Monthly Archives: March 2012

Get to Know: Stanford GSB

Stanford GSB has the lawest acceptance rate of any business school in the U.S., and it’s no surprise. Who wouldn’t want to attend an elite, cozy MBA program in the heart of Silicon Valley? Still, we’re often disappointed by how little these applicants actually know about Stanford before they apply. 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 Stanford? Here are five things that make it unique among top-ranked MBA programs:

Innovation
This is big at this school — so much so, that the GSB is engraving it into the cornerstone of the new Knight Center, which is dedicated to “the things that haven’t happened yet and the people who are about to dream them up. ” The focus on innovation is evident in courses such as Contemporary Economic Policy, for example, the content of which changes, as its name suggests, based on the real world; in the past year, topics included the financial crisis, bailouts, and healthcare.

Class Size
At under 400 students in each graduating class, Stanford is among the smallest of the top business schools in the world — and this makes for a very different experience for the student. While there are advantages in a large class in terms of the vast global alumni network, a smaller class undoubtedly helps students foster closer relationships — not just with each other, but with the faculty, too.

Silicon Valley
Venture capital has its origins on Sand Hill Road, where Kleiner Perkins and Sequoia Capital got their start in the ‘70s — and which runs along the border of the Stanford University campus. The GSB is in the heart of Silicon Valley, and this proximity makes the school a natural incubator for great ideas. And, it means that the quality of guest speakers is phenomenal. It is not uncommon to see the likes of Steve Ballmer (Microsoft) and the founder of Siebel (Pat House) and the CEO of Skype (Josh Silverman) in the classroom — in the same week. This close proximity to so many startups also means that it’s fairly easy for students to set up independent projects and more informal school-year internships than would be possible at other schools.

Sustainability and Social Innovation
Given its mantra to “change the world” it makes sense that Stanford wants to attract students who will do just that. Stanford is a leader of its business school peers in the areas of sustainable business and social ventures, both for-profit and non-profit.

International Exposure
Stanford has a similar mix of U.S. and international students to other top schools. However, unique to Stanford is the Global Experience Requirement, whereby every student must undertake a project overseas, in a country where they have never spent significant time, in order to broaden their understanding of global issues from a management perspective. (Only Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business has a similar requirement.) Because Stanford students are encouraged to fulfill their GER in the first year of studies, the entire GSB community benefits when they return to campus and share their experiences with their classmates and professors. Stanford was one of the first graduate business programs to focus on the international aspects of business.

To stay on top on all of the latest news at Stanford and other top-ranked business schools, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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Get to Know: Haas School of Business

UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business is very popular among applicants. In fact, these days only Harvard and Stanford consistently have lower acceptance rates than Haas. The school’s “Confidence Without Attitude” mission is very appealing to recruiters, especially in the post-meltdown environment that has companies looking for ethics in their new MBA hires.

Are you thinking about applying to Haas? How do you know if the school really is a good fit for you? here are five reasons why UC Berkeley may be the perfect school for you to target for your MBA experience:

You are interested in green technology
Few other business schools offer any curriculum at all in the field of renewable energy or cleantech, and even fewer have demonstrated a commitment to leading these fields forward into the future.

You’re interested in the business of technology
Whether you want to develop software, or develop a software company, Haas is a great place to expand your expertise in the areas of product development and product management, the management of innovation, and bringing new technology ideas to market.

You might want to go into healthcare
Haas has great support for educating future leaders in healthcare. Berkeley is known for its joint MBA/MPH (Master’s in Public Health) program, and they offer a Graduate Program in Health Management as well. Haas is a natural fit for someone interested in tackling some of the biggest problems facing the world.

You’re a woman or a U.S. minority
As other top schools are doing, Haas is reaching out to women and to underrepresented ethnic groups, through programs and organizations such as the Forte Foundation and The Consortium. Haas hosts a Women’s Workshop and a Diversity Weekend in an effort to spread the word about its programs to these different groups. While Haas does not lower its standards for female or minority applicants, they do seem to be interested in improving the proportions of students in these categories and may give such candidates a closer look.

You have plans to start a nonprofit or social venture
One of the strongest business schools for nonprofit management has traditionally been Yale. Haas has similar strengths, with somewhat different emphasis on the innovation side. Someone considering an application to Yale for nonprofit might want to also consider Haas for similar reasons.

To stay on top on all of the latest news at Haas and other top-ranked business schools, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

2013 U.S. News Business School Rankings Just Released

Yesterday U.S. News & World Report released its 2013 business school rankings. Of course the rankings will have some impact on your school research, but using them as any more than a useful starting point can lead you to apply to schools which don’t fit you as well as they could. Use them, for sure, but use them with care!

