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Ask MBA Admissions Expert

Q) Should I apply for the Full-time MBA program at Harvard Business School? I am a 45-year old UK-based doctor will 13+ years of experience. With an MBA, I would like to switch careers from medical practice to hospital administration with an eye on taking a C-Level position in the next couple of years. I am not interested in part-time or Online MBA programs.

Age is a big factor when it comes to Business Schools. The oldest candidates in Harvard, Stanford, Wharton and other top schools for Full-time MBA programs are in the 37-38 year age group. They are in the minority. Maybe 1 or 2. Getting a Harvard brand associated with your profile can create wonders, but applicants rarely make it to top MBA programs when they look at the admission process with “How to get into HBS.” It should be what you can offer and what you can learn from your peers. You can offer a lot given your 13+ years of experience, but your peers in a full-time class won’t be able to offer you much in terms of perspective.

Case study method depends on that daily interaction and peer-to-peer learning. Another bigger factor is that the Harvard MBA brand depends on how they can keep the Employers happy. The largest chunk of employment is in Consulting. The big 3Cs don’t like older candidates. I am talking about 35+ year olds. One reason is that when you are older, the motivation to put in 90+ hour work week...

Categories : Recommendation Letter

Criteria for Selecting RecommendersWhat are some of the criteria that the candidate should keep in mind while selecting recommenders? Should the candidate manage the recommendation letter writing process? What are some of the best practices?

GyanOne: A recommendation is really an endorsement. Ignore it at your peril. It is very important to be able to ask the right people for a recommendation, people who can talk about your abilities and comment on your achievements at work.

Another important point when it comes to recommendations is whether it is fine to ask a colleague or peer. In most cases, it is not, except for some schools that are simply silent on the issue of whom to ask for a recommendation. Even with these schools, it is better to play safe and make sure that the person recommending you is senior to you in your firm’s hierarchy or is at least clearly seen to be someone whom you cannot influence by way of authority.

It is important to select someone who has worked with you rather than just go for the person with the highest designation who will still agree to write the recommendation. Many candidates feel that if they are able to get a recommendation from the CXO of...

Categories : Recommendation Letter

Recommendation Letter ReviewMBA Admissions Officers in AIGAC 2013 have hinted that it is all right to give writing guidelines for a recommendation letter but it would be unethical to review the recommendation letter in the same manner as essays are reviewed both by consultants and by the candidate.

This is what Veritas Prep tweeted

“MBA admissions officers in the room are okay with consultants providing upfront guidance on recs, but not with reviewing recs. #aigac2013”

So to what extend should recommendation letter be reviewed by the applicant?

1) Give Clear Guidelines

Start with what you are trying to convey through the essays. The recommendation letter should support the values, and principles that you stand for. It should not be tailor made for your essays though. Let the recommenders convey other aspects of your personality that supports your basic qualities. Like for leadership, communication, most importantly effective communication is a pre-requisite. If you have mentioned effective communication as a quality, the recommender can add...

MBA and Law Joint Degree ProgramGetting a Joint Degree MBA program can be tricky. If you are considering a JD/MBA in law, take the route only if you planning to choose career paths that require you to work in industries and job functions that are an intersection of Business and law, or a career in law. Here are 3 Pros and Cons of a JD/MBA program (Law).


1) Senior Position

During the initial stages of the career, there would not be much greater value that a JD program can offer than a regular MBA program but as the candidate reaches a more senior position, a law degree can be useful in positions that require the expertise in Business and law. A JD will give the management the confidence to place the executive to manage attorneys, intellectual properties, regulatory issues, mergers & acquisitions, and other transactions that require knowledge in corporate and finance laws.

2) Two Networks

With a JD, students get access to law school and Business School Alumni networks – a privilege that can be useful throughout the career, provided the students have built a strong relationship with alumni during the program, and are actively...

Categories : Indian MBA Applicant

Q) I am from India. I have average academic score in schooling and in graduation. (59.2%). I am worried about my low academic performance. I would like to know whether this will create difficulties in taking admission in top Canadian, US universities. How I can compensate this. I have 8 years of experience in project Management, now working as a senior project coordinator. What needs to be done to get admission?

