2004 MBA Admissions
2004 MBA Admissions
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Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:14:57 PM)
Welcome to our third 2004 MBA applicant chat!
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:15:07 PM)
First I would like to welcome Cindy Tokumitsu, who will assist me today. Cindy is an Accepted.com editor who has worked with hundreds of MBA applicants to top business schools over the last several years.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:15:25 PM)
I encourage dialogue and discussion, but I would like to suggest a structure to make it easier to follow the threads of conversation. So here is the protocol: We will post material to the chat. If you have a question on that material, please type a '?' and then your question. I and/or other participants will reply. If one of you wants to comment on the current topic, please jump right in. If you want to start a different topic, please type '?'.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:15:55 PM)
I've started the last few chats with a few brief, general tips and advice. I'm going to do the same today, and then open the floor to your questions.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:16:05 PM)
The applications are going to start coming out soon. Wharton, for example, has promised to post its questions this month. Most will post questions, if not the entire application, in July and August.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:16:14 PM)
When you approach that stack of shiny applications, you may feel an urge to develop a little spreadsheet for the essays which will have rows made up of different types of questions: Goals, Accomplishments, Failure, Ethical Dilemma, Teamwork, etc. The column headings will be made up of the schools and then you will put an "X" in the box where a specific schools asks a particular question. Proud of your efficiency, you will then plan to write one essay for each type of question and use it in the boxes where those little X's appear.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:16:26 PM)
Resist this urge at all costs. It isn't efficient; it could lead to an enormous waste of time and money.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:16:34 PM)
While spreadsheets may help organize the tasks and deadlines, the blind-cut-and-paste approach won't work. It ignores the nuances inherent in the individual questions and the significant differences between schools and applications. You need to approach each application uniquely. Your responses need to reflect your understanding of each school's appeal, culture, and program. When you start to fill out the applications, go school by school. For each application determine which experiences best answer the individual questions, and when put together with the rest of the information in your application, present the most impressive picture of you overall.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:16:48 PM)
You may find, as have we, that for one school a particular experience will form the central idea in an accomplishment essay and for another school, it may work great as a failure essay. That's OK. That means you are a human being with a varied background. You're not a one-trick pony. And you're certainly not a spreadsheet. Don't portray yourself like one.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:16:59 PM)
Once you have your first set of essays, you can adapt and modify them for later schools, if the subject matter is similar. But don't just cut and paste.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:17:18 PM)
Now that I've finished that brief introduction/rant , I'd like to open the floor to your questions.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:18:13 PM)
? How soon is too soon w/ the essays
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:18:36 PM)
Too soon is before you know what the questions are.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:18:54 PM)
Too soon is before the actual questions are offered -- it's fine to start thinking about and shaping your thoughts on goals, etc. though, now.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:18:57 PM)
As soon as the questions are confirmed, you can and should start work on them.
sara (Jun 10, 2003 9:19:12 PM)
? When should I submit my application?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:19:12 PM)
BTW, Cindy is in NYC and I am in Los Angeles.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:19:33 PM)
You should submit your application as soon as possible, but without compromising the quality of your applications.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:19:38 PM)
That means don't rush your essays.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:19:50 PM)
It means allow enough time to prepare for the GMAT if you haven't taken it already.
sara (Jun 10, 2003 9:19:58 PM)
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:20:25 PM)
Any other questions?
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:20:34 PM)
? How should we go about fitting the recommendations in with the essays (generally speaking) - assuming we can do some coaching?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:20:39 PM)
wdk, are you a first-time applicant?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:20:50 PM)
kgro, good question.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:21:19 PM)
Kgro, they should complement, but not be redundant --- they should provide new insights about you, but not info that contradicts essays.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:21:21 PM)
First of all, if you have a weakness or a stereotype, you can ask a recommender to comment positively and against the stereotype.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:21:50 PM)
So for example, engineers are not supposed to be good communicators or perhaps a techie has a low verbal score. He can ask the recommender to say something positive (with examples) about his communications and interpersonal skills. You can also find tips for recommenders on the Web site.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:22:38 PM)
I worry about redundancy, since I only have 2 yrs WE. If I can't "coach" (not sure yet), some stories may be the same.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:22:57 PM)
It's not a problem if they refer to the same achievement or leadership experience, but the recommender should be able to provide a different twist or perspective. The problem comes not when you can coach a recommender, but when the recommender asks you to write for his or her signature. Then you have a big problem with redundancy and voice.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:24:12 PM)
Interesting - hadn't thought of that as a potential negative.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:24:32 PM)
Obviously, if you have two achievements and only room to write about one in your essays, then ask the recommender if he can cite the other as an example in his letter.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:24:53 PM)
Are both of your recommenders from your current job?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:25:03 PM)
In addition, keep in mind in your coaching (and in your essay writing) that examples and anecdotes, not declarative statements, make the letter meaty.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:25:17 PM)
Well, 2 (very) different rotations within this same company.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:26:40 PM)
I think that's a good choice.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:26:45 PM)
So that should provide 2 quite different perspectives, which will be interesting. In coaching the recommenders, try to highlight their different contexts. It will enable the readers to see you in those different contexts. It will also be able to show that you can succeed in two different environments.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:27:15 PM)
? Thank you both. It seems schools are moving away from letting recommenders submit one letter to all schools - what's your take on this? seems like a big burden to ask...
