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  • 07/20/2024 0 Comments
    HBS Essay Analysis 2024-2025

    HBS has always valued concision. Each student needs to speak in class to obtain participation point. For the benefit of the whole, each student needs to succinctly make a point that is additive to the case discussion and know when to pass the mike. Adcom puts you to the test by packing a lot into a 30-minute interview – can you provide insight concisely and know what to stop talking?

    This year, they are assessing this attribute earlier in the process by asking you to squeeze in quite a bit of information in very few words.

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  • 06/21/2024 0 Comments
    Kellogg Essay Tips - Essay 1

     Intentionality is a key aspect of what makes our graduates successful Kellogg leaders. Help us understand your journey by articulating your motivations for pursuing an MBA, the specific goals you aim to achieve, and why you believe now is the right moment. Moreover, share why you feel Kellogg is best suited to serve as a catalyst for your career aspirations and what you will contribute to our community of lifelong learners during your time here. (450 words)


    Well Kellogg, rather than settle on one essay question, why not ask ALL of them at once? This is a whole elevator pitch in one question.


    The use of the word intentionality is interesting. I wonder if they feel that clarity and focus are of particular importance right now – if you don’t know what you want to achieve its unlikely you will achieve it.


    Often, applicants want to use the MBA as a “reset” or a “chance to explore.” With a tight market for MBA jobs, I would not disclose that in this essay. Internship recruitment starts very early – sometimes the summer before matriculation! I imagine Kellogg admissions wants to avoid students who are trying to “figure things out” in the frenzy of their first year, lacking the clarity and focus needed to get an internship, return offer, subsequently messing up Kellogg employment stats etc.


    Ok let’s take inventory here…


    1 and 2 – motivations for pursuing an MBA…specific goals you aim to achieve.


    I would consider “goals and gaps” – do you have a gap standing in the way of your goal? If you purely need an MBA to be competitive for X job that is passible, but I would also mix in a personal development goal that is related to how well you might perform the job. For example: consulting might be the post-MBA goal, but developing public speaking or teamwork skills might be the personal development goal that also would make you better at the job. It makes for a more interesting essay and shows a bit about who you are.


    3 - why you believe now is the right moment.


    You need to bring a “timely” element to the above. Our family business is scaling very quickly and if I don’t become stronger/learn more about X we will miss out on X. I am sure they want to avoid laid off applicants seeking to wait things out in b-school. If you have a good reason to go now, you are more likely to be engaged, motivated and add value to the program.


    4 - Moreover, share why you feel Kellogg is best suited to serve as a catalyst for your career aspirations.


    This is to evaluate how serious you are about Kellogg – have you done enough research to know if they are uniquely well positioned to help you? It would be a good idea to mention something practical (i.e., Healthcare Entrepreneurship Track) and something related to cultural fit, if meshes with your “gaps.”


    5 - and what you will contribute to our community of lifelong learners during your time here.


    I really do not know why they say both “lifelong” and “during your time here” which seems inconsistent. So, I would recommend focusing on the “what you will contribute” aspect. This requires a fair amount of introspection and quite frankly my role as an external coach is extremely vital in helping clients figure this out.


    I would not advise you list a bunch of clubs you plan to lead, but rather take a more backward look on how you have contributed in the past. What is your USP, your special sauce? As an example - one of my clients said, in his testimonial, “Farrell can say anything in 10 words or less.” Think more about the person you are bringing to Kellogg, your intrinsic BEING – what comes naturally - more than promises of DOING.


    A few questions that might help get you started

    1. What are your areas of mastery, both personal & professional?
    2. What would the cohort miss out on if you weren’t there?
    3. What problems are you known for solving?
    4. When you are around others of a similar “profile,” how are you different?

    #KelloggMBA #KelloggEssayTips #KelloggGoals #WhyKellogg

    Having worked for many large MBA prep firms earlier in my career, I am proud to be a boutique provider who only handles 4-5 clients per round. I get to know my clients inside and out, which allows admissions to as well.


    Partner with me to significantly increase your chances of being admitted to your top choice MBA program. Complete my contact form to receive CV and profile feedback.

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  • 06/20/2024 0 Comments
    MBA Applicants Recruiting for Consulting

    A few things to keep in mind, in light of the current environment.

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  • 06/17/2024 0 Comments
    What GMAT score do I need?

    Competency vs. Competition 
    The required score - on the GMAT, GRE or EA, depends, in part, upon the diversity you bring to the class. For POC, women, those from underrepresented countries - or even those with a unique work background – admissions is mainly looking for competency. They are motivated to qualify you because diversity is key to the whole value proposition of an MBA, what they are selling.

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  • Columbia EMBA Admissions Tips
    05/15/2024 0 Comments
    Columbia EMBA Admissions Tips

    The EMBA program kind of operates like a PT program at CBS. There really isn’t any stated work experience minimum, which is UNIQUE. One of my clients got in at the age of 25 (he did have people management experience – however had just finished his online BA a month before applying!)

    So, if you have the support of your employer, progression at work and a solid test score (or at least some evidence of quant skill) don’t let age or years of work experience keep you from applying.

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  • 04/11/2024 - Farrell Nelson 0 Comments
    Kellogg Essay 1 Guidance

    Kellogg Leaders are primed to tackle today’s pressing concerns everywhere, from the boardroom to their neighborhoods. Tell us about a time in your life where you’ve needed a combination of skills to solve a problem or overcome a challenge. Which skills did you use? What did you accomplish? (approximately 450 words)


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  • 04/10/2024 0 Comments
    Booth Essay 1 - Evening/Weekend MBA

    Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth, and why is Chicago Booth's Evening MBA or Weekend MBA your program of choice? (400 words)
    The program is not “lockstep” vs Booth’s full-time or EMBA, so they want to know you have sufficient motivation to grind through it to the finish. Show that there is a clear upside you will gain from the program, the more specific the better. Self-actualization and personal growth (my jam) are obvious benefits but what is going to keep you enrolling in classes each semester despite the snow, the travel, the family, the demanding job?

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  • 03/22/2024 0 Comments
    Part-Time MBA vs EMBA – Which to Pick?

    I’ve broken down some of the key points of comparison between part-time MBA and EMBA, in order to make your decision a little bit easier.

    First of All, a Note About Cost.


    PT: It’s hard to make a side-by-side comparison here because most PT programs are flexible in term and the costs can be spread out.


    EMBA: The cost of an EMBA is always higher than PT. However, when comparing EMBA costs, keep in mind that programs that meet twice per month might be more costly than those meeting once per month. Some programs include housing costs for the weekend but others don't so factor that into the equation.


    Scholarships are rare for either program unless you are part of a particular underrepresented group set aside for merit awards.


    Do You Want to “Pivot”?


    PT: Not as good as full-time for this, but doable with the right program. Among PT programs, Haas, Ross and Booth allow for you to quit and do an internship, whereas NYU and Kellogg require you to be employed full-time the duration of the program. It’s pretty case-by-case in terms of ability to attend OCR events - what is written on the website might be different from what you hear from students so check in with both.


    EMBA: You are relying on alumni and student connections rather than OCR (I do believe CBS Saturday offers OCR which is unusual). But keep in mind your current skills need to make sense for the job, for them to set up an interview connection. There might, however, be some source of ongoing support like career coaching (Kellogg) or executive training.


    From what I have seen, Wharton EMBA graduates are able to pivot fairly readily, but it’s best not to go in with this expectation. Preferably the goal is to gain skills you can sell to your current organization with the aim of getting promoted or achieving a C-level role. EMBA programs want you to be able to "apply it on Monday" so if you want to start a company, it's better to state that in your application as a long-term goal.


    How Much Work Experience Do You Have?


    PT: Average is about 5 years of work experience, could be as little as 2. Online programs vary more in age.


    EMBA: Average is 12 years, could be as little as 8 (however for Oxford EMBA, it’s 5.)


    How Old Are You?


    PT: No lower limit, the average age hovers around 30. Note: Chicago Booth CBF program is a great way to obtain a tight network as an early career candidate.


    EMBA: Average age is around 37 for most programs, including Wharton, Booth, Duke, Kellogg, Ross, Haas and Stern. It is around 33 for Columbia, possibly because there is no part-time program at CBS. For MIT, average age is 40 and most work at the director level.

    What’s Your Test Score Situation?

    PT: There might be a waiver provision but in general, a test score is always required. All accept the GMAT/GRE/EA. Average GMAT for Booth is 680, to provide some indication if you go that direction.


    EMBA: There is no test score required for NYU, Ross, Kellogg, or MIT. That being said, you must show some evidence of your quant abilities and MIT requires that you have completed courses in stats and calculus. Undergraduate courses are the best way to show this and if you have poor math grades, it’s best to take the EA. Having a CFA will also work in most cases. I like to recommend if it’s a borderline situation; taking a stats class at a reputable university is the gold standard but takes a while. The median EA for Booth is 155; for Wharton, 157.


