Backup MBA or Try Again?

Backup MBA or Try Again?

Cornell’s early admission decisions for their one-year MBA will be released in a few days, so even if you did not apply to this program, it’s essentially the starting gun for this year’s results.  Since over the next several weeks and months applicants the world over will be getting good and bad news from their target schools, it’s a great time to prepare yourself to receive the responses.  Will you be getting a “yes” from your top choice?

Do Grades Matter?

Do Grades Matter?

Getting graded.  It’s been a necessary evil in everyone’s life since we were all old enough to hold a crayon.  At every stage, we either cut the mustard or we don’t and then progress to the next level of grading.  For those applying to graduate school, you may have thought those college grades were all but forgotten, but now find yourself having to face them once again.  And guess what?  The grading doesn’t stop with the application process, because very soon you’ll be back in the classroom.  This begs the question…do grades really matter?

Are you a Dream Weaver or a Vision Caster?

Are you a Dream Weaver or a  Vision Caster?

So many applicants these days look alike on paper in terms of experience and education, test scores and outside involvement that even highly qualified candidates get lost in the shuffle.  We all think we’re pretty unique until we find out that the next guy also volunteered at a similar NGO, or was promoted to VP before his colleagues.  Particularly if you come from a feeder industry such as banking, finance or technology/engineering, it gets harder every year to stand out. 

Applying to Business School Straight out of Undergrad?

Applying to Business School Straight out of Undergrad?

This time of year is replete with many young candidates who want to apply to business school directly out of undergrad.  Is this possible?  In some cases, yes it is. 

How to Prepare for MBA Application Season

How to Prepare for MBA Application Season

While for those who just finished off their third round b-school applications, it’s already time for others to begin thinking about “next season.”  Application season begins in earnest after all of last year’s applications are processed, and every final offer of admission is made and filled. 

 

The Rise of the GMAT Wars

The Rise of the GMAT Wars

 If you are an international applicant, you must have more than just a good GMAT score to differentiate yourself.  If you are an American applicant, you need to do whatever you can to press out a decent GMAT score in order to be competitive.

Don't Be Redundant, and definitely don't repeat yourself...

Don't Be Redundant, and definitely don't repeat yourself...

With the trend towards shorter essays, There has been a phenomenon in the applications which can only be described as “redundancy.”  Shortening the essays has resulted in more questions and even mini-essays or micro-essays within the application itself, where often applicants end up repeating information about themselves that is found elsewhere in the application.

Paying for Business School

Paying for Business School

Business school is one of the most lucrative of all graduate degrees in its potential and proven history for embellishing salary.  It’s not just in dollars and cents, either, but manifests itself in sheer employment statistics as well.

3 Key Thoughts or Columbia Business School's 2015 Essays

This year the schools are releasing the essays earlier than ever and it's going to be tough to keep up with the onslaught if I write my usual multi-thousand word opus, so we're going to use a little running device of "three key thoughts" for each essay release.  If you want to get a deep dive into these essay sets, of course, the answer is probably obvious: sign up for our services and become a client, at which point we can guide you every step of the way.  Now, on to some thoughts from the new Columbia essays! 

As with last year, CBS is using three essays and for the most part, they follow the same general format: 500 words, 250 words, 250 words; goals, Center of Business, Cluster.  But I only have to look at the massive changes I made to our Columbia Strategy Memo to know that these things changed a ton at the center.  Let's dive into our 3 Key Thoughts: 

1. Do not talk abut wanting to go to Columbia because it's in New York.  We have been issuing this warning every year since I have been doing this, but it doesn't seem to be getting out there to the masses, because it seems to clearly be an ongoing problem for CBS, such that they are actually moving the Why Columbia request out of its natural place (Essay 2) and into Essay 1.  In the past, it was key to make a subtle distinction, which was to point out what awesome Columbia features, made possible by the New York "very center of business" location, were attractive to you and fueling your interest.  My guess is that too many candidates were still flipping that around and saying "I love New York and I love this and that about it" instead of looking at the ways CBS utilizes its location.  Now, by asking for Why Columbia content in Essay 1, they can force candidates to laser in on some aspects of the school.  And if those applicants fall into the New York Trap on Question 2, it won't completely bury the info the school wants.  Of course...

