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2012 in Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 69,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it!

Click here to see the complete report.

The Growth in One-Year MBA Programs in America

One recurring theme in graduate management education these days is the growing popularity of one-year MBA programs, especially in the United States, where two-year programs have traditionally ruled. While it used to be that one could count American one-year and accelerated programs on one hand, every other month it seems that a new school announces such a program, or at least signals its intent to launch one.

While these schools are responding to market demand, these moves invite questions about whether or not companies will be as interested in the graduates they produce. While one-year programs tend to attract applicants with more full-time work experience and/or significant business training, as these programs become more common, some wonder if they will start to attract less experienced applicants who ultimately will have a hard time finding the types of high-paying jobs they want to pursue post-MBA.

For years only a handful of top-ranked American business schools have offered accelerated MBA programs, including Kellogg, Columbia, Cornell (Johnson), and Emory (Goizueta). These programs continue to be successful, so much so that some schools are doubling down on their one-year programs, including Kellogg. We expect to see more and more schools follow suit in the next several years. The market for graduate management education is a market, after all, with the sellers (schools) always thinking about how to evolve and meet the needs of the buyers (applicants). Even in education, the sellers need to innovate or risk falling behind.

Two obstacles that schools face as they try to launch compressed programs are the challenges that grads face in finding full-time work (for those who are not returning to their same jobs), and finding a way to make sure the program covers everything that an MBA grad needs to know. Perhaps the most common reason we try to talk clients out of applying to one-year programs is that they frequently underestimate how much work they’ll need to put into landing full-time jobs after they graduate. It’s easy to think that potential employers view all grads at a business school in the same way, and that simply having a degree from the school puts you on even footing with all of your classmates. But, you will be judged for all of the experience you gained before entering business school.

Employers know that you won’t learn everything in business school — even in a two-year program — and they expect that they will need to train you a great deal once you’re hired, anyway. So, they’re as interested in your professional experience and your working style as they are in what you know from your studies. If you only have a couple of years of experience, then compounding that with less classroom training may make you even less marketable as a potential hire. So, while we love the innovation we see in today’s business schools, be wary of pursuing a one-year MBA simply because it seems like a shortcut to a high-paying job. The less full-time work experience you have, the more we urge you to stick with a two-year program, no matter where you plan on pursuing your degree.

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

Get to Know: INSEAD

Competitive European MBA applicants almost always are interested in INSEAD, and among U.S.-based applicants, INSEAD is almost always their first or second choice if they’re interested in earning an MBA abroad. This makes sense given the terrific international exposure that INSEAD students get at the school’s two campuses. What frequently surprises us, though, is how little applicants really know about the school, beyond that fact that it’s a highly-ranked program with a high profile around the world.

Are you thinking about applying to INSEAD? Here are five why INSEAD may be the perfect school for you to target for your MBA experience. While not all six of these need to describe you, the more these descriptions sound like you, the more likely you are to thrive at INSEAD:

You want to take advantage of multiple programs and opportunities in multiple countries
With INSEAD’s close partnership with Wharton and Kellogg and affiliations with major business schools in Asia and elsewhere, students are able to study at multiple premier graduate schools all while pursuing their INSEAD degree.

You want to work in a multinational company or you want to work overseas
This is a common profile for an INSEAD candidate and its unique program offers obvious advantages to candidates with goals in an international context. It can be somewhat more challenging for graduates to find jobs in the U.S. when coming out of INSEAD, although they can leverage the recruiting resources available at INSEAD’s partner schools like Wharton and Kellogg to gain a “home field advantage” in the job search process.

You have clear goals
With the need to hit the ground running on Day One at INSEAD, students don’t have much time to figure out what to do next. They should have career goals well defined in advance. If changing careers, then the January intake might be a more suitable option, and students need to be prepared to put in extra effort to secure the right internship to enable their transition.

You are headed to work in a family business
Only a few schools have resources devoted to the challenge faced by those taking over a family legacy (ESADE is another). INSEAD has a specialized Family Enterprise Challenge executive education program and faculty such as Christine Blondel have focused their research on multi-generational family business and the successor’s dilemma.

You are flexible and are comfortable with ambiguity
When applicants don’t even know where they’ll literally be going to school if accepted — Europe or Asia — they need to bring with them a resilience and a willingness to adapt, just to survive the admissions process. One sign of the maturity that INSEAD values in candidates is the ability to roll with the punches and be agile to change. The INSEAD program is so fast-paced and hectic that it might be a burden to someone who is ill prepared.

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

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.

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

Chicago Booth Application Essays for 2011-2012

Chicago Booth has released its admissions essays and deadlines for the 2011-2012 applications season. Last year the Booth admissions office made a lot of changes to the school’s application. While the change look less dramatic this year, there’s still plenty to dig our teeth into, so let’s begin.