    I would say you need a minumum of 10 in quant for the EA to show numeracy/competence. Keep in mind that for both these program types, if you are overrepresented in the application pool, the competition drives up the required test score, which means you’ll need a higher test score than average.

    Do You Have Management Experience?


    PT: This is always a bonus, and you should have leadership present in your profile as you would for the full-time program. If not in your job, then somewhere else such as in employee resource groups, interviewing candidates, training people on software, stuff like that. Even better, creating a positive impact in a community leadership role. But this is less of a requirement than it would be for the EMBA.


    EMBA: I have helped those without people leadership roles get into top EMBA programs (Wharton specifically) though it’s not ideal. You need at least very developed project management skills with an eye towards advancing into a people management or C-suite role.

    EMBA students are seeking help with people-oriented challenges; recruitment, retention, motivation, and organizational change. Having stories and solutions to share in the classroom will position you well for the EMBA. Your work experience is a big deal in the value proposition you bring.


    How Mobile Are You?


    PT: If you choose the evening option, you will need to be local. If you work from home, it might be a good idea to relocate (preferably to the Berkeley area, Ann Arbor or downtown Chicago.) For weekend MBA programs, 75% of Booth weekend students fly in and the same option exists for Kellogg. For Haas EWMBA, 72% of the weekend students are local.

    EMBA: There is generally less travel involved for most of the programs. You will be traveling to school every other weekend in most cases, including Yale, Wharton and Kellogg Evanston. NYU-NYC meets twice monthly but NYU-DC EMBA meets monthly; similarly; Kellogg Miami meets monthly. Wharton, you will stay on campus with your cohort in Philly or a hotel in SF. At MIT, you meet 2-3 times per month. To summarize the monthly EMBA options: Ross, Chicago-Booth, Kellogg-Miami, Duke WEMBA, NYU Stern-DC and Haas.


    How Much Time Do You Have?

    PT: Most part-time programs are not lockstep, which allows more flexibility than EMBA. The exception is Ross Weekend which is a 2-year lock step program; less flexibility but it could be argued this deepens connections as everyone is on the same timeline. Another exception is Haas; your first year is part of a cohort of 70 but you can take up to 5 years to complete the program. Some feel that Ross Weekend and Haas EWMBA are more comparable to a full-time MBA for these reasons.

    Booth and Kellogg both also allow up to 5 years, while NYU allows 6. Anderson FEMBA states 3.

    EMBA: Most EMBA programs are lockstep; everyone begins and ends at the same time. They range from 21 months to 24 months. Lockstep allows for deeper bonds, which makes sense because gaining a network is one of the primary goals of doing an EMBA. Schools usually state you need to allow for 20 hours on the weekends you don’t meet for classes. I will say my clients who have done Wharton EMBA stated it was very rigorous; CBS moderately rigorous; Kellogg less so.
    Most require “time sponsorship,” in that you will need to present a business case to your seniors and have them sign off on you being gone from work. FYI admissions really frowns upon you using PTO for the program and sometimes will not allow it because you will really need your down time.


    What Do You Want to Get Out of This?

    PT: This is usually the best option for those primarily focused on building skills, climbing the ranks, and potentially pivoting. The main motivation is a well-rounded business education. It’s usually considered to be rigorous. No one is likely to fail, but it’s rigorous. For totally flexible programs, this puts in peril how valuable or deep your bonds are with classmates.

    EMBA: While most of the programs are apt at delivering a well-rounded business education or “skill” building, others are more focused on leadership development (primarily Ross, Kellogg and Duke GEMBA - none requiring a test score) and are subsequently less rigorous. One of the biggest takeaways for an EMBA program should be your relationships/network. You can get the content on Coursera but not the teamwork or network experience.

    I call it a "mastermind alliance" because you will be learning from others as much or more from the professors to solve organizational challenges during the program or after the program.

    Side note: Admissions puts a lot of emphasis on your letters of recommendation for EMBA because 1) you should be imparting some good “content” in class to enlarge the perspective of your colleagues, and 2) you need to be likeable and a value-add to the class from a social perspective.


    Full-Time Options for Mid-Career Professionals


    If you want a total sabbatical from work for 1 year and you are past the typical age of a full-time MBA student, you might look into the Sloan Fellows programs. There is Stanford MSx in Palo Alto, SFMBA in Boston at MIT, and London Masters in (obvi) London, which has the highest average age of the three.

    Columbia MBA January Intake accepts the EA and starts the semester after August intake. While it does not allow for a summer internship, its handy to be in New York where you can set up informal in-semester internships (this might allow for some exploration.)

    CBS J-term is mostly for entrepreneurs, sponsored candidates and family business people; the average age is a lot higher than regular term. The acceptance rate is traditionally around 40% but you need to convince admissions you won't be jobless at the end of the program. The idea is that you wont be a pain for career services or end up in the "no job after 90 days" pile.

    Kellogg 1-year operates similar to CBS J-term - you need a business undergrad or be willing to take a bunch of business classes before matriculating. It's largely populated with sponsored MBB folks.

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  • 02/12/2024 0 Comments
    Dealing with Worrying

    Surviving the Worry Phase of MBA Admissions


    It’s natural to worry while you are waiting for that coveted invitation or admit from dream school X or even safety school Y. However, it can become an obsession – because subconsciously, worrying makes us feel like we are doing something. Like we are asserting control over the outcome.
    Here are a few ideas to help you regain control of your mind and energy.


    1 – Tapping or EFT – Emotional Freedom Technique.


    Tapping is an amazing way to create new neural pathways that interrupt the fright you might be experiencing. It’s easy, fast, free and effective. My favorite practitioner is Brad Yates; here is a tap-a-long on Feeling Not Good Enough or Overthinking Things. It helps in the moment - but committing to tapping 10 minutes a day can create lasting change.


    2 – Submit other applications!


    There are still ways to start a top MBA around January or March. If you are actively engaged in creating more options for yourself, this reduces the fixation on X school and the sense of desperation that can easily set in.


    If you are waitlisted, rather than sit on your hands or cross your fingers – find ways to (skillfully and appropriately) repurpose content for a couple new applications. You never know where they have room for someone with your profile.


    3 – Put energy into making a positive impact for a worthy cause.


    There is no way to lose with this. It occupies your time and mind until results come through.
    In the event you don’t get into an M7 school or whatever your target was, you have a head start on your “what changed” reapplication essay. If things DO go your way, more leadership fodder for your internship interviews.


    If you are actively leveling up your leadership and contribution profile – you will probably still worry - but a bit less knowing you are actively engaged in doing all you can do.

    PS - I have seen clients get off the waitlist submitting nothing but updates around community leadership.


    4 – Adjacent ways to achieve MBA goals.


    Even if just as an exercise. Our amygdala gets triggered when frozen in A/ B: MBA Yes or MBA No. Our prefrontal cortex (executive functioning) goes offline. But once you introduce a third option you can get unstuck and get your brain back online.


    • Maybe a MFin is a good adjacent option and there are still deadlines you can target
    • Maybe you can receive entrepreneurship mentorship from that guy at Toastmasters
    • Maybe submit an application for Y Combinator
    • Maybe you can try the networking path to consulting
    • Maybe you can learn skills that allow you to switch functions or departments 


    Even if you do exactly none of these things now, brainstorming non-MBA ways to improve your lot or get closer to your goal might help feel better during this purgatory period.


    The MBA admissions process can easily make you feel dependent and disempowered at times. The goal is to recover some of your agency and power, to have a better quality of life as you wait for results.

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  • 01/24/2024 0 Comments
    Still a few paths to a top MBA within the coming year

    It's January of 2024 - missed the R2 MBA boat and still want to start soon?



    Many have fully remote jobs these days and can work from anywhere. So, this
    brings about the opportunity to relocate to attend a top part-time program
    in places such as Chicago, California, NYC, Austin or Ann Arbor. The cohort
    system with the Berkeley-Haas EWMBA, featuring full access to on-campus
    recruitment, makes the program feel like a full-time MBA.


    Both Kellogg and Booth PT have deadlines each season, rather than rounds, which gives applicants a lot of flexibility. Michigan-Ross’s online part-time program offers full on-campus recruitment, and those deadlines are just beginning. The NYU part-time program is more popular than the full-time program - you’d likely have some very interesting classmates. R1 is on Feb 15.


    ROUND 3 – preferably of 4


    Of course, there is R3, which often has worrying odds for overrepresented applicants, but if they have a R4, it’s still pretty viable (and, I have seen overrepresented clients even get into R4 with nice schollies!). Duke, McCombs, UNC, and IESE come to mind.


