Today's blog post is about negotiating your offer of admission ... except that it's not. Because "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 us explain. Obviously, any discussion of an offer in this context automatically means we're dealing with some good news: you've been accepted.
I tell my clients up front that they have to waive their right to view their recommendation, and that it is not really an option to not do so.
Not waiving your right could tell the admissions committee that you don’t trust your recommenders. It could tell them that you are paranoid or overly anxious. It opens up a pandora's box of possibilities, none of which are that great.
We can all likely remember our high school days when our English or Lit teacher required us to keep a journal. The painstaking process of writing down what you did every day typically found everyone frantically making up journal entries the night before it was due, since most had bypassed the daily ritual in favor of the other distractions of youth. Your English teacher was on to something, however, and for those who are disciplined enough to keep a daily log of your thoughts and adventures can find it easier to lay the introspective groundwork that is required for a good MBA application. Why?
It may sound strange to think of a school having a personality, but the culture found within the walls of the most popular business schools can vary just as widely as the personalities of people.
Finding the right fit between a school’s culture and your own personality can be tricky and is not something you can ignore if you want to be happy and maximize your potential in an MBA program.
Of course “knowing thyself” is the first step in finding a good match with any institutional program.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you thrive in a competitive environment or do you prefer to operate with an “everyone wins” approach? Do you have a learning style that is energized in the classroom from lectures and discussions, or do you come alive through hands-on, experiential learning? These considerations can help you tune into the programs which will align with the way you are wired, but they don’t even begin to address all the things you should consider. Simple phase of life situations can also affect how well you will dovetail with an MBA program. For example, some programs have mostly single students, while others have a large population of married students, even many with children. Often, schools with more single students do more social events where you end up hanging out with your classmates after classes or on weekends. Does that sound appealing or like your worst nightmare? Even the average number of years of work experience at an MBA program can radically affect that school’s culture, since age is often correlated to maturity and level of seriousness.
Once you do a thorough self-assessment and have a strong feeling for your personal preferences, you can begin to assessment of the schools themselves.
Some schools have a similar culture, and are sometimes associated with each other, such as HBS and Darden, or Fuqua and Kellogg, but don’t think that such reputations mean these schools are exactly the same. Subtle differences can sometimes make a big difference. As an example, Chicago Booth is often compared to Wharton, but did you know that at Wharton, students are ranked? This creates a healthy competition amongst students, but could also add stress to your time there. Often, feedback from Wharton students indicates they are fairly miserable during the program, but tend to enjoy their post-MBA careers more than other program’s graduates.
As we have mentioned before, the best way to ascertain the personality of each school is to visit in person.
Surfing a school’s website or even chatting with current or former students will only get you so far, but visiting a school, sitting in on a class and personally interviewing faculty, staff and students can reveal insights which are otherwise elusive or superficial if only viewed from the outside. You would never marry someone without dating them first, and you should be thinking of b-school in a similar way. Making the wrong decision could derail your career and seriously impact your post MBA happiness. Let us guide your school selection process—you might be surprised how much it can help.
Obviously we take a ton of "free consults" or Initial Consultation calls as part of our business model, so it seemed like a good idea to pass along some thoughts on how applicants can best utilize these. It depends on the people involved (both the consultant and the applicant) obviously, but as general rules, these might help you go in better prepared - not only to respond to questions, but to have a clear agenda for what you can achieve and take away from the experience.
As the 2017 academic year winds to a close, students all over the world are preparing themselves for final exams. With a similar amount of angst and tension, hopeful business school applicants are beginning to prepare as well, but instead of taking tests, they will be writing applications.
One of the most important things you can do to prepare for this, is to visit each of your target schools in person.
When it comes to conveying your marketing message to the admissions committees at top business schools, it is important to relate your various profile characteristics in a meaningful way.Often, applicants are naturally very good at doing this in either a quantitative or qualitative way, but it’s actually important to do both.
One of the most stressful moments in an applicant’s trek through the business school due diligence process is when they realize they have done very little engaging with anyone or anything outside of work. Let’s face it—life gets busy, and while you may have been in every club and organization you could get your hands on in college, once out in the real world, you may have found it very easy to simply go to work and come home at night without doing much else.
When applying to business school, one of the most reliable questions you will get from just about any institution deals with how you feel you will fit within that school’s culture. While it’s fairly easy to see if you have an academic fit or a professional fit at a school (by researching their curriculum and statistics for admitted students), it’s far more difficult sometimes to ascertain the “culture” of a school.
Many schools have become extremely restrictive on how many essays they allow you to submit.
The crushing numbers of applicants has forced schools to streamline the evaluation process and they simply do not have the staff or time to read 1000 word essays from everyone. Of course, whether you're applying there or not, you likely know that Harvard, as an extreme example, actually has no required essays as part of their application! They allow you to submit one essay if you like, but it's not technically a requirement for consideration as an MBA applicant. While we don't recommend you submit to HBS without leveraging the essay, this approach from schools highlights the fact that every word does indeed count.
Today we are going to take the term "Safety School" and put it through the shredder. Reasonable minds can probably disagree on what the term should mean, but what I want to do is explain why I personally do not believe that "Safety School" should be part of an MBA applicant's lexicon.
First, the term is used incorrectly about 90% of the time. When applicants say "safety school," what they often mean is "a school that is really good but that hopefully I have a better chance to get into." If you are using the term this way, just as a shorthand, that is fine but make sure that it's clarified with anyone you are working with, such as your consultant. The real use for "safety school" should probably translate more or less to "a sure bet." With college applicants - due to the pressure to be enrolled on an exact timeline (following high school graduation, of course) - a "safety school" is a very real thing; you simply have to pick some programs that you are sure to get into. Often this means a program from that student's home state, sometimes with sheer numerical thresholds (lacking holistic admissions processes). If you go to school in California and have a certain matrix of GPA and test scores, you can feel "safe" about getting into certain Cal-State programs. That's a safety school. Ross and Duke Fuqua are not safety schools. Now, what if you are using the term in the right way?