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:27:28 PM)
kgro, you are absolutely correct.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:27:41 PM)
That's my sense, too. And it is very difficult for the applicants.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:27:53 PM)
When I first started, the schools advised applicants that recommenders could fill in a grid and attach a letter.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:28:18 PM)
Now, more and more express a strong preference for the recommenders using their forms and responding to their specific questions.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:28:54 PM)
I agree with Cindy. It is burdensome for the recommenders, actually an imposition. And difficult for the applicants.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:29:11 PM)
It also contributes to more and more recommenders telling applicants, "you write it and I'll sign it. I just don't have time to write each one."
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:29:17 PM)
That's exactly what the schools don't want.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:29:32 PM)
Seems like a bad trend for everyone
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:29:52 PM)
sara (Jun 10, 2003 9:30:12 PM)
?do you think it is important to visit the schools?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:30:32 PM)
If you are a domestic applicant, I think it's a great idea.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:30:35 PM)
Sara, very important, if possible.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:30:58 PM)
The schools take a visit as a sign of interest and, more importantly, the insight you pick up you will use in your essays.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:30:59 PM)
By "if possible" I mean geographically/economically feasible.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:31:41 PM)
? How would you drop, in an essay, that you've visited?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:32:18 PM)
kgro, many schools when you visit encourage you to take a tour, meet with students (if school is in session), attend a visitor session. They will ask for your name, and they do keep track of visitors. In addition, in the "Why This School" section or essay, you can say then when you visited, X, Y, and Z impressed you for A, B, C reasons.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:32:59 PM)
It's helpful in many ways, one of which is in writing the "why this school" part of the goals essay. KGRO, you can write about it quite openly in that section. Discuss your interactions with students, class visits, other aspects that influenced you to attend.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:33:02 PM)
So it will just help you in general ("insight") more so than with specific essay stories.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:33:15 PM)
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:33:36 PM)
It will help with both. It would be great to incorporate specific examples and anecdotes from your visit.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:33:53 PM)
Again, there are two benefits: 1) The school takes it as interest to varying degrees. 2) You will have additional insight into the different programs, their values and characters. The latter will help you enormously when you write your essays and interview.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:34:49 PM)
It will help you develop and communicate fresh, individual insights rather than respond to marketing/web site copy about the program.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:35:30 PM)
? Kind of a general one: "I standout" essays vs. "I'm solid and fit-in" essays...I feel the former are more risky - worth it? I hope not b/c I see myself as more in the latter group.
sara (Jun 10, 2003 9:35:30 PM)
?What about the optional essays?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:35:56 PM)
Unless the school really limits the optional essay to discussing deficiencies, write it. It is one more opportunity for you to sell your unique qualifications to b-school. You should take advantage of it.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:36:36 PM)
KGRO, as a financial analyst, it's important for you to "stand out". You have to distinguish yourself among your competition -- your industry and demographic group.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:37:01 PM)
Include aspects of your experience that could fit into the required essays, and that adds new dimensions to the school's impression of you.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:37:20 PM)
I have no gold medals, Nobel prizes, etc...
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:37:43 PM)
BTW, KGRO, Cindy wrote an article that we just published on people in IB applying to b-school, and she also wrote another one for younger applicants. They are both in the MBA section of the Web site.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:37:58 PM)
kgro, have you had impact on organizations that you belonged to? Were they better for your having been there?
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:38:40 PM)
Outside of work, my exp is somewhat limited...I'm trying to remedy that now.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:38:45 PM)
Most accepted applicants to top b-schools don't have gold medals or Nobel prizes. They do have a record of making a difference.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:38:56 PM)
What are you doing outside of work?