    MID-CAREER: 8+ YEARS of Work Experience


    Stanford MSx is due Feb 15 and Michigan-Ross has the Global MBA – where Round 1 is April 28th.




    If you are looking to attend b-school in a French-speaking country – they all have January intake with R1 kicking off March 12 for INSEAD – make sure to apply by R2/April 26 for scholarship eligibility. There are monthly deadlines at HEC-Paris and R2 at IMD on Feb 15 (and they have 7 rounds.) There are 4 deadlines at HEC-Montreal and R3 is on March 15.


    At Ivey in Ontario, arguably the top school in Canada, things are just getting started with R1 due on Jan 29.




    If you can achieve your goal without a summer internship, maybe explore various paths through in-semester internships instead, apply to January intake at CBS when the application opens in June or July (one and only deadline is around the last day in September but don’t wait until then, in my opinion.)


    The acceptance rate is much higher the normal term because they don't have to mess with you in terms of recruitment (reputed to be 40%). This is ideal for those who want to work for the family business, our sponsored candidates or entrepreneurs. They are friendly to older applicants.


    Hopefully one of these paths to a top MBA works for you if you want to start soon!

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  • 11/08/2023 0 Comments
    Stanford's What Matters Most & Why: Values

    This is a daunting question, and most people are lost at sea with it before coming to me. The way to tackle this is to examine the question behind the question. First of all, in becoming part of the GSB alumni, you would be an ambassador of sorts, whether you are aiming to or not. Because of that, they want to really understand your operating system – your values.


    And so, this question actually asks, what do you most value? The answer is meaningless without an anecdote, really – as with all the essays, show, don’t tell – and the story should illustrate how you acquired the value to which you lay claim.


    As a coach, I try to help my clients discern their values so they can make better decisions. To use myself as an example, my values include self-expression, playfulness, and independence. How did I come to know this? Before I got into this business, I moved from newspaper marketing to Wells Fargo.


    The change appeared to be an upgrade from the outside, but I found myself stripped of all that I valued. No longer was I able to champion my own initiatives, lead graphic designers, copywriters, or collaborate with the news desk. None of the writing I did came from a place of self-expression like it used to.


    Rather, everything at Wells Fargo was lockstep, recycled from the marketing calendar, under heavy scrutiny of compliance standards, and totally devoid of all humor and spontaneity.


    Had I understood my values, I would have been able to articulate why my inner guidance was saying NO DON’T DO IT. Once I started at Wells, I then realized to be happy in my work, self-expression, independence and playfulness needed to be there.


    When it comes to What Matters Most, consider personal and professional anecdotes and see what the golden thread is, the “through line” that ties things together.


    The exercise I have people do is to identify one personal and one professional anecdote for each of the following:

    1) when did you feel most proud?

    2) when did you feel most accomplished?, and

    3) when did you feel most fulfilled?

    Then we consider each anecdote and from there back out what it says about the values of that person.


    For instance, one of my clients felt most fulfilled when several coworkers slammed his phone with messages encouraging him to apply for a new job opening in their department.


    As an Iraqi American in Texas, he had been the target of racist bullying in his youth, which gave birth to his value around feeling a sense of belonging within the community, feeling wanted and welcome.


    In his essays, he first shared the story of being bullying and then stories around his subsequent efforts to create safe and welcoming communities for himself and others, both personally and professionally.


    By identifying where your values come from, you can understand why they are important to you provide a holistic and authentic answer to “What matters most and why?”

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  • Rules to get in MBA Colleges
    10/03/2023 0 Comments
    Low GMAT? Applying to Full-Time MBA with Executive Assessment

    Struggling to achieve your ideal GMAT score and applying Round 2 MBA?

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    08/07/2023 0 Comments
    Creating Your MBA Résumé

    If I can brag a bit - MBA Career Services love my résumés. "Don't you dare change a single word!" were the words spoken to my client who started at Stanford GSB last fall.

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  • Group image in office
    07/10/2023 0 Comments
    Breakdown of Average Age for Top US EMBA Programs

    Hi everyone, as the first round of EMBA deadlines arrive for most schools, wanted to touch on average age/work experience for each of the top programs. They vary quite a bit. Hoping this might provide some nuance and help you avoid potentially wasted effort.


    Wharton: It’s concentrated around people in their 30s: year after year, only 20% of the class is over 40. Also, the only US based program breaking out this stat. Everyone stays in the same hotel every other weekend and I wonder if they are looking to maintain a certain social dynamic by avoiding big age gaps (this might create cliques).


    Just this year that number bumped to 25% which makes me wonder if this average went up because they have older candidates doing the “global program” (the new remote option.) Or a philosophical change in general about having older candidates. Only 3% of the class is under 30. But, if you are an employer sponsored candidate, check out the “fellow” option.


    Columbia: Many who consider Wharton also consider CBS EMBA. This option is a great one if you are a bit young for an EMBA. One of my clients started this program at age 25, actually, and had completed his online bachelor's degree the previous year – however – he was in fact in a people/program management role at his company. He was promoted 2 or 3 times during the program to director and is now a partner.


    CBS doesn’t have a work experience minimum – and I can’t think of another program that doesn’t. It’s a bit of a wild card. This doesn’t mean anyone can get it in of course but they look at how the employer has “vetted” the candidate: are they sponsored? Have they been promoted? What is their track record of achievement? If you are a top performer under that magic 8 years of experience – this is likely a good option.


    Yale: The 14 average years of work experience are higher than
    Wharton but less than MIT, and the average age is 36. However interestingly they only require seven years of work experience, and it seems as though they are willing to make an exception with that if you have a track record of leadership. Note: The fact that the program is in New Haven Connecticut (logistics not ideal) and meets biweekly means that the majority of the class will be from the Northeast (59%). So make sure that a network from this geography would be valuable to you. It's clear they've put a lot of effort into making sure that 47% of the class are people of color and 44% female. They really emphasize their specialties of asset management, sustainability, and health care.


    Booth: The average age is 37 with 13 years of work experience; they don't really give an 80% range so I'm not really sure how tightly clustered things are around that average. But I do know that one of my clients visited Booth he is like 42 or something and he felt somewhat comfortable there and found many others his age.


    MIT: Primary reason I am writing this blog is to keep young applicants from applying here. The average age is 41 with 17 years of experience with a minimum of 10. And, having the most experienced EMBA cohort is cornerstone to their marketing. 90%+ are Directors. I recommend against having a “apply for the heck of it, worst they can say is no” approach here if you don’t fit this profile. Why? Because it's the most competitive EMBA program (very hot brand and no GMAT required = tons of applications) AND it’s a huuuuge application; a LOT of both recommendation and essay questions.


    If you have 8+ years but less than 10, however, you are a director AND offer a lot of diversity, then you might contact admissions to see if they will make an exception. Note: don’t apply unless you have a B or better in stats and business calculus.


    Kellogg: Average age is 39; down from 40. Average work experience is 15 years. 68% are director level or above. This program is less rigorous than Booth, Wharton, and MIT with a monthly Kellogg-Miami option. If you have small children or work long hours, you might find this program more manageable. Note: they have both fall and winter intake, so, frequent deadlines.


    Duke: Average age is 34 for the global MBA (class meetings are at various international destinations) and 35 for the Weekend EMBA – interestingly, the required work experience is only 5 years. The Weekend option is monthly so might be a good option for younger applicants, even if they need to travel from outside the area.


    NYU-Stern: There are 3 options; NYC; DC and the prestigious TRIUM Global EMBA. For NYC, the average age is 37 with an average of 13 years of work experience. The Stern PT MBA is very popular so it would make sense that less experienced applicants would go for that option. The DC monthly program is very new with no class profile yet posted. Given that there is no “top ranked” PT MBA in DC, I am guessing it might scoop up those applicants and skew younger. For TRIUM, the average age is 40. This is like a more prestigious version of the Duke Global MBA.


    Michigan-Ross: The situation here is similar to Kellogg – average age is 40; less rigor, with more emphasis on leadership than quant-heavy subjects. No class breakout between Ann Arbor & Burbank monthly options. Interesting that they include average salary is $180K.


    Berkeley-Haas: 80% fall between 33 and 48 and so it seems there is a good deal of variation here with age. Also, a monthly program.


    I might even go so far as to say that monthly programs usually skew older than weekly (CBS only) or biweekly (Booth, Kellogg-Evanston, Wharton, NYU in NYC). However, MIT meets every 3 weeks and has the highest average age.


