Posted by: AC | May 27, 2009

B-School FIT: Two Sides

QS published an article yesterday entitled How to make a really efffective business school application

The article can be summarized with three main points:

1. Thoroughly research MBA programs and pick the one that is best for you.  You will probably spend two years and $100,000 on this degree, so make sure it is what YOU want.

2. Complete the application with all your best efforts, highlighting not only skills and experience, but also why this is the right time for you to get your MBA.

3. Apply to the earliest deadline possible, provided that you do not compromise the quality of you application.  Sound familiar?


I would like to focus on the first theme of this article.

So often we, the applicants, think of  “FIT” in terms of, “How can I show that I fit with the school?”  While this is important, we cannot forget to overlook the other side: “What do I want? What school will fit best with my goals?”

It is easy to get enamoured with the prestige and exclusivity of B-schools (not to mention the average salary upon graduation).  

During the trek to your MBA, don’t forget to return to your goals and think about where you will succeed, where you will be happy, and what you want from your MBA experience.

If you are truly excited about what a school has to offer, if you find a program that really resonates with your goals, then the hundreds of hours spend studying for the GMAT, writing essays, and answering supplemental questions will seem less like work and more like steps toward your future success.

Posted by: AC | May 22, 2009

Best Practices for MBA Admissions Webinar

Yesterday I attended the Best Practices for MBA Admissions Webinar hosted by  This webinar provided a brief overview of the applications process and essentially spelled out stratgies and timelines for applicants.

Some key themes:

  • An MBA is a bridge between now and where you want to go.  Know your post-MBA goal.
  • Your application should answer the overall question ‘Why should the school admit you/ why you?’
  • Apply as soon as possible, provided that you do not compromise your application.

Linda Abraham, host of the webinar and Founder of, described applicant profiles as having four pillars:  academic, experience, personal qualities, and fit.

  1. Academic: What is your GPA? What are you GMAT scores? How have you performed in an academic setting?
  2. Experience:  What are your accomplishments? What is your work experience? Is it dynamic, unique, and unusual?
  3. Personal Qualities:  How does your resume or experience demonstrate your leadership, teamwork, interpersonal, analytical, and communication skills?
  4. Fit:  How well do you fit with the school? with the program, its methodology and environment?

Interestingly, she encouraged focusing on the weakest pillar, trying to strengthen and improve that aspect before submitting applications.  I think most of us are probably also focused on Pillar 4: we are researching schools and trying to determine where we will succeed as students.

As you can see, the webinar was pretty basic information.  I got the feeling they didn’t want to give away too much of their content (that is their business, after all); however, there was an advantage to having evertything spelled out to say “THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO DO”.

Posted by: AC | May 21, 2009

HBS Class of 2012 Applicants

Harvard Business School has announced application deadlines and essays for Class of 2012 applicants.


  • What are your three most substantial accomplishments and why do you view them as such? (600-word limit)
  • What have you learned from a mistake? (400-word limit)
  • Please respond to two of the following (400-word limit each):
    • What would you like the MBA Admissions Board to know about your undergraduate academic experience?
    • Discuss how you have engaged with a community or organization.
    • Tell us about a time when you made a difficult decision.
    • Write a cover letter to your application introducing yourself to the Admissions Board.
    • What is your career vision and why is this choice meaningful to you?

For many of us, seeing a date in black and white (and circling it RED on our calendars) will cause us to gear up.  The summer months will fly by in a haze of essay writing, GMAT reviewing, and before we know it we’ll trying to steady our sweaty palms to finally click that submit button.

I’ll post more on application deadlines soon, as many more schools will soon be releasing dates for the fall.

Here we go!

Posted by: AC | May 20, 2009

MBA Podcaster

MBA Podcaster has a wealth of podcasts devoted to the MBA application process.  I just listened to their GMAT Test Taking Tips podcast, which included feedback from top prep companies just as Manhattan, Kaplan, Veritas, and others.

Here are some key takeaways:

  • It has never been more important to do well on the GMAT.
  • The GMAT is  “unnatural act”:  no one is naturally good at it.
  • Responding quickly is just as important as responding correctly.
  • Set dates for practice tests, treating them like real tests.
  • Most common wrong answer is the right answer to the wrong question.

Check out their website for podcasts on the GMAT, application tips, and various MBA programs.

Posted by: AC | May 19, 2009

HBS to accept GMAT and GRE scores

Harvard Business School announced yesterday that beginning with – you guessed it –  the class of 2012, the School will accept either the GMAT or the GRE.  Maybe more schools will follow this change for class of 2012…

There are already a small number of top programs that accept the GRE, including Sloan.   Since the GRE places less emphasis on quantitative skills than the GMAT, this trend may be a good thing for those of us whose verbal scores tend to be stronger.

