Tuesday, December 30, 2008

HBS Admissions Podcast

Recently the Harvard Business School admissions office posted a podcast interview with Dee Leopold, Managing Director of MBA Admissions and Financial Aid.

The interview started off with the question that Leopold hears most often: "What are you looking for in an applicant?" Leopold broke it down into "qualities" and "experiences," and explained that they look for common qualities but diverse experiences in the incoming class.

For qualities, Leopold highlighted the following:

  • Solid values and integrity -- No surprise here. HBS and all other programs won't even consider someone who may seem unethical.

  • Ability to thrive in an analytical environment and academic setting -- As described in Your MBA Game Plan, this is one the key dimensions that you must show in your application. We at Veritas Prep refer to this as "Innovation."

  • Initiative -- How can you show you how you go above and beyond what's normally expected of you?

  • Curiosity -- Another part of what we call "Innovation." Show that you want to learn more about what makes the world tick.

  • Maturity -- This is another one of the four important dimensions that we describe in Your MBA Game Plan.

  • Perspective -- Do you have self-awareness? How have your experiences shaped your outlook on the world?

  • Sense of humor -- Yes, even HBS wants to see applicants who don't take themselves too seriously. We believe this a sense of humor is a clear sign of maturity, humility, and self-confidence.

Note that Leopold didn't mention "leadership." She went on to explain that, "We're looking for leaders who have these qualities (above). We don't think that 'leadership' as a one-size fits all or something that is a list of things on your resume. We think that leadership, and the way you lead, is as exciting a dimension of diversity as any of the other things I mentioned."

There's a lot of great information in the podcast, and this is just a sample. Go here to listen to the entire podcast.

One other note: Leopold mentioned that HBS is visiting a lot of college campuses this year, to open more undergrads' eyes to HBS and the value of an MBA. This is just one more sign of HBS' effort to attract and accept more candidates with very little job experience. Take note of this if you've been out of college for a couple of years and are wondering whether you should apply now or in a couple of years. "We are encouraging people to think about business school earlier in their lives," Leopold said.

While she also went on to say that this is not bad news for more experienced applicants, we believe that HBS' vision of the typical first-year student has permanently changed vs. ten years ago (i.e., it has become younger). If you apply later in your career, expect that HBS will have a lot of questions about why you waited.

Visit Veritas Prep for more information on Harvard Business School and the HBS 2+2 Program.

Monday, December 29, 2008

MBA Admissions Tips from Yale

Recently the Yale School of Management admissions office posted some admissions tips for those applicant who are working on their Round Two deadlines. Among the tips that they offered:

  • Review Your Essays -- Before you submit your application, it's important to review your essays to be sure your goals are well articulated and you've covered all the points you want to convey. You may also want to have a friend or family member proofread them because it's always helpful to have a second pair of eyes to catch things you may have missed. Just remember essays should be entirely your own work.

  • Send Your Official Test Score Reports -- If you haven't already, designate Yale SOM to receive your score reports electronically. If we don't receive your report close to the admissions deadline, the review of your application may be delayed.

  • Make Your Resume Stand Out -- Instead of just listing your job responsibilities, be sure you've highlighted special projects and new initiatives that have contributed to the success of your office.

Also, the Yale admissions office reports that they have sent out about two-thirds of the total candidates whom they plan on interviewing from Round One. So, if you haven't yet heard anything from Yale about an admissions interview yet, don't worry -- they may just not have reviewed you application yet. And, they may keep sending out interview invitations right up until the decision deadline, so there's still plenty of time to hear from Yale!

Just a reminder that Yale SOM's Round Two deadline is January 7, 2009. If you would like some last-minute help on your Yale essays, take a look at Veritas Prep's MBA essay editing services.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays from Veritas Prep!

All of us at Veritas Prep want to with you a wonderful holiday season. For those of you who are rushing to get your business school applications done before the second-round deadlines take a look at our sample MBA essays for some inspiration and an idea of what works and what doesn't.

Beyond that, take a breather, relax, and treat yourself to some R&R before the deadlines come!

Best wishes,
The Veritas Prep Team

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

NYU Stern Searches for a New Dean

Thomas Cooley, NYU Stern's dean, has announced that he is stepping down from the post that he has held since 2002. The school has started its search for Cooley's replacement. While Cooley's announcement may seem somewhat abrupt, it sounds as though he simply wants to get back to more research and teaching.

It will surely take a lot of work for Stern to replace Cooley with someone just as capable. Under his leadership, the school hired more than 90 new faculty members and raised $190 million in its most recent fund-raising effort. Cooley also significantly increased NYU Stern's international footprint, setting up join programs with schools in Asia and Europe.

If you're applying this year, take a look at this year's NYU Stern application essays, and visit the Veritas Prep Business School Selector to see what your chances of getting into Stern are.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Kellogg Mistakenly Sends Acceptance Letters to 50 Rejected Applicants

We wouldn't wish this twist of fortune on anyone: This week about 50 applicants to the Kellogg School of Management received an acceptance letter from the school, only to find out later that it was the result of a computer glitch, and that they in fact had been rejected.

The applicants each received an email message with an attached acceptance letter. Kellogg official blamed the mistake on a "technical glitch" that occurred in an automated mail-merge process. The Kellogg web site always had the correct information, which applicants could see when they logged onto the site to check their status.

Understandably, some applicants prematurely started to celebrate. The Chicago Tribune quoted one applicant who excitedly called his parents and enjoyed a celebratory dinner before learning the bad news on the web site. Kellogg is going to refund his and everyone else's $235 application fee, but of course that's small consolation.

Something tells us that Kellogg won't be doing any more mail merges any time soon...

For more information on applying to Kellogg, read about the 2008-2009 Kellogg admissions essays and application deadlines.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Our First Annual MBA Admissions Officer Survey Results

Last week we released the results of Veritas Prep's first annual survey of MBA admissions officers, to uncover what's happening in the field today and to help business school applicants anticipate future trends.

We enlisted the help of an independent third party to survey admissions officers at the top 30 business schools in the U.S. (as defined by BusinessWeek's ranking system). The survey ran in October and November, and covered more than half of the admissions officers at these MBA programs.

Some findings were surprising, while others confirmed what we have been telling our clients for years. Among the most interesting results:

  • The biggest challenges institutions face are attracting more, better-qualified candidates, and supporting cultural diversity in their student bodies. Among desired changes that admissions officers would like to see in their applicant pool, diversity ranks first (87%), while 57 percent of respondents would like to see a larger applicant pool at their institutions.

  • The number of international applicants to leading U.S. business schools has increased over the past five years. Ninety-four percent of responding admissions officers report a moderate to significant increase in international applicants during the last five admissions cycles.

  • The number of admits straight out of undergraduate studies is on the rise. Despite the fact that 63 percent of respondents say professional experience is the most important factor in student selection, almost half (47%) report that the number of admits straight out of college has significantly or moderately increased compared to five years ago.

  • Careless errors ranked as the top faux pas committed by students during the application process. Inconsistency between institutional choice and students' educational objectives and ambitions ranked second, and the inclusion of unrequested items and inappropriate interview conduct tie for the third most commonly witnessed application blunder.

  • Admissions officers view students that enlist the assistance of admissions consultants neutrally. While seven percent of respondents said that they view applicants who use admissions consultants positively, 80 percent view such students neutrally. In general, most admissions officers feel that admissions consultants help students identify the programs with which they fit best and clarify their career goals.

  • Admissions officers anticipate changes in the student application process in coming years. Most respondents believe the student application process will include more face-to-face or telephone interviews in the next five years (60%). While over half of admissions officers foresee the application process becoming less complex (53%), another forty percent predict the application process will become increasingly intricate in the coming years.

We especially found the learnings around diversity and the trend toward younger applicants to be most interesting. And while we were glad to see that nearly all MBA admissions officers view applicants who use admissions consultants neutrally or positively, we will continue to work to ensure that our clients get a great deal of value from their relationship with us -- but only in a 100% ethical way. As always, we will never write our applicants' essays or tell them what to say.

Visit Veritas Prep to learn more about how we can help you in the MBA admissions process.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dartmouth (Tuck) on MBA Admissions Interviews

Today Tuck's Associate Admissions Director, Karen Marks, wrote a post on the Tuck blog about how the admissions office handles MBA admissions interviews. Her post says a lot about how the schools views applicants and how interviews fit into the overall Tuck admissions process.