    In sum – while age isn’t the only variable, of course, it’s something to factor in. EMBA programs are lockstep and 22 to 24 months – by design. Why? You will get to know your colleagues better this way and have deeper connections. You are paying to acquire a network, and so you want to feel you are surrounded by people who can help you. The fact is, a director probably won’t benefit much from someone with 5 years of work experience, and actually, vice versa. So, the bulk of the cohort needs to be equally yoked so to speak for the program to work.

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  • 05/19/2023 0 Comments
    Hobbies and Interests on CV

    MBA APPLICANTS – something I am realizing is a controversial issue and want to address it.


    Include hobbies on your resume for MBA. Please trust and believe they are evaluating you, in part, to see if you are a social value-add to the class. You are both the consumer and the product. They want people who are well-rounded with a sense of humor.


    Offering a couple examples so you will believe me I can TALK YOU OFF THE LEDGE of not doing this.

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  • 05/17/2023 0 Comments
    Getting Admitted from the MBA Waitlist



    Hi, what are some proven strategies on getting off the waitlist? I have taken my GRE five times already so no more chances to retake it. Thank you!

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  • 05/04/2023 0 Comments
    Social Work/Community Service - Does it Help?

    Q: I was told that social work improves your profile and helps you stand out in front of the ad-com. Is that true?


    A: 1000% yes. 


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  • 03/31/2023 0 Comments
    MIT Sloan Executive MBA Interview – Sample Account for Startup Client

    Interview Part 1 (45 min):

    1. Walk me through your early career. Inflection points, decisions to pursue field

    2. How do you choose mentors? How are you mentored?

    3. Describe market opportunity and how you addressed it in your current organization

    4. Biggest challenge and adversity turnaround story

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  • 03/29/2023 - Farrell 0 Comments
    A few points of comparison: Wharton v Booth EMBA

    As Wharton offers are coming in, I've been asked to comment on the differences to help people decide. This is by no means comprehensive but what comes to mind.

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  • 02/28/2023 0 Comments
    Kellogg EMBA Interview Questions - Sample Account

    The cool thing about Kellogg is that they interview everyone, so its wise to apply if your magnetic and personable camera presence sells you better than other elements of the application. Here are the interview questions from a recent client. Reminder than R1 is 4/19 - factor in time not just for essays but brainstorming recommendation anecdotes (DEI in particular) and interview talking points!

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  • 02/28/2023 0 Comments
    Kellogg EMBA: Essay 2: Community Impact

    Essay 2: Community, belonging and inclusion are important values at Kellogg. Tell us about a community that’s important to you and how you contribute to or impact that community. (450 word maximum)

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  • 02/22/2023 0 Comments
    Why Kellogg - Executive MBA Essay 1

    In the application, you shared your short-term and long-term goals. How will Kellogg and an Executive MBA equip you to reach those goals? What are you looking to gain or develop during your MBA experience? (450 word maximum)

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  • 02/16/2023 0 Comments
    Kellogg EMBA Short Answers - Goals Questions

    Round 1 April deadline for Fall intake is approaching and I'll be tackling the various elements of the Kellogg EMBA application.

    Essay 1 starts out with, “In the application, you shared your short-term and long-term goals” so before tackling essay tips – let’s start here first. These short answers are the basis for the your response in Essay 1 - I will write a separate article for that.

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  • 02/14/2023 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MIT EMBA Letter of Recommendation Tips!

    1. How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?

    They are trying to understand how well the recommender knows you, measured by both years and the level of engagement. When they say capacity – sure, articulate their role and yours, but really, they are trying to find out if you have worked closely with this person. Has this person observed you from a distance or have you been in the thick of it together, partnering on high-stress projects together? Ideal if you can show you have worked closely on complex and/or high priority initiatives.

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  • 01/23/2023 0 Comments
    IMD MBA Failure Essay - Tips and Sample Essay

    Describe a situation in which you failed as a leader. What did you learn from it? (Word limit 300)

    Because IMD is primarily a leadership development program, as Sean Meehan mentions, they want to know you are ready for what they deliver.


    Regarding the failure part, they want to know you have enough self-awareness to observe where you might have failed, which makes you coachable and more receptive to change. Regarding the leader part, they want to know you have worked at a high enough level to benefit from a leadership program. If you haven’t worked in a leadership capacity in some form, you won’t have a frame of reference and there isn’t much for their curriculum and experiential exercises to “hang on.”

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  • 12/10/2022 - Farrell Dyan 0 Comments
    Wharton EMBA Essay 1

    What is your career objective and how will the Wharton MBA Program for Executives contribute to your attainment of this objective? (400-word limit)


    Career Objective

    The ideal situation here: you need more skills to adeptly navigate a new manager or director role. Or you need those skills to obtain that role, within your organization or within the same industry. They want you to apply what you learn on the weekend to your job on Monday. Even if you have a long-term (or even short-term) goal of starting up, you REALLY want to first articulate how you will benefit from the program where you are today. They are looking at the ROI of the program for you, just as you are. Wharton rewards pragmatism and analytical thinking, that is their jam. So, make sure your goals show a financial outcome that will leave you satisfied with the program.

    Beware of a ready-fire-aim approach – first do the research needed. Find out if a Wharton EMBA would open the door to the job you want through informational interviews with hiring managers, and mention this in the essay. For example, based on you learned through your conversation with Mr or Ms. In The Know, you need this degree to advance. Or need the skills that come with a Wharton EMBA to break in. DO THE RESEARCH. Talk to people. When you do this the essay writes itself, you have compelling content, rather than stressing and guessing, trying to slap some crap together to fill the page. It’s important to avoid a “pitch it over the fence” mentality – meaning, you are crossing your fingers that once admitted Wharton will figure things out for you.

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  • 12/10/2022 - Farrell Dyan 0 Comments
    Columbia EMBA Admissions/Essay Tips

    The early deadline is 1/11 for CBS EMBA Saturday – followed by the final one on 2/23. If you are just starting now – and especially if you still need to sort out your test score – do prioritize application quality over tossing something together within a couple weeks.


    The Saturday program kind of operates like a PT program at CBS. One of my clients got in at the age of 25 (he did have managerial experience in market research) There really isn’t any work experience or age minimum, which is UNIQUE. I can’t think of another EMBA program without a minimum. So, if you live in the NYC or Philly area, and you have steady progression at work with a solid test score, don’t let age or years of work experience stand in your way.

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  • 12/05/2022 - Farrell Dyan 0 Comments
    Why Does MBA Admissions Look at My LinkedIn profile?

    After the heaps of information I have already shoveled at them, what more are they looking for? While MBA adcom has peeked LinkedIn profiles on the sly for many years, mostly at the interview stage, now most schools are formally asking for your LinkedIn profile as part of the application.

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  • 08/05/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    EMBA Round 1 deadlines in chronological order + other important info

    Kellogg EMBA R1 for Jan intake 8/17/22 and R2 is 10/5 (all applicants interviewed; test score optional but need quant evidence); also deadlines for September start. Meetings in Miami monthly and Evanston biweekly, both residential.



    Average WE 15 years; average age 39


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  • 07/05/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Should I Submit Low Test Score or Waiver?


    Is there a possibility that I might get in a T15 with a Test waiver, however, if I apply with a test score, I might get rejected (because of a low-test score)?

    Just trying to assess what’s the best course of action :)

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  • MBA Recommender Selection Criteria
    06/13/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Recommender Selection Criteria
    • You want a recommender who has witnessed you demonstrate those all-important attributes – teamwork, leadership, and problem solving, just to name a few. What content will they offer? Is it in line with how you want to brand yourself? The content is far more important than their status at the company.
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  • 06/08/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Asians & Indians with Low Stats - Can the EA Get You In?

    It’s not great but schools kind of rely on Indians and Asians to take care of the foundation for the GMAT average (for schools that disclose, GRE as well) and when an applicant's stats are lower than the class average there would have be a very compelling and well-articulated upside (or celebrity) for them to get in despite this. 

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  • 05/31/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    How to Boost Your MBA Profile in Short Order

    Round 1 applicants can implement many of these but Round 2 applicants can apply nearly all of them.

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  • 05/25/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    HBS Essay Tips

    HBS Essay Tip #1


    Figure out your “throughline” – “a connecting theme, plot, or characteristic." This is what is meant by the term "brand"
    Focus on that; don’t try to do all the things. 

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  • 05/24/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Should I get a 1-year or 2-year MBA?

    I feel that in most cases, a 2-year MBA makes sense and I’ll elaborate on those reasons below. However, here are the people who could consider a one-year MBA.

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    04/12/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments

    Why are you seeking an MBA from Chicago Booth and what unique knowledge and experiences do you hope to contribute to the program? (2 page maximum, single-spaced, 12 pt. font, Times New Roman)

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  • 03/24/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Why Was I Dinged?

    A few pointers. Often applicants focus on status and prestige, being "business-like" in their applications which provides as an obfuscation to really getting to know the applicant.