2. Use Question 2 to stand out.  Now that Why Columbia is going to get some coverage in Question 1, my guess is that "I Love New York!" essays are going to run wild for Essay 2.  What else is there to write about than Columbia's location, right?  Wrong.  You should be using this essay to talk about the way YOU will engage with a "center of everything" kind of place - talk about why a dynamic location and atmosphere is not only good for you, but the kind of environment where you thrive and dominate.  Talk about how it will bring our your best.  Site specific areas of interest and site specific past examples of doing this.  It's going to bring your leadership and teamwork qualities to the surface and make you seem like the kind of vibrant, "make it happen" candidate that they are looking for. 

3. Save the joke answers for the Cluster question.  Last year I couldn't definitely prove to clients that a joke/goof answer to Question 3 was a bad idea, but now I probably can.  This is because Columbia has linked to its "Columbia Matters" program, which seems to me a lot like reading Stanford Essay 1 responses out lout.  I (half) kid, but obviously the video is very serious and earnest and it's about digging deep and being vulnerable with your Cluster members.  Now, you don't have to write a deathbed confessional in this 250-essay and you can still have some fun if you want, but don't give them a goofy response when the prompt includes this really earnest content.  Take the tonal cue and dig deep enough that you are actually saying something about yourself here.  (Remember to also address both "surprise" and "pleasant" in your response.  Don't just share something weird or secretive, make sure that others around you will benefit in some way from this aspect of yourself, or there is nothing "pleasant" about the surprise of others.)

Overall, Columbia has made some very clean and beneficial changes that help candidates respond in a way that is on point, and it is our belief that the core DNA of the school - and what they are really looking for - has remained intact.  To find out more about that and how we can help you with your app, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com. 

3 Key Thoughts for Columbia Business School's 2015 Essays

This year the schools are releasing the essays earlier than ever and it's going to be tough to keep up with the onslaught if I write my usual multi-thousand word opus, so we're going to use a little running device of "three key thoughts" for each essay release.  If you want to get a deep dive into these essay sets, of course, the answer is probably obvious: sign up for our services and become a client, at which point we can guide you every step of the way.  Now, on to some thoughts from the new Columbia essays! 

As with last year, CBS is using three essays and for the most part, they follow the same general format: 500 words, 250 words, 250 words; goals, Center of Business, Cluster.  But I only have to look at the massive changes I made to our Columbia Strategy Memo to know that these things changed a ton at the center.  Let's dive into our 3 Key Thoughts: 

1. Do not talk abut wanting to go to Columbia because it's in New York.  We have been issuing this warning every year since I have been doing this, but it doesn't seem to be getting out there to the masses, because it seems to clearly be an ongoing problem for CBS, such that they are actually moving the Why Columbia request out of its natural place (Essay 2) and into Essay 1.  In the past, it was key to make a subtle distinction, which was to point out what awesome Columbia features, made possible by the New York "very center of business" location, were attractive to you and fueling your interest.  My guess is that too many candidates were still flipping that around and saying "I love New York and I love this and that about it" instead of looking at the ways CBS utilizes its location.  Now, by asking for Why Columbia content in Essay 1, they can force candidates to laser in on some aspects of the school.  And if those applicants fall into the New York Trap on Question 2, it won't completely bury the info the school wants.  Of course...

2. Use Question 2 to stand out.  Now that Why Columbia is going to get some coverage in Question 1, my guess is that "I Love New York!" essays are going to run wild for Essay 2.  What else is there to write about than Columbia's location, right?  Wrong.  You should be using this essay to talk about the way YOU will engage with a "center of everything" kind of place - talk about why a dynamic location and atmosphere is not only good for you, but the kind of environment where you thrive and dominate.  Talk about how it will bring our your best.  Site specific areas of interest and site specific past examples of doing this.  It's going to bring your leadership and teamwork qualities to the surface and make you seem like the kind of vibrant, "make it happen" candidate that they are looking for. 