Here ate Chicago Booth’s MBA admissions deadlines and essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Chicago Booth Admissions Deadlines
Round 1: October 12, 2011
Round 2: January 4, 2012
Round 3: April 4, 2012

Chicago Booth Admissions Essays

  1. What are your short- and long-term goals, and how will a Chicago Booth MBA help you reach them? (600 words)

    Booth replaced last year’s three-part question with this one, which is a more traditional “Why an MBA? Why this school?” question. Note that, as important is it is to make a convincing case about your career goals and your reasons for wanting an MBA, you also really need to take the “Why Booth?” part seriously… What about Booth attracts you to the school? This is where you need to show that you’ve done your homework, and convince the school that you’re not only applying because Booth is highly ranked. Chicago Booth looks for a specific kind of applicant — one who’s intellectually curious and is not afraid of rigor. Does that appeal to you? If so, show it here!

  2. Re-applicants only: Upon reflection, how has your thinking regarding your future, Chicago Booth, and/or getting an MBA changed since the time of your last application? (300 words)

    This question gets at the heart of what MBA admissions officers ask when they see a reapplicant: “What has changed since last time?” While we don’t believe the Booth admissions committee did it deliberately, we do think that the phrasing here can be a bit misleading. The way it’s written, this question may lead some applicants to believe that they didn’t get in before because of something wrong in the way they answered the “Why an MBA? Why Booth?” question, but that may not at all be why they were rejected last time. Imagine you’re an applicant who had all the right reasons for applying to Booth last year, but you had some other big weakness that kept you out, such as a low GMAT score or not enough meaningful work experience. Now you’re back, and you’ve worked hard to plug those holes, and now you need to manufacture a reason why your thinking is now different, although that thinking wasn’t the problem the first time around.

    So, our advice here is to answer the question (ALWAYS answer the question asked!), but keep in mind that this may be a bit of a red herring. If you’re certain that it was something else that kept you out, be sure to work that into this essay, particularly if it’s something that won’t immediately jump out at admissions officers when they review your application data sheets.

  3. At Chicago Booth, we believe each individual has his or her own leadership style. How has your family, culture, and/or environment influenced you as a leader? (750 words)

    This question is also new this year, and it replaces a question that asked about a time when you took a risk. This question is potentially more interesting, although the fact that it’s less specific may invite pompous, rambling responses from some less savvy applicants. We envision a misguided applicant starting with a high-minded quote from a world leader and then providing five paragraphs that leave admissions officers wondering about who the applicant really is. How can you avoid this? Stick with specifics. You have a decent amount of room to work here (750 words), so plan on demonstrating your leadership style through one or two stories, preferably from your work experience (although stories from extracurricular activities are fair game, too). Avoid generalities and keep the focus on you, and you can do well with this essay!

  4. Considering what you’ve already included in the application, what else should we know about you? In a maximum of four slides, tell us about yourself.

    We have set forth the following guidelines:

    * The content is completely up to you. There is no right, or even preferred, approach to this
    * There is a strict maximum of four pages, though you can provide fewer if you
    * Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or
    * The document will be viewed electronically, but we cannot support embedded videos, music, or motion images. Additionally, all content MUST be included in the four pages; hyperlinks will not be
    * The file will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.

    Ahh, Chicago Booth’s “PowerPoint question” is back yet again, although it’s been reworded this year. The one noteworthy change is in the very first eight words: “Considering what you’ve already included in the application…” In other words, don’t simply rehash what you’ve already covered elsewhere in your application. You really must ensure that these pages add something new to your application — don’t use it to just show off professional achievements that you already cover elsewhere in your application. Be creative! The reason Booth kept this question is because, while it hasn’t worked perfectly for the school so far, it really is the admissions committee’s best chance to tease some personality out of your application. So, give them some!

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

Hiring Picks Up for the MBA Class of 2011

Good news, MBA grads (and soon-to-be grads): The job market is finally, undoubtedly warming up for business school graduates. Earlier this month the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) released a pair of annual international surveys that show that the Class of 2011 is having an easier time landing jobs than grads of recent years, and that employers are bullish on their future hiring plans.

Perhaps the purest litmus test is the percentage of job-seeking students who land jobs before they graduate. Here we see a definite improvement in the 2011 GMAC Global Management Education Graduate Survey results, with 54% of students reporting they had at least one job offer in March, compared to just 32% of those surveyed at the same time last year. For full-time, two-year MBA students, this number is the highest it’s been since 2008.

A big driver of the improved numbers is the increased optimism among hiring companies. According to GMAC’s 2011 Corporate Recruiters Survey, two-third of employers say they expect to hire MBA grads this coming year, compared to 62% last year and just 50% two years ago. Many of these companies have waited as long as possible before restocking their talent pools, but we suspect an improving economy and natural attrition are making it harder for them to hold out much longer.

Not only do hiring measures look good, but salary data are also encouraging. Looking at MBA grads in the U.S., new hires will earn an average base salary of $91,433 this year, up from $89,141 in 2010 and $86,299 in 2009. (Visit GMAC’s web site for an interactive graph that lets you play with the survey data.)

