How to Choose Your Target Business Schools

  Which business schools are the right fit for me?

Which business schools are the right fit for me?

To get the most out of your MBA experience it’s important select target business schools that are a good fit for you based on your professional goals and personality. I can’t stress this enough – don’t pick your target list of business schools merely based on MBA rankings published by the likes of the Economist or US News. Instead, research potential schools by networking with students, alumni and admissions, and if possible attend admission events and visit campuses to get an inside view of business school communities. Then create your own MBA rankings based on your research and what is important to you.

Factors to Consider

  1. Academics: What classes/electives would you like to take? How rigorous would you like the academics to be? Would you like to study under a specific professor or specialise in a particular field?
  2. Grade Policy: Would you thrive in a collaborative environment with grade non-disclosure or a more competitive environment where grade disclosure?
  3. Program Length: How long would you like to study for? Would you like to study full-time or part-time? Would you like to complete an internship?
  4. Program Flexibility: Would you like to design your own course program or follow a standard core/elective setup?  
  5. Community: What type of community would you like to be a part of: academic, entrepreneurial, collaborative, supportive, fun, social, international?
  6. Location: City or town? Close to the tech hub of Silicon Valley or the financial markets on Wall Street? US or international? Would you like to be close to family, friends or partners?
  7. Class Size: A small close-nit class (100 – 200 students) or a larger student body (500 – 1000 students)?
  8. Campus: What facilities are available on campus? Would you like the business school to be integrated with the main university?
  9. Network: How large is the network? Where is the network located and what industries do they work in?
  10. Funding: What financial support and scholarships are available?
  11. International Opportunities: Do you want to complete an international exchange program or a trek to a foreign country?
  12. Recruitment: What recruiters come to campus? What career services support is available?

To give you a personal touch, let me breakdown the main reasons why I chose to apply to Chicago Booth.

  1. Academics: the MBA program is rigorous, flexible and includes a wide variety of quantitative/finance electives.
  2. Grade Policy: Booth’s policy of grade non-disclosure (or GND as it is colloquially called on campus) creates a collaborative environment where anyone can challenge themselves by taking new or difficult classes without any repercussions.
  3. Community/Environment: Chicago is hands down one of my favourite cities (even with the extreme winters!), the campus is fantastic, and most importantly I really liked the students and alumni that I networked with.

When you make your target business school list don’t be scared to deviate from common MBA rankings. If you target schools that match what's important to you I'm certain you will have a high admission success rate and an amazing MBA experience.

Networking Tips for Business School Applications

  It's not what you know, but who you know!

It's not what you know, but who you know!

I’ve always been a social person who values friendships. Given this you would probably imagine that I’ve always been a natural networker. The truth, though, is that initially I wasn’t a huge fan of networking. Why? It wasn’t because I was scared or intimidated to approach someone new. Rather I felt that networking was essentially befriending someone with the motive of using them for their expertise or knowledge – a concept I felt was disingenuous. I was also probably too proud to ask for help even though I was happy to assist others. Let me give you an example. At law school, I had to read and summarise countless cases (a task that I’m certain led me to require glasses!). As you can imagine this was time consuming and extremely challenging. Many of my fellow students simply approached students in the class above for their notes. Instead, I decided to write my own. Guess whose life was easier… 

When I first went through the MBA admission process I attended MBA admission events in my home city, but didn’t build strong connections with students, alumni or admissions. As a result, despite a 770 GMAT, my applications failed. When I applied the following year, I took a new approach: network, network, network! With support from numerous students and alumni I reshaped my applications and succeeded – I gained admission to multiple schools and even won a two-year merit scholarship.

Below are my top networking tips:

  1. The best places to find potential contacts are:
    • LinkedIn
    • MBA admission events
    • Business school websites/blogs
  2. Reach out with a concise email message that explains your background, motivation and request.
  3. Your goals should be to:
    • Build relationships by expressing a genuine interest in attending business school
    • Develop an inside view of what business school is really like
    • Work out if a MBA program is a good fit for you given your professional goals
  4. Prepare questions before your networking meeting/call with the above goals in mind
  5. Take notes of the key points from your meeting/call
  6. Send a short thank you note
  7. Invite contacts to join your LinkedIn network and use your expanded network to find new targets to reach out to
  8. Reach out to the admissions committees to introduce yourself and to maintain a dialogue with them about how the admissions process is going

Over the course of my life my opinion on networking has changed dramatically. I now believe that networking is an extremely powerful tool, one that I wish I employed earlier on in my career. If you haven’t started networking, start today! The business school community is extremely friendly and I’m sure you’ll find their advice helpful for your upcoming applications.