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  • 02/04/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Wharton EMBA Recommendation Questions

    Applicant: recommender has no word limits

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  • 02/04/2022 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Chicago-Booth EMBA Recommendation Questions

    Applicant: recommender can input 210 words if you fill in the text boxes; unlimited in a Word doc

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  • young man in a shirt and tie crossing his fingers, looking hopeful
    12/07/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Waitlisting Strategy – Show Your Zing

    It’s that in-between time on the MBA admissions calendar – Rounds 1 and 2 are over, interviews are done, and decisions are made. Unfortunately, not everyone is happy with these decisions, and if you’re one of them, my condolences. I know that wasn’t the outcome you were hoping for. You’re probably feeling pretty vulnerable right now.


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  • insead
    08/26/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Tips for Writing INSEAD Job Essay 1

    Main message when talking about work: it's easy to slip into jargon and acronyms that create a barrier to adcom understanding your greatness. Use universal language, and then run your response by people in your life who don’t know much about your job.


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  • tips and tricks
    07/21/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    How to Approach the Dreaded "What Else Do You Want Us to Know?" Prompt – HBS Edition

    The prompt:

    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?


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  • nametag reading hello i am your dream
    06/29/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Researching Post-MBA Goals

    The internet is so vast, where do you start researching these things? One of the best tools out there is right at your fingertips – LinkedIn.


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  • papers, pencils, and a phone neatly arranged on a dark wooden desk
    06/17/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 1 Comment
    MBA Program Research – A Complete Guide

    Likely you’re at the beginning of this research process. There’s time before Round 1 deadlines, but you really need to use it wisely. I’ve laid out a guide below that will help you get your ducks in a row as you begin.


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  • our values define us
    05/27/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    What Matters Most and Why?

    This is a really daunting question, and most people are lost at sea with it before coming to me.


    The way to tackle this is to examine the question behind the question. First of all, in becoming part of the GSB alumni, you would be an ambassador of sorts, whether you are aiming to or not. You would represent GSB, an affiliation that will last longer than many marriages. Because of that, they want to really understand your operating system – your values.


    And so, this question actually asks, what do you most value?


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  • male child in a suit writing a letter, the table next to him covered in crumpled papers
    05/13/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    So You’ve Landed on the Waitlist – Now What?

    Hello to all those waitlisted! I realize this wait is agonizing and putting your life on hold. My hope is that you do what you can to put forth a great update letter and then let it all go.


    I really like how Cornell-Johnson has outlined the potential weaknesses and recommended strategies in their waitlist information letter. I want to give you a bit of insight behind each item.

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  • handwritten list with checkboxes
    05/05/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Getting Ahead of Round 1 MBA Applications

    Prepping MBA applications is a little like Christmas, holiday, or birthday shopping. The deadline is months away, you've got all the time in the world, you can afford to drag your feet a little bit. Then, all of a sudden, you're out of time. You might be able to find a good present at the last minute, but you won't be able to churn out a good application in a week, or even a month.


    Getting your MBA can be life-changing, so it demands a high level of attention and a lengthy prep time. If you’re even considering applying to business school, most of these steps have been on your mind. So, think of these steps more as a checklist or a guide to make sure your application is as strong as possible.


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  • deadline on a calendar
    04/06/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Should I Apply to INSEAD in Round 2 or Round 3?

    MBA applications can’t be rushed. They require lots of introspection, research, and iteration. So, you need to leave ample time for essay writing. That being said, it could still be in your best interest to apply in Round 2, even if that means you need to be done a little sooner than you planned. Here are some things you need to take into consideration when making your decision.


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  • Stanford Graduate School of Business
    03/31/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Stanford GSB’s Background/Perspective Question – What You Need to Know

    MBA application questions are notorious for seeming easy to answer when they actually aren’t. This one, however, actually gives you pause right away. I was recently asked, “Could you offer any advice about how to approach this short answer question from the Background section? It’s a bit unclear to me whether this is an ethnicity / citizenship question or if you can talk about anything related to your background.”


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  • man speaking into a webcam
    03/16/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    INSEAD Round 1 Kira Video Essay Prompts

    A short compilation of video essay questions that have been asked in INSEAD’s Round 1 this season. For tips on how to prepare for video questions and a comprehensive list of past questions from INSEAD, Kellogg, and Yale, check out my previous post here.


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  • gmat answer sheet
    03/11/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Q&A: Multiple GMAT Scores and INSEAD

    Q: Seeking some advice –INSEAD applicant here. Completed my GMAT last year – score was 670. Q47 (63%). Repeated my GMAT today – score was 690. Breakdown Q45 (57%). Quant has dropped quite significantly. I still have the option to cancel my score, should I report it? If so, I’ll probably have to address my max 63% score in quant between the two tests.


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  • globe
    03/03/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Q&A: INSEAD and International Experience

    Q: Here’s a quick question. Does INSEAD require International experience?

    A. Yes and no.


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  • thank you
    02/12/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Writing Thank You Notes/HBS Post-Interview Reflection

    First of all, definitely send a thank you note. Not 30 minutes after the interview; it will seem insincere. But no later than 24 hours.


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  • mechanical pencil resting on a blank open notebook
    02/03/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Admissions Essays – What Can I Recycle?

    I get it, you're tired of writing and rewriting. But no matter how much you want to, recycle with caution. Adcom is very old hat at this and will smell it out instantly.


    What is possible, however, is borrowing pieces or aspects of various essays, which I call content blocks. However, absolutely make sure they are very on-target in answering the question – shape the recycled content as needed.

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  • cartoon man in a suit thinking between strengths and weaknesses
    01/27/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Tips for INSEAD Motivation Essay 1

    Give a candid description of yourself (who are you as a person), stressing the personal characteristics you feel to be your strengths and weaknesses and the main factors which have influenced your personal development, giving examples when necessary. (500 words, maximum)

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  • paper heads facing each other, with conversation bubble cut out and joined between the faces
    01/20/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    The MBA Interview – Don’t Let Up Now!

    Now is the season for the all-important MBA interview process. In fact, many of you are preparing as I write this! Or at least I hope so? Or…maybe not?


    Too often, I see applicants pour all their precious energy into the application and then blow it big time with the interview. By the time interviews roll around, they are either 1) burnt out, or 2) a bit overconfident about their ability to navigate the interview questions.


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  • pocketwatch sitting on top of an open monthly planner
    01/16/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Round 3 MBA Apps vs. January Intake

    B-school plan a bit off track? January intake might save the day!


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  • man interviewing
    01/07/2021 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Video Essay and Interview Tips (And - Kellogg, INSEAD, and Yale Questions!)

    INSEAD, Yale, Kellogg, Georgetown, and Sloan are just a few of the business schools that have video essays and/or interviews. In a post-Covid world, we could even see more schools adopt video, especially interviews.


    While the specific format (like how much time you get to prepare or answer) might vary, preparation is the same across the board. These tips will help you put your best foot (face, really) forward.


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  • context is king
    12/23/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Q&A: Job Descriptions on MBA Applications vs. CV

    Q: I’m working on my NYU and CBS applications and both ask for a description of each job, without a specific word length. (It’s “Duties/Responsibilities” for Columbia, “Description” for NYU).


    I assume I should include information different from what’s on my resume but what exactly? And how long should I make these be for each job?


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  • preparation is the key
    12/22/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Cramming for the TOEFL

    Many of you may be preparing for the TOEFL on a short timeline. One of my clients prepared over 10 days while on vacation and successfully went from a 98 to a 112 through this approach. There’s also a useful bit of advice to keep in mind for the day of the test (in the event you are able to take it in person).


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  • your mba goals essay: ready, set think
    12/21/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Cambridge-Judge EMBA Goals Essay Questions

    EMBA application season is upon us, which means there’s no time to waste in coming up with answers to the all-important essay questions. I’ve gone into great detail about a successful technique that gets your readers on board with your vision – learn to use the inverted pyramid here.


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  • circled word mba
    12/17/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Connecting Goal, Why MBA, and Why This School Questions

    One way or another, you’ll encounter these questions during the course of almost every MBA/EMBA application. I want to share an effective technique for setting up your answers to really help the listener follow your vision – it’s called the inverted pyramid.


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  • university of cambridge judge business school
    12/11/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Cambridge-Judge EMBA Recommendation Questions and Rankings

    Sharing the letter of recommendation questions and rankings for Cambridge-Judge EMBA.


    The recommendation grid shows you what matters to Judge – what they value, which can help you identify a strategic direction in your essays and interview.


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  • hec paris emba
    12/03/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    HEC-Paris EMBA Recommendation Questions

    Sharing the letter of recommendation questions and rankings for HEC-Paris EMBA. Interesting fact - letters of recommendation are an even bigger part of the evaluation criteria for EMBA applicants. Consider anecdotes for the open-ended strengths/weaknesses questions at the bottom that you can outline for your recommender to write in their own words.


