Monday, June 30, 2008

GMAC Addresses GMAT Cheating Scandal

As they promised when the story first broke, the folks at the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) have just released an FAQ regarding GMAC's case against Scoretop and what it means for people who have used the site.

While there aren't any bombshells in the FAQ, GMAC's position is clear: Anyone who used the site shouldn't plan on using "But I didn't know they were real questions!" as an alibi. GMAC will assume that those who paid for Scoretop subscriptions deliberately tried to get their hands on real GMAT questions. At the same time, GMAC made clear that merely visiting the site (and not paying for "JJs") does not make someone an offender. So, if you just clicked on a link in a forum and merely "checked out" the Scoretop site, you have nothing to worry about.

Interestingly, the FAQ goes on to say that GMAC tracked Scoretop for several years, and repeatedly warned Lei Shi about posting live questions. GMAC eventually filed suit against Scoretop a year ago (in June '07), and won its suit a year later. The wheels of justice turn slowly, for sure.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Harvard Business School Application Now Available

Last month Harvard Business School released its essays for the 2008-2009 application season. This past Thursday, the HBS released its full application for the coming year.

As Dee Leopold mentioned on the HBS blog, there is no advantage to applying before the Round One deadline. According to Leopold:

"Please keep in mind that... we only begin to review applications after the October 15 Round One deadline. The Admissions Board has no knowledge of whether you submitted your application today or in October. To put it another way, we consider applications in three distinct decision rounds; within rounds, it is not a 'rolling' admissions process."

In other words, don't needlessly scramble to get your application in early. By all means, resist the urge to prcrastinate and submit your application right at 5:00 PM on October 15, but there's no reason to submit your application before it's anything less than 100% perfect.

For more information about applying to HBS, visit our Harvard Business School information page.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Kellogg Application Essays for 2008-2009

Kellogg applicants, look alive! The Kellogg School of Management has just released its admissions essays for the 2008-2009 application season. The questions are as follows, lifted directly from the Kellogg web site:

All applicants are required to answer questions 1, 2 and 3 in addition to 2 of the essays in question 4. For questions 1-3, please limit responses to 2 pages.

1: Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at Kellogg.

2: Describe how your background, values, academics, activities and/or leadership skills will enhance the experience of other Kellogg students.

3: Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experience.

Choose two of the following three essays…

4: Applicants must answer 2 of the below essays. (Re-applicants must answer question 4D and 1 other essay). Please keep responses to two paragraphs.
- 4A - Describe a time when you had to motivate a reluctant individual or group.
- 4B - I wish the Admissions Committee had asked me…..
- 4C - What do others admire about you?
- 4D - For re-applicants only: Since your previous application, what are the steps you’ve taken
to strengthen your candidacy?

As Beth Flye told us at last week's AIGAC conference, there are no really significant changes from last year. Questions 2 and 3 have been reworded, but are substantially the same as last year's questions. Question 4A may appear to be new, but is similar to last year's "Describe the most challenging professional relationship you have faced" question.

What stands out the most to me is 4C -- "What do other admire about you?" I miss their old question that had applicants play the role of admissions officers and evaluate their own applications. While this isn't quite the same, and is much shorter, I'm glad to see this sort of "toot your own horn" question back on the Kellogg application.

For more advice about your Kellogg application, visit our Kellogg School of Management information page.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Thoughts from the First Annual AIGAC Conference

Last week several of us at Veritas Prep were lucky enough to attend the first annual conference for the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants (AIGAC), in Chicago. Although the organization is only a couple of years old, it's clear that it has already made great strides in establishing high standards for ethics and professionalism in the world of admissions consulting.

On the morning of the first day we visited the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, where we heard from admissions director Rosemaria Martinelli about what the school looks for in applicants. While she didn't go into too many specifics that I can share here, she did promise us that Chicago's 2008-2009 application essays are coming soon, and that more changes are afoot. Expect to see some significant changes to the school's admissions essays, although the PowerPoint presentation remains! We also heard from Chris Iannuccilli, the school's Executive Director of Marketing, who shared some interesting insights about where the GSB plans to go in the next couple of years.

That afternoon we headed north to Evanston, where we visited my favorite business school, the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. There we heard from Beth Flye about the latest trends the school is seeing. Think about this: In 2007-2008 the school saw a 20% increase in application volume, on top of years of already strong growth. Keep that in mind when you think about going severely over your word limit in your MBA application essays. Additionally, we heard that Kellogg's incoming 1-Year class is 45% international -- something to consider if you're looking for an especially international flavor to your business education in the United States.

The second day featured some stimulating panel discussions, the first of which featured some of our peer admissions consultants as they tackled interesting topics such as managing unreasonable client expectations, dealing with unethical clients (we heard some VERY interesting war stories), and -- what I found most interesting of all -- the rising tide of the Millennials generation and their over-involved "helicopter parents." Yes, it seems that these parents are now infiltrating even the world's top MBA prorgams.

Another panel featured admissions officers from Tuck, Haas, Anderson, LBS, and Kenan-Flagler. They expressed many of the ideas and concerns that we also heard from Kellogg and Chicago, but interestingly, they also mentioned the trend of more and more parents being involved in the admissions process. I consider this to be a disturbing trend (Will we ever let our children grow up?), but one that we're all going to have to live with, from applicants to admissions consultants to admissions officers.

We closed the two-day event with a more informal mixer with admissions representatives from these and other top schools. In many cases, it was great to simply be able to put faces to names, and the casual environment was perfect for letting everyone get to know each other a little better.