 

How to Get Admitted to Business School After Being Waitlisted

  Don't just wait for that acceptance call...

Don't just wait for that acceptance call...

If you have been waitlisted you are in good company.   When I went through the MBA application process I got waitlisted at both Wharton and Chicago Booth. My initial thoughts were that I had just missed out on a place and that the only way I was going to get admitted was if someone better than me declined their offer. I can tell you from experience, though, that this is far from reality. Many business schools use a waitlist system to manage their acceptance rate, a metric used to institutions that rank MBA programs. As a result, business schools often waitlist talented candidates to determine if they are actually committed to attending their program.

The best response to being waitlisted is to write a follow up letter to the admissions committee. A great letter will outline a candidate’s interactions with the business school community, new achievements, and value to the class (here is my waitlist letter to Chicago Booth). It is also worth reaching out to current students and alumni who can support your application. Every bit of support will help.

Getting admitted to business school after being waitlisted is easier than you think! If you put in the effort and show your commitment to the admissions committee I’m sure you will be rewarded with success.

How to Create an Effective LinkedIn Profile

LinkedIn

I’m not going to shy away from it… I love LinkedIn. I think it’s an amazing tool to network and promote your business or professional experience and achievements. Most of my clients are shocked to learn that I believe a LinkedIn profile is the first step to MBA admission success. A LinkedIn profile is definitely not a formal requirement for any business school application. From experience, though, I can guarantee that nearly every student, alumnus and admissions committee member that you touch base with will enter your name into a LinkedIn search bar to learn more about you– it’s just human nature. More importantly, it will probably be the first impression they have of you.

An effective LinkedIn profile is really easy to create. Let’s start by thinking about our audience. When someone visits your LinkedIn profile they want to learn about your professional and academic background and they most likely want to do so in a timely fashion. Being succinct is they key - a LinkedIn profile is not your resume…. it’s a teaser. Let’s examine how to attack the main components:

Profile Photo

Upload a professionally taken photo! It’s a great way to convey an appropriate image and can speak volumes about your personality. I can hear some of you saying: “but a professional headshot costs $100 - $200…”. In my opinion it’s definitely worth it, especially if you will be using LinkedIn for future business school and job applications. If such a cost isn’t feasible, though, consider using your current work photo or having a friend take a photo for you.

Profile Summary

Take the time to write a short well-structured description of your business practice. How short? A three to four sentence summary is the sweet spot. While the best structure will ultimately depend on your background and future goals a generic structure that works well is to address: (1) who you are, (2) your professional background, and (3) your areas of expertise and interests. Given that I used the MBA to make a career change from law to finance I currently use a structure that links the past to the present:

Summary

Experience

Add your professional experience with one-line descriptions of your specialisation:   

Experience

Education

Add your academic qualifications with majors and overall grades, linking any relevant accomplishments (honors, awards, and test scores):

Education

Overall, I’m a big fan of keeping LinkedIn profiles simple, clean and minimal as it allows viewers to absorb important information quickly and effectively. Don’t be scared of white space – sometimes less is more!

10 Steps to MBA Admission Success

Before beginning a journey it’s a good idea to map out your path. In my mind, after completing the GMAT, the path to MBA admission success involves the following 10 steps:

  1. LinkedIn: Build a professional LinkedIn profile that succinctly markets your experience and achievements.
  2. Resume: Develop a 1-page resume highlighting the skills that business schools look for: leadership, communication, teamwork, entrepreneurship, academic performance, and career progression.
  3. School Selection: Create a target list of schools and plan your submission timeline.
  4. Networking: Network with students and alumni to learn more about your fit with individual programs.
  5. Business School Story: Develop your story of why you want to go to business school.
  6. Essays: Structure and write essays and short answers.
  7. References: Select referees and work with them to produce references that support your application.
  8. Interviews: Develop interview answers and practice mock interviews.
  9. Scholarships: Research scholarship opportunities and complete applications.
  10. Review Admission Decision: Pop the champagne to celebrate admission; write a waitlist letter and round up support from your business school network to get off the waitlist, or review a ‘ding’ and come back stronger in your next application.

My business school packages, with unlimited consultations, provide guidance on every step in the admission process. To make sure you start off on the right foot, sign up for a free consultation today!

  Jump from step to step with confidence!

Jump from step to step with confidence!

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