Unlike many other top business schools, the Tuck School of Business has an open interview policy, meaning that any applicant can schedule an interview rather than waiting for an invitation from the admissions office. Tuck really looks at whether or not you schedule an interview (and make the trip to New Hampshire) as a strong indicator of your interest in the school. Marks explains that you are by no means ruining your chances of admissions by not scheduling an interview and visiting the campus, especially if you face circumstances that would make the trip difficult (e.g., you live far away, have tight finances, or have other obligations that prevent you from traveling). However, if you're serious about Tuck, know that the most powerful way to show this is by visiting the campus and conducting an on-campus interview.

Regarding interview format, there's a good chance you will be interviewed by a second-year student. Marks makes a point of emphasizing that these interviews carry just as much weight as those conducted by Tuck admissions officers. And meeting a second-year student gives you a great chance to further get a feel for how well you'll fit with the Tuck culture.

Finally, Marks attempts to put an end to anxiety that domestic applicants feel over whether or not they get invited to interview by the Tuck admissions office. She sums up it all up by saying:

The bottom line is that it is definitely a positive sign if we invite you interview, in that it indicates our desire to learn more about you, but don't read too much into it if we don't extend an invitation. Most domestic candidates schedule their own visits, and we are unlikely to prompt you to do so.

So, don't stress over whether or not you're invited to interview with Tuck. But, if you follow their (and our) advice and schedule your own interview with the school, then this should be a moot point!

If you're preparing for your interview with Tuck or any other top business school, Veritas Prep's MBA admissions interview preparation service can help you maximize your chances of success.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Free Law School Admissions Webinar - Dec. 15

This Monday, Dec. 15, Adam Hoff will host an online law school admissions seminar for those who are considering applying to law school this year.

Adam, who is Veritas Prep's Director of Law School Admissions Consulting, is a law school admissions expert, former admissions officer, and University of Chicago Law School graduate. He will discuss:
  • Admissions trends for the 2008-2009 application season

  • What law school admissions officers look for in an application

  • The increasingly popular JD/MBA dual degree program

  • Strategies for dealing with rising applicant numbers

  • What to do if you're waitlisted by your dream school

  • Q&A and general discussion

This free online event will run this coming Monday, Dec. 15., from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM PST. All you need to need to access it is a PC or Mac with an Internet connection and sound capabilities.

Register for our online law school admissions seminar here!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Top Ten Common MBA Application Mistakes from Stanford GSB

Last week LaNeika Ward, Acting Assistant Director of MBA Admissions at Stanford GSB, posted the top ten most common mistakes that the admissions committee finds in applications.

Some of them are pretty amazing (e.g., "Enter your name correctly"), but smart people do indeed make mistakes! Other mistakes are very important things that can be easily forgotten while cramming to complete your applications, such as failing to provide a good reason for leaving any of your previous jobs.

Other than these standout mistakes, several interesting things emerge from this list:

  • When discussing experiences, Stanford wants you to only focus on the past three years. In other words, it's great if you were president of your fraternity in college, but the Stanford admissions committee puts much more emphasis on what you've done more recently.

  • The admissions committee asks that you explain any period of four months or more when you were not in school or working. I actually find it interesting that they're not interested in ALL such periods. Perhaps they understand that some fresh college graduates may take some time to land on their feet and get their first job.

  • Ward makes a point of making sure that your letter of recommendation from a peer truly comes from a peer, not a supervisor whom you consider to be a friend.

  • Note the reference to the "application verification process over the summer," which should serve as a clear warning against pulling any shenanigans in your application. Stick to the truth!

All in all, some good advice that applies to any MBA application. But the above points are interesting because they especially shed light on what Stanford GSB looks for in its business school applicants.

For more advice on applying to business school, read about the MBA application process at Veritas Prep.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Yale SOM Applications Rise 4% in Round One

Take Yale Daily news reported on Thursday that Round One applications to Yale SOM increased by 4% vs. Round One last year.

According to Yale SOM Director of Admissions Bruce DelMonico, the school received 928 applications by its October deadline, compared to 894 received in October, 2007. That puts Yale on pace to pace to receive more than 3,000 applications in the 2008-2009 MBA admissions season.

On top of the growing numbers, DelMonino also reports that the admissions office is "seeing not only greater numbers, but also greater quality." As one indicator of this quality, the average GMAT score of Yale's Round One applicants was 698, two points higher than last year's average.

Yale SOM's Round 1 pool also included 78 applicants from The Consortium for Graduate Study in Management, reflecting the results of a push by the school to attarct more minority candidates. And while Yale has actually been shrinking its class size recently, the school has publicly stated that it may take on a few more students to increase tuition revenues to offset declining returns from Yale's endowment. DelMonico expects next year's class to have up to 200 students, up from 193 students this year.

For more information on applying to Yale, visit the Veritas Prep Yale SOM information page. And if you're working Yale essays now, see Veritas Prep's sample MBA essays.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Try Sample AWA Essays and Get Paid

For a limited time, the Graduate Management Admission Council will pay you $30 to try out new sample Analytical Writing Assessment (AWA) questions.

According to an announcement to registered users of MBA.com:

Participation requires approximately 60 minutes during which you will write two essays online. You may complete these two essays when you register online or at any time within seven (7) days of registration. You can participate from any computer with Internet access and a Web browser comparable to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Participation is on a first-come, first-served basis and is limited to U.S. citizens.

You can register to take the sample AWA exam here. The test makers are only looking for a limited number of participants, so registrations may close quickly!

If you want more practice with sample GMAT questions, try our free sample GMAT exam.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Only Three Days Left to Register for MBA Admissions Blueprint!

Just a quick heads up to everyone to let you know that there are only three days left to register for MBA Admissions Blueprint and meet one-on-one with a Veritas Prep admissions expert this weekend in New York!

Chad Troutwine, one of Veritas Prep's co-founders, will be at NYU to meet with you and discuss the two questions that we most often hear these days: how the current economic client has affected the MBA admissions process this year, and what you can do to get into a top business school in what is shaping up to be the most competitive year yet.

On Saturday Chad will discuss Veritas Prep's MBA admissions philosophy and what you can do now to significantly improve your chances of success, no matter where you are in the application process. He will review in detail our proven MBA Game Plan methodology and how you can use it to your advantage even if you feel you are facing an uphill battle.

Then, on Sunday you will meet one-on-one for an hour with one of Veritas Prep's best admissions experts. You can use this time however you like: to get a candid assessment of your candidacy, to formulate an overall application strategy, or to get some professional help in polishing your essays. And don't worry if you don't know how to use this hour -- you will be in good hands with your admissions expert, who will coach you from start to finish.

Registration costs only $250 -- that's what it normally costs to work with a Veritas Prep admissions consultant for one hour -- and includes the session with Chad Troutwine as well as your one-on-one meeting with an admissions expert.

Hurry... Registration ends Friday!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Stanford GSB Announces Social Innovation Fellowship Pilot Program

Last week the Stanford GSB's Center for Social Innovation announced the Social Innovation Fellowship Pilot Program to support social entrepreneurs.

The Fellowship was created for graduating Stanford MBAs who are ready to spend their first year after business school building a nonprofit venture. Starting this coming spring, a handful of second-year students will be selected to receive a stipend for the following year as well as access to the Center's wide range of resources.

All second-year Stanford MBA students in good academic standing are eligible, and teams of two led by a Stanford MBA are also eligible (i.e,. teams can include non-Stanford members).

If you're interested, learn more in this Q&A on the Stanford GSB admissions blog. And for more advice on applying to Stanford, visit the Veritas Prep Stanford GSB information page.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Veritas Prep Featured in BusinessWeek

The folks at BusinessWeek are working on an interesting and valuable series: If someone could start planning their business school application five years in advance, what should they plan and do each year leading up to submitting their application? For the first story in this series, called Five Years to B-School: The First Year, she turned to Veritas Prep's own Scott Shrum for advice for future MBA applicants.