Here are the top 20 American programs as defined by U.S. News. Each school’s 2012 rankings follows in parentheses:

2013 U.S. News Business School Rankings
1. Harvard (2)
1. Stanford (1)
3. Penn (Wharton) (3)
4. MIT (Sloan) (3)
4. Northwestern (Kellogg) (5)
4. Chicago (Booth) (5)
7. UC Berkeley (Haas) (7)
8. Columbia (9)
9. Dartmouth (Tuck) (7)
10. Yale (10)
11. NYU (Stern) (10)
12. Duke (Fuqua) (12)
13. Michigan (Ross) (14)
13. Virginia (Darden) (13)
15. UCLA (Anderson) (14)
16. Cornell (Johnson) (16)
17. Texas (McCombs) (17)
18. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) (18)
19. Emory (Goizueta) (23)
19. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) (19)

The biggest news starts at the top of the rankings, where Harvard moved into a tie with Stanford after being ranked #2 behind Stanford last year. Wharton, which had been tied with MIT Sloan for third place in the 2012 rankings, moved ahead of Sloan to take sole possession of the third spot this year. After that is a very tight cluster of schools, with Kellogg and Booth moving up from fifth place to tie Sloan for fourth place.

The rest of the top ten looks quite similar to what it was last year, with some minor shuffling among Columbia, Tuck, and Stern (with Stern landing at #11 this year). Looking at the rest of the top 20 schools, the most notable move came from Emory, which managed to break into the top 20 after sitting at #23 last year. Falling out of the top 20 was Washington University in St. Louis (Olin), which landed at the 22nd spot.

U.S. News uses a mix of qualitative and quantitative ratings to compile its scores. 40% of a school’s overall score comes from assessments by business school leaders and by corporate recruiters. So, in a sense, a large part of what they’re ranking is a school’s reputation, which can make the entire process a bit self-reinforcing. Even if a school were to dramatically improve every aspect of its program — from academics to job placement to alumni services — it might takes years for these results to have a significant impact on these qualitative ratings. Said another way, a large part of these rankings are essentially backward-looking… Their peer’s opinions of them are shaped by what the schools have done over the past few decades (or more), not necessarily by what the schools are doing right now.

The next 25% of an MBA program’s rating comes from other quantitative measures around the admissions process, including the mean GMAT score and undergraduate GPAs of the incoming class, and the school’s admissions rate. These stats are relatively straightforward, but keep in mind that schools are always trying to game the system and find ways to tweak these numbers to improve their rankings (e.g., accepting a student with a GRE score means that the school doesn’t need to include that student’s test score to U.S. News).

The last 35% of a school’s rating comes from more quantitative measures of the program’s success in placing job candidates, including mean starting salary and bonus data and the percentage of grads who have full-time jobs at graduation and three months after graduation. Even here, be aware of what’s being ranked: A school that sends many more grads into investment banking will likely report a higher average starting salary than a school that sends many grads into the non-profit sector. So, apple-to-apples comparisons aren’t so simple.

None of this means that the rankings are bogus. We all pay attention to them, and we will continue to do so as long as U.S. News and other publications keep ranking graduate schools. But know exactly what you’re looking at as you review these rankings!

To stay on top on all of the latest news the world’s top-ranked business schools, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Get to Know: NYU Stern

NYU Stern is one of the premier MBA programs in the country, and for good reason. Its 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 want to attend a top-ranked business school, chances are that you’ve at least considered sending an application to Stern.

But, besides knowing that it’s a top-ranked school with strong ties to the banking sector, 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 dig into four things that make NYU Stern unique among top-ranked MBA programs:

A welcoming environment for career changers
Stern is considered one of the best possible destinations for those looking to move from one field to another by way of their MBA education. The Industry Mentoring Initiative allows Stern students to apply for a very unique mentoring program that puts career changers into actual companies to learn about a new industry or function and to make strong inroads into that world through networking. It is a competitive application process and one that that requires a clear move from one career to another, but for those students who participate, it can be a lifesaver. The IMI program features tracks in six different industries: consulting, luxury and retail, marketing, media and entertainment, investment banking, and sales and trading. While any business school can serve as the launching pad into a new career, the significant resources available for students at Stern makes this a natural choice for many.