3. Save the joke answers for the Cluster question.  Last year I couldn't definitely prove to clients that a joke/goof answer to Question 3 was a bad idea, but now I probably can.  This is because Columbia has linked to its "Columbia Matters" program, which seems to me a lot like reading Stanford Essay 1 responses out lout.  I (half) kid, but obviously the video is very serious and earnest and it's about digging deep and being vulnerable with your Cluster members.  Now, you don't have to write a deathbed confessional in this 250-essay and you can still have some fun if you want, but don't give them a goofy response when the prompt includes this really earnest content.  Take the tonal cue and dig deep enough that you are actually saying something about yourself here.  (Remember to also address both "surprise" and "pleasant" in your response.  Don't just share something weird or secretive, make sure that others around you will benefit in some way from this aspect of yourself, or there is nothing "pleasant" about the surprise of others.)

Overall, Columbia has made some very clean and beneficial changes that help candidates respond in a way that is on point, and it is our belief that the core DNA of the school - and what they are really looking for - has remained intact.  To find out more about that and how we can help you with your app, email us at mba@amerasiaconsulting.com. 

Should You “Think Bravely” on Your Kellogg Application?

Should You “Think Bravely” on Your Kellogg Application?

In case you haven’t noticed, Kellogg recently launched a new “motto” that reads: “Think Bravely: we believe that business can be bravely led, passionately collaborative, and world changing.”  The introduction of this laboratory-cooked slogan caused much hand-wringing among Round 1 applicants, so now that we have a moment, we wanted to address it and help out those of you applying to Kellogg in Round 2.  So, should you focus your applications on “Thinking Bravely”?  Let’s break it down.

Wharton's Group Interview: Ambiguity Equals Opportunity

Wharton's Group Interview: Ambiguity Equals Opportunity

Yesterday was October 23rd.  A relatively uneventful day for many humans, but a big one for a select group of Wharton applicants who received an interview invite.  It’s obviously a magical moment to get that letter, err, email that says that mighty Wharton wants to talk to you.  However, this year that feeling of excitement is lasting for about two seconds for most applicants as it is quickly replaced by a feeling of uncertainty.  That’s because Wharton has partnered with the Wharton Innovation Group to come up with a whole new style of interviewing … the group interview.

5 Tips for Applying to MIT Sloan

5 Tips for Applying to MIT Sloan

MIT Sloan is one of “those” schools – the ones that seem to slip into the nooks and crannies of the admissions process. People don’t talk about Sloan as much as its elite counterparts. Nobody immediately thinks about it in terms of being a top 5 program until you start digging and realize, wow, this program is insanely good. Most importantly, because of its unique end-of-October deadline and equally unique two-round admissions process, we would wager that application quality on Sloan apps is far lower than on other top programs (which is a *massive* problem if you want to be admitted there). Candidates often don’t even start on their Sloan apps until after the October 3-16 gauntlet of deadlines and then they race to finish because they fear waiting until the “last” round.

When to Apply to Columbia During Regular Decision

Today’s blog post concerns the tricky Columbia Regular Decision deadline, which starts the day after Early Decision (which had a deadline of October 3rd this year) and extends all the way into April. While long, rolling deadlines are commonplace in college admissions or law school admissions, they are strangely out of place in the MBA space, which creates a lot of consternation on the part of applicants everywhere. Here’s the weird part though: normally when applicants ring their hands over something ambiguous and unfamiliar we tell them to buck up and have some courage (“Stop worrying so much,” is a common refrain around here), but in this case, there actually is some very real strategy to consider. We take into consideration a few rules of thumb, some common sense, and our own experiences sitting in the admissions officer’s chair to arrive at a recommendation.

Relax! HBS’ 3rd essay really just a 400-word chill pill (email)

Today the MBA-journalism website Poets & Quants published an article that was more or less a summary of a recent blog post from Dee Leopold, the managing director of admissions and financial aid at HBS.  In it, she tries to better articulate HBS’ much-discussed new “post-interview” assignment.  In a series of emphatic points, she takes great pains to tell applicants the following:

  1. Relax
  2. This is meant to emulate the Real World (capitalizing these words was not our idea, by the way)
  3. Admissions consultants are NOT ALLOWED

All three of these points are sort of ridiculous and we will take them in the order presented above.