Alex Chu (MBA Apply): Two things. First, if you were an engineering major in undergrad, the good news is that adcoms tend to be more forgiving since they know that engineering schools (regardless of country) tend to grade on a much harsher curve than arts/sciences. Secondly, for US b-schools, adcoms tend to focus more on GMAT than GPA for candidates who received their undergrad degrees outside the US (since it's really hard to compare say a Russian GPA to an Indian GPA to a South African GPA!).
For European B-schools, they also focus on the GMAT more than the GPA since their incoming applicant pools are even more diverse than the US.

So in your case, it comes down to one thing: the GMAT. Don't worry about your undergrad grades, because it's...

Categories : Q&A

If you received low marks in important quantitative subjects, you can take classes now and perform well to prove your abilities.  Calculus is the most important class.  After that I would suggest Accounting and Statistics.

Q) I am from India. I have average academic score in schooling and in graduation. (59.2%). I am worried about my low academic performance. I would like to know whether this will create difficulties in getting admission to top Canadian and US universities. How I can compensate this. I have 8 years of experience in project Management, now working as a senior project coordinator. What needs to be done to get admission?

Stacy Blackman: Yes, a low GPA can make it more challenging to gain admission to a top school.  Here are some things that you can do to mitigate this risk:

1) How did you perform in quantitative subjects specifically?  If you received low marks in important quantitative subjects, you can take classes now and perform well to prove your abilities.  Calculus is the most important class. ...

Categories : Round 1 vs Round 2

Round 1 vs Round 2 MBAWe would say that a strong candidate has an equally good chance in either round. What is important is to submit a strong application that one feels puts one’s best face forward, rather than try to rush things just to meet the Round 1 deadline. It is a myth that applying in Round 1 increases one’s chances of acceptance at a top MBA program. If you are ready with the application in time for the Round 1 submission, there should be no reason to delay until Round 2. If you are not ready, do not hesitate to spend additional time polishing up the application till you feel it is as good as it can get.

As we have noted in our earlier post on ISB Admissions on F1GMAT, far too many candidates believe that the number of places at MBA programs is limited and that applying in a later round might mean that those places are already taken. This may be true for later rounds (Round 3 and later at top schools) but is not much of an issue between Round 1 and Round 2.

Some exceptions are top global programs that encourage applicants to apply as early as they can. For example,...

"You can successfully research MBA programs by using the following characteristics: Program format, Academic offerings, Faculty, Initiatives, Field studies, Cross-registration opportunities and Clubs"

Each one of my clients asks me this question as they begin to write the “Why Business School?” essay that most MBA programs require.

First, and most importantly, you need to know enough about these MBA programs to know if you should apply. You should not rely solely on USA Today rankings to decide for you. A lot of people do not consider this fact: you are the customer! Business schools are revising their programs, creating brochures, and traveling from state to state to convince you—the prospective candidate—to consider their programs. Each MBA application will cost a few hundred dollars and countless hours, so make sure the business schools have most of the parts you want from a school.

In addition to what you should include in your business school essays. I tend to read first drafts that include the “top notch student body, world-class faculty, and committed alumni network” as the reasons this particular candidate has chosen a certain MBA program. This person has not said anything. You need to be specific in demonstrating that you’ve taken time out to research the...

Q) The NEW Harvard MBA Application Essay requires the candidate to submit an essay, 24 hours after the Interview. Is it possible for a candidate to plan for this essay?

Alex Chu (MBA Apply): Many people will fall into this trap of trying to pre-write the essay.


That's why they are asking this essay in the first place. They want to know how you follow up based on what happened in the interview. Adcoms can sense quickly if something is pre-written: it's either too vague and generic, or it's covering material in such a decorated and stage managed way that it's obvious someone spent way too much time trying to manicure every single sentence and to contrive an example that had nothing to do with what happened in the interview.

A strong post-interview essay is one that directly responds to or is a follow up to what was discussed in the interview. And you have no real way of figuring out what that will be. Sure, you can do interview coaching (and you probably should - if not with a consultant, at least...

Categories : Community Service

F1GMAT: Nearly all Business School asks about the applicant’s involvement in community service. What are some of the points to keep in mind while writing about the community service experience? What should an applicant do in cases where he doesn't have any community service experience?

Stacy: Business schools pride themselves in training future leaders, not just educating a bunch of people who know how to calculate an IRR and overuse the word “leverage.” This is why so many ask about an applicant’s involvement in community service. MBA programs look for individuals who are concerned about doing great work and improving the world around them.

Community service experiences are important for the following reasons:

1) They show that an individual is multi-dimensional. They demonstrate, interests, passions, personality. As such, they help the admissions committees get to know you beyond your professional goals.