Here is a list of MBA programs that accept the GRE, but be sure to double check.  The list includes INSEAD; however, their application checklist specifically requests GMAT scores with no mention of the GRE.

Posted by: AC | May 15, 2009

MBA Webinar – Thurs. May 21st will host it’s first webinar  of the MBA Application Season next Thursday, May 21st.  Topics to be covered include:

  • What the Four Pillars of a Successful MBA Application are.
  • How to choose your target programs.
  • When and how to address your weaknesses.
  • How to demonstrate “fit.”
  • How extra-curricular activities strengthen your application.
  • Whom you should approach for letters of recommendation.

The webinar will be hosted by founder and president, Linda Abraham.  Preregistration is required, although the webinar is free (yay!).

 I’ve never done one of their webinars, but I will let you know how it goes.  For those who are interested and can make it, sign up at

Posted by: AC | May 15, 2009

Kelley takes #1 Entrepreneurship Research

Earlier this week it was announced that IU’s Kelley School of Business was ranked first for entrepreneurship research.  The study based the rankings on publication in scholarly journals.  Notably, “Kelley’s top ranking far outdistanced the nearest challenger by doubling its total number of published journal articles.”

This is a big deal for the Kelley School.  Entrepreneurship research paves the way for more effective business school curriculum as well as more effective government resources for business-owners.

Here is a list of entrepreneurship research published in 2008  (or accepted for 2009)

Posted by: AC | May 15, 2009

GMAT Hacks

Recently while studying for the GMATs, I’ve been running into a problem specifically when it comes to quantitative questions.  It is an fairly common obstacle that lots of people face:   I arrive at the correct answers, but I know I take way too long to get there.

It was then that a friend referred me to GMAT,  a website by the author of the Total GMAT books. Jeff Sackman.

There are several articles illustrating his tips and tricks on the GMATs that I have found helpful.  Most recently I read  a great article on doing weighted averages , problems that I was getting right but I felt like they were taking too long.

Here is a sample problem and Jeff’s explanation:

If Jason purchased two suits for $179 each and three suits for $189 each, what is the average price Jason paid for each suit?

(A) $183.00
(B) $184.00
(C) $185.00
(D) $185.50
(E) $186.50

Jeff explains that most of us would probably set up the problem like this:

(179)(2) + (189)(3)

…and eventually arrive at the right answer:   (C), $185.00.

Jeff’s Approach

He writes ” Now think of a different number line: this time between 0 and 10, inclusive. If you were calculating the weighted average of 2 0’s and 3 10’s, the average would nudge toward 10. The calculations are much simpler in that case:

(0)(2) + (10)(3)

30 divided by 5 is 6. Again, despite the fact that we’re looking at a number line 179 points lower than the original, the weighted average is exactly 6 larger than the lower number and 4 smaller than the higher number. This is no accident. In a matter of speaking, weighted averages don’t care what the end points are, they just care about the weights.

By now, it may be clear how to apply this to do the example problem above more quickly. Instead of using 179 and 189 as your datapoints, use 0 and 10. Find the weighted average of 2 0’s and 3 10’s, then add 179. ”

Cue: light bulb on!  Thank you, Jeff!

Posted by: AC | May 14, 2009

HBS Essay Questions for Class of 2012

From the MBA Admissions Blog/Notes from the Director:

“Week of May 18 – essay questions and application deadline dates for the Class of 2012 application will be posted on the MBA website and also here..”

I’ll post again next week with the questions.

Posted by: AC | May 14, 2009

MBA Reading…

In addition to studying for the GMATs, researching schools, and keeping performance up at my day job, I have been trying to keep an eye on the news coming from the B-school community.  The best way I have found is to use Google Reader (if you don’t have it, get it) and set up RSS feeds for some helpful blogs and news sites.  Here are a few I would recommend skimming and reading, looking for news from schools and programs in which you might be interested:

MBA Latest News from

The GMAT Club Blog

MBA News

Additionally, be sure and check your favorite B-schools, many have blogs.  If they don’t have a blog, check for an RSS feed for their News and Events.

Babson Blogs and Podcasts

Hass News

HBS Blog

Kelley News

Kenan-Flager Blog

Tuck News

Wharton News

And finally, as if you had once ounce of brain capacity or a moment of left in your day, try sites like these to read recent research  by faculty.

HBS Working Knowledge


As for blogs, check the links on the right or my previous post.

If you know of any good sites that are posted above (there are probably many)… please be sure and post them in the comments. 🙂 -ac

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