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:39:34 PM)
I have some volunteer work, and I'm searching for something else to start on that may offer me more of a leadership role.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:39:59 PM)
That would be great! Try to do something over the summer.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:40:03 PM)
What do you like to do for fun? Were you involved in community service in college?
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:40:39 PM)
Yes, I was...but not too much leadership - more of the grunt work.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:41:32 PM)
Did you make a consistent commitment, take on responsibility, and learn something as a result?
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:41:39 PM)
Fun (that they'd want to hear about): rock climbing, skiing, racquetball, travel.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:42:06 PM)
kgro, rock climbing could be distinctive.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:42:17 PM)
Have you organized events for friends?
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:42:21 PM)
Yes - I'll have to spin it as best I can.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:42:26 PM)
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:42:34 PM)
Have I replied to some of your posts on BWForum?
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:42:40 PM)
Linda - not sure what you mean, events for friends?
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 9:42:50 PM)
Hello, and yes, very recently.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:42:56 PM)
Like a ski trip or rock-climbing trip?
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:43:00 PM)
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:43:32 PM)
We have a small group tonight. Do you have any questions?
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 9:44:18 PM)
Have I missed any important insights into the 2004 applications?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:44:49 PM)
I opened by stressing that applicants need to approach each application individually. Don't think that you can cut and paste the same goals essay in to every app.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:45:23 PM)
? How do you two see '04 competition compared to the last 2 seasons?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:45:49 PM)
Look at each application and when able, modify earlier essays, but first make sure you are submitting your best -- not your easiest -- to each school.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:46:04 PM)
kgro, this is true crystal ball gazing...
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:46:10 PM)
I hate to cop out, but it really is too soon to tell, in my opinion!
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:46:33 PM)
I think applications will be down this year.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:46:53 PM)
2002 was a real spike.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:47:24 PM)
2003 seems to have been more around the level of 2001, although I've only heard numbers from a couple of schools.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:47:43 PM)
In a meeting with one adcom director, she sounded like that was a common experience.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:48:00 PM)
Guess you just go Round 1, and worry about controlling what you can.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:48:09 PM)
I suspect that with the continued recession, bad press about MBA job prospects, it's going to be a little easier next year.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:48:21 PM)
kgro, that sounds like a good approach. But again, don't rush to submit 1st round if you aren't ready. Do submit 1st round if you are not compromising on quality.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:49:17 PM)
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:49:36 PM)
? 3 recommendations at Harvard - I don't think I can get an academic; is 3 work OK?
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 9:49:41 PM)
I've heard repeatedly that R1 or R2 is preferable. I've also heard that R1 is slightly less so because the eager ones apply then, thus raising the bar for the round. Any truth?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:50:09 PM)
kgro, could you get two professional and one from community service, which you just said you don't have much of. If something works out over the summer, though, that, too, is an option.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:50:30 PM)
ManofSteel, I agree that R1 and R2 are preferable, but I view them as virtually equal.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:50:40 PM)
Man, that's what they say. Barring extenuating circumstances, however, I advise applying as soon as possible because the schools are giving away spots round one, and round two there are simply fewer places available. Hotshots always apply. Rounds 1, 2, and 3 have hotshots. There are just fewer spaces as time goes on.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:51:11 PM)
? Stanford peer recommendation: any ideas on this one? Like, who it should be?
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 9:52:37 PM)
Since I didn't get a chance before, thanks for your insight in replying to my BW post. I found it very helpful.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:52:39 PM)
Also at some schools, notably MIT, there is a distinctly higher rate of acceptance first round (See last year's MIT chat). I don't think that's true at all schools. For most schools, it seems fairly even between the first two rounds.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:52:48 PM)
You're welcome. I'm glad.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:52:49 PM)
Peer recommendation: a peer from work is a good option, if feasible.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:53:24 PM)
At the risk of being redundant, 'ASAP' above means without compromising on quality.
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 9:54:14 PM)
I'm really focused in towards UCLA (unless I can stretch into Harvard). Any particular insights into becoming a Bruin?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:55:00 PM)
Anderson is a very cooperative environment, focused on teamwork and collaboration.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:55:36 PM)
I've also had clients who were very attracted to its entrepreneurial bent.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:55:40 PM)
In your essay demonstrate that collaborative spirit and how you have thrived in that kind of environment.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:55:50 PM)
Cindy, excellent point.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:56:43 PM)
Cindy has to leave now, so I am going to thank her at this point.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:56:55 PM)
But I am willing to continue taking questions for a few more minutes.