While we haven’t yet seen (and may not see) the dramatic snap back in hiring that often follows a recession, it looks like the worst is behind us now. The fact that companies aren’t aggressively hiring right now may prove to be a good thing in the long run… The less likely they are to overdo it today, the more likely they are to keep hiring two or three years from now. The market will always be cyclical, but perhaps the next valley won’t quite be so low.

To stay on top of all the news and trends in MBA admissions, be sure to find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

HBS 2+2 Program Essays and Deadlines for 2011-2012

Last week the the Harvard Business School admissions committee released its application essays for the HBS 2+2 Program for next year. Today we’ll take a look at the program’s application deadlines and essays for students applying to the Class of 2016.

Note that there is a big change in deadlines since last year: There are now four deadlines, vs. one single summer deadline for the program. Even though the window in which you can apply is now more wide open, note that the program is still designed with current college juniors in mind. (HBS phrases it as anyone who will “be graduating from your college or university between October 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012,” which mostly applies to those who are just wrapping up their junior year in college.)

HBS 2+2 Program Admissions Deadlines
Summer Round: July 6, 2011
Round 1: October, 2011
Round 2: January, 2012
Round 3: March, 2012

Right now, only the Summer Round has a specific date attached to it, although that will likely change soon. Also, be aware that applying by the July deadline (which used to be the only 2+2 deadline) means you will notified by September, which gives you plenty of time to make plans in your senior year. You can apply as late as March of your senior year, but that will probably mean finding out your status no sooner than when you graduate. Many students may not be comfortable with this arrangement. We recommend getting your application in by the July or October deadlines to give yourself enough time to plan things out on the back end.

HBS 2+2 Program Admissions Essays

  1. Tell us about three of your accomplishments. (600 words)

    This question used to ask, “What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such?” which was exactly the same question that was on the traditional HBS application. Although they’ve rephrased it (probably to try to sound a little less stuffy and intimidating to 20-year-old college kids), the meat of the question remains the same: They don’t explicitly ask for your “most substantial” accomplishments, but of course you’re not going to want to tell them three mundane stories. While you are obviously younger than the typical HBS applicant, the school still expects to see several separate, concrete examples of how you made a positive impact on the organization, community, or people around you. Having a hard time coming up with many? That may be the first sign that you’re not yet ready to apply to Harvard Business School. If that’s the case, don’t despair… You just may want to consider the more traditional route of working for several years before applying to business school.
  2. Tell us three setbacks you have faced. (600 words)

    Okay, fair enough. First they ask for three accomplishments, and now they want to hear about three “setbacks” (which is sort of admissions speak for “failures,” although these don’t need to be spectacular disasters). Last year, the question “What have you learned from a mistake?” which was also taken directly from the two-year Harvard MBA program’s application. In some ways we’re a little surprised that they’re asking for three, since the most important part of a “failure” essay is showing what you learned and how you grew as a result, and 600 words doesn’t give you a lot of space in which to tell three such stories (and do it well). Still, your mission will be to show introspection (What did you learn?) and a motivation for self-improvement (How did you use what you learned to better yourself and avoid that mistake again?). While you won’t have the same experiences as a twenty-five-year-old applicant to draw upon here, look for experiences in all aspects of your life where you learned a valuable lesson. There’s a good chance that your richest story will come from outside of your academics. However, academic stories are indeed okay. The admissions committee knows you’re young and don’t yet have much professional experience.
  3. Why do you want an MBA? (400 words)

    Believe it or not, while this might question seem like a must, HBS never asked this in its 2+2 Program application until now. While you’re still young, your answer to this may have as much to do with your past as your future. You may have some ambitious plans, but those will be meaningless unless they fit within the context of your background. For instance, you could write, “I want to get an MBA so that I can launch a global non-profit organization to wipe out illiteracy,” but if philanthropy and an interest in education don’t show up anywhere else in your background, this may seem like nothing more than a bunch of hot air. Also, be sure to demonstrate that you’re mature and realistic as far as what an MBA can do for you. Graduating from HBS in a few years won’t immediately launch you into the world of private equity stardom… There are a lot of other things you will need to do to get there, and you want to show admissions officers that you understand this. Talking to current MBA students and recent business school grads can help you a great deal here.
  4. What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience? (400 words)

    This question carries over from last year. Being that you probably don’t yet have any full-time work experience, the admissions office needs to dig a little deeper into your undergraduate experience to learn more about you. Don’t simply rehash your transcript here! Why did you choose your major in college? What motivated you to choose certain course? Were there any instances when you really pushed yourself out of your comfort zone? Focus on just one or two themes here, ideally showing how you have grown academically over the past three years. HBS wants to transform you from young raw ingredients into a polished, finished product. Showing glimpses of such a transformation in the first three years of college can help the Harvard admissions office picture you thriving at HBS.

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