Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Wharton Application Essays for 2009-2010

Recently Wharton released its application deadlines for the coming admissions season. Now, the school has released its admissions essays for the coming year.

Wharton's essays are below, and our comments follow in italics.

Wharton Application Essays
  1. As a leader in global business, Wharton is committed to sustaining "a truly global presence through its engagement in the world." What goals are you committed to and why? How do you envision the Wharton MBA contributing to the attainment of those goals? (750 - 100 words)

    (This is a new question for Wharton this year, although, at its core, it's still looking for you to to describe why you want an MBA, and why a Wharton MBA specifically will help you in your career. In this way, it's very similar to other schools' "Why MBA? Why this school?" questions. However, note the emphasis that the school has placed on "global business" and "engagement in the world." This isn't a sign that you need to have international or multi-cultural experience in order to be a fit with Wharton, but the school is clearly looking for applicants that can frame their experiences and goals in a global context, and who plan on engaging in the communities around them.)

  2. Tell us about a time when you had to adapt by accepting/understanding the perspective of people different from yourself. (750 - 100 words)

    (This is also a new question this year. It is another hint that the school seeks a great deal of diversity in its applicant pool, and wants students who will thrive in this environment. Don't let this question intimidate you if you feel that your global experiences are minimal -- any situation where you accomplished something by working with someone who has a different background or outlook than you is fair game. That can include someone's personal beliefs, cultural background, professional experience, or academic background. An applicant's tendency here will be to automatically go for the most obvious case of a cultural or language barrier, but it's more important that you can make clear why the situation was challenging, what you did to overcome it, and -- hopefully -- how you were successful.)

  3. Describe a failure that you have experienced. What role did you play, and what did you learn about yourself? (500 words)

    (This question carries over from last year. As with all failure-related questions, the key is to put enough emphasis on what you learned. This sort of self-awareness is what admissions officers typically look for when they ask a "failure" question. Also, ideally you will be able to describe a later time when you applied what you learned to a new situation to avoid a similar failure.)

  4. Choose one of the following: (500 words)

    - Give us a specific example of a time when you solved a complex problem.

    - Tell us about something significant that you have done to improve yourself, in either your professional and/or personal endeavors.

    (Both of these essay choices are new this year. The first question gives you the opportunity to take the reader through how you broke down the problem at hand, whether it was an analytical problem or an organizational challenge. The word "complex" will often take people down the path of a story that shows off their analytical abilities, but think broadly about the definition of this word. A story about how you overcame multiple organizational or cultural challenges to achieve something is also fair game. The second question gives you another opportunity to demonstrate self-awareness and a commitment to self-improvement. One example of a good essay here is a story of how you overcame tremendous odds to better yourself at a particular task or skill.)

  5. If you feel there are extenuating circumstances of which the Committee should be aware, please explain them here (e.g., unexplained gaps in work experience, choice of recommenders, inconsistent or questionable academic performance, significant weaknesses in your application). (250 words)
    (It ca be tempting to use this type of question as an opportunity to pour out a list of excuses for weaknesses in one's background. Avoid this temptation, and only use it if you must address a glaring weakness in your application. Address it, explain what happened, and move on.)

For more advice on applying to Wharton, visit the Veritas Prep Wharton information page. Also, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Learn to Think Like MBA Admissions Officers

Veritas Prep has released a white paper examining the results of its first annual survey of admissions officers at the top 30 business schools in the United States.

The white paper, titled "Trends in MBA Admissions: Perceptions of Admissions Officers at Top 30 Business Schools," highlights notable findings from the Veritas Prep Survey of MBA admissions officers, an eight-week online survey conducted among the top 30 U.S. business schools, according to BusinessWeek's rankings. Responses from admissions officers on topics ranging from student selection criteria to the future of the MBA application revealed a series of considerations that any b-school applicant should heed, including:
  • Almost half of respondents report that the number of admits straight out of college has increased compared to five years ago, partly reflecting a push by many top MBA programs to attract younger applicants.