While there's no one-size-fits all plan for a future applicant, and not many people necessarily know five years out that they'll one day apply to business school, Francesca Di Meglio nicely sums up what a future business school applicant should have done by the end of year one. According to the article, by this time you should have:

  • Begun developing your skill set

  • Found a few mentors who have given you a better idea about the jobs you might like to do in the future

  • Found a way to translate your passions into a couple of activities in which you'd really liked to get involved

  • Decided how you can make an impact at the office and in those extracurricular activities and start implementing a plan of action to do just that

  • Kept your mind on business by reading relevant books and articles

  • Made a decision about when you'd like to take the GMAT

  • Started building a satisfying, well-rounded life and career

You can read the entire article at BusinessWeek. If you would like more advice on the MBA application process and you live in the New York area, there's just one week left to register for MBA Admissions Blueprint and meet one-on-one with a Veritas Prep admissions expert on Dec. 6 and 7!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Announcing MBA Admissions Blueprint 2009

Due to overwhelming demand for our admissions consulting services in the New York area, next month Veritas Prep will run its first annual MBA Admissions Blueprint event, on December 6 and 7, at NYU's Kimmel Center in New York City. This event will bring together some of Veritas Prep's most experienced admissions experts to help you quickly improve your business school applications.

If you plan on applying to business school this year, MBA Admissions Blueprint 2009 will help you jump start your application and significantly boost your chances of success. This year's economic news means that this is shaping up to be the most competitive year in MBA admissions yet, especially for people coming from the financial services sector. This event will help you quickly get up to speed on what admissions officers look for in the perfect applicant -- and how to stand out from a crowded field of applicants who all have a background similar to yours.

Especially if you only recently have decided to apply -- and we know that's the case for many of our clients, who have unfortunately lost their jobs or seen their job prospects deteriorate because of the economy -- this event will help you get up to speed on your application in just one weekend.

MBA Admissions Blueprint 2009 will also give you a chance to meet one-on-one with a Veritas Prep admissions expert. You can use this hour however you'd like -- to get a feel for your chances, formulate an application strategy, give your essays a thorough review, or prepare for an upcoming MBA admissions interview.

For $250 you will attend the Saturday admissions workshop as well as an hour with a Veritas Prep admissions expert on Sunday -- all for the price of what applicants normally to work with one of our consultants for just one hour.

Enrollment is limited to the first 50 people who respond. Register here!

MBA Admissions Interview Tips

Since many top MBA programs have started to release interview invitations for Round One, we thought it would be a good time to review some basic principles for how to effectively approach your MBA admissions interview:

In your interview, you want to come across as personable, confident, interested, interesting, and sincere. For everyone one of these descriptors, think of the opposite. No one would want to be surrounded by arrogant, tentative, indifferent, dull, or phony people. In short, you want to convey that you are who you said you are in your application, and you want to show the interviewer that you're someone who would make a great classmate in business school. Yes, this may seem daunting, given the application themes that you already want to communicate. Most of these personality traits, though, should come through if you can relax and simply be yourself.

For the most part, your interviewer will set the tone of the discussion. As described earlier, some will be laid back and interested in getting to know you personally, while others will want to drill down on specific parts of your resume or application. Obviously, how serious or informal you are will largely depend on the person across from you. Your job is to make adjustments accordingly, and to answer the questions that they ask. But you must make sure that by the end of the interview you have covered the main themes that you came in with. For instance, you may have a laid-back, "get to know you" kind of interviewer who doesn't ask you the kinds of pointed questions that would allow you to talk about your strengths. If this is the case, it's perfectly appropriate to say, "By the way, there are a couple of things that I think make me a good fit for this school. I'd like to talk about them and hear your thoughts," before the interview is over. You don't want to be too transparent, but all but the most inept interviewers will appreciate the fact that there are certain ideas that you’re trying to get across before the discussion is over.

If you have a stone-faced interviewer who won't laugh at your jokes, don't press the matter. Act professionally, answer the questions that are asked, and make sure to hit your main themes. In a way, these interviews can sometimes be easier because the interviewer's business-like questions will more likely give you a chance to strut your stuff. If you have a downright hostile interviewer (which happens from time to time), don't let yourself get flustered or goaded into an argument. Relax, think of it as the interviewer's half-baked way of testing your mettle, and answer the questions as they come. Don't be argumentative, but don't be afraid to be assertive, either. A hostile interviewer may be looking for poise and confidence more than anything else, so make sure to demonstrate these.

These tips have been adapted with permission from Your MBA Game Plan, the leading guide on MBA admissions strategy. For more hands-on help with your interviews, take a a look at Veritas Prep's business school admissions interview preparation services.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

GMAC's New MBA Alumni Survey Results

According to the results of a new survey published by the Graduate Management Admission Council, most business school grads agree that an MBA is well worth the investment.

In the 2008 MBA Alumni Perspectives Survey, nine out of 10 grads from the Class of 2008 reports that their graduate business education met or exceeded their expectations. Additionally, 80% of MBA grads in the workforce believe that they couldn't have obtained their first job without their degree.

Even more encouraging are the numbers regarding job satisfaction. According to the survey, two out of three alumni reported that their first job was the one they wanted, which actually represented a rise in job satisfaction vs. previous years.

Another point of interest was the average number of job offers that each Class of 2008 grad received -- 2.7 job offers per person. Unfortunately, this number will likely trend down as the economy suffers, but the survey overall confirms the value of an MBA, regardless of whether a grad receives one, two, or ten job offers.

If you're applying to business school this year, be sure to check out the Veritas Prep MBA admissions resources page.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

BusinessWeek MBA Rankings for 2008

This just in! In an online chat, BusinessWeek has just revealed its 2008 business school rankings. Without further ado, here are the top 25 U.S. MBA programs for 2008:

1. Chicago (Booth)
2. Harvard Business School
3. Northwestern (Kellogg)
4. Penn (Wharton)
5. Michigan (Ross)
6. Stanford
7. Columbia
8. Duke (Fuqua)
9. MIT (Sloan)
10. UC Berkeley (Haas)
11. Cornell (Johnson)
12. Dartmouth (Tuck)
13. NYU (Stern)
14. UCLA (Anderson)
15. Indiana (Kelley)
16. Virginia (Darden)
17. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)
18. Southern Methodist (Cox)
19. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)
20. Notre Dame(Mendoza)
21. UT Austin (McCombs)
22. BYU (Marriott)
23. Emory (Goizueta)
24. Yale
25. USC (Marshall)

And here are the top ten MBA programs outside of the United States:

1. Queen's School of Business
2. IE Business School
4. Western Ontario (Ivey)
5. London Business School
7. IMD
8. Toronto (Rotman)
10. Oxford (Said)

U.S. News and BusinessWeek vie for the title of most closely watched business schools rankings. While it's debatable as to whether the BusinessWeek MBA ranking system or the U.S. News ranking system is more valid, the fact that BW's rankings only come out every two years always makes this announcement a little extra exciting. To its credit, BusinessWeek does a good job of building up the drama with its online chat format for announcing their business school rankings.

For more help with the business school application process, take a look at Veritas Prep's MBA admissions consulting services.

The Day the LSAT Died?

On November 7, the American Bar Association Journal posted an entry about a very interesting study being conducted at the UC-Berkeley School of Law. According to the ABA post, the study is being conducted by "researchers" and has unearthed tests that measure legal skills such as negotiation and problem solving (in addition to the rather ridiculous "skill" of stress management). The biggest news of all? Berkeley's law school dean, Christopher Edley has announced that two professors have validated the test and is now pushing to take the study to a national level. The Law School Admission Council (LSAC) is taking a look and plans to help fund the research. Amazing!

Setting aside whether the LSAT is a valid test, or whether any test can (or should) assess "lawyering skills" (rather than the skills that would project well for law school success, which I don't have to remind anyone, is a staging ground for more than just lawyers), it seems impossible that LSAC would ever throw its support behind any test other than its prized LSAT.

It is commendable that Edley and the good people at Berkeley are striving for a better test and the fairest possible assessment process, and I suppose that November 7 could go down as the day that the LSAT died, but we'll believe it when we see it.

In the meantime, if you're applying to law school, take a look at Veritas Prep's law school application tips.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Harvard's Endowment May Face Losses

In another sign of economic stress, Harvard has announced that its $36.9 billion endowment may face "unprecedented" losses in the coming year.

While a Harvard spokeperson declined to comment specifically on how the anticipated losses would affect university operations, the university has confirmed that it will continue to offer free tuition to students whose families earn less than $60,000 a year, and offer reduced tuition to families with annual incomes of as much as $180,000.

