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Category Archives: B-school

Pay paticular attention to the question that every b-school application asks:

  • What Other Programs Are You Applying To?

The reason is this:

  • B-schools are keen to know who they are competing against.  They want to know how applicants view the correlation between programs but also if you are using the school as a backup or safe school.
  • For instance, on the UCLA Anderson application, if you list that you are applying to Stanford and Haas, in addition to Anderson, the admissions committee will pretty much know you are using them as a backup.

Why is this an issue?

  • If you do not make compelling reasons for “Why Anderson?”, then the effect is magnified.  It becomes even more apparent that you are using UCLA Anderson as a backup.
  • A good test is this; if you can unplug the UCLA Anderson name from the essays and plug back in any other business school, the adcom knows and can see right through it.
  • Programs with “pull through” issues or low acceptance rates of extended offers know that they are going to get dinged in the rankings.  They are keen to see that you are serious.

What should you do?

  • You have to have clear reasons why you need an MBA, your short and longer term goals and why you need to get that MBA now as opposed to a year from now.
  • If you do not have clear reasons, the adcom will see through it.  They review thousands of applications, they have a BS detector.  You will sound as if you have not clearly thought through your future career.  It’s certain death to your application.
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If made, this is going to be one sweet movie ala “Wall Street”, “Boiler Room” and hopefully the upcoming movie “Money Never Sleeps”.

From Variety.com:

“Based on the true story of John D’Agostino, “Rigged: The True Story of an Ivy League Kid Who Changed the World of Oil, From Wall Street to Dubai” is about an Italian kid from Brooklyn who matriculates at Harvard and lands on the Merc Exchange. After establishing himself, the protagonist hooks up with another young trader and a mysterious Middle Easterner to engage in a dangerous scheme to revolutionize the oil trading industry.”

http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117982619.html?categoryid=13&cs=1

I tell my clients up front that they have to waive their right and that it is not really an option to not do so.

Not waiving your right could tell the adcom that you don’t trust your recommenders.  It  could tell them that you are paranoid or overly anxious.

It could tell them that this applicant is a liability.  What happens if he doesn’t get in?  Is he going to go after his recommenders for throwing him under the bus?  Is he going to create more headaches for all involved?  Is the applicant going to create reputational risk for the school?

The adcom would rather just not deal with it.

Specifically, when an applicant waives their right to see the rec in legal terms it bascially means that you voluntarily and intentionally relinquish their known right, claim or privilege to view the rec at any time.  Also, with this and when an applicant is admitted, they will still not be able to see this rec if they waived their rec.
I have never heard of a student actually viewing their rec once they got it (waived or not waived).  They got in and most are satisfied with that.
Keep in mind, I do not consider not waiving to be a deal breaker.  It looks bad to the adcom but it only part of the whole applicantion package.  An applicant can have compensating factors that made up for your “non-waive”.
At a high level it is important to remember that an applicant is competing against a subset of applicants when they apply to b-school.  If you do anything to differentiate yourself in a negative way from these demographics (like not waiving), the adcom will notice the red flag.

A significant number of my clients are from India (non-US citizen). In my consulting conversations with them, the one thing I bring up with them is their status as an over-represented applicant group.   That is, there are a lot of applicants applying from India, probably more so than any other group.  Applicants to business school are not necessarily going to be compared against the whole pool but rather a subset.  Additionally, a majority of my clients  are from the IT consulting and operations arena within India, further reducing their opportunities to distinguish themselves from the pack.  While you many never hear an adcom talking about this phenomena, any grade, GMAT, work or extracurricular activity not up to snuff is a dealbreaker.  The Indian undergraduate institution is of particular importance to the adcoms as well.

This is why I spend devote extra time to the school selection process with my Indian clients.  If a particular client is “running with the pack” a good way to separate themselves is to detail at length their school fit and deep knowledge of a particular MBA program (in the essays).

Some adcoms or other consultants may argue with this point.  Think about it this way though, adcoms are seeking a diverse student body.  Indian applicants bring a lot to the table and it usually includes a high GMAT and GPA.  Anything less and you don’t get in.

As an MBA admissions consultant I often have to take a step back with my clients.  Over the years I have learned a lot from my clients and have come to realize that the definitions of proper interview dress or attire varies by region, country and even culture.