2) Being involved outside of work shows that you can balance multiple commitments, and that you are the type of person who will be able to balance academics with clubs, conferences, recruiting, and more, once you are at school....

Categories : MBA Application

F1GMAT: What is the ideal time that MBA candidates should spend on their Application. When you talk about application, what are the critical components of an MBA application that needs attention

Right Time for MBA ApplicationThe MBA Exchange: There is no maximum or minimum time that ensures a “perfect” application. Each applicant has a different set of professional, personal and academic experiences to research, describe and refine.  Furthermore, each applicant has a different writing skill that determines how many iterations of the resume and essays may be required to tell his or her story convincingly.  For everyone, the key is to start the process several months before the application process so you don’t have to rush or compromise.  This also allows you time to have an...

Categories : MBA Application

F1GMAT: What is the ideal time that MBA candidates should spend on their Application. When you talk about application, what are the critical components of an MBA application that needs attention. Can you break down the process involved in writing an application?

MBA Application WritingStacy: Everyone has their own work style and their own schedule, and as such will have a unique approach to the MBA application process.  However, after spending over a decade coaching many hundreds of clients, I have developed a set of best practice recommendations.

The first phase of your application process is the candidacy phase.  This begins as soon as you decide that you are going to apply.  It might be a couple of years before you actually submit your applications.  During this time, learn about the application process and understand what it takes to be a great candidate.  Then spend some time developing yourself as a strong candidate.  This is the time when you can pursue community service activities, take an extra academic course, lobby for an important promotion or...

Indian IT Male 600 GMAT 2 Year ExperienceI am a Computer Science Engineering graduate from Bangalore. I have been working in TCS from the past 2 yrs as a Programmer Analyst. I recently took the GMAT without any coaching and scored 600 (Q 47, V26). I used to score in 650s in my GMATprep mocks. My aggregate score in the 4 yrs of engg is 68%. The University topper would have an aggregate of 75-80%. I am a people's person and find it exciting to meet new people. I easily share a rapport with them. A voracious reader from a young age, I have diverse interests and have been doing extracurricular activities ranging from Writing, Pencil sketching, learning new Indian languages, playing Indian Classical music on the guitar. I have been actively involved in Charity. I have been volunteering to teach English to underprivileged kids in GOVT run schools. I have helped start a Library in one such school. I really adore my Alma Mater VVSSPHS to whose Library I make frequent contributions of good books that I think would shape the minds of young people. I am planning to do my MBA in Marketing in the US. I am looking at a school with affordable fees, so I chose TAMU - college station, Georgia Terry, UT Dallas, and NUS Singapore. These schools have a mean GMAT...

Categories : Q&A

GMAT alone won’t determine your chances of admission; academics, beyond the academics will and your work experience plays a vital role as well.

Q) I am a PHP Web developer with 4+ years of experience. I would like to pursue MBA in US or UK. Please suggest if it is a good idea to go for MBA.

Information about my work experience: My company is not a CMM level company. I had been here for 1.5 years and working as a Team Lead (with 4 team members). I know that MBA might not boost my career opportunity, but I would like to change my entire career path. I am very much interested in doing MBA as I am not satisfied in my career right now and I need to change my career path ASAP.

I would like to give GMAT in Aug 2012 ( I am getting 710 in GMAT practice tests). Please suggest me of any course or any improvements I need to do (starting from now) in order to get into MBA. Please suggest my chances of getting into top universities in US.

FutureWorks Consulting: Generally people who want to change their career path and move towards managerial sides of thing go for an mba. If your score is above 700 you can aim for top schools. However GMAT alone won’t determine your chances of admission;...

Categories : Community Service

1. Start as early as possible – college is a good time;  keep volunteering when you join the work force, even if you can spend only a few hours a month.

2. Pick projects that are important for you and that are in line with your interests and needs. To improve your public speaking join Toast Masters,  or volunteer with Big Brother Big Sister if you care about kids. Don’t be afraid to join a smaller less-known organization – you might get a chance to have a greater impact on it. 

3. Make it work – if you travel a lot or don’t have time to meet people in person, find community work that you can do remotely or as part of your work (recruiting, volunteer projects with the company etc).

4. Go for quality, not quantity - it’s not about the number of organizations you participate in, it’s your impact on them and how you were able o contribute to that community.