Other Ivy League schools are taking additional steps to mitigate students' pain: Princeton will make more financial aid funds available to students, and Brown will relax rules barring students with unpaid tuition balances from registering for classes. Given the size of Harvard's endowment, even if it faces losses this year, we wouldn't be surprised to see the school take similar steps to protect its students.

If you're applying to graduate school this year, the bottom line is that top schools don't want to have to turn away anyone because of fianances, even in this economy. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone and have a frank conversation with the financial aid office at your target school. Chances are that they want to work with you to help you make it work.

For more information on Harvard, visit the Veritas Prep HBS information page and read about the HBS 2+2 Program.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

HBS on International Student Loans

Amid all of the grim news lately regarding the availability of student loans, Dee Leopold posted an update on the HBS admissions blog to let international applicants know that they will still have access to need-based loans without a U.S.-based cosigner.

Writes Leopold:

While at this time we do not have further details about specific loan programs with private lenders, we are able to make this important - and reassuring - statement about continued accessibility.

She went on to say that all students will still be eligible for HBS fellowships, which don't need to be repaid. The average need-based fellowship is about $25,000 per year, making them critical in keeping down HBS students' total costs.

If you're applying to Harvard, visit the Veritas Prep HBS information page for more application advice and resources.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

HBS on Late Letters of Recommendation

Earlier this week Dee Leopold wrote a post on the HBS admissions blog describing how the admissions committee handles late letters of recommendation. Here is an excerpt:

If an application has two submitted recommendations, we send it out for review by the Admissions Board in the round in which the application arrived. If the third recommendation comes in, we make every attempt to add it to the file. Since the file can be in any number of places and we can't stop the reading flow, we can't promise that the recommendation will be added before review is complete.

Applications with only one submitted recommendation are held up for the next round.

We know that letters of recommendation can be the most frustrating part of the MBA application process, since you have less control over them than any other part of the application. Even with careful planning and preparation, you may find that your recommendation writers simply don't (or can't) make enough time to write personal, passionate letters that support your candidacy.

The best thing to do, of course, is to start the process early enough that your recommendation writers have plenty of lead time, and to build in some buffer time in case anything goes wrong. But, if you're stressed because your recommendation writers are running late, just know that HBS and other schools will not use it as a reason to ding you immediately. They know that coordinating recommendation writers can be like herding cats. The best prepared applicants will have their ducks in a row (I'm running out of expressions that use animals), but the world will not end if one of your recommendation writers is running late. Timing is critical, but quality always trumps everything else.

Like everything else in the application processm, preparation is key. If you're looking for more guidance, our MBA admissions consultants can help you properly prepare the people who will writer your letters of recommendation.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In the Media: The GMAT vs. GRE Question

Inside Higher Ed's Scott Jaschik just wrote a story about the Educational Testing Service's push to replace the GMAT with its own GRE exam as the standardized test for business school admissions, and he turned to our own Chad Troutwine for his take on this budding competition:

Chad Troutwine, CEO and co-founder of Veritas Prep, a high-end test-prep service for the GMAT, said that the the news from ETS could be significant. Troutwine said that ETS has faced "two big liabilities" in trying to promote the GRE. One has been a fear that minority test takers do not perform as well as white students — something that is expected to change with next year’s addition of the non-cognitive tests. The second problem was the lack of "hard data that the GRE was as predictive as the GMAT," Troutwine said.

If the ETS data stand up, he said, many business schools are likely to be "agnostic" on the two tests, seeing the flexibility as a "costless way" to attract more applicants. "The tests are very similar," he said. "This could be very big news."

At the same time, Troutwine said that the key question is whether business schools accept the ETS comparisons as valid: "Will the business schools accept that calibration? It’s one thing for ETS to say that a score on the GRE equates to a score on the GMAT, but will the business schools accept that in the same way ETS does?"

Click here to read the whole story. While the number of business schools that accept the GRE is a drop in the bucket compared to the number of schools that require the GMAT today, ETS is sure to keep pushing to sign up more schools. Even if the GRE never catches up to the GMAT, this push could ultimately force the Graduate Management Admission Council to respond in some way.

Speaking of the GMAT, if you're preparing for the test now, try our free practice GMAT test.

Monday, October 27, 2008

This Year's Job Prospects for MBAs

A recent article in Time described the worsening job prospects for business school students in light of the economic downturn. At schools that just a year ago were begging their students to honor their job interview commitments, some second-year students are now worried if they'll receive any job offers by the time they graduate next spring.

Heads of career services offices at many top schools all describe the same attitude among employers: "Wait and see." Many companies have instituted headcount freezes, and even at ones that haven't, hiring managers are being given fewer offers to make. Today they're much more afraid of hiring too many MBA grads than hiring too few -- they know that they'll always be able to go back to campus in early 2009 and pick up a few more new hires if they need to.

What can business school students do? Proactive job seekers are looking beyond the on-campus recruiting process to find opportunities on their own. And they're also widening their job search to consider careers outside of banking ans consulting. Joining a smaller firm may come back into fashion as some companies that normally couldn't make much impact at a top school find that many grads now eagerly attend their information sessions.

The worst time to be in school is right when the economy takes a turn for the worse -- there's nothing like having a job offer rescinded. For people who apply to business school this year, though, the question is: What will the economy look like in two or three years? That's anyone's guess, but here's hoping that the worst of the unpleasant surprises are behind us.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Yale Dean Joel Podolny to Step Down

Big news at Yale... Yesterday the Yale School of Management announced that Joel Podolny will leave his post as dean of the school to join Apple as vice president and dean of the company's coming Apple University. Effective November 1, Professor Sharon Oster will take the reins as interim dean while the school conducts a search for Podolny's permanent replacement.

It's an understatement to say that Podolny has made a big impact on Yale in his three and a half years there. The number of applications to Yale has increased by 50% over the past five years and the school's full-time faculty has grown by 20% (even as the school has deliberately reduced its class size). And while a school is so much more than its building, Yale SOM's new campus (scheduled for completion in 2011) will stand as a testament to Podolny's last impact on the school.

In an email to the Yale SOM community, Podolny expressed his bittersweet feelings about leaving behind Yale for Apple:

So even as I am excited about this new chapter in my life, I am very sad to be leaving SOM. However, I can state unequivocally that I would not consider leaving if I did not feel that the school was on a strong footing. As a school, we know who we are. We have embraced our distinct mission, and are singularly and fundamentally focused on cultivating a distinct model of leadership, a model that can and should be applied across industry and sector. We know we will soon have a spectacular new campus that will support and sustain our educational model. As a community of faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends, we know what we must do to execute on the unique and necessary MBA curriculum that we have pioneered.

Podolny won't actually join Apple until early 2009, and will stay on the Yale faculty and will continue to teach until then. He and the school are doing the right thing by getting the transition started now.

While we at Veritas Prep were mainly asking "What does this mean for Yale?" when we first heard the news, it also makes us wonder about Apple and its education initiatives. The company has in some ways returned to its education roots by embracing how colleges use its iPod and iTunes system to allow students to access a library of course lectures. While many in the press have speculated that the company's Apple University will be a training program for employees, we wonder if it's actually a much broader digital education play that Apple may make in the next couple of years.

For more advice about applying to Yale, visit the Veritas Prep Yale School of Management information page.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

HBS Interviews: Dee Leopold on Round One

The other day Dee Leopold posted a message on the HBS admissions blog regarding the school's upcoming wave of Round One interview invitations. HBS will start contacting applicants to set up interviews on November 12, with many of the interview requests going out the following week.

As HBS and other top schools often do, Leopold reminds applicants that the timing of the interview invite is strictly a function of when the application is reviewed in the process -- it's not a reflection on the strength of one's candidacy. There's also no rhyme or reason in terms of alphabetical order, geography, or the date when the application was received. In other words, don't bother trying to divine your chances based when you receive (or don't receive) an interview invitation!

Leopold finished the post with a plug for the updated entrepreneurship info on the HBS web site. A few times lately we have heard HBS representatives emphasize the program's entrepreneurship-related content... Something to keep in mind if you are an HBS applicant with a sincere interest in this area.

For more advice on applying to HBS, visit our Harvard Business School information page. For more advice on how to nail your HBS interview, take a look at our MBA admissions interview preparation service.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Announcing Our Law School Admissions Contest!

