Sunday, September 20, 2009

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Columbia Essays and Deadlines for 2009-2010

Here are Columbia Business School's application essays and deadlines for the September 2010 intake. Everything remains pretty the the same since last year, but we've put everything to make sure our readers have everything they need. Our comments follow in italics:

Columbia Business School Application Deadlines
Early Decision: October 7, 2009
Deadline for International Applicants: March 3, 2010
Deadline for U.S. Citizens & Permanent Residents: April 14, 2010

Columbia Business School Application Essays
  1. What are your short-term and long-term post-MBA goals? How will Columbia Business School help you achieve these goals? (750 words)

    (This is a fairly standard question that you no doubt have seen on other applications. Where applicants tend to go wrong most often, though, is by failing to explain why specifically Columbia is the best place for them to earn their MBA. The school's big name and proximity to Wall Street are obvious advantages, but what else does Columbia offer that you can't find anywhere else?

  2. Master Classes are the epitome of bridging the gap between theory and practice at Columbia Business School. View the link below. Please provide an example from your own life in which practical experience taught you more than theory alone. Watch the video. (500 words)

    (This question was new last year, but carries over unchanged this year. Columbia's emphasis on its Master Classes is clear -- the admissions committee seeks applicants who have rolled up their sleeves and made thing happen, rather than pure theorists. They'll also looking for introspection -- ideally you can illustrate what you learned, the impact it had on you, and how it made you a better business manager or leader.)

  3. Please provide an example of a team failure of which you've been a part. If given a second chance, what would you do differently?

    (This question also carries over unchanged after being new last year. Every year many clients who ask, "Are you sure I should discuss any failures in my application?" Yes, you definitely should, as long as you can show how you grew from the experience. In this way, your answer could end up overlapping with your answer to #2. So, it's best to not use a failure story for #2, and to save your failure story for this question.)

For more advice on applying to Columbia, visit Veritas Prep's Columbia Business School information page. And, to get the most up-to-date information on Columbia and all other top business schools, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Monday, September 14, 2009

GMAC Questions the GRE Comparison Tool

After ETS has made some significant inroads into GMAT market share with its own GRE over the past year, GMAC is now hitting back with an article on its site that debunks ETS's GRE Comparison Tool for Business Schools.

"This GRE comparison tool is not as precise at it may appear, and using it is not as straightforward as presented. The comparison tool is about averages. Admission decisions are about individuals," argues GMAC in the article on its site.

GMAC's argument against the tool was primarily a statistical one:

"As a specific example, for a GRE verbal score of 660 and quantitative score of 670, the tool would predict a GMAT Total score of 650. In this case, 1 in 4 people with this predicted score would actually earn 600 or below if they were to take the GMAT exam. In addition to prediction error, there is also measurement error in both the verbal and quantitative GRE scores, so the chance that this individual would actually score something close to 650 is extremely thin."

Going further, GMAC then raises the question of whether comparing students with actual GMAT scores to those with predicted scores is fair: "To use predicted GMAT scores along with actual ones unfairly penalizes both sets of test takers, because applicants with valid GMAT scores could be displaced by applicants with predicted scores that are much too high."

Interestingly, ETS launched the GRE Comparison Tool GRE® Comparison Tool at about a year ago, but now that web address redirects to a promotion encouraging business schools to start accepting the GRE. Maybe GMAC was able to apply enough pressure to get ETS to remove the tool? Maybe ETS decided it needs to go back to the drawing board?

While we expect that the GRE is here to stay in the graduate management education admissions business, we agree with GMAC that the GMAT is still the most proven measure of the skills an MBA applicant needs to succeed in the classroom. If you're thinking about grad degrees and general and are only somewhat interested in earning an MBA, then perhaps the GRE is the better place to start. If you're sure that a top-tier MBA is what you want, however, the GMAT is your best bet.

And, if you're ready to dig into the GMAT, start with the GMAT preparation tools and services available at Veritas Prep.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Univeristy of Michigan (Ross) MBA Admissions Essays for 2009-2010

Today we look at The University of Michigan's Ross School of Business' admissions essays. Ross's essays actually carry over completely unchanged vs. last year, and so our analysis remains pretty much the same.

Note that when a school keeps its essays the same, that suggests that its essays are working well for the admissions office, meaning that they do a good job of helping the admissions team separate out the great applicants from the merely good ones. So, make sure you're sufficiently answering the questions they ask! That's always important advice, but in this case it's even more important (if that's even possible!).

Here are the Ross MBA admissions essays, followed by our comments in italics:

Michigan (Ross) Application Essays
Long Answers:
  1. Briefly describe your short-term and long-term career goals. Why is an MBA the best choice at this point in your career? What and/or who influenced your decision to apply to Ross? (500 words)

  2. Describe your most significant professional accomplishment. Elaborate on the leadership skills you displayed, the actions you took and the impact you had on your organization. (500 words)

  3. (Note the emphasis on leadership in the second question. Ross not only wants to know what you accomplished, but also wants to understand exactly what you did to make it happen. Also, note that this question also focuses on the impact that your actions had on your organization. More than your role or job title, admissions officers care about what positive impact you truly have on those around you.)

Short answers:
  1. If you were not pursuing the career goals you described in Question 1, what profession would you pursue instead? (For example, teacher, musician, athlete, architect, etc.) How will this alternate interest contribute to your effectiveness in solving multidisciplinary problems? (300 words)

    (This question provides a good opportunity to show another side of you that may not otherwise come out in your application. As long as you can tie it back to one of the core dimensions in your application, don't be afraid to write about something that seems to be off the wall here.)

  2. Describe your experience during a challenging time in your life. Explain how you grew personally, either despite this challenge or because of it. (300 words)

    (As is the case with all "personal growth" questions, the most important part is the second one -- describing what you learned and how you changed as a result. While many schools ask more job-related failure/challenge questions, Michigan's focus here appears to be a little more on your personal life. If your most compelling story is a job-related one, that's not out of bounds, but make sure you can tie it back to what you learned and how you grew.)

Optional Question:
  1. Is there anything else you think the Admissions Committee should know about you to evaluate your candidacy?

    (If you really do feel the need to explain something, then address it and move on. In other words, don't dwell on it or provide that weakness with more stage time than it deserves!)

To stay up to date on admissions trends at Ross, be sure to follow us on Twitter!

Monday, September 7, 2009

HBS 2+2 Program Admits 115 Students

This past week Harvard Business School released its admissions decisions for the HBS 2+2 Program. HBS has admitted 115 students, nine more than last year, according to HBS Director of Admissions Dee Leopold in an interview with the Harvard Crimson.

This year 843 rising college seniors applied to the program, an increase of more than 33% since last year, when 630 students applied. The number of students admitted also increased (from 106 last year), although the overall acceptance rate has dipped to just 13.6% (from 16.8% in 2008) because of all those additional applicants.

The increased number of applicants is at least in part a reflection of how much work the HBS admissions office did to spread the word about the program. The HBS 2+2 staff visited nearly 60 undergraduate colleges and universities, according to the article. As word of mouth grows and HBS continues to market the program, we expect the number of 2+2 applicants to keep growing significantly over the next few years.

Our "older" readers likely won't be pleased to see that HBS has carved out yet another nine seats for 2+2 students. While this trend does not help you if you're already out in the working world, we still believe that HBS will have to add another section to its class by the time the first 2+2 students -- who graduated from college this past spring -- enter HBS in Fall 2010.

To learn more about the HBS 2+2 Program and what they look for in college undergrads, visit Veritas Prep. And, as always, be sure to follow MBA Game Plan on Twitter!