I left the first anunal AIGAC conference even more excited than ever about the prospects for our young young industry. As Veritas Prep and other leading admissions consultants continue to take the high road and maintain an open dialogue with admissions officers, I expect that the industry will continue to grow, and clients (and even schools) will continue to benefit.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The HBS 2+2 Program

If you’re a college junior with a liberal arts bent, the HBS 2+2 Program could be right for you. This marks the first year of admissions for Harvard Business School’s new program targeting college undergrads. According to our MBA admission consulting team -- which offers specialized consulting for students applying to the HBS 2+2 Program -- the new program has created quite a buzz on campus.

The program has three main benefits to consider: one, it's an ideal time to apply during your undergraduate years; two, it offers superior access to job recruiting and career advice; and three, it provides students with extra preparation in leadership and practical business skills.

Ideal time to apply: No matter how busy you feel in college while balancing coursework, sports, clubs and social commitments, you will undoubtedly be shocked to find out how busy you are once your full-time career begins. In addition, a couple years after graduating, you will probably find yourself a little rusty at test taking and essay writing. The HBS 2+2 Program application deadline comes during the summer after your junior year in college (this year it comes on July 1, 2008), which can be an optimal time to apply. You are in prime test taking and essay writing mode, you have great access to professors for recommendations, and (as hard as it may be to believe) it is probably easier to find extra time to work on those daunting, time consuming essays.

Access to job recruiting and advisors: Ask any HBS student what the most beneficial thing was about school, and toward the very top of their list would be access to world-class companies and incredible career advisors. As part of the HBS 2+2 Program, you will get access to these companies and coaches as a college senior, supplementing the recruiting opportunities already present on your undergraduate campus. Over 100 of the most prestigious companies participate in the program, eager to hire the ambitious college students accepted into the program. And while working at one of these companies, you are free to focus on your job performance without the distraction of GMAT studying and essay writing that plagues many young professionals stressed about getting into a top MBA program.

Extra preparation: During the summer preceding business school, Harvard hosts extra workshops for members of the program focused on leadership and business skills. In addition to learning critical skills that will differentiate you from other recent college graduates, you will also get to meet a phenomenal group of students who have had experiences similar to your own – a network of students who will likely remain some of your closest friends.

If you have exceptionally strong academic performance, a track record of leadership, and a desire to push yourself even further, take a closer look at the HBS 2+2 Program. Don’t worry if you don’t quite yet know what you want to be “when you grow up” or what you will do with your MBA degree. This program is designed for people like you.

If you want to ace your Harvard application, visit Veritas Prep to learn more about the specialized MBA admissions consulting we provide for HBS 2+2 Program applicants.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Stanford GSB Essay Topics for 2008-2009

Stanford has just released its application essays for the 2008-2009 admissions season:
  • Essay A: What matters most to you, and why?
  • Essay B: What are your career aspirations? How will your education at Stanford help you achieve them?
  • Essay C: Short EssaysOptions 1-4
    Answer two of the questions below. Tell us not only what you did but also how you did it. What was the outcome? How did people respond? Only describe experiences that have occurred during the last three years.

    Option 1: Tell us about a time when you built or developed a team.

    Option 2: Tell us about a time when you felt most effective as a leader.

    Option 3: Tell us about a time when you tried to reach a goal or complete a task that was challenging, difficult, or frustrating.

    Option 4: Tell us about a time when you went beyond what was defined, established, or expected.
It used to be that Stanford turned MBA applicants loose on just the first two questions, with absolutely no limits on word count. More recently, they gave applicants a total seven-page limit for all of their essays, with applicants free to choose how they used the seven pages. This year, they have given applicants a more traditional word limit, totaling 1,800 words across all four essays. While you are still free to allocate your words however you choose, it's clear from Stanford's guidelines that you should spend more words (and time) on Essay A than any other.

If you want more guidance on your Stanford business school application, visit our Stanford GSB profile page.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lowest Price on The Official Guide for GMAT Review

Today Veritas Prep introduces an offer that just might change the landscape of GMAT preparation -- a brand new copy of The Official Guide for GMAT Review, 11 Edition, for just $10 plus shipping. This isn't a used copy or an older edition. This is the real deal that some stores sell for over $30. (Since this is such a low price, we're limiting this offer to one per person, while supplies last.)

We believe that success favors the prepared, especially when it comes to test preparation. We feels so strongly about this that we want The Official Guide to be affordable anyone who is preparing to take the exam. While you may decide to purchase other materials and services to prepare for the exam, this book can be a great starting point as you begin your GMAT preparation journey.

If you want additional preparation for the exam, Veritas Prep offers the most comprehensive GMAT prep courses in the industry. We urge you to buy a copy of The Official Guide, get familiar with the test and gauge how much help you may need, and then take a closer look at what Veritas Prep has to offer, including our full 42-hour course, private tutoring, and online training.

Best of luck. We hope you crush the GMAT!

Monday, June 2, 2008

Books to Read Before Business School

If you're entering business school this fall, or are just starting to prepare for the GMAT, there are certain books that are easy to read while giving you a good grasp of basic business-related concepts. BusinessWeek just wrote a piece featuring some of these books, based on recommendations from professors at a few top MBA programs.

There are a few usual suspects here, such as Goldratt and Cox's The Goal, which is required reading in many Operations classes (including my first-year operations course at Kellogg). That anyone could take Ops and turn it into a novel is a wonder. No one will mistake it for a John Grisham novel, but the authors do a good job of presenting Operations lessons in a pretty easily digestable format.

Other recommendations include Gladwell's The Tipping Point, Friedman's The World Is Flat, and Levitt and Dubner's Freakonomics, which is a popular title at Veritas prep headquarters. None of them is directly applicable to your first-year business school courses the way The Goal is, but each will give you a good mental workout and get you thinking about business matters in new ways.