To introduce our new law school admissions consulting services, Veritas Prep has announced a contest for law school applicants. The contest winner will receive a complimentary Veritas Prep Admission Brief consulting package that includes comprehensive assistance with the application process for three law schools. The Admissions Brief is a $3,100 value, and includes:

  • An admissions consultant from the school of your choice to personally work with you throughout the entire law school application process

  • The Veritas Prep Law School Game Plan™ - a proven approach to help you gain perspective and shape every component of your application

  • An admissions consultant who has been through this exact process and can suggest proven techniques

  • Insider opinion from recent graduates of the nation's top law schools to make sure you are applying to the right schools

  • Winning suggestions identifying and maximizing those community service and work experience elements that will appeal to the admissions committee

  • Guidance to help you construct powerful and persuasive essays

  • Editorial critiques that focus on grammar, content, and style

  • Customized feedback to help you craft the best possible resume

  • Proven strategies to solicit effective letters of recommendation

Don’t miss your opportunity to win free admissions consulting services to help maximize your candidacy for admission to the nation’s top law schools!

To Enter:

In one page, using any media of your choice, explain why you want to become a lawyer. Submissions must be received by 4pm PDT on November 15, 2008. Please email your entry to our law school admissions consulting team at JDcontest@veritasprep.com.

As you prepare your application, visit our site to learn more about our law school admissions consulting services.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Announcing New GMAT Prep Course Offerings

As you may have read earlier this week in the Wall Street Journal article linked to this space, business school applications are expected to peak this year by a larger margin than at any other point in history. With the impending competition for slots in top schools compounded by uncertain job security throughout the global economy, MBA admissions consultants and GMAT instructors like me are in the unfamiliar position experienced most by rock stars and Broadway performers - "extended by popular demand".

To assist the multitude of potential MBA applicants who need to put together applications in short order before the January deadlines, Veritas Prep has just announced the addition of new end-of-2008 course schedules from coast to coast:

  • Beginning on Monday, November 3 in Beverly Hills, California, Veritas Prep will run an additional 42-hour Full Course schedule (Monday/Wednesday, 7 to 10 p.m.)

  • Beginning on Saturday, December 13, Veritas Prep will run an additional 36-hour Weekend Course Schedule in New York City (Midtown Manhattan location)

For information on these and the dozens of other Veritas Prep GMAT prep courses that are scheduled to begin in the upcoming weeks -- including a worldwide round of Full Course offerings beginning the final week of October -- take a look at our GMAT course schedule options.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Last-Minute MBA Admissions Essay Tips

This week many of our clients are working hard to finish up their Round One business school admissions essays. If you’re in that boat, then we’d like to offer a few last-minute tips to help you perfect your essays:

  • Step Away from Your Essays – If you are your own primary editor, the best thing you can do is to give yourself some time between reviews of each essay. When you’ve written the prose yourself and are knee deep in it, it’s too easy to skim over a sentence and read what you know you meant to say, rather than what the words actually put down on paper. This unfortunately makes it very easy to miss basic mistakes . Step away from your essays for at least a few hours (ideally a couple of days) before reviewing them again.

  • Don’t Let Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen – When it comes to feedback on your essays, more is not always better. We all have friends and relatives who are decent writers and are willing to loan you their eyeballs, but don’t feel compelled to act on every piece of unsolicited advice that you receive. Where your friends can help you the most is in catching errors that you missed or in letting you know when a certain passage in confusing. Beyond that, you should probably ignore most of their suggestions on style. It’s too late for that now!

  • Recycle with Care – It’s very tempting to recycle your MBA admission essays, especially if you’re rushing to meet a deadline. And it’s okay to re-use a story in more than one application – after all, we all only have so many stories of a time when we demonstrated leadership, made a tough decision, faced an ethical challenge, etc. But, above all, make sure that the essay you’re using appropriate answers the question being asked. You’d be surprised at how often we see applicants fail to do this seemingly simple thing. And, for the love of God, don’t say, “I really want to attend Wharton” in your Stanford essay!!

  • Make Sure Your Essays Fit Your Overall Application Story – You may be so focused on making each essay great that you’ll miss the bigger picture: For each school, do your essays fit in with your overall application story? Don’t get so hung up on making your individual essays so dynamic that you forget to tie them together in one overarching application theme. Are you a techie who wants to build his general management chops? A finance person who needs to get better at marketing? Ideally all of your application components will be consistent with that theme.

If you're stuck, take a look at these sample MBA essays. If you would like some more help in polishing up your essays, take a look at Veritas Prep’s MBA essay editing services. Our essay evaluators won’t write your essay for you or put words in your mouth, but they will help you clearly and concisely articulate your application story in your essays. If you need one last pair of professional eyes to look over your essay, give Veritas Prep's essay services a look.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Veritas Prep Featured in The Wall Street Journal

An article in today's Wall Street Journal ("Escape Route: Seeking Refuge in an M.B.A. Program") looked more deeply into the trend of people turning to graduate school as the economy slows. Veritas Prep was mentioned as one of the GMAT prep and admissions consulting firms that has recently seen tremendous growth because of the softening economy and Wall Street turmoil.

While this trend has been covered a great deal lately, this piece raises an interesting question: If more people pursue their MBAs now but the Wall Street landscape looks dramatically different in three years, where will those grads go? According to the article:

But the severity of the financial crisis and the demise and consolidation of financial powerhouses that in previous years have nabbed top talent at schools across the country make this year's flight to business school different. When this year's M.B.A. applicants graduate, they will enter a dramatically different Wall Street and potentially smaller job market that has been altered by the ripple effects of the credit crunch.

"The demand for managing money and the demand for banking skills, that's going to be here," says Stacey Kole, deputy dean for the full-time M.B.A. program at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business. But "it may migrate to different firms." Ms. Kole says the school is seeing more boutique firms recruit on campus, as well as employers in other sectors recruiting for finance jobs. "People who may have gone to Wall Street will go to Main Street in a finance role," she says.

Business schools aren't the only ones that may see an increase in application because of the economy. According to the Law School Admission Council, this past June there were 28,939 LSATs administered in June, representing a 15.3% increase from a year ago.

Perhaps most concerning is the effect that the current market may have on student loans. Some lenders (such as Citi) have already suspended loan programs, while others are tightening their lending standards. It remains to be seen how much of an impact this trend will have on the overall graduate school admissions landscape.

If you're just now thinking about applying to business school or law school this year, take a look at Veritas Prep's industry-leading admissions consulting team.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Harvard Business School Celebrates 100 Years

In a proud weekend tinged with a hint of sobriety because of the current economic crisis, Harvard Business School celebrated its centennial this past weekend. What was a yearlong celebration of the school's centennial ended with the three-day HBS Global Business Summit.

The summit was attended by a wide variety of business and government leaders, from Bill Gates to Jeff Immelt to Meg Whitman to India's finance minister. And while schools normally have to campaign to encourage their alumni to attend on-campus events, HBS' centennial boasted a waitlist of over 250 people. By all accounts, it was a terrific celebration of this important institution.

But it was not all caviar and bubbly. On his Financial Times blog, Stefan Stern recounted how the crowd could not avoid discussing the current financial turmoil. HBS Dean Jay Light opened the proceedings with a serious address, pinning the blame for the current turmoil squarely on the same leaders that HBS produces. While the focus of the event was squarely on HBS and not on the markets, current events were very much on the top of everyone's mind.

It will be up to HBS and other top business schools to dig deeply and decide how they will evolve their philosophy for training business leaders in the future.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Chicago GSB Announces Curriculum Changes

Yesterday the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business announced changes to the school's curriculum to increase the program's flexibility and to add a leadership development component to the evening program's requirements.

The school's graduation full-time MBA requirements remain unchanged: It still includes nine required courses, 11 electives and a leadership course. The important change is that more approved substitute classes have been added to satisfy the nine required courses. Chicago GSB continues to offer several hundred courses (across the GSB and the rest of the U. of Chicago) to satisfy the other 11 elective courses.

Dean Edward Snyder attributed the changes in part to the increasing quality of the students entering the class. "We have added a hybrid finance class containing five weeks of corporate finance and five weeks of investments that will allow all the standard corporate and investment classes to be taken up a notch in difficulty," said Dean Snyder in a release on the school's web site.

As for the evening students, the new leadership development course requirement means those students will take 21 courses, the same as the school's full-time students. The faculty cited the importance of giving all Chicago GSB students tools for self assessment and opportunities to improve their interpersonal skills -- no matter what Chicago GSB program they attend -- as the reason for the change.

