We have all known about Berkeley-Haas' 4 "Defining Principles" for a while now. Personally, I consider Haas' emphasis on "Path-bending leadership" to be a de facto "5th principle" that builds upon the Defining Principles. Most significantly and over the past year, I have seen path-bending leadership take on a greater significance with faculty, alumni and student discussions alike. This trend has implications for your essays and "why Haas?"
The simplest and most important thing you can do to improve your Why School X portion of career goals essay is to personalize any and all content.
What do I mean by "personalize?" Simple: make anything you write about the school specific to you, your experience, your desires, or what you require from a program. Never just state absolutes, generalities, or even known truths and facts - always make them personally-held viewpoints. Examples are the best way to understand this (after the jump):
Waitlist season is in full bloom and with R3 notification deadlines wrapping up the countdown clock is ticking for those still waiting in line. Of course it’s inevitable that most of you will be waitlisted at some of your top school choices - after all, getting waitlisted at a stretch school means that you hedged effectively. (Note - my opinion is that an effective hedging strategy should include a stretch, safe-stretch and backup school selections.)
So what can you do at this point in the game?
One question that we get a lot from clients is "what does the adcom want to hear?" Not only is this the wrong way to approach the process in terms of being an authentic, introspective, and interesting candidate, but it also completely misunderstands who is reading your file. We don't believe in trying to play pin-the-tail-on-the-admissions-officer when it comes to your essays, but we do believe to writing to your audience.
Business school applications are all about laying out how you have exhibited the qualities of a leader. After all, this is the quality that b-schools, in general, desire the most in their applicants. A lot of my admissions consulting clients struggle with a succinct definition of leadership. That is, one that they as the applicant can use as a succinct model.
One trend we're seeing these days is the desire of some candidates to dispense with the frills and just hammer out their MBA in the quickest time possible. Obviously, this means that we're talking "1-year" programs a lot. As is so often the case, we figure we'll bring part of that conversation online.
Here are some of the things we're sharing with clients:
These days, in addition to helping our clients get ready for interviews we also meet a lot of new folks who didn't use admissions consulting services to apply - but now are wondering if perhaps they should have. Most often, they are asking for "ding analysis," which is basically "please tell me if I did something wrong and whether I can fix it for next time." We are happy to oblige, of course, and so we see a lot (we mean A LOT) of rejected applications, to a lot of schools.
Despite the name “waitlist,” there are several things you can do besides simply wait for your dream school to call. From a strategic standpoint, sitting in a state of limbo gives you the opportunity to improve your profile or status as a candidate, and such improvements can and should be communicated to the admissions committees.
This time of year, many applicants find themselves stuck in the waitlist process at one or more schools, which can be a very slow and painful waiting period. Not only are you competing for fewer and fewer seats, you are doing so against everyone on the waitlist all the way back from round one as well as any fresh, new applicants from the final rounds.
Today's blog post builds on a post I've been working on for years, where I continue to add thought about the art of negotiating your MBA offer of admission. I've long said that "negotiation" is not what you do when it comes to securing more financial aid from a business school. The term of art for what you are going to be doing is "asking." Let me explain and try to add clarity around questions that often come up.
There are times when things feel so crazy, out of control, and even hopeless that our own individual pursuits start to feel trivial, selfish, and even misguided.
I can remember vivid moments over the past 10 years where I had a distinct feeling of living the wrong life, given what was going on around me. When the financial collapse took hold in 2009, I thought to myself "why did I leave corporate law - where I could be part of the solution - to instead help people apply to business school right in the teeth of a recession?" Just this past winter I watched "Making a Murderer" on Netflix and kicked myself for not remaining a lawyer ... but this time not a corporate lawyer, but instead a constitutional attorney like the individuals portrayed early in that documentary series. And now, as police/citizen animus and race problems in America reach a peak, as the EU teeters, as [seriously, enter any of a dozen paralyzing issues] I sometimes am not even sure what I should be doing. But I do know it doesn't feel like enough; it feels to insular and self-absorbed and small. But then it occurred to me: I bet a lot of people feel that way, including my past and present clients pursuing an MBA. So let's talk about that.
Going quick and nothing fancy here, just looking to get the word out on "HBS Waitlist Day" as it will likely become known in the future.
I stunning number of candidates appear to have been WL'd today, just based on what I'm seeing stream across my inbox. The biggest group looking for answers are candidates I've never heard of, who are seeking answers and asking what to do. This is when I know I have to go to the blog. Let's work through this.
Let's get into this Chicago Booth waitlist video a bit. It always causes people to feel tremendous stress when they see this option because they immediately think "how can I create an amazing video that will blow away the admissions committee?"
This is especially stressful when there are caveats like not having strong skills in areas like shooting film or editing or things of that nature. So the first ting to do is stop, take a breath, and reframe the entire operation.