This is the deal, and I dissuade anyone from thinking anything to the contrary:

  1. Wear a dark colored suit (Grey, Black, Charcoal) with a white or light blue shirt.
  2. Wear a tie that has as little design or pattern in it at possible.  Solid colored ties are good.
  3. Wear shoes that are polished with dark socks.  By shoes I mean dress shoes with dark laces, not “comfort” shoes, timberlands or Uggs.  By dark I mean dark blue or black.
  4. Do not wear anything that is tight-fitting or shows body parts excessively.  This is an interview not a club.
  5. Cut the tags off your clothing.  Nothing says Men’s Wearhouse $199 special than tags still sewn onto the sleeve of a jacket.  Don’t laugh too much, I have seen this as an MBA admissions interviewer.  It tells me the applicant is clueless at worst or knows a good sale when he sees one at best.
  6. Get a shave and a haircut……shower.

The Lazy Man’s Way to Building a Great PowerPoint Presentation

In consulting I have seen a lot of nightmare-ish PPT presentations.  I believe in keeping it simple and not trying to throw the kitchen sink in.  It overwhelms the audience.

The attached article and template does a great job in keeping it simple.

Business school applications are all about laying out how you have exhibited the qualities of a leader.  After all, this is the quality that b-schools, in general, desire the most in their applicants.   A lot of my admissions consulting clients struggle with a succinct definition of leadership.  That is, one that they as the applicant can use as a succinct model.  To this point, my clients and prospective MBA students ask me what my definition of leadership is.  I believe Stephen Covey covers it well in this article. http://www.stephencovey.com/blog/?p=6

This is important as a lot of b-school applications ask for the applicant to provide meaning leadership experience and examples in their essay. Follow Covey’s pillars of leadership and you should have a good start to your essay.  The trick is to not only discuss how well you fit this definition but also how you have displayed this style of leadership during your management responsibilities.  Take your essays a step further by showing how you have sought to “pay it forward” and instill these values in those you have led.

A b-school colleague told me that once I went bespoke, or custom-made, with my work clothing that I would never going back to buying off the rack. I must admit, he was right.

I never really ever thought about seriously buying custom fit clothing for work. I guess I don’t know why as I have a 44 chest and a 32 waist. I figured it would be too expensive without really investigating it. It was went I went to buy a couple of suits that I began to realize that for about $600 I could get a custom suit made with a good super 120 wool.

Well, after soliciting some more fellow b-school opinions, I settled on Fit Wel custom clothing in Brentwood, Los Angeles. They measured, I ordered and waited about 4 weeks. When I finally received my suits and shirts, I tried them on and felt like a million bucks. I have never had clothes fit so well, well!

I will never go back to buying off the rack. Additionally, buying custom clothing is helping me with my transition to less is more. As I continue to simply my life by adopting GTD or reading the latest posting on zenhabits.net, I am realizing that I need to focus on having fewer things that declutter my life. So with my clothing, I am donating all the old and just having a few things. Additionally, as I am a traveling consultant, I only can take 5 shirts and pants on the road at any one time. So how many shirts, pants, suits do I really have. I can spend a little more on custom made, look better, feel better and continue to declutter my life.

So how can you get in on this? Go to a tailor, have them measure you, then find a reputable tailor from Hong Kong online.   I really like Cosmo Circle Custom Tailors in Hong Kong.  Send them your measurements. Buy a few shirts and see how you like them. I guarantee if this is done right, you will never go back to off the rack!

Proof M.B.A.s Are Overrated, by 20 People Who Are Smarter and Richer than Your Professors – Inside CRM

I think the popular belief is that MBA’s are overrated.  While I don’t necessarily agree or disagree, I do believe that there is value in having more education whether or not it translates into dollars.

I also take issue with the sample set.  These people are definitely rich, but does that make them right?  I may need a young MBA intern to examine this question.

I am a huge fan of Charles Wheelan, an econ prof at Chicago GSB. Anyone who wants a real simple primer on econ should read his book entitled “Naked Economics”. I loved it.

The linked article below, gives a good idea of what Charles Wheelan is all about. I hope you enjoy his work as much as I do.

An Economics Laundry List