Category Archives: Admission process

Must-Read Advice Before Submitting Your MBA Application

By Vincent Ho-Tin-Noe (last updated: September 4, 2016)

Just a few weeks (or even days) before the first round application deadlines for most top MBA programs, including Harvard Business School, MIT, Stanford, Booth, Kellogg, LBS, and Wharton, we thought that MBA applicants could use a checklist for items to review before hitting the “Submit” button.

View of Harvard University and the Charles River

View of Harvard University and the Charles River

1. Thoughts About Harvard’s Essay

In the past, Dee Leopold, former director of admissions at HBS, tried to offer comforting words to its MBA applicants. She insisted that the essay should not be considered a hit or miss exercise. It is really just meant to add color to your application package. More recently, HBS’ new dean of admissions, Chad Losee, wrote the following: “(…) As in years past, we will read (and re-read) and consider the application in its entirety —application, resume, essay, recommendations, transcripts, interview, post-interview reflection, GMAT or GRE scores, etc. Said another way, no one thing will get you admitted or “released” from our admissions process.” Therefore, do not feel that you have to cover any particular topic in this optional essay. You set the rules here, depending on what you believe will allow the admissions committee to better understand what makes you unique. Interestingly, this year’s essay prompt is similar to the one HBS used just a couple of years ago: “As we review your application, what more would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy for the Harvard Business School MBA program?”. In 2014, Kyle Watkins had provided advice about  a very similar HBS essay. We also wrote about the overall HBS application process in several posts. Make sure to check them out.

2. Completing The Application Form

Most business schools have a lengthy online application form. You should allocate at least 3 hours to go through it and fill it out properly. You will be asked about past job titles, exact employment dates, and compensation data. You will have to describe your employer, explain why you left the company, detail your key accomplishments and most significant challenges. You already should have some of this on your resume, but in a different format. Although Harvard’s admissions team is telling you not to obsess, you’ll notice that it’s easy to spend 20 to 30 minutes writing a meaningful job description in the space allotted to your answer. And then you will go through the same excruciating process for your extra curricular activities, awards and recognition, and academic experience. Some candidates tend to describe the online form as a collection of mini-essays, and approach the form’s questions as such. Don’t fall into that trap. Do your best, but be ready to settle for good enough, unless you are willing to spend 10 hours filling that form.

In any case, do not panic if the options from a specific drop down menu do not match perfectly your personal situation, and do not sweat over the limited space allocated to describe your work experiences. Filling this form properly is important, but keep in mind that the admissions committee will largely rely on your resume to assess your pre-MBA experience.

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Wharton Round Two Decisions

By Vincent Ho-Tin-Noe (last updated: March 29, 2016)

Having helped a number of first round applicants prepare for their Wharton interview, we are excited about the school’s round two decision notifications on Tuesday, March 29, 2016.

Notification time Continue reading

Introduce yourself: the new HBS application essay

By Andreanne Leduc (last updated: August 28, 2015)
The Baker Library

The Baker Library at HBS

HBS changed its essay question this year and made it no longer optional.

At MBA Admissions Advisors, we thought that it would be useful to provide our readers with fresh recommendations to tackle Harvard’s new question. We also tried to summarize what the web is saying about it.

Here is the new Harvard Business School’s essay prompt:

“It’s the first day of class at HBS. You are in Aldrich Hall meeting your ‘section’. This is the group of 90 classmates who will become your close companions in the first-year MBA classroom. Our signature case method participant-based learning model ensures that you will get to know each other very well. The bonds you collectively create throughout this shared experience will be lasting. Introduce yourself.”

Answering the Introduce Yourself question:

You should consider these five pieces of advice when tackling the HBS essay: Continue reading

Tuck School of Business Application is now live (2015/2016)

By Vincent Ho-Tin-Noe (last updated: August 6, 2015)
Aerial view of the Dartmouth Campus

Aerial view of the Dartmouth Campus

The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth just announced that its application for the 2015 / 2016 season is now open. There were no significant surprises this year.

Tuck offers four application deadlines

Career Goals in MBA Admissions Essays

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: May 19, 2015)

How to Write a Career Vision Essay for MBA Applications

You can’t get through an MBA application without being asked about your career goals, but a lot of applicants struggle to answer the question convincingly. This post is dedicated to helping you do just that. I’ll not only be talking about the keys to writing a convincing career goals essay, but I’ll also be using my own career goals essay from my HBS application to illustrate my points.

Ultimately, a good career goals essay is five things: it’s clear, it’s specific, it’s genuine, it’s ambitious, and it’s congruous. Let’s take each of the five in turn.

Be Clear. State your goal unambiguously and immediately. No one ever got admitted to business school for a beautifully written and captivating introduction, but plenty have gotten dinged because admissions committees couldn’t understand what exactly the applicant’s career goal was. My advice to applicants is always the same: lead your essay with a clear statement of your career goal. Here’s the first sentence of my HBS career vision essay:

“My career will focus on launching and managing social ventures that can provide innovative private-sector solutions to public problems.”

It’s simple, straightforward, and most importantly, it isn’t hiding amidst paragraphs of cliche prose and wannabe poetry.

The one ding I’d give myself is that, by itself, it’s a little broad, which is why it’s also important to quickly get very specific…

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Round 3 MBA Application Decisions

By Kyle Watkins (last updated: May 13, 2015)

Navigating the Waitlist and Application Ding Analysis

This is a big week in MBA admissions, with a handful of big-name programs (like HBS, Kellogg, Ross, Tuck, LBS, Johnson, and INSEAD) rolling out decision notifications for Round 3 applicants. For some who are accepted, it will mark the beginning of an exciting journey to business school, but for most, it will present an opportunity to reflect on your application and consider what comes next.

Waitlisted Candidates

To help candidates who receive a waitlist notification, we recently wrote a post about dealing with the waitlist decision, and we dedicated one of our 10-step guides tonavigating the wailtlist process. Although waitlisted candidates should follow instructions provided by the admissions committee, in some cases there are steps that can be taken to maximize your chances, so the articles are worth a read.

For waitlisted candidates, we can also guide you through the waitlist process, and answer any questions you may have about the steps you can take to increase your chances. Reach out through our Free Consultation form, and we’d be happy to help.

Ding Analysis

We have also provided ding analyses to many candidates in the past, and we have helped them secure interviews or admissions offers at top programs like MIT, Wharton, and Columbia as a result. Our Ding Analysis service has been regularly described by our clients as one of the best in terms of value.

Reach out through our Free Consultation form if you are interested, and we’ll be happy to help.

Good luck!