Monday, March 30, 2009

Stanford GSB Wants More Round 3 Applicants!

This is a little surprising... Or is it?

Last week Stanford GSB's Derrick Bolton posted a message on Stanford's blog encouraging anyone who's on the fence to pull the trigger and apply to Stanford in this year's Round Three. Could it be that the slow economy has hurt Stanford's numbers? Could Stanford really need applicants this year?

Probably not. It's doubtful that an MBA program such as Stanford needs more applicants, or that the school's yield has dropped much vs. previous years. What is true, though, is that this year Stanford's Round 3 admissions deadline (April 8) is nearly three weeks later than last year's, and no top MBA program has a Round 3 deadline nearly as late as Stanford's. We're not sure of Stanford's reasons for this change, but it could be that Stanford made this move to snag a few extra top-tier candidates that HBS and Wharton, etc., may miss out on because of their earlier R3 deadlines. Now that Stanford is the last top school with its doors still open for 2008-2009 applicants, perhaps Bolton has so far been underwhelmed by the number (and quality?) of applicants that this strategy has brought in this year.

He writes:

The media hype says that business school applications soar when the economy is bad and, as such, there won't be any spots left for third round applicants. This simply isn't true. And we worry that some great people may delay applying because of these misperceptions. Historically, we've found that applications follow demographic cycles more than economic cycles.

We assure you that we admit outstanding individuals in all three rounds--this year is no exception. While it is true that the final round typically is smaller than the first two, we do admit excellent candidates in Round 3--including our current Director of MBA Admissions.

Odds are that you long ago already decided to apply this year, or know that you definitely won't apply any sooner than this coming fall. It's good to see messages like this coming out of a top-tier MBA program, because it suggests that your chances this year may be a little better than some expected, but our advice remains the same: Only apply when you're ready, and only when you have a competitive GMAT score, can get outstanding letters of recommendation, and have enough time to create strong admissions essays. Don't apply in Round 3 just on a lark!

For more advice on applying to Stanford, visit our Stanford information page, or follow us on Twitter.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Harvard and Wharton Admissions News

This week HBS and Wharton provided important updates for applicants on their blogs. For anyone who is currently waiting to hear back from HBS or Wharton, the next couple of weeks figure to be an important time. And, if you're on the waitlist at HBS, you may have some good news coming soon.

On the HBS admissions blog, Dee Leopold provided an update for applicants in all three admissions rounds. She wrote:

Round One Waitlist - We will be extending offers of admission to about 40 round one waitlisters shortly after April 2. We will continue to maintain a waitlist and Eileen Chang will send out an update in early April.

Round Two Notification - April 2 is the notification date. All decisions will be released online - you will receive an email instructing you to check your status. We won't be making any congratulatory phone calls in advance of April 2!

Round Three Interview Invitations - Many, but not all, will go out on April 3.

Meanwhile, over at the Wharton blog, the admissions team posted an update specifically for the school's Round 2 applicants:

All Round 2 applicants who were invited for interviews: you will receive your admissions decision tomorrow. You may check your decision status at that time through your online application. We will also make every effort to contact all new admits via telephone or e-mail.

Return here tomorrow for an announcement that decisions have been released and for more details...

Good luck to everyone!

Note that the Wharton blog post was written yesterday, meaning that by now many of you should have heard from Wharton... Hopefully you got good news!

For more regular updates on Harvard Business School, Wharton, and other top business schools, be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

New Duke Nine-Month Master's Program

The Fuqua School of Business at Duke University has just announced a new master's program designed to provide basic entry-level business skills to recent college graduates and advanced degree holders with no prior full-time work experience.

The new Master of Management Studies in Foundations of Business (MMS) program includes 12 business courses taught over four six-week terms. The program's curriculum will cover all of the basic areas of business training: finance, accounting, marketing, strategy, operations, decision analysis and management. All courses will be taught by the same Fuqua faculty that teaches in the core MBA program. The first MMS class will enter Fuqua this fall.

The MMS program requires no previous business studies, although a basic knowledge of calculus, statistics and computer skills is required. For those who enter the program with no training in these areas, "boot camps" in statistics and computer skills are available. It's noteworthy that, while the majority of the MMS program's students will be recent college grads, it is actually designed for anyone with little or no work experience, including Master's degree and PhD holders.

While there is no single rule that can be applied to everyone, we usually tell our MBA admissions clients that they will get the most out of their business training if they have at least a couple of years of full-time work experience under their belts. However, there may very well be a place for programs such as MMS in the education market.

If you are just graduating from college and think you will one day want to earn an MBA, then we recommend getting two to five years of work experience before applying to business school. However, if you don't plan on pursuing an MBA and want a basic level of business training in order to get your professional career started, then the Master of Management Studies program may be a good fit for you.