  • Among desired changes that admissions officers would like to see in their applicant pool, diversity ranks number one.

  • Among applicant traits and characteristics, analytical skills rank as the most important, far ahead of any other characteristic such as leadership and community service.

Despite the increased demand for graduate business education stemming from the current economic slowdown and other contributing factors, the savvy business school applicant is in a unique position to secure a coveted seat in a leading MBA program through some additional due diligence. Knowing what wows and irritates admissions officers at top MBA programs can propel one’s candidacy from unlikely to competitive.

You can access the white paper here. If you're ready to apply, contact Veritas Prep for MBA admissions help.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Kellogg Admissions Deadlines for 2009-2010

Recently Kellogg released its admissions essays for the coming year. Now, the admissions office has published its application deadlines for the 2009-2010 season.

The Kellogg deadlines work a little differently than those of most other schools, and it can be a little confusing for an applicant. For each round, the first deadline is the date by which you should contact the admissions office to set up an interview. At Kellogg, the applicant initiates the interview process, rather than the school inviting candidates to interview.

For the coming year, the off-campus interview request deadline is October 2, while the on-campus interview request deadline is October 15. This is known as "Part 1" of Round 1, and it is critical that you meet this deadline in order to get things rolling for Round 1. Then, the next deadline to note is for "Part 2," which is your actual application, including your essays and recommendations.

Kellogg Application Deadlines for Part 1
Round 1: October 2, 2009 (Oct. 15 for on-campus interviews)
Round 2: December 18, 2009 (Jan. 14 for on-campus interviews)
Round 3: February 19, 2010 (Mar. 4 for on-campus interviews)

Kellogg Application Deadlines for Part 2
Round 1: October 15, 2009
Round 2: January 14, 2010
Round 3: March 4, 2010

Note that you get a couple of extra weeks for Part 1 of your application if you request an on-campus interview (no doubt because of the logistics the admissions office has to go through with off-campus interviews to match so many applicants with alumni interviewers around the world).

For more advice on applying to Kellogg, visit the Veritas Prep Kellogg School of Management information page, and be sure to follow us on Twitter.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Does the MBA Oath Accomplish?

Last week a recent Harvard Business School graduate spoke out about the Class of 2009's collective effort to create and endorse a new "MBA Oath" in response to the public beating that the Master of Business Administration degree has taken in the public eye. In an article posted on harvardbusiness.org, Max Anderson explained he and his classmates' reasons for signing the oath.

"The oath began as a voluntary, opt-in grassroots initiative among our classmates to get 100 HBS students to sign by graduation," Anderson wrote. "We based our oath language largely on a draft of an oath completed by Professors Nitin Nohria and Rakesh Khurana in the Harvard Business Review last October, with a few edits of our own. We thought 100, or more than 10% of the class, would have symbolic power. As of June 8, 2009, more than 50% of Harvard's graduating MBA class has signed the oath."

But what exactly is the oath supposed to accomplish? Anderson explains, "We hope the Oath will accomplish three things: a) make a difference in the lives of the students who take the oath, b) challenge other classmates to work with a higher professional standard, whether they sign the oath or not and c) create a public conversation in the press about professionalizing and improving management."

While many people in the press have expressed skepticism that such an oath will in any way impact these graduates' future behavior, Anderson cites some behavioral science research that suggests that such public commitments do in fact impact one's actions. So, even if the oath is somewhat hollow, is it possible that it still might steer some grads towards a more responsible path?

Others have referred to the wave of new ethics courses in business schools in the wake of the Enron and Worldcom scandals of a few years ago, and the impact that these courses have had (or haven't had) so far. However, these courses are still so new that, even if they are effective, it's too soon to see their impact.

The net takeaway is that none of these changes is likely to single-handedly solve any widespread cultural problems among MBAs (if you believe there are any) that could drive them towards reckless or irresponsible behavior. Taken together, though, over time they may start to positively impact MBA grads.

