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Tag Archives: B-school

A random thought; I hope I get an invite to Daytum.com‘s private beta.

  • This site mimicks my belief in how reporting dashboard’s should look.
  • I would love to throw my data in to the mix and see how effectively I communicate my results based on a balanced scorecard approach (quality, production, customer service and financial performance). 

As my colleages may be able to tell, I am a huge fan of simple, concise and clear communication.  

  • I sincerely believe that communicating is something that everyone does but not necessarily well.  

At an organizational level, I believe that passive communication kills organizations and conversations for that matter. 

  • This is something I try to get across to my own colleagues.  
  • I hope I serve as the example. 🙂

I would encourage those of you reading this post  to also check out:

I think this could also serve as inspiration for:

  • The Chicago Booth PPT (Powerpoint) essay.
  • My Christmas cards this year.  How cool would it be to send out an annual report to your family as your Christmas or Holiday card?  
  • Pretty cool, if you ask me.  But then again, no one is asking me.
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Chicago Booth asks an interesting question this year:

“Slide Presentation: We have asked for a great deal of information throughout this application and now invite you tell us about yourself. (four Powerpoint slides)”

Below are some really, really good links on how to start visualizing Chicago’s PPT essay question.

I have pulled relevant points from the attached links; in summary:

  1. Adcoms have to read through 1000’s of apps. They want to know how you communicate, they want to see you demonstrate if they could have learned just as much about you but in less words. 
  2. It is much harder to include less than include more. In good PPT presentation design, we want to encourage “less.” We want to discourage “more.” 
  3. Writing a lot takes less time, than really thinking about your message and designing it in as simple a message as possible. 
  4. “I would’ve written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have time.” [often credited to Twain] 

For a greater understanding of what is driving the design philosophy behind these slides:

  • For those who have not heard, it is worth picking up a copy of “Beyond Bullets“.  
  • This type of very visual communication, from the school of “less is more”, is growing a huge fanbase.  It is basically what drives the approach you should be taking with the Chicago PPT essay.
  • Beyond Bullets relies on a Pyramid method of communicating, which incidentally, is the best way to approach shorter essays.  
  • Please see my post on communicating via the Pyramid Principle.

Some MBA programs have students sign a statement saying that they received no outside help on their application.

Why does the admissions committee ask this?

  • The admissions committee asks this as they want to make sure that each applicants work is their own and that integrity is maintained within the application process.

However this question is limited in its efficacy.

Let me put it another way:

  • If you ask your best friend with an MBA to help read over your essays, does that constitute outside help?

So will they know if I received outside help?

  • The chance is minimal if it exists at all.

Can they force an admissions consultant to admit if they helped a certain client?

  • No, not without a subpoena or court-ordered discovery process.
  • This would require the school to sue the admissions consultant.
  • Schools are not in the business of suing admissions consultants.

Again, I am not an attorney.  I don’t even play one on TV.  So take this advice with a grain of salt.  However, I have never seen this happen, where an adcom attempts to discover if help was used.

So you’ve had the axe swung on you during your initial attempt at business school applications.  While it’s tough, you need to get back on your MBA application horse and solicit feedback from the admissions committee.  This is the first step in successfully getting in the subsequent year.

Assess your feedback efforts through this questioning framework:

  1. What programs did you apply to and for what rounds?  How well did you fit the median profile?
  2. What schools were you accepted?  Rejected by all?  Admitted by some?
  3. Were you waitlisted and the rejected?  How did you follow up after you were rejected?  Did you try and appeal any of the decisions?  Had you applied to the program in years prior?
  4. Do you seek out advice from each of the schools that rejected you?  What did they say?  How long was the feedback session?  In phone, email or in person?  Did you know the person giving you the feedback?  What questions did you ask?  Did you have the questions handy and essays reread?  Was the person generally positive or negative sounding?  Did they neglect to give you any feedback?
  5. In what month did you solicit the feedback?  After May and before September? Timing is everything as adcoms will be swamped.
  6. Did you implement their specific advice into this year’s application?  What was the specific advice?  What does each website
  7. Was there a consistent theme among the schools?  What was the theme?
  8. Did you work with an admissions consultant?  For all schools?  What company?
  9. Gut check: What do you think are the reasons for your rejection are?