If you are considering applying to Chicago, visit the Veritas Prep Chicago GSB information page.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Harvard Business School Students' Work Experience

Last week HBS posted the college graduation years of its incoming Class of 2010 on its blog. As expected, more than half graduated in 2004 or 2005 (i.e., they have between three and four years of work experience), and about three quarters graduated between 2003 and 2005 (three to five years of work experience):

Source: The Director's Blog at HBS.edu

There's nothing too eye-opening here, but it's good to see the data broken out so explicitly. One reason is that so many applicants only see the mean number of years of work experience for a school's incoming class, and wrongly assume that if they aren't right at that number, then their chances of success are very low. It's good to see that, while their numbers are clearly lower, there are significant numbers of older and younger HBS students.

We expect to see the number of years of work experience for admitted HBS students to continue to decrease slightly over time, given the school's push to attract younger applicants (especially through its HBS 2+2 Program). Although, it will be interesting to see if the economic slowdown affects number in the coming year: Will it cause the average age of applicants to drop even further as they accelerate their plans to go to business school, or could it actually end up attracting more older applicants who are out of career options? Only time will tell.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Veritas Prep Featured in Inside Higher Ed

Inside Higher Ed, one of the leading voices on matters related to the higher education space, recently turned to Veritas Prep for insights on the competition among business schools in trying to outshine one another in the rankings. Chad Troutwine and I recently were in Washington, D.C., and we had a chance to sit down with Inside Higher Ed's Jack Stripling to discuss trends affecting the world's top MBA programs.

Stripling's article ("A Farewell to Arms Races?") investigates what drives schools to roll out new academic programs, enhance their facilities, or make other significant changes. While there seemed to be a more blatant trend of schools "keeping up with the Joneses" in the 80's and 90's, many top schools seem to have taken a step back and are now making more deliberate changes that are in line with their core missions.

But the buzzwords of the day (be it ethics a few years ago or global business today) still seem to drive some of today's changes at top MBA programs, which is what Chad and I discussed with Jack.

Take a look... Inside Higher Ed is a great way to stay on top of these trends if you're considering applying to any graduate program.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

MBA Grads Face Wall Street Uncertainty

Even Harvard Business School grads are feeling the pain in Wall Street's current troubles. A recent article in the Boston Globe uncovered what HBS is doing to help its own students and recent graduates who are affected by the turmoil.

According to the article:

In the school's first intervention on behalf of newly minted graduates, seven Harvard career coaches flew to New York to huddle with 18 members of the Class of 2008 who had taken jobs at troubled firms like Lehman Brothers Holding Co. and Merrill Lynch. All were still working, but didn't know what the next day would bring. Harvard's delegation promised to set up interviews with other employers.

Much like with the ethics cases of recent years, many b-school professors see this as an opportunity to teach important lessons in the moment. And students are hungry for those lessons -- a Wharton panel discussion on Wall Street's troubles recently drew more than 1,000 students.

Even the firms that are on good footing, such as Goldman Sachs, have delayed making job offers this year. And students who thought they were headed to Wall Street are now considering alternative career paths, either in corporate finance roles, management consulting, or even in financial regulatory roles. With a new regulatory framework potentially emerging, the federal government could ironically end up being a big source of jobs for these displaced finance-minded MBAs.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

MBA Admissions Tips from Haas

The Haas admissions team just released a great new podcast detailing what they look for when evaluating MBA applicants. Peter Johnson (Director of Admissions) and Stephanie Fujii (Associate Director of Admissions) shared a few important insights into how Haas evaluates every Haas applicant.

According to Johnson and Fujii, the three key areas that Haas looks at when evaluating applicants are: academic aptitude, professional accomplishments and leadership, and personal qualities.

Academic Aptitude
When assessing your academic aptitude, the admissions committee especially looks at your undergraduate transcript and your GMAT score. Haas will also will take into consideration your coursework in other graduate programs, if applicable. According to Fujii, "Basically, we're trying to evaluate your ability to succeed academically in our program." Johnson made note that they pay attention to the caliber of your undergraduate institution, the rigor in your undergraduate classes, and the overall trend in your GPA from your freshman year to your senior year. The school does not have a hard GMAT score cutoff, but Johnson urges applicants to aim to at least be in the school's middle-80% GMAT range (currently 650-750).

Professional Accomplishments and Leadership
Work experience is very important to Haas. Most incoming students at Haas have between three and seven years of work experience after college. The school rarely admits applicants with less than two years of work experience. But it's about more than just quantity of experience. According to Johnson, "We really need to understand your career progression. Why have you transitioned from one job to another? How has your role progressed within each organization? Have your responsibilities increased? Have you had the opportunity to develop leadership skills?" Johnson went on to add that it's impressive to see that a candidate has earned a series of promotions and increases in responsibility, rather than someone who "started out at the top." Finally, the Haas admissions team looks closely for signs of how you've impacted your organization, which is a key yardstick of your leadership ability, regardless of your job title.

Personal Qualities
Like all other top business schools, Haas puts a lot of emphasis on who you are, not just what you've accomplished. As Johnson says, "We're interested in understanding our applicants as individuals. In other words, what's important to you? What are you passionate about?" They go on to emphasize that you really need to be your self in your MBA application. Says Johnson, "The number one mistake that applicants make in their essays is that they spend too much time trying to write what they think the admissions committee wants to read." Finally, they give another important piece of advice that we often give our clients: Don't underestimate how much time and effort it will take to create truly great, personal MBA essays. Finally, they explain Haas's interview policy: The school typically invites 25%-30% of its applicants to interview (usually conducted by alumni or students), and Haas rarely admits an applicant without an interview.

These are just a few of the tips that Haas includes in their podcast. We definitely recommend that you give it a listen if you're interested in Haas, but give it a listen even if you don't plan on applying to Haas this year.

For more advice on applying to Haas, visit the Veritas Prep UC Berkeley (Haas) information page.

Monday, September 22, 2008

New GMAC Survey Explores Women's Interest in MBA Programs

According to a recently released survey by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the growth in applications from female applicants continues to be strong.

In this year's survey, 65% of full-time MBA programs said application volume from women grow vs. last year, compared to 57% of programs saying this in 2007. That growth was especially strong in several core disciplines, including part-time master's programs in accounting and master's programs in finance.

The gender gap in graduate management education still remains, however. Men outnumbers women by more than two to one in applications to executive MBA programs, and women only represented approximately approximately 30% applications to full-time, part-time programs, and accelerated MBA programs. And while the overall number of full-time MBA applications grew 10% in the past year, the number of applications from women only grew by 8.5%.

Interestingly, while the average number of applications to part-time MBA programs overall was flat vs. last year, the average number of applications to part-time programs from women grew by more than 13%. Now, more than 40% of applications to part-time MBA programs come from women. These self-paced programs are more flexible, which likely drives their appeal for women seeking to get back into the workforce or trying to manage their work/life balance.

Also, many of these programs have been making an increased effort to reach out to women over the past several years. It looks like it's starting to pay off, which we're glad to see!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Veritas Prep Quoted in Bloomberg Article

When Bloomberg's Oliver Staley recently wrote a story about Pepsico's ex-Chairman Steve Reinemund joining Wake Forest's Babcock Graduate School of Management as its new dean, he turned to Veritas Prep for a viewpoint on the MBA rankings game.

Among Reinemund's first tasks will be improving the school's job placement statistics and raising the school's profile in global business school rankings. On the latter point, Staley interviewed me for my take on the challenges Babcock will face in improving its ranking in U.S. News:

The school will have to displace others that are also seeking to improve, said Scott Shrum, the director of MBA admissions research for Veritas LLC, a test-preparation company in Malibu, California. U.S. News's rankings are hard to move because 40 percent of each rating is based on how well a program is viewed by other deans and by corporate recruiters, he said.

"It is extremely tough and, unfortunately for a school like Babcock, so much of it based on the reputation of a school," Shrum said in a phone interview on Sept. 9. "That can take decades to change."

Babcock is a good school. The challenge will be for Reinemund to raise the school's profile among other MBA programs. It sounds like Wake Forest has completely handed him the keys to the program. We recommend that he take some risks, overhaul the curriculum, and otherwise shake things up. Chicago GSB and Michigan (Ross) are two examples of other schools that have taken on new leaders in recent years and let them shake things up, which caused other programs to take note, which ultimately helped their overall reputations and strengthened their rankings.

