 100% have some work experience. It’s possible for a college senior to apply to Tuck, though if accepted, it’s also likely that deferred admission would be offered, to matriculate in a few years’ time.

Dedication to diversity
Tuck’s Minority Business Executive was the first diversity-focused program of its kind. Tuck launched this initiative over 30 years ago, and the school remains dedicated to attracting students across all ethnographic and demographic spectrums. Tuck sponsors a by-application Diversity Conference in the Fall (they cover the cost of attendance for those accepted — and there’s a similar by-application Women in Business Conference as well). Tuck participates in conferences hosted by National Black MBA, National Hispanic MBA, and Reaching Out MBA (for the LGBT community). And, Tuck is the highest-ranked member of The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, which is a long-standing program that encourages and facilitates minority candidates for business school. All that being said, Tuck still seems to have trouble attracting minorities compared to some of its peers, with just 19% of Tuckies being U.S. minorities. The proportion of minority faculty is slightly better, at 21% (commendably, Tuck is among the few programs who bother to report this latter statistic). Tuck also adds diversity to the classroom by encouraging international students — and encouraging U.S. employers to hire their international students, through deliberate education to recruiters to demystify visa requirements, and focused outreach on the behalf of these international students.

Strong, consistent leadership
With 15 years of tenure, the dean of Tuck, Paul Danos, has been running the show for much longer than his counterparts at other schools. Many top business schools have gone through transition periods of late as they adapt to changed leadership and find their direction anew. The continuity here — and a leader who has already weathered multiple economic cycles and knows how to keep the school moving forward despite the challenges — can provide advantages for students at Tuck.

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Get to Know: UCLA Anderson

Are you thinking about applying to UCLA Anderson? If so, why? How do you know if it’s really is a good fit for you? More importantly, how do you know the Anderson admissions team will think you’re a good fit for the school? Today we present a few reasons why Anderson might be a good fit for you:
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Business Schools Roll Out the Red Carpet for Military Veterans

Every year we hear from many applicants with military experience who wonder if they’ll fit in at business school. And, they want to know if business schools are interested in applicants like them. Could MBA programs really be looking for applicants with (in many cases) minimal business experience? Dp companies that hire MBAs want to find this kind of MBA grad?

The short answer is yes! Business schools constantly seek leaders and young professionals with exceptional decision-making ability. Just because you don’t come from a business background, don’t fool yourself into thinking that MBA programs won’t be interested in you. You may have exactly the type of experience and temperament that MBA admissions officers want to see.

One of your best strengths as a military applicant will likely be the leadership experience you bring to the table. Any stories that you can relate about directing a group of men and women to achieve a tangible goal will speak volumes about your ability to lead, and most business schools value this trait above all else. You are also likely to have great examples of teamwork, which will further help an admissions committee picture you fitting into a classroom at its school. Don’t be shy about sharing these stories, even if you think they’ve been told a thousand times before. Focus on these accomplishments in your essays and interview, and — more importantly — spell out what you learned as a result and how it will help you in your next career.

Yes, you will face challenges as a military applicant, too. The most obvious one is that your great experiences have had little to do with business. You therefore need to show the admissions committee that your skills are directly transferable to the business world. More to the point, you need to show that you see how these skills will translate, and that you know what your own strengths and weaknesses are. You may not have any practical experience in marketing or finance, but you understand why it is important that you have knowledge of them. Moreover, you can demonstrate your desire to bolster your knowledge in these areas by taking a pre-MBA course or two, particularly in accounting and finance.

If you have taken any business-oriented courses that won’t show up on your transcripts, be sure to let the admissions committee know about it. Admissions officers will understand that you’re relatively new to the business world — in fact, they love nothing more than an applicant with loads of raw potential whom they can shape into a business leader — but they will look critically for evidence that you have the ability and motivation to learn business principles. It’s less a matter of “I hope they don’t notice I don’t have business experience” and more a matter of “I need to show them what I’ve done to overcome that lack of experience.”

And, it doesn’t hurt that the military may pay for your MBA through the G.I. Bill and other assistance programs available to people with extended service to our nation. You may find that you not only are able to get into a top-ranked MBA program, but that it’s also cheaper than you expected.

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