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  • walking a dog on the beach
    11/25/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Application Essay Tips

    Essays vs. Recommendations


    When it comes to the essays, with most applications, you want to give them a personal dimension.


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  • bowl of different colored candies
    11/12/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Tips for Handling Recommendations - Part 2

    Round 2 applicants, now is the time to reflect on the questions common to all letters of recommendation: strengths, as compared to those in a similar role, and a story about receiving constructive criticism. More and more programs are moving towards the Common Letter of Recommendation. Identify the stories you want to share and outline them in STAR format for the first 3 questions, then consider ideas your recommender might include for the “anything else” area.  


    Find Part 1 - Execution here.


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  • don't tell me, show me
    11/04/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 1 Comment
    Tips for Handling Recommendations - Part 1


    Round 2 applicants, now is the time to reflect on the questions common to all letters of recommendation: strengths, as compared to those in a similar role, and a story about receiving constructive criticism. More and more programs are moving towards the Common Letter of Recommendation. Identify the stories you want to share and outline them in STAR format for the first 3 questions, then consider ideas your recommender might include for the “anything else” area.  


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  • life is a story, what does yours say?
    10/29/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Introspection - The Key to a Top MBA Admit

    This is truly the foundation for all the content conveyed in your application. The quality of your introspection determines the overall altitude of your applications.


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  • at the center of your being you have the answers; you know who you are and you know what you want
    10/14/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Fresh Admits - Why I Think I Got Into INSEAD

    Passing along a few contributions from successful applicants who posted their advice in the INSEAD thread I moderated on GMAT Club.


    All of these responses are raw and unedited. I think you will find at least one or two helpful things!


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  • golden gate bridge
    10/07/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Programs - Location Isn't Everything

    Location, location, location! Right? Well…

    When seeking an MBA program, many applicants look at it as a golden opportunity to travel or live in their dream location. They think, “I have to be happy where I’m living for those 2 years, right?” Or, “I’m not much of a country person, so…” or “I want to live in a mild climate, so…”

    I propose you set all that aside when making your decision.

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  • resume
    10/01/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Creating Your MBA Application Résumé

    The Mantra: Succinct, But Complete


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  • video interview
    09/23/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Interview Prep - The Complete Guide

    How Do I Prepare for My MBA Interviews?


    I believe the key to success with this whole MBA admissions thing is research. Research yourself, research your goals, and research the school. In that order.


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  • students in a forum
    09/16/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Bad Grades? Strategize for Success

    Many MBA applicants feel very panicked about having bad grades. Some consider a 3.3 GPA in the danger zone; others are dancing on the 3.0 threshold and then there is the more extreme case of a 2.0.


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  • kellogg emba
    09/10/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    The EMBA - What You Need to Know

    Thinking about the EMBA? Round 1 deadlines are just beginning to pass so there’s no time like the present to make a decision. Here are some key points to know in terms of program design, GMAT requirements, and deadlines.


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  • checklist
    08/12/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    MBA Apps: Checking Outside the Box

    A lot of candidates tend to think about how they measure up for each checkbox: GPA, GMAT, work experience, extracurriculars, international work experience, or the lack of these things. And while it is true that they matter, the process isn’t necessarily “add water and stir”. Do keep in mind that adcom is reading this application for no other reason than to GET TO KNOW YOU.


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  • businessmen going for a trophy
    08/04/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Fake Goals - My Point of View

    A lot of admissions consultants advise that you have a “stated goal” when applying for business school, but not knowing what you truly want can hurt your success in both b-school and life.


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  • Blue navigation compass
    06/27/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    H1B Update Analysis for International MBA Applicants

    Hello everyone, this is a bit of a confusing time to go to business school for international students. Recently, Trump put an end to H-1B visas for applicants outside of the United States for the rest of the year, which incites a lot of panic for those of you who want to leverage OPT – and hopefully H-1B status – to pay back your student loans while working in the US. Understandably, it would be an unmanageable burden to repay loans in your home country.


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  • apple and pen on paper that reads embrace who you are
    06/09/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    The Importance of Being Personal


    What I stand for the most is taking a personal approach with my clients, and from there, helping my clients develop a personal rapport with their audience – the admissions committee.

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  • one red fish at the head of a school of blue fish
    06/03/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    Vulnerability Wins Admits


    When it comes to MBA admissions, many candidates fail because their focus is on appearing professional, impeccable, beyond reproach, and presenting a strong “face.” The secret to success lies not in your strengths, but in your weaknesses.


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  • Harvard Business School logo
    05/28/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    New Testimonial

    I'm not in the business of getting people into MBA programs. I'm in the business of changing lives. An admit is just one positive outcome to this transformative process. I'm so humbled by this recent testimonial that I can't wait to share with you. It gives you a lot of insight into my process from the client perspective.

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  • old fashioned alarm clock
    05/21/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    When to Start Prepping Your MBA Apps

    Many applicants wonder about how early they should start in this process. Here is my answer: EARLIER THAN YOU PROBABLY THINK!

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  • 05/18/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 1 Comment
    What I Stand For / Stand Against


    Several people have asked me what separates me from other MBA Admissions Consultants. Here is my response. 



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  • 05/13/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    GMAT or GRE ? My case for the GRE right now

    A lot of my prospective clients are now facing a big choice: take the online GMAT, wait for the offline GMAT to be back in action, or switch to the GRE.


    When I suggest they switch to the GRE, these are the things I hear.




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  • 05/06/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    GMAT Habits for Success

    I would like to pass along a helpful habit for those of you preparing for the GMAT or GRE right now. And, this is also helpful if you are preparing your applications.


    Many GMAT students feel that to get results, they need to spend 5 hours a day after work sloughing through problem set after problem set. The idea that “more is better” and by doing more problems they will increase their score.

    Not really, though.


    I have found it is far, far better for my clients to wake up 90 minutes earlier each day and those 90 minutes are worth a million times more than 5 hours after work, when you are ragged and run-down. The idea is to give it your freshest energy; the best of you and not the rest of you.


    When you are learning something new, it requires high concentration and not the tattered remains of the day.


    Have a clear focus on your learning objective like, “today I am going to work on modification questions” – drill down beyond verbal or quant or even the subsections. Get close enough to see the problem.


    And of course, observe what you are doing, do more observation than working problems. I remember when I was struggling with the GMAT I was kind of trying to impose my will upon the test rather than LISTEN to what the test was trying to TELL ME. The test has its own ways and you need to be in OBSERVER MODE rather than try to bulldoze through problem sets.


    My last piece of advice on good habits with the GMAT would be to try out coworking. Right this moment, I am on Skype with my Zoom coworking partner, so it creates a set up “container” for getting things done. Try as I might, I a better at showing up for myself when it involves another person and makes it all more fun.


    We use the Pomodoro technique which I strongly recommend – 25 minutes of intense focus and then 5 minutes of doing something active and away from the computer (no phone stuff – like, a real break.)


    Then rinse and repeat 2 more times for a total of 90 minutes. You will be very amazed how productive you are when 1.) you have a clear focus for the next 25 minutes 2.) there is a timer and 3) you see your buddy working too, in front of you.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Interview with Farrell

    To get to know more about me, I invite you to read through my interview with

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  • bachelors convocation day
    04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    40 Reasons to Hire an MBA Admissions Consultant

    There is a real lack of transparency when it comes to MBA admissions consulting. How will it help me? Often, candidates think it is just about the consultant telling you what to do, which schools to select or what your chances might be at HBS.


    I hope this list brings you a greater understanding of what MBA admissions consultants deliver to their clients, or at least what I am confident I can bring to the table. 


    It’s important to not only look at the cost of hiring a coach, but the immediate, short-term and long-term benefits of hiring a consultant. I help my clients increase their chances of admission, but most also receive a scholarship that hugely outweighs my fees. Furthermore, my clients are frequently much better positioned to secure an MBA internship offer early on because we have laid all the groundwork during the application process. 


    On that note, here are 40 reasons why I believe it can be beneficial to hire an MBA admissions coach:


    1. Ask the right questions

    I am highly trained in the art of asking questions that bring forward stories – stories that differentiate you and align with what the admissions committees are seeking in applicants.


    2. Match what you have to what the adcom wants

    Coaches get to know you well… probably better than you know yourself. From this perspective, we are able to help you show the qualities you have that the adcom cares about. 


    3. Identify transferable skills 

    For those trying to pivot in a career, coaches can help illuminate the qualities that you will bring to a new industry.