However, as much as we believe in the power of HBS or any other business school to transform someone into stronger business leader, we also believe that how likely someone is to be a responsible manager (and a responsible community member overall) depends more on who they are when they enter business school than on the lessons they learn -- and the oaths they take -- while in school. And that will never change.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

MBA Admissions Panel Discussion at Microsoft

This Thursday, Scott Shrum, Veritas Prep's Director of MBA Admissions Research and the co-author of Your MBA Game Plan, will appear in a panel discussion at Microsoft, as part of the Africans at Microsoft Club's second annual Business School Panel: "Standing Out Among the Outstanding: Recession, Competition, and Business School Admissions."

In addition to Scott, the panel will include Cassandra Pittman, Assistant Director of Marketing at INSEAD and responsible for MBA recruitment in North and South America; and Barbara Thomas, President and CEO National Black MBA Association, the world's leading organization for black professionals. Also in attendance will be two "experts in the audience" to add to the discussion: Bryan Tomlinson and Edward Gali, both representing the University of Washington's Michael G. Foster School of Business.

Our friends at MBA Podcaster will attend the event, and will and bring your questions to the panelists. If you have any questions that you would like to hear answered, send them to info@mbapodcaster.com.

For everyone in Redmond, we hope to see you at the event!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Kellogg Releases Admissions Essays for 2009-2010

Northwestern University's Kellogg School of Management has released its application essays for the coming year. While the school has not yet released its application deadlines, Kellogg applicants can start working on their essays now. As usual, our comments follow in italics.

Note that there are some changes to Kellogg's essays this year, although the application still features three required essays and two shorter "Choose your own question" short answers.

Kellogg Admissions Essays
  1. a) MBA Program applicants - Briefly assess your career progress to date. Elaborate on your future career plans and your motivation for pursuing a graduate degree at Kellogg. (600 words)

    b) MMM Program applicants - Briefly assess your career progress to date. How does the MMM Program meet your educational needs and career goals? (600 words)

  2. (These questions are the same as last year's, and are the standard "Why and MBA? Why now?" questions that you will see on many MBA applications. One challenge that applicants face is BRIEFLY describing their career progress until now, and then devoting enough space to why an MBA is right for them, why now is the right time, and why specifically Kellogg is the right MBA program for them.)

  3. Describe your key leadership experiences and evaluate what leadership areas you hope to develop through your MBA experiences (600 words)

  4. (This question remains from last year. Be as specific as possible here, rather than discussing leadership in broad terms or with vague generalities. When discussing what areas you want to develop, be realistic about what you will learn in the classroom -- Kellogg knows that you won't emerge from a classroom lecture as a completely finished leader. Discuss what you want to learn at Kellogg, but also tie it back to the "real world" and your post-MBA career.)

  5. Assume you are evaluating your application from the perspective of a student member of the Kellogg Admissions Committee. Why would your peers select you to become a member of the Kellogg community? (600 words)

  6. (This question is new since last year, although it's similar to a question that Kellogg used to use, which encouraged applicants to evaluate their applications as if they were admissions officers. This is a terrific opportunity to highlight the two or three core themes that you want to make sure jump out from your application. And, while Kellogg looks for some humility in every one of its students, it's also a chance to brag about yourself a little!)

  7. Complete one of the following three questions or statements. Re-applicants have the option to answer a question from this grouping, but this is not required. (400 words)

    a) Describe a time when you had to make an unpopular decision.

    b) People may be surprised to learn that I...

    c) I wish the admissions committee had asked me...

  8. (Questions A and B are new since last year, although A is a slightly different take on a previous question that asked about motivating a reluctant individual or group. This gives you a chance to discuss an experience that shows off leadership abilities, ethics, and/or analytical abilities. Question B gives you a chance to have some fun and discuss some less obviously MBA-related interests or experiences. Don't underestimate how important these traits are to admissions officers. Question C can be used in much the same way.)