Now integrate this feedback into the subsequent applications:

  1. How are you a stronger candidate? What has substantially changed year over year?  Professionally and personally?  Tough for R3 and then next year’s R1.
  2. Why did you reapply and why to this school?  What have you learned from the rejection experience?  How did it make you more determined to succeed?
  3. How much overlap is there between essays?  Have they substantially changed? In what ways?
  4. Did the school offer you the chance to only re-write on essay?  You should rewrite them all.
  5. Did you use new recommenders or recommendations that can address to your recent strengths?
  6. Did you emphasize the new project work on the resume?
  7. Did you take additional classes if you have academic deficiencies?  Re-take GMAT?
  8. What is your story during the interviews as to what has improved year over year?  What specific reasons do you have to tell about being a stronger candidate?

Good luck.

From a recent client: What can I do to get off the waitlist and into Kellogg and Wharton?

  1. Communicate to the school that you are indeed serious about attending their school and that it is your first choice.
    1. By communicating them you increasingly more likely to move up the waitlist (if schools rank the waitlist), get off the waitlist and matriculate.
      1. This is what I am here to help you with.
    2. If are indeed the caliber of student that the school wants to eventually accept, you need to show that you have been progressing across your candidacy but especially in any area of weakness.
    3. Communicate this to the admissions office in one or two notices at the most (as new information may become available on your part).
  2. Remember not all admissions offices will appreciate updates.
    1. Call the office to find out how they would like additional information only after you have referenced their website and application instructions.
    2. Some schools do not want updates.  Some schools want updates only after a certain date.
    3. Do not constantly call the admissions office as well.  Show enthusiasm.  Be polite.
  3. Any new information should bolster your positioning.
    1. That is, it shows that you are progressing as a leader and manager; that you are increasing your role, your visibility and your responsibilities.
    2. This evidenced by promotions, awards and new leadership responsibilities.  Search your application for any part that is weaker than the rest.  Address that area with your update.
    3. Make sure that if the adcom has requested specific information, you send that as well.
  4. Put that into a short letter, I recommend no more than one or two pages, and send it to the adcom.
    1. Be sure to reiterate your reasons concerning what you would contribute to the program, that you are a good fit and you most definitely want to attend.
    2. Make sure you include your contact information as well.
      1. When the adcom goes to the bullpen, they want to make sure you are ready to go.
      2. Do not make them hunt you down, they won’t.
    3. My view on additional recommendations is that they are good if the person is connected to the school and/or again knows you in a professional intimate setting.
      1. If the person knows you and is a significant donor, that works as well.
      2. Pick a recommender who can bolster your weaknesses.

A significant portion of my MBA admissions consulting applicants come to be with little to no extracurricular experience since their undergraduate days.  While this is a problem that can be addressed, it can show a lack of proper planning over the long term.  A lot of applicants don’t think about the impact of their actions on their applicant competitiveness when the graduate from undergrad.  To a certain extent, even I was the same way.

What I like most about some of my clients is the the way some of them are way ahead of the game we call the MBA application process.  Those that have been planning since day 1 to go back to b-school tend to be distinguishing yourself from your peers out of the gate and these habits show when constructing the business school application.

This is what I tell those who have graduated and are planning to apply to business school in a few years:

  • Make sure you find a mentor at your employer.  This does not have to be formal but it always helps when someone can show you the ropes.  This person should be senior and be respected in the office.
  • This mentor will also be able to make introductions for you around the org.  This will help when it comes to recommendation time.
  • Adcoms will consider your tenure and the ratio of leadership experience to overall experience at your work.  Work to maximize this so that you can write about it eventually in your essays.
  • Make sure you are asking for leadership responsibility.  It does not matter if it is leading the charge with organizing the company holiday party or asking for more work when on a project.  It’s called managing your manager and it works wonders when its time for a promotion.   Do this and more opportunities will arise.  You may get to pick and chose your project work…..
  • Stepping up also helps with respect to your eventual recommendation when your manager is asked for how well you rank against your peer group.
  • Seek out those in the organization who have MBAs.  Get to know them.  Eventually, ask them to lunch and get to know how they liked their MBA experience.
  • Get involved with extracurriculars at work.  Assume a leadership role as well as I have alluded to above.
  • See what pre-MBA mentoring programs are available to you.  I know UCLA Anderson has the Riordan programs.  This is a great way to gain exposure.
  • Join several other organization types:
  • Toastmasters International – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toastmasters_International
  • A young professionals organization in your city – these orgs have social and business elements that will help you network.
  • Meetup.com – look for groups on meetup that have business or philanthropic goals that align with your interests.
  • As you get within a year of applying, go to open houses and MBA tours.  Get your name and face out there.  Adcoms have an uncanny way of remembering who you are.

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.

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.