Monday, March 23, 2009

European MBA Programs Attract More Americans

Given the turmoil on Wall Street and the overall soft job market in the U.S., it's not surprising that many international applicants have decided not to come to the U.S. to pursue an MBA this year. Even more interesting, however, is that apparently many Americans also also now considering earning their MBAs abroad.

An article in last week's Wall Street Journal describes the trend of more and more Americans deciding to go abroad for their MBA programs. Not only do schools such as INSEAD and IMD provide Americans with an opportunity to broaden their international exposure, but they also offer a nice sort of career diversification in that they tend to attract a more diverse array of corporate recruiters than do most American programs.

According to the WSJ article, at some top European schools, only about 20% of the graduating class lands in finance, compared with up to 60% at some U.S. schools. While this has traditionally been a weakness for European schools in attracting top talent that wants to pursue high-paying jobs, in today's climate it's one reason why more American than ever have sought out these programs.

Another advantage that many European schools offer is that their programs are shorter than most American schools' programs, which, among other things, means that they can be significantly less expensive. While we tend to discourage applicants from choosing based on costs alone, this often significant difference can be hard for someone to ignore when they're still paying off old student loans and are about to leave their job to take on even more debt.

The European business schools aren't content to just let Americans beat a path to their doors -- they've made a point of aggressively reaching out to U.S. students in order to capitalize on this trend. As a result of the macro trend and these recruiting efforts, schools such as Oxford's Saïd Business School have interviewed 60% more American applicants this year than in 2007-2008.

The MBA pendulum has swung towards the rest of the world... Will it one day swing back towards American MBA programs? Tell us what you think!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

New Podcast from the HBS 2+2 Program

In a new podcast on the HBS web site, Assistant Director of MBA Admissions Kerry McLaughlin, interviewed Andrea Kimmel from HBS 2+2 Program admissions, and Mark Michaelman, a recent 2+2 Program admit. The podcast provides a nice overview of Harvard's rationale for launching the program last year, as well as gives some advice for college undergrads who are starting their applications now.

Kimmel explained that the impetus for creating the HBS 2+2 Program was when the admissions office realized who wasn't applying to HBS. Explained Kimmel, "We realized there was a real opportunity to start to talk to younger people who maybe would never have business or an MBA degree on their radar screen." The admissions officers especially had scientists, engineers, liberal arts majors in mind when they created the program. Their question: How to turn them on to the idea of a graduate business education before they go too far down another professional path?

Even though the program attracted more than 630 applicants in its first admissions cycle (and admitted 106 of them), the school is aggressively promoting it to attract an even more diverse applicant pool in the coming year. "Since launching it, we have been on over 80 college campuses, and that number continues to grow," said Kimmel. "We're looking forward to having an even higher number of applications in the second year."

New admit Mark Michaelman then went on to describe the application process. Not surprisingly, the real challenge for a rising college senior is to balance schoolwork and the application process. "As long as you keep track of it and organize your schedule, it tends to be pretty straightforward."

Kerry made a point of emphasizing that the HBS 2+2 Program will accept the GRE this coming year, which is consistent with the program's mission to attract more applicants who may not have considered an MBA until now.

Read more about the program's admissions essays and deadlines on our blog, and see how Veritas Prep can help you apply to the HBS 2+2 program this year.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

An End to MBA Bashing?

Yesterday the Financial Times ran an interesting piece titled Why MBA Bashing is Unfair. In it author Stefan Stern argues that, while graduate business programs aren't perfect and need to evolve, they are not churning out the sharp-elbowed, non-consequence-caring sharks that some in the media have accused them of producing. If anything, they are guilty of producing leaders who only manage by the numbers, and, because of their lack of true management experience, are unable to step back at times and think about an organization as more than just a pile of balance sheets and income statements.

The stereotype of the cocky MBA is surely somewhat deserved, but to say that "arrogance and greed" are solely responsible for our current economic troubles misses the larger point about the value that an MBA can provide.

Stern goes on to say:

The content of the course, while not exactly incidental, is really not the most important thing. It is the process itself: applying for a place, being admitted, meeting and working with faculty and contemporaries, and forming a new network, that matters.

This is what you find when you talk to sceptical MBA graduates who may not remember a great deal about the different modules they studied. Even they will describe their time at business school as a transformative experience. They went in one end as a fairly ordinary, apprentice businessperson. They came out the other ready to operate at a higher level.

This is what we at Veritas Prep always tell our admissions consulting and GMAT prep clients: The hardest part of business school may seem to be getting in, but once you're in, what value you get out of the program is entirely up to you. There's at least as much value in the chance to make new friends, get exposed to new viewpoints, and build an incredible new network, as there is in learning about the capital asset pricing model.