CindyTokumitsu (Jun 10, 2003 9:57:07 PM)
Good luck to everyone -- and let us know if we can be of help with your applications!
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:57:15 PM)
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:57:46 PM)
kgro, the IB article is at http://www.accepted.com/mba/investmentbankers.aspx .
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 9:57:48 PM)
Dumb questions, but . . . I'm 1/2 Armenian, 1/2 Afghan. Do you think this constitutes an underrepresented minority? Who's more underrepresented than that demo!
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 9:57:48 PM)
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:57:53 PM)
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:58:08 PM)
The younger applicant article is at http://www.accepted.com/mba/younger.aspx .
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:58:52 PM)
ManofSteel, you have a highly unusual background, but you are not an underrepresented minority.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:59:12 PM)
Classically, URMs are African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 9:59:36 PM)
Still, you can certainly discuss how your unique background has provided you with a distinctive approach and perspective.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 9:59:49 PM)
? Do schools know/ask for your salary info.?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:00:02 PM)
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 10:00:40 PM)
I'm working in an industry where raises/promotions have been non-existent for several years.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:00:56 PM)
The schools know that.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:01:13 PM)
Then your peers (and competition) won't have raises or promotions either. In fact, some of them may not have jobs in that industry still.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:02:32 PM)
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 10:02:36 PM)
? I considered focusing on the corp. treasury idea in my essay (for post-MBA plans), b/c it may seem more placeable and realistic? But the truth is I want to switch to IB.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:02:58 PM)
Interesting question. I'm glad you asked.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:03:49 PM)
If you present a cogent analysis of why you want IB and how your experience supports a career in IB, then the schools will be impressed with the analysis and logical presentation.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 10:04:23 PM)
Even if they think I have no chance of breaking in? (given the current job market)
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:04:28 PM)
They will realize that if jobs are unavailable in IB when you graduate, and who know what's going to be in 2.5 years, you will be able to do the same analysis and adjust.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 10:04:39 PM)
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:04:45 PM)
What makes a good analysis?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:05:25 PM)
Look at what you are doing and have done. Evaluate what you like and dislike about that work. Then show how IB will give you more of what you like and less of what you dislike. It's OK to discuss dislikes, but focus more on the positive. In addition, show how an MBA will bridge the gap between your current professional position and the one you want to hold post-MBA.
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 10:06:40 PM)
? Personal weakness essays? Any advice on how to pull these off w/o sounding like you're copping out? ("sometimes I work too hard...")
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:07:17 PM)
Remember: The people who applied in 2000 applied when they thought an MBA would be a money machine and jobs were plentiful in MC and IB. Those same people graduated in a horrible job market this spring. You simply can't predict the job market this far in advance. At least, I can't.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:07:51 PM)
That is a lousy weakness. Be honest, what is a real weakness. Then show how you deal with it. How you are working on yourself to minimize it and control it's impact. Provide examples of your successes.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:08:47 PM)
Did that help?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:09:04 PM)
ManofSteel, do you have any questions?
kgro (Jun 10, 2003 10:09:05 PM)
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:09:11 PM)
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 10:09:18 PM)
I'm trying to think of any.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:09:21 PM)
Time for one more.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:10:13 PM)
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 10:10:15 PM)
I think I'm pretty much covered for now . . maybe at the next chat
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:10:20 PM)
I would like to invite you to our next MBA chat this Thursday June 12 at 9:00 AM Pacific Time/12:00 PM Eastern Time right here. Johanna Hellborg of INSEAD and additional INSEAD reps will join us to answer your questions. If you are at all interested in INSEAD, please feel free to join us.
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:10:36 PM)
For more advice on admission strategy, please explore the Accepted.com Web site, especially the MBA section at http://www.accepted.com/mba> . To learn about Accepted.com's services, please visit http://www.accepted.com/services/mbaservices.aspx .
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 10:10:50 PM)
Do you have other school-specific chats scheduled?
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:10:50 PM)
If you want to make sure you are informed of future chats for 2004 MBA applicants, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org .
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:11:06 PM)
We look forward to seeing you at future chats. If you have any feedback or questions on this chat, please feel free to e-mail email@example.com .
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:11:15 PM)
Thanks for coming!
ManofSteel (Jun 10, 2003 10:11:21 PM)
Linda Abraham (Jun 10, 2003 10:11:22 PM)