    4. Identify the right schools and program 

    There are many different MBA programs and each has a unique set-up and culture. It can be difficult to know which is the best fit for your learning style. As a coach, I help clients find the right one for them. 


    5. Shut down the noise 

    I work with dinged applicants all of the time who leaned on friends, colleagues, and mentors who don’t understand MBA admissions. For example, encouraging you to avoid discussing weaknesses or vulnerabilities. Fatal advice.


    6. Certainty> Momentum> Speed 

    I help my clients stay focused so that they can advance in their application with momentum and confidence. Together, we will determine the right activities for you to pursue that will get you closer to your goal of admissions. 


    7. Cut words, cleaner message 

    Many applicants are overly convoluted and wordy in their applications. I will help you cut away the excess and focus on what is actually important, so the adcom can clearly see your value.


    8. Levity and emotional support 

     I make you laugh when you’re tired or overwhelmed. I provide consistent encouragement when you are feeling insecure and wobbly.


    9. Brutal honesty 

    I will never lie to you to make you happy. I don’t even know how to do that. I take a stand for what is in your best and highest good, always. 


    10. Dedicated partner 

    I am a safe place to land and have a fiercely positive intent for you. My entire focus is on helping you get what you want.


    11. Claim your strengths 

    Even particularly successful applicants are not always aware of the strengths and habits that make them successful. This can require an outside perspective from an unbiased party. As a coach, I am here to provide that perspective and help you present the case for who you are and how you fit into the school. 


    12. Clear professional identity 

    My job is to empower my clients with the words they need to describe their brand. This identity will allow you to crush your interviews, work effectively in your cohorts, and eventually succeed in a career. 


    13. Hit the ground running 

    When I work with my clients, I give them the same exercises that they do during their first week in business school. That way, they are prepared to excel when they begin their program. 


    14. Choose the right goals 

     The insight I gain from getting to know you helps identify viable goals that you can also write and speak passionately about, increasing your chances of success. 


    15. Get more value out of your B-school experience 

    Armed with clear career goals, my clients will avoid wasting time recruiting for dozens of industries and will instead be able to focus on academics, clubs, and networking. 


    16. Research goals 

    My key to success: research yourself, research your goals, and research the schools. To research your goals, I help you find the right contacts, identify the questions you need to ask, and write to them so you get a response. Even if you switch goals in b-school, you will have built the skills to embark upon that new job search effectively.


    17. Research schools 

    From my personal network, I help my clients connect with alumni of their desired school or help them cold call other alumni who share similar interests and goals. This allows them to build their own networks and get first-hand advice. 


    18. Find last-minute ways to improve your profile 

    I spot opportunities that can be quickly implemented, improving how you are perceived by adcom.


    19. Credible and memorable application campaign 

    I work with my clients to create consistency across all elements of their applicants: resume, essays, recommendation letters, application boxes, LinkedIn summary, and interview responses. This creates a synergistic application with a clear message that’s memorable for the adcom. 


    20. Tools and resources 

    From my personal experience, I help my clients with the resources that can make the application process less burdensome and more efficient. 


    21. Personal alumni network 

    My clients get access to my personal network and these connections help them find a passion for their program. 


    22. From acronyms to adcom-friendly language 

    Since I’ve already been through the application process, I am able to isolate industry-specific jargon and translate it into a better understood, universal language. This removes any barriers the adcom may run into when trying to understand your work and achievements. 


    23. Learn how to tell good stories 

    As we work together to outline anecdotes, you will learn how to effectively frame stories to be effective in interviews and presentations. 


    24. Mitigate red flags 

    I am able to better identify possible red flags that are not always obvious to the applicants themselves. Then, we work together to fix or mitigate their negative impacts.


    25. Distinguish yourself from others 

    I help my clients focus on the unique attributes that help them stand out from other competitors in their profile group. 


    26. Strategic evaluation of potential recommenders 

    I guide my clients in their search for good recommenders and evaluate the different variables they need to consider using a complex model. 


    27. Outline essays 

    My clients and I outline all of their essays together so the first draft is on track for success, saving time later down the road. 


    28. Outline recommendation talking points 

    In order to get the best recommendations possible, we will work together to outline the best anecdotes to share with recommenders, eliminating potential pitfalls and allowing them to present their clients’ strengths in the best possible manner. 


    29. Polished final product that meets the word count 

    I edit all of my clients’ essays to accentuate the key objectives of each piece. Together, we will cut away what distracts from the main message. A specific focus and simplicity will make you and your application more memorable. 


    30. Keen intuitive observer 

    As an intuitive coach, I am able to tap into my clients’ strengths, patterns, and passions to help them understand their own motivations and convey them clearly. 


    31. Learn about your values 

    Being able to clearly articulate your values helps the adcom feel like they understand you, which in turn helps them trust you and root for you. In order to do this, you need to deeply understand your values and be able to articulate them. 


    32. Why an MBA? What next? 

    I help my clients identify the “gaps” in their applications and position themselves for success in their MBA programs and post-MBA jobs. This will inform them on how they can best spend their time in b-school and internships. 


    33. Identify the “brilliance” factor 

    Initially, stories are just a heap of information. I work with my clients to identify which elements of them are the “brilliance factor,” or what will best set them apart. Because essay word limits are not huge, it’s important to pare down the information to the most important parts: what was the problem, how did you think about it, and how did you approach solving it? 


    34. Dull description to a movie script 

    My clients learn how to go from a vague and generic description of themselves to presenting a unique profile with stand-out anecdotes to impress the adcom. 


    35. Identify transferable skills and strengths 

    I work with my clients to repackage their strengths and accomplishments in a way that is easily understood by recruiters. This is key for applicants that are looking to pivot in a role or industry. 


    36. Spot how you have added value 

    As a third-party observer, I am able to see the concrete results of your work that you may have missed and how your past actions have benefitted the company. 


    37. Identify application-killing assumptions 

    It’s easy to get swept up in what you think you “should do” in the application, like “I can’t be too specific or I’ll seem too specialized.” These beliefs will lead to muddled and messy applications that will limit their effectiveness. 


    38. Create a clear identity for the adcom 

    By getting to know you well, I will identify the problems that you have solved and help you convey these to the adcom by weaving them into every part of your application. 


    39. School communication 

    I aid my clients in their communication with the school in order to help them present the best version of themselves possible. This includes reviews of emails to admissions, interview preparation, and coaching on all other informal interactions. 


    40. Show you as multi-faceted and well-rounded 

    We include “fun facts” in your resume and display a sense of humor. This helps adcom see you as interesting, engaging and likable. 


    If you are Interested in partnering with me on your MBA applications, please fill out my contact form and I’ll get back to you within one business day on next steps.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Should I Apply Now or Improve My GMAT?

    Q: My practice GMAT tests are at a 670, and I have worked for the family business (India) for 2 years. I messed up my GPA in college but did well the last year, still, my CGPA is 6.6. Should apply this year to a tier 2 program or aim for a 700+ and apply to top European MBA programs next year?


    A: I would recommend you put applying for an MBA this year out of your mind completely and to be honest, I think you should wait TWO years. Light work experience at a family business and bad GPA is a combo likely to undermine your credibility.


    Then on top of this, you are competing with super high achievers in an overrepresented profile group. Your GMAT is really low with respect to your peers/competitors. I would recommend you only consider programs where the average GMAT is 650 or less at this point, if your mock exams reflect accurately.   


    In addition to improving your test score, would recommend that you GET INTERESTING over the next two years to distinguish yourself. Increase the depth of your interests and passions to distinguish you from the competition. Become a multifaceted applicant, join toastmasters, become active in the community and take a leadership role where you can have a positive impact.


    Of course, also make sure to have a quantifiable impact in the family business as well, and search out recommenders who can speak to that.


    I wish I had better news, but the truth is there is a lot of work to be done. Allocate the time you would spend on applying towards building up your profile.


    Applying now would be a waste of money and missed opportunity. Why go to a third rate school when you are still young and can improve your profile, positioning yourself for a better school.


     This article contains 10 tips on improving your profile pre-MBA:

    Cheers and good luck!

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Is it OK to change jobs while applying to MBA programs?

    Q: Is it okay to change your job if you plan to apply to b-schools 1 to 2 months down the line? I am changing my job because I have received an opportunity in a firm much larger than my current one. The job profile mostly remains the same. Will it help my application/not affect my application/bring up a red flag in my application?


    A: I would not do it unless it is very clearly advancing you in a directly that is more in alignment with your post-MBA goals. And that does not seem to be the case. It’s a move up, doing the same job at a bigger company, but puts in question how much you want/need an MBA to get to the next step.


    Outside of the startup arena, it is a bit frowned upon to leave a job in less than a year. And, you will forever have to explain that yes you switched jobs and applied to business schools at the same time. This shows you did not really have the intention to stay at the job. 