An innovative and responsive faculty
Stern was quick to move during the global financial crisis. Not only were its professors speaking to the media on a daily basis as the events unfolded, but by the first quarter of 2009, a major collaborative effort by 33 faculty members resulted in 18 policy white papers and a book on the financial crisis, Restoring Financial Stability, as well as a course offered by the white paper authors. In late 2010, Stern published the next book in this series, Regulating Wall Street, which discusses the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act and identifies flaws in this sweeping regulation on the financial industry. Most recently, Guaranteed to Fail came out, blasting Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as the underlying culprits of the mortgage crisis and our economic woes. Stern’s faculty are heavily engaged in research of critical issues of the day, and few schools have been so quick to publicize analysis of and policy recommendations for these very significant events.

A focus on Emotional Intelligence
While many schools are grappling with the issues that created the economic problems a few years ago and seek to redefine their place in business and society, NYU Stern has focused on identifying the traits of individuals they want to invite into their collaborative community. Stern looks to evaluate candidates’ “EQ” or emotional intelligence, as equally important as IQ, in determining if they will be a good fit to the school.

A viable part-time MBA option in the Northeast
Stern was one of the first graduate business schools to offer a part-time program and they remain the only top program in the region to have one. The next closest part-time option is at Duke, down in North Carolina.

To stay on top on all of the latest news at Stern and other top-ranked business schools, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

Should You Apply to Business School in Round 3?

At this time of year, we get the “Round 3 or wait?” question from a lot of applicants. As usual, the answer we give them is, “It depends,” although we do have some very strong opinions on the matter. Applying in Round 3 is not automatically a bad idea, but there is definitely a “buyer beware” aspect that you should consider. In this case, what you’re buying is a few minutes of an admissions officer’s time, and the price you pay is the application fee plus all of the blood, sweat, and tears that will go into your application.

Of course, what answer we give largely depends on who the applicant is. One applicant might want to apply now because he was recently laid off. He hadn’t been planning on applying to business school this year, but his sudden unemployment now makes MBA programs look that much more appealing. Another might call us because she just took the GMAT again and still can’t get above a 650. She had been planning on nailing the GMAT this month and spending a couple of weeks on her essays and letters of recommendation, but now she wonders if she’d be better served by taking more time for her GMAT prep and applying in the fall, with a (hopefully) higher GMAT score. Still another applicant just rolled out of bed last week and decided that the one thing he’s really wanted all his life is Harvard MBA… He just never realized it until now!

To be clear, Round 3 is NOT an automatic black hole where applications go to die. As we wrote earlier this year, top business schools know that great applicants can come in any round, and many schools have very specific reasons (such as U.S. schools needing to stay competitive vs. international programs) for paying close attention to the Round 3 applicant pool.

Still, since in Round 3 your chances of success can’t help but be impacted somewhat by what happened in the previous rounds — Did your first-choice school admit more students than it originally had planned? Are yields higher than historical averages? — you can’t help but wonder if you’re going to get fair shake in Round 3. Ultimately, however, how well you do in Round 3 depends far more on you and your application than on what numbers the admissions office saw in previous rounds.

If you have a unique profile or are targeting a business school outside of the top 20, then your chances in Round 3 may not be bad at all. Or, if you want to attend a part-time or EMBA program then the “rounds” concept may not even be relevant, depending on the school. If none of these descriptions fit your situation, then you may want wait until next year. If you’re already on the “old” side for a typical applicant (e.g., you have more than five years of full-time work experience now), though, and there’s not a high likelihood that you will take a significant step forward in your career in the next eight months, then that’s one more reason to apply now, in Round 3.

Round 3 partly gets a bad reputation from those applicants who throw together their applications at the last minute (rather than having to wait eight months before applying in next year’s admissions cycle) and end up getting rejected. “See,” they say, “I knew I wouldn’t get in. Round 3 is impossible.” But Round 3 wasn’t the problem… their applications were what held them back. We spend a great deal of our time here at Veritas Prep talking applicants out of such kamikaze missions, and the same goes for the “Round 3 vs. next year” decision.

In short, if you apply to a top-ranked MBA program with a flaw that you know is significant — e.g., a low GMAT score, or a weak undergrad transcript with nothing to compensate for it, or sloppy essays, or I-hope-he-spelled-my-name-right letters of recommendation — then you can safely assume that flaw will also bother MBA admissions officers enough to keep you out. In that case, we almost always strongly recommend that an applicant wait, takes steps to improve things, and then apply next year, when things are in order.

Waiting is always a good idea if you can apply with a significantly better application next year. But, if you feel you have a strong application now, and you don’t expect to have a significantly stronger story in eight months, then applying in Round 3 is not such a terrible idea. Just keep in mind that there are factors outside of your control. Just like in real life.

To stay on top on all of the latest news the world’s top-ranked business schools, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!