  9. Required essay for re-applicants only: Since your previous application, what steps have you taken to strengthen your candidacy? (400 words)

    (This last question says it all when it comes to describing what every top MBA program looks for in reapplicants. Ideally you will have at least one or two significant achievements or experiences that will bolster a weakness that may have kept you out of Kellogg last year. The most obvious example is a promotion at work or a vastly improved GMAT score, but any type of experience that demonstrates leadership, teamwork, maturity, or innovation -- if one of these was a weakness in admissions officers' eyes last year -- can help your candidacy.)

For advice on getting into Kellogg, please visit Veritas Prep's Kellogg information page.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

GMAC Partners With Historically Black Colleges

Late last week the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) announced a new partnership with the nation's Historically Black College and University (HBCU) business schools to attract more African Americans to MBA programs nationwide. The partnership will include more recruiting efforts by schools, more marketing of the value of an MBA to black students, and fee or significantly discounted GMAT preparation services for those students.

GMAC President David A. Wilson, in his keynote address at the annual HBCU Deans Roundtable Summit, noted significant increases in African American students taking the GMAT exam. According to GMAC, the number of African American test takers has doubled in the past decade, with a 26 percent increase in just the past four years.

As part of this partnership, GMAC will offer GMAT fee waivers (currently worth $250) for each of the HBCU business schools to use at its discretion to make sure that no student is denied access to the exam for financial reasons. In addition, GMAC will provide each school packages of test preparation materials, including copies of the new 12th edition Official GMAT Guide and GMAC's own GMAT Prep software on CD.

If you are just starting to prepare for the GMAT, see what GMAT prep options that Veritas Prep offers, and try a free practice GMAT exam.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

MIT Sloan Application Essays for 2009-2010

MIT Sloan has just posted its application deadlines and admissions essays for the coming year. Note that, aside from MIT Sloan's cover letter, all of the essays are new this year. Our comments follow in italics:

MIT Sloan Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 27, 2009
Round 2: January 13, 2010

(As is normally the case, MIT Sloan has just two application rounds this year. MIT Sloan has bucked the trend of top business schools moving their Round 1 deadline to the beginning of October. These deadlines are virtually identical to last year's.)

MIT Sloan Admissions Essays

  1. Prepare a cover letter seeking a place in the MIT Sloan MBA Program. Describe your accomplishments and include an example of how you had an impact on a group or organization. Your letter should conform to standard business correspondence and be addressed to Mr. Rod Garcia, Director of MBA Admissions. (500 words)

    (While this isn't traditional MBA essay, MIT Sloan's cover letter is a consistent part of its application. Last year the question changed to place more emphasis on your "impact on an organization." This year the question remains the same, so the Sloan admissions office must think that this phrasing helps them more effectively get at what they're looking for in MBA applicants.)

  2. Please describe a time when you went beyond what was defined, expected, established, or popular. (500 words)

    (This is a new question for Sloan this year, and the change suggests that Sloan is really looking closely for evidence of how you have gone beyond your regular job description to make a positive impact on those around you. We consider this as one of the key ingredients of leadership, and we expect that Sloan wants to see more of it in its applicants.)

  3. Please describe a time when you coached, trained, or mentored a person or group. (500 words)

    (This questions is new, and it also gets at another trait of leadership -- putting aside one's own problems and tasks to help someone else better themselves or overcome an obstacle. As is the case with similar questions, you should use the "Situation-Action-Result" format for your essay. Don't just say what happened, but rather put a good deal of emphasis on what YOU specifically did to help the person who needed your mentorship.)

  4. Please describe a time when you took responsibility for achieving an objective. (500 words)

    (Again, this is a question that gets at signs of leadership. In this case, it's a willingness to take on the burden of achieving a goal. Once again, the "SAR" technique will be critical to demonstrating not just what you accomplished, but also HOW you accomplished it, which is what the admissions committee really wants to see. While this is not a "failure" question, the right story here can show how you maybe stumbled a few times in achieving your goal.)