And, as McGill University professor Henry Mintzberg argues in the FT article, the real learning about how to manage still needs to occur on the job, after you graduate. That inevitably means that at some point a fresh MBA will be promoted into a role that he's not yet fulled qualified for, but management must be learned in context. Today's business leaders are at least as responsible for educating tomorrow's leaders as any MBA program is. This kind of mentorship has always been how people and organizations grow, and this will never change.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Business School and Law School Application Trends

Last week's Economix blog on the New York Times web site featured the latest growth trends for the LSAT, GMAT, and GRE. Not surprisingly, the number of LSAT exams taken in 2008-2009 increased more than 5%, which coincides with the National Law Journal's report that applications were up 4% vs. last year.

While the Graduate Management Admission Council hasn't yet released its numbers for 2008-2009, it is expected to show steady growth vs. the previous year. It will be interesting to see if the overall number of MBA applicants grows much this year, given the uneven preliminary numbers we have heard from some of the nation's top programs.

Note that not all of the numbers reported by the National Law Journal point to strong growth. Interestingly, the actual number of law school applicants increased by less than 1%. So, not many more people applied to law school vs. last year, although those who did apply seemed to apply to more schools. Also, the number of GRE exams taken in 2008 actually was actually lower than the number taken in 2007, although that may have more to do with a change to the exam, which may have spiked the number of people who took the exam in 2007.

The whole story is still unfolding, but it will be interesting to see where the numbers end up at the end of this application season. Will a surge actually come next year, or will this recession prove to be different than others? Only time will tell.

If you decide to take the plunge and apply now, see what Veritas Prep's admissions consulting services can do for you.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Wharton Round 3 Admissions Update

Yesterday Wharton's admissions office posted an update on its blog for everyone who just applied in Wharton's third admissions round. Since they understand that waiting on one's application status can put an applicant on pins and needles, Wharton admissions officers are deliberately over-communicating about what Round 3 applicants can expect in the coming weeks.

First, know that if your status currently reads "Received" or "Complete for Round Three," then you are in good shape. "Received" just means that the office needs to match up your hard copy submissions with your electronic files, and within a week or so you should see your status change. "Therefore," says the admissions committee, "please allow the Operations Team until Thursday, March 12 before inquiring about the completeness of your application."

Wharton will start releasing interview invitations on March 30, and will continue to release them until April 9. So, once your application status is "Complete," there's no need to even check it again until the end of this month. Also on April 9, Wharton will notify all Round 3 candidates who have been denied admission.

Finally, if you are invited to interview, you must complete the interview by April 23. All interviewed applicants will receive their final admissions decision by May 14.

If you are invited to interview with Wharton and would like some professional assistance in preparing for the big day, Veritas Prep offers MBA admissions interview preparation services. Good luck to all Round 3 Wharton applicants!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

HBS 2+2 Program and the GRE

A handful of top MBA programs, including Stanford and MIT Sloan, have started to accepted the GRE in the admissions process. Now, one more big name plans to start accepting the exam: Harvard has announced that it will accept the GRE for HBS 2+2 Program applicants starting this year.

This is consistent with the strategic aim of the HBS 2+2 Program -- to attract more applicants who may otherwise not have considered pursuing an MBA. While many top business schools compete with HBS for high-potential applicants, HBS sees other top grad programs as their main competition for top young talent. Accepting the GRE allows HBS to attract more high-caliber applicants who may not have originally planned on pursuing a business education.

Note that, although the Forbes article makes it sound as thought HBS will only accept the GRE for the 2+2 Program, it will actually accept both. (See the HBS admissions FAQ.) If you already have a strong GMAT score, then don't even worry about the GRE. Also, this change only applies to the HBS 2+2 Program; right now Harvard's traditional MBA program still only accepts the GMAT.

If you are a college undergrad and may eventually want to pursue a Harvard MBA, read about the HBS 2+2 Program's admissions essays and deadlines on our blog.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Job Data for Stanford GSB Class of 2008

Last month Stanford GSB published its final job placement statistics for the Class of 2008.

Consistent with prior years, consulting was the most popular single industry for Stanford MBAs, with 27% of the class opting for a median starting salary of $1250,000 and a median signing bonus of $20,000. Private equity came next, at 14% of the class, with the median starting salary being $150,000 and the median signing bonus clocking in at $32,500.

Slicing it by function, consulting was still the most popular, at 29% of the class, with private equity (16%) and investment management (8%) coming next.

The most popular careers for the Stanford GSB Class of 2008 were:


Percentage of Class

Median Base Salary

Median Signing Bonus





Private Equity/LBO




Hedge Funds




Internet Services/E-Commerce




Investment Banking/Brokerage


$ 95,500




$ 80,000


Venture Capital




Investment Management




Real Estate




Consumer Products








Source: Stanford GSB Blog

Note that the non-profit sector accounted for 5% of Stanford grads' post-MBA careers. While this is consistent with other top business schools' statistics, we wonder if this number will increase this year and next as the rough economy encourages more grads to pursue non-profit and social enterprise careers in place of high-paying consulting and banking jobs, which may not be plentiful in the near term.

If you are applying to Stanford this year or next, take a look at our Stanford admissions essay analysis.