Earning an MBA… even Michael Scott, notorious Scranton branch manager of fictional paper-producer Dunder-Mifflin, knows it’s a game-changer for business leaders, career advancers or career changers. It’s particularly important for those of us not gifted with enough athletic prowess to enter the NBA directly from high school.
So, how can you get a leg up on the rest MBA applicants? What is the best way to start researching business schools, learning about application requirements, preparing for the GMAT, and connecting with students and alumni at the schools to which you are applying? The University of St. Thomas Evening MBA and Full Time MBA programs have your answer: The UST MBA Forum, Saturday, October 12 from 9 a.m. – noon.
UST Photo by Mike Ekern.
It’s back to school time, but for the first time since 2005 I am not going back to graduate school this fall. After completing the Evening UST MBA program in 2009, I continued taking classes through the business communication certificate program until I finished itthis spring. With eight years of classes under my belt, I feel like this is a good time to reflect on what I would do differently if I could hop in a time machine. If you are starting a graduate program this fall or thinking about it in the near future, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes and have an ever better graduate degree experience than I did. (Although, mine was pretty great!)
- Build your network. Social media provides a very easy way to keep connected with classmates. Each semester, go through and add your classmates on Linked In. Make note of which class(es) you took with them in case it is helpful in the future. You never know when having a connection at xyz company or remembering the name of someone you were in class with will be helpful. Connecting with a classmate on Linked In, Twitter or Facebook is one thing. Actually getting to know them is another. Take the time to get to know some of your classmates well. Don’t just talk with them in class. Even though it is late, take the time to grab a drink after class. Set up a quick dinner or happy hour before class with friends you met in past semesters. If you are doing things right, the better you know others in the program, the more advocates you will have moving through your career.
Applying to business school is typically associated with a lengthy checklist of items to submit for evaluation – an application form, application fees, several essays, letters of recommendation, official transcripts, and the age-old favorite… GMAT scores. The GMAT is consistently the most asked-about item on the University of St. Thomas (UST) Full-Time and Evening MBA application checklists. Questions from prospective students such as, “how should I prepare for the GMAT?” and “where can I access test-preparation tools?” are fielded by UST admissions directors on a daily basis.
As such, the Evening and Full Time UST MBA admissions teams are excited to share a new resource that is available for GMAT preparation and practice. The Opus College of Business now offers three GMAT test simulation tools for verbal and quantitative questions. The tests include a Micro Test (20 minutes), Mini Test (75 minutes), and a Full Test (150 minutes). At the end of the Mini Test and Full Test, participants will receive a GMAT score estimate, as well as a list of questions answered correctly and incorrectly with corresponding explanations.
One of the big components of an application to a business school program is the often-dreaded standardized test. The GMAT, for most applicants here, is by far the most-taken test. We often are asked about how to prepare for these tests and how much time to spend studying. Of course, the answer is different for every applicant, but there are some generalizations that apply. I often suggested planning on devoting about 100 hours to test preparation. The next question becomes: how should you spend those hours? Reading vocabulary cards, taking practice tests, studying algebra textbooks? The Bell Curves Blog recently posted some interesting advice that helps to provide an answer:
Let me set the scene… You just completed your MBA admissions interview, the end to a very long day that has also included a class visit and lunch with a student ambassador. You know you rocked the interview because a) you were well prepared, b) you had the right responses to the questions asked, c) you knew all about the entire MBA program and d) you prepared a good list of follow-up questions. Your admissions application had no grammatical errors and you did not make the mistake of calling this school by another business school name to which you are also applying. One month later, you receive your anticipated package from the business school. You hurry with excitement to open it, only to find out that the school has denied you admission into their fall cohort class.
While there are many factors that contribute to students not gaining acceptance into the business school of their choice, I thought I would outline a few items that often get overlooked by many prospective students. While the information presented here might seem logical, I have witnessed the occurrence of at least one of these items more than once during my time here in the UST MBA Admissions office. Realize that while you might have a formal interview on campus at a specified time, the interview process begins once you first connect with the school of your choice.
Applying to business school can be a time consuming process. Many prospective students wonder about the “black box” of the admissions evaluation process, which often not only includes taking the GMAT, writing essays, and completing various application requirements, but an interview with admissions team members as well. Interviews can be nerve-wracking for prospective students, but as one of the Assistant Directors of Admissions in the Full Time MBA program here at the Opus College of Business, interviews are one of my favorite parts of the job. Why? Meeting applicants in person is an important part of getting to know candidates on a personal level and assessing fit with our MBA program, which overall, is the goal of most admissions interviews. Admissions directors want students to be successful, and meeting applicants in person to learn about what they will uniquely contribute to their MBA program is an important part of the evaluation process.