We think that Reinemund has the opportunity to create a similar effect at Babcock. It won't be an overnight success, but by innovating and listening to Babcock's own community year after year, we think Reinemund will be able to do it.

You can read the entire Bloomberg article here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

UNC (Kenan-Flagler) Essay Topics for 2008-2009

While we've previously blogged about UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business, below is a closer look at the school's admissions essays for 2008-2009. Our comments are in italics:

Kenan-Flagler Application Essays

  1. What are the 2 or 3 strengths or characteristics that have driven your career success thus far? Do you have other strengths that you would like to leverage in the future? (500 words maximum)

    (Interestingly, UNC replaced last year's more traditional "describe your career progression to date" question with this one, which more directly addresses HOW you have achieved the things you have in the past. This is in line with the advice we always give our clients: Don't just focus on WHAT you've done, but also on HOW and WHY you've done it.)

  2. Briefly describe the career path you intend to pursue immediately after b-school. Explain why this career option appeals to you and why an MBA is appropriate at this time. (500 words maximum)

    (This is the more typical "Why an MBA?" question. Keep in mind all of the components of Your MBA Game Plan as you approach this question.)

  3. What personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? How do these qualities or experiences equip you to contribute to Kenan-Flagler? (500 words maximum)

    (Last year Kenan-Flagler had an optional question asking about international experience. The school has now rolled that into a more general -- and required -- essay question that asks you to explicitly spell out what makes you unique.)

  4. What do you expect from your MBA program? How and when will you measure the return on your investment in the MBA? (500 words maximum)

    (This question is also new, and is not one that we've seen very often before. We suspect that the admissions committee will prefer to see that you judge "ROI" not just by numbers, but also by the lifelong friendships that you'll make, the new ways you'll learn to think about tough questions, and exposure to new viewpoints. Don't expect that they only want to see an actual ROI calculation showing how your increased post-MBA earnings will more than make up for the cost of your degree.)

  5. (Optional) If your GMAT quantitative score is low, or if you have not had coursework in calculus, microeconomics, statistics and financial accounting, please tell us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative MBA curriculum. (300 words maximum)

    (UNC had a very similar optional question last year. If this question sounds like it was meant for you, be sure to address this issue head-on.)

  6. (Optional) Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you in order to evaluate your candidacy? (300 words maximum)

    (As usual, only use this essay if you really feel the need to tell the admissions committee something that you couldn't communicate in any of the above essays. Avoid the temptation to overly highlight a weakness or recycle an essay from another school's application.)

While some schools have actually cut back their essay requirements this year -- perhaps because of the surging number of applications coming in -- Kenan-Flagler has actually added two required essays this year. This realistically has no material impact on your UNC application strategy, but it's a sign that the school will continue to put heavy emphasis on application essays in evaluation each applicant's candidacy.

To get a feel for your chances of gaining admission to Kenan-Flagler and other top business schools, try Veritas Prep's Business School Selector.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Wharton Announces New JD/MBA Program with Penn Law

Last week the University of Pennsylvania announced a new three-year JD/MBA program between the Wharton School and Penn Law School.

JD/MBA students will spend their first year taking law courses, followed by a summer of four more law and and businesses courses designed specifically for the JD/MBA program. In their second and third years students will take a combination of law and business courses, including capstone courses in the third year. While they won't work during their first summer, JD/MBA students will take a law- or business-related job between their second and third years.

According to the Penn release:

"We expect that all sorts of people with business experience will apply," Edward Rock, co-director of Penn's Institute for Law and Economics, a professor of law and an architect of the three-year program. "All of them will be able to navigate and lead in the worlds of business and of law because this is the best way to prepare tomorrow's business lawyers."

Penn joins other top schools such as Northwestern in the trend to provide accelerated JD/MBA options to students who are considering graduate training in both law and business.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

HBS 2+2 Program Admissions Decisions

This just in! HBS has started to send acceptance notices to applicants who have been admitted to the first entering class of the HBS 2+2 Program. Word from our clients is that HBS first sent admissions acceptance notices by email, followed up by a congratualtory call from Dee Leopold herself.

Congrats to all members of the Veritas Prep community (and everyone else) who have made it into the HBS 2+2 Program!

The HBS 2+2 Program invites undergraduate students who have completed their junior year of college to apply for deferred admission to Harvard Business School. Admitted applicants are guaranteed a future spot at HBS after successfully graduating from college and completing two years of work experience at a participating employer. If you are a college junior and are considering applying to the program next year, read more about the HBS 2+2 Program on our blog.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

NYU (Stern) Application Essays for 2008-2009

Earlier we posted NYU Stern's 2008-2009 application deadlines. The school has since posted its full online application. Here are Stern's application essays for 2008-2009, with our comments in italics:

NYU (Stern) Application Essays

  1. Think about the decisions you have made in your life. Describe the following (500 words):

    (a) What choices have you made that led you to your current position?
    (b) Why pursue an MBA at this point in your life?
    (c) What is your career goal upon graduation from the NYU Stern? What is your long-term career goal?

    (This question is the same as last year's Question #1. It is pretty straightforward, and should be approached as you would approach any other "Why an MBA? / Why this school?" question. What stands out most about this question vs. other schools' similar questions is Stern's emphasis on the choices you've made up until now. Be sure to answer that part of the question -- don't simply discuss what you've done up until now, but also address why you did those things and made those choices.)

  2. The NYU Stern community is one of our strongest assets. Please answer the following questions about this community: (500 words)

    (a) What is your personal experience with the Stern community? What actions have you taken to learn more about us?
    (b) What is the most difficult piece of constructive feedback you have received, and what did you do as a result of it? How will this experience make you a better member of the Stern community?

    (Part A of this question remains the same since last year, although part B is new. For part A, Stern clearly wants you to demonstrate that you truly want to attend Stern, not just any good finance school in the Northeast. While campus visits are not really required for any program, being able to say you've visited Stern would obviously be a plus in answering this question. Part B's inclusion in this question seems odd at first glance, although this is your chance to emphasize the teamwork dimension in your application and your own self-awareness abilities. Be sure to close the loop and address how this growing experience will make you a better classmate at Stern.)

  3. Personal Expression (500 words, if written):

    Please describe yourself to your MBA classmates. You may use almost any method to convey your message (e.g. words, illustrations). Feel free to be creative.

    (We love how interesting this question is, as well as the interesting responses that come from applicants answering this question. Like Chicago GSB's PowerPoint presentation or UCLA Anderson's audio response, this shows that the school is eager to see you as a real person, not another list of accomplishments or post-MBA career goals. In other words, they're almost begging you to stand out. By no means does that mean doing something outrageous. But it does remind us how hard of a job admissions officers have, and how you can make their job easier by helping them remember the real you. One other note: While this question allows you to use any medium, don't feel the need to offer up something other than written words -- if that's your best medium, use it. Just be creative with how you use those words, and let the Stern admissions committee get a glimpse of the real you.)

For more advice on applying to Stern, visit the Veritas Prep NYU Stern information page and see these sample MBA essays.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

UVA (Darden) Application Essays for 2008-2009

UVA's Darden School of Business has released its application essays for the 2008-2009 admissions season. Here they are, with our comments in italics:

UVA (Darden) Application Essays

  1. What pivotal choice(s) have you made in your life that have influenced your decision to pursue an MBA? (500 words)

    (This question is new this year, and that emphasis on the word "you" is Darden's. Last year's first Darden essay was very similar to Stanford's "what matters most to you, and why?" question, which probably was leading applicants to talk about everything BUT themselves. Now the admissions committee is explicitly putting the emphasis on YOU with this question. Of course, you should always keep the discussion in your essays and your admissions interviews focused on you -- what you accomplished, what you were feeling when you made a decision, etc. -- as much as possible. But this question goes directly after that, so make sure to answer the question.)

  2. From the following categories, describe the one that has taught you the most: a creative challenge, an ethical dilemma or an experience of failure. Why? (250 words)

    (This question is also new this year. This is a very short essay, so you'll obviously need to keep it focused. At least the school gives you a menu from which you can choose a topic. You may be tempted to recycle essays from another application, but the fact that this is so short will make that very difficult.)