    LGO applicants only:

  5. Why do you wish to pursue the LGO program? What are the goals that you hope to accomplish both as a student and as a graduate of the program? Be sure to include a description of your post-LGO career plans. (250 words or less, limited to one page) You are welcome to copy and paste text directly from your cover letter.

  6. Why do you wish to pursue the engineering field and specialty area you have selected? (250 words or less, limited to one page) You are welcome to copy and paste text directly from your cover letter.

    (While MIT Sloan's LFM program has evolved into the new Leaders for Global Operations (LGO) program, the essays for the program remain pretty much the same. Here the admissions office is looking for signs that you really understand what the LGO program is about, and that you have what it takes to get more out of the LGO program than from the traditional two-year MBA program.)

For more information about application strategies for MIT Sloan, visit our MIT Sloan information page. To stay up to date on the admissions process, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Wharton Admissions Deadlines for 2009-2010

While the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School has not yet released its admissions essays for the coming year, last week the school released its application deadlines for the coming year:

Wharton Application Deadlines
Round 1: October 1, 2009
Round 2: January 5, 2010
Round 3: March 9, 2010

It's interesting that, like HBS and Stanford, Wharton's Round 1 deadlines, Wharton's is now at the beginning of October (it's been moved up by one week vs. last year). We expect that more top schools will soon follow. However, Wharton did not move its Round 3 application deadline to April, leaving just Stanford and Harvard as the schools with April deadlines, so far.

For more advice on applying to Wharton, take a look at Veritas Prep's Wharton page. If you are ready to start working on your Wharton candidacy now, see how Veritas Prep's MBA admissions consultants can help you succeed.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Kellogg Dean Dipak Jain to Step Down

After serving as the Kellogg School of Management's dean for the past eight years, Dipak Jain will step down from his post on September 1, and will return to the Kellogg faculty following a year’s leave of absence. The school will soon appoint an interim dean, and Northwestern University will begin a national search for Jain's replacement.

"I have been both honored and fortunate to have been able to serve as dean of this wonderful school," Jain said in an announcement to the Kellogg community. "Over the past eight years as dean, it has been my pleasure to work alongside wonderful colleagues whose dedication to Kellogg has made my job a joy. I truly appreciate the support, guidance and assistance that I have received from Kellogg faculty, staff, students and alumni during my tenure as dean."

Jain, 51, first came to Kellogg in 1986 as an assistant professor. Since 1994 he has been the Sandy and Morton Goldman Professor of Entrepreneurial Studies and professor of marketing. This move will allow him to return to what he loves most -- conducting research and teaching Kellogg's students.

For more information on Kellogg and advice for getting in, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Garth Saloner Named New Dean of Stanford GSB

Last week, the Stanford Graduate School of Business announced that Garth Saloner will be its next dean, effective September 1st. He will succeed Robert Joss, who has served as dean for the past 10 years.

Saloner joined the Stanford faculty in 1990, and is currently the Jeffrey S. Skoll Professor of Electronic Commerce, Strategic Management and Economics. He also serves at director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at the Graduate School of Business. Saloner led the overhaul of Stanford's MBA curriculum, making this a natural transition as the school seeks to maintain leadership continuity.

"Over nearly two decades at Stanford, Garth Saloner has demonstrated that he is not only a top-notch scholar, but also a respected leader among his peers and distinguished teacher highly-praised by his students," President John Hennessy said in the school's official announcement.

Saloner discussed some of the challenges that he will face in his new role:

"The Stanford GSB has the opportunity to prepare future generations of principled critical analytical thinkers whose actions can change the world. Through our research, we will continue to develop the intellectual underpinnings of management and we will embody that knowledge in our teaching. From our sustainable new management center on the Stanford campus we will promote the free-flow of students, faculty, and ideas across disciplines and schools as we develop management knowledge and business leaders for the 21st century."

To learn more about Stanford, visit Veritas Prep's Stanford GSB information page. And, be sure to follow MBA Game Plan on Twitter!