That said, interviews do not have to be the anxiety-producing event that some applicants believe they are! From an admissions insider’s view, here are some tips to prepare for – and ace – your MBA admissions interview (p.s. These tips can also apply to interviews for MBA-level internships or full time positions):
Having trouble opening new career doors? Consider the ways an MBA can help. (We had a great post titled “Why You Should Get Your MBA.”) The upcoming UST MBA Forum, featuring Kaplan, helps MBA candidates learn more about opportunities to open new doors in their careers and personal lives and take the first step in preparing for the GMAT.
With a few weeks of winter still left ahead of us, it may seem like the fall semester lies far in the future. However, now is the time to begin working on your application if you’d like to enroll in one of the Opus College of Business graduate programs this fall.
The UST MBA Forum is designed to help you learn about the graduate business options available at St. Thomas and provide insight into the application process.
Deadlines are approaching–and in some cases passed–for B-school applications. The Evening UST MBA‘s priority deadline for Spring 2013 admissions was November 1, applications are still welcomed and reviewed once the file is complete. So, as you’re working on your application, how can you stand out (in a good way) to get a spot in the class?
We’ve got an old series of posts here on Opus Magnum with application and admissions advice called “Take it From Me” with some of the bad examples and recently, Business Insider published a great list of 4 Ways To Make Your MBA Application Stand Out.
One of the biggest mistakes candidates make is that “they act on what they perceive the committees want rather than reveal what’s interesting within themselves,” says Jeremy Shinewald, author of “The Complete Start-to-Finish MBA Admissions Guide” and founder of mbaMission, a consulting firm for business school candidates. “They try to become something that they’re not to impress the committee.”
By Ujin Han, M.B.A. ’12
I can tell—you’re excited. You’ve scheduled your GMAT. You have a list of schools you are applying to. You have a list of all the items they want you to send. But as you fill out the application, write the essays and get the letter of recommendations…do you really have what it takes to get in? What should you avoid and what should you do?
What You Should Avoid: The “7 Deadly Sins of Business School Applications”
Dr. Don Martin, who was the dean of admissions at the Booth School of Business for 11 years, listed “7 Deadly Sins of Business School Applications” in an US News and World Report article. Avoid these like the plague:
Sin 1. Misrepresenting the facts
Sin 2. Rude or arrogant behavior
Sin 3. Too much contact
Sin 4. Not following directions
Sin 5. Sending wrong or unproofed information
Sin 6. Asking questions you could answer yourself
Sin 7. Leaving something unaddressed or making excuses
These sound like very simple things to avoid, yet we see many applications with these sins—and trust me, they are noticed and flagged (never to be seen again).
What You Should Do: Four Simple Things
- Avoid all the seven deadly sins listed. These sins could cost you your admission.
- Go to admissions events (such as the UST MBA Forum tomorrow). These events are your chance to meet the admissions representatives and faculty, and make yourself known. If you make a great first impression and you follow through with that admissions rep, you have just recruited an insider to fight for you.
- Write stellar admissions essays. We read them carefully, so you should write them carefully. Triple check your work for spelling and grammatical errors, and word limit—then have others proof read them again. (More tips on essays and how to rock them.)
- Ask thoughtful questions during the interview: admissions interview isn’t different from any other job interviews you’ve had. Come prepared (and dressed professionally). Ask questions that tell us you’ve researched and know the program, such as details on study abroad opportunities, their teaching method and curriculum details, recent news about the program, etc. (More tips on preparing for an admissions interview.)
If you follow these simple dos and don’ts, you will increase your chances to get into the program and start making your dreams a reality.
Poets and Quants, a favorite B-School-related blog, recently broke down the news that some schools aren’t strongly considering the new Integrated Reasoning section of the GMAT…yet. Their post did this using techniques from the GMAT’s Critical Reasoning (which makes up a third of the verbal section).
Brian Galvin held this issue up to the Critical Reasoning precision-in-language standard to see which conclusions we can legitimately draw.
Generalization – this [news] is attributable directly to Stanford GSB, and a few other quotes have emerged with similar language from admissions officers at Harvard, Wharton, and INSEAD. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that all other top schools will feel the same way. On a Critical Reasoning question, the conclusion “Integrated Reasoning does not matter for the 2013 business school intake” isn’t fully supported, as there are plenty of top business schools and the current evidence doesn’t apply to all of them. In more colloquial GMAT speak, we know “some,” but a lot of the conclusions being drawn these days suggest “all.” Be careful with generalization.