  3. Describe how you are a fit with the case study method. (250 words)

    (We think this is a great question. Darden takes the case study method as seriously as HBS does, and anyone who applies to Darden must be able to explain why that learning style is a good fit for them. Having trouble answering this? Then think long and hard about why you're applying to Darden.)

For more advice on applying to Darden, visit the Veritas Prep UVA (Darden) information page.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Safety" Business Schools Are Getting More Selective

Last week BusinessWeek added to the chatter about the slowing economy driving another big increase in business school applications. Nothing new there, although the article included one interesting point regarding lower-ranked MBA programs:

While applications are up across the board, the middle-tier business schools are reporting some of the sharpest increases, ranging from 25% to nearly 40% in the number of applications in some instances. At least some of the students are heading to business schools because they have lost their jobs or are worried about the future. Admissions officers said that they expect more of those students, including those who may have waited to see how the economy fares, to apply during the coming cycle.

The upshot is that applicants who have assumed they can get into a top-30 school for sure -- as a backup if they can't get into a top-10 school -- may need to rethink that assumption. If you expect that your credentials will make you far from a shoo-in at a top school, and you plan on casting a wide net and applying to some lower-ranked business schools, be ready to work hard to get into those "safety" schools.

Want to get a better feel for how high you should aim when applying to business school? Veritas Prep's MBA admissions consultants will give you an objective look at your candidacy. And if you need to boost your GMAT score, Veritas Prep offers a variety of GMAT course options to help you break 700 on the exam.

Friday, August 29, 2008

INSEAD Names New Dean of MBA Program

Last week INSEAD announced it has named named Professor Jake Cohen as the new Dean of the school's MBA program, effective September 1. Cohen has been with INSEAD for more than five years as a professor, and has also served as Director of the school's joint research program with PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Cohen currently teaches a variety of finance, accounting, and business law courses at INSEAD's campuses in France and in Singapore. He founded the Business Foundation program, a pre-matriculation program that prepares the incoming MBA class for INSEAD's quant-heavy subjects. Before INSEAD, he was a Senior Teching Fellow at Harvard Business School.

Cohen will succeed Professor Antonio Fatás, who has served as the Dean of the programme since 2004.

To learn more about INSEAD, visit the Veritas Prep INSEAD information page. If you are just starting your application, find out how Veritas Prep MBA admissions consultants can help you get in to INSEAD.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

NYU (Stern) Application Deadlines for 2008-2009

NYU's Stern School of Business has released its online application for the 2008-2009 admissions season. Here are Stern's deadlines for the coming year:

NYU (Stern) Application Deadlines
Round 1: November 15, 2008
Round 2: January 15, 2009
Round 3: March 15, 2009

Stern's deadlines (esp. Round 1) come a bit later than most other top schools' deadlines. That will give you some nice breathing room in terms of workload if Stern is one of your target MBA programs.

To get a feel for your chances of getting into Stern, try Veritas Prep's Business School Selector, a fun tool that serves as a good starting point when researching which MBA programs you want to target.

Monday, August 25, 2008

INSEAD Application Essays and Deadlines 2008-2009

INSEAD has released its application for the 2008-2009 season. The following are INSEAD's deadlines and essays for the coming Sep. 2009 intake, with our italics in comments:

INSEAD Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2008
Round 2: November 26, 2008
Round 3: February 11, 2009
Round 4: April 1, 2009

INSEAD Application Job Essays

  1. Please give a detailed description of your job, including nature of work, major responsibilities; and, where relevant, employees under your supervision, size of budget, number of clients/products and results achieved. (250 words)

  2. Please give us a full description of your career since graduating from university. If you were to remain with your present employer, what would be your next step in terms of position? (250 words)

  3. (No changes since last year. INSEAD is unusual in that it explicitly separates out applicants' job-related and personal-themed essays, and this practice remains for 2008-2009. Question #2 is interesting because they really want to see that your career is on an upward trajectory, and that you're not pursuing an MBA just to bail out of a dead-end job.)

INSEAD Application Personal Essays

  1. Give a candid description of yourself, stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors, which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (400 words)

  2. Describe what you believe to be your two most substantial accomplishments to date, explaining why you view them as such. (400 words)

  3. Describe a situation taken from school, business, civil or military life, where you did not meet your personal objectives, and discuss briefly the effect. (250 words)

  4. Discuss your career goals. What skills do you expect to gain from studying at INSEAD and how will they contribute to your professional career? (500 words)

  5. Please choose one of the following two essay topics:

    a) Have you ever experienced culture shock? What did it mean to you? (250 words)

    b) What would you say to a foreigner moving to your home country? (250 words)

  6. (Optional)Is there anything that you have not mentioned in the above essays that you would like the Admissions Committee to know? (200 words)

  7. (For reapplicants) In case of reapplication, please use this page. Your essay should state any new aspects of professional, international, academic, or personal development since your last application. We would also like you to explain your motivation for re-applying to INSEAD. (400 words)

  8. (Again, no changes since last year, but note INSEAD's emphasis on cultural awareness and the value of mixing international cultures. More than just about any other business school, INSEAD puts a very deliberate focus on the value of an international perspective.)

For more advice on applying to INSEAD, visit the Veritas Prep INSEAD information page.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Veritas Prep Provides MBA Admissions Tips for Forbes

Earlier this week Tara Weiss at Forbes interviewed me for a piece she was doing called Tips For Getting Into A Top Business School. It was the third time Tara has interviewed me on the subject of MBA admissions, and I really enjoyed our talk once again.

In the interview I told her about how many of our admissions consulting clients are afraid to discuss past failures or weaknesses in their applications. If you don't have any weaknesses or failures to discuss, then what makes you interesting?

I know one applicant who pursued a pro sports career, only to have to give it up and go on to a successful "normal" career and then apply to business school. Pretty interesting, but she was extremely reluctant to talk about her whole sports experience. "But I don't want them to think I'm a loser who didn't accomplish my goals," she argued.

Do you think that everyone at Harvard or Wharton has achieved every one of his or her goals? Do you think that the admissions office at those schools believes that's the case? Of course not! An applicant without any failures or faults or like a movie plot with no conflict -- not very interesting or believable.

For more MBA application advice, see an interview that Tara did with me and Omari Bouknight earlier this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More on the Uptick in MBA Applications

In what has become a common theme in the media, The Economist recently wrote a piece showing further evidence of an upwsing in MBA applications in the face of a slowing economy. The piece takes a look at business school applications as a predictor of future economic performance, saying, "Worryingly for those betting on a swift economic recovery, business schools reckon that next year could yield an even bigger crop of applicants."

According to a chart cited in the article, three-quarters of MBA programs are expected to reprt an increase in applications this year -- approaching the record levels seen in 2001-2002, right after the dot-com bubble. Adding on to the effect of a slowing economy is the continuing surge in applicants from India and other developing markets.

As far as the GMAT is concerned, the Graduate Management Admission Council expects at least a couple more years of strong growth for the exam. Registrations are expected to rise to 249,000 this year, yet another record.

If you're already planning on applying, don't depair. Stay the course, do your best to ace the GMAT, and then focus all your energy on perfecting your mba application. Don't worry about timing the market... Just focus on making your application as strong as it can be.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cornell (Johnson) Application Deadlines for 2008-2009

The Johnson School at Cornell Univerity won't release its 2008-2009 MBA application for a couple more weeks, but the school has released its deadlines for the upcoming year:

Cornell (Johnson) Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 6, 2008
Round 2: November 17, 2008
Round 3: January 12, 2009
Round 4: March 23, 2009

For advice on applying to Cornell, visit the Veritas Prep Cornell (Johnson) information page.

Friday, August 15, 2008

MIT Sloan 2008-2009 Application Now Live

MIT Sloan applicants, get ready! The school's online application is now live for the 2008-2009 admissions season. Last month we posted our analysis of MIT Sloan's 20082-2009 admissions essays.

In other news, Sloan announced that it will roll out a new course in ethics, moving away from the case study approach in this area. While the topic of ethics isn't as hot on business school campuses as it was a couple of years ago, it's clear that top programs have no forgotten about the importance of ethics in a graduate business education.

Hopefully this will always be the case as other management education philosophies and fads come and go.

For advice on how to tackle your Sloan application, visit the Veritas Prep MIT Sloan information page. And for more information on deadlines, visit our business school admissions deadlines page.