    This puts in peril your sincerity in general, because that is the assumption of those who do not have any other data points.


    The story will be on your CV forever that you changed jobs while applying to business schools. The school needs to show their candidates have been highly vetted and on paper. In black and white, it undermines your marketability to school recruiters as well. Starting b-school less than a year after starting a job kind of signals that something went wrong.


    Who knows how your future job will go – if you leave your job now a) will your manager still be as excited to help you in your recommendations and b) you will not be able to ask your new manager given that you just got there. 

    If you expect to be accepted to a program, I think it would do more harm than good.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    What Other MBA Programs Are You Applying To?

    Q: MBA Prep Coach, do you have any expert advice on how to handle this essay?


    • What other programs are you considering? Of the programs you are considering, what can IMD bring to you as a differentiator? (Word limit 100)

    If we mention highly ranked programs such as INSEAD, will it send a signal to adcom that I am treating IMD as a safety school and unlikely to attend if I get admits from my top choices? 


    A: In this question, you want to pick adjacent programs to some degree: similar ranking and like IMD, leadership development oriented. So maybe another school that has a well-developed personal deep dive course(s.) Or has an industry focus more so than consulting or finance. 


    This speaks to the core of what differentiates IMD. I do think it might be a mistake to put down INSEAD here because if you have the right stats, they know they will probably not “win” you if they choose you. Also, INSEAD is really quite a different program from IMD and so this will undermine the sincerity of your application. 


    They want to know: if I invite you to my party will you come, or will you make an excuse last minute and I will have to scramble to invite more guests? IMD wants to pick the “best” applicants but also the applicant that think IMD is the best as well; their first choice. 


    I recommend everyone do a fair bit of research on IMD to get clear on what IMDs value proposition is specifically for them and their career; probably should be some aspect of personal development, introspection, and leadership. And how industry focus. How they would benefit from a simulation-type learning environment. 

    A good place to start would be the interview with the Dean by Touch MBA.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Is a 680 GMAT Good Enough for Harvard, Stanford, Wharton or Booth?

    Q: I’d like to read your opinions about this. Is a GMAT of 680 good enough for a top MBA program (HBS, Stanford, Wharton, Booth) for international applicants?


    A: The term “international” does not hold a lot of meaning on it’s own. If you are international and from India or China, there is fierce competition and so your GMAT has to be significantly higher than the class average just to be a contender.


    But if you are an Iranian feminist – or otherwise highly diverse – ie, from a very underrepresented country, the situation is different.


    680 could possibly be good enough *IF* you have proof of quantitative aptitude and a TOEFL score of 100 or better so they know you won’t fail. Harvard actually recommends a TOEFL of 110.


    So, it depends upon the competition you are facing – what the scores are for others with your profile (citizenship, gender, work industry, role, etc)?


    Because you are male I am inclined to say 680 is not enough for a top 5 MBA and it would put you at a major disadvantage; if you have some really unique unrepeatable contribution to make to the class that would add to the learning experience of others, it’s not impossible.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Indian Engineer MBA Candidates – What You Need to Know



    I am an Indian male software test engineer. That should probably automatically eliminate me out of contention for a lot of b schools. In terms of leadership roles, I have none that can be quantified in terms of official roles. I have only two promotions and 5 internal organisational awards in my previous job. I hear that a score of 720 and a run-of-the-mill IT profile is hardly attractive to b schools. 




    Unfortunately you heard correctly. It’s because Indian male IT is the most overrepresented profile in terms of applicants. The acceptance rate is less than half of what the average is.


    So that puts a lot of pressure on having a good GMAT, and also finding ways to differentiate yourself.


    Two promotions doesn’t sound so insignificant to me at all. I’m sad to hear that you haven’t had any leadership roles but challenge you to think creatively about the word leadership.


    If you found a new way to organize the grocery carts at the local market that could count as a process improvement. So really think about how you have added value by way of changing processes, led others in terms of people and projects, not just official roles.


    One of the most important things for Indians is to establish community service, hobbies and a record of extracurriculars. This is because not so many Indians have it/them and it really differentiates them.


    If you are planning to apply to round two…hmm…I question that. Indian should apply early action round and round one for best results. It’s not an absolute ding but know that many of come before you already. You really have to sit and ask yourself, why would they choose you over the Indian male IT candidates with more leadership, ECs, and a higher GMAT who applied early action and round one.


    For this reason, I don’t think you should apply to Duke even though your GMAT make sense for that school but rather wait for early action round next year. Cornell might be a good choice though if you are hell-bent on this year.


    If at all possible I encourage you to wait a bit I would like for you to get involved with Toastmasters and get some leadership experience at a nonprofit organization ASAP…. that makes sense for your profile and seems organic… and then apply early action round for Duke and Darden. And then round one for other schools.


    If you were to bump up your score by 30 points that would be a game-changer for you. So if you haven’t absolutely maximized everything you can possibly do on that test I really recommend that you do so. The better your score the better the school the better the starting salary and it would make sense to wait if you haven’t done your absolute best yet.


    You seem to have communication skills, maybe good interpersonal (soft) skills as well. If so, I recommend that you *leverage the crap* out of this for your application and really put this across. Choose a community leadership role that will bring this out.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    What Now? Options for Bummed Out Round 2 applicants.

    Well it is April 3rd, Round 2 results are out, some are overjoyed, some traumatized and some doing their level-best not to spiral into depression. Then there are others curious to see if they can get into a higher ranked school with a round 3 or round 4 application because hey, why not give it a go. I thought I would help keep everyone abreast of how you can navigate this time in the season.

    Everything I write about here is reflected on my updated MBA Deadline Calendar.


    September 2019 intake


    Final round for US schools


    The final round is over for most schools, and for international applicants, they are often cut off from the final round because visa timing shiz. At this point, schools have done most of the work shaping the class and will be working through the waitlist more so than looking at new people.

    They might add in a 780 GMAT candidate to bump up the average or increase the diversity of the class and recruit someone from Papua New Guinea. But if you are not diverse, or have a spectacularly high-test score, round 3 is a bit chancy.

    There are times it is the best option. If you just lost your job, God forbid, or waiting for R1 represents a life or death scenario, go for it. Yes, odds are chancier but hopefully at this point, your CV is sorted, and your recommenders have a well-oiled machine going at least for the questions found on the Common Letter of Recommendation.


    Sidebar on the Common Letter of Recommendation


    When scrambling to pull together an app, it’s enough to contend with the essays, but nearly impossible to develop good anecdotes for new recommendation questions, coach your recommenders, get time on their calendar, etc. Factor this into your decision – recommendations matter; don’t water down your app with a half-baked response to these questions.

    Thankfully, most schools with upcoming deadlines use the Common Letter of Recommendation. Kellogg has a diversity question which you should tackle first. Google the recommendation questions; some sites have a pretty decent repository.


    OK, still interested? Back to final round for US schools


    So, if you are reading this soon after I post it; a Round 3 Hail Mary attempt is possible for Kellogg or Cornell a week from today(warning: long apps), MIT in 5 days (short app so it’s possible, but clear your weekend), USC R4 due April 15, and with Yale and Anderson allowing a bit more breathing room R3 due for both schools on April 16, and finally the straggler being Georgetown with R4 due on May 1.

    Yale seems to be particularly open to round 3 applicants; they promote it quite a bit stating that round 3 is there for a reason. When it is a good fit, to improve your odds I recommend going for joint degree programs that have a separate quota, one good example being the Kellogg MMM program.


    Sidebar Note on Age: Some apply to Round 3 because they over 30 and worried about losing viability as an applicant. If your goals require an internship and on-campus recruitment, I encourage you to apply to European schools that offer January intake; if that makes sense for overall life plan. INSEAD January batch, IESE, LBS, and HEC all offer internship periods.


    The point is, European schools are more interested in seasoned applicants with quality work experience. GMAT scores tend to be lower there than US schools.


    For older students, who don’t require a structured recruitment process, the other option is to wait for Round 1 deadlines for Stanford MSx or Sloan Fellows. Both are elite 1-year residency programs designed for mid-career professionals. Also apply to 1-year programs such as Kellogg, Cornell or Emory. One glimmer of hope, Cornell accepts applications until 4/15.


    Weekend and Part-Time US programs


    These are a pretty good adjacent possibility for any disappointed Chicago dwellers. The deadline for the Booth Saturday program is May 10 and the weekend program June 21. Kellogg‘s deadline for their EWMBA is June 12. In Ann Arbor, the part-time evening MBA deadline for Ross is May 20 and the weekend program does not have fall intake. New Yorkers, the 2nd deadline for NYU-Stern is May 15. Columbia does not have a formal part-time program, but their EMBA programs tend to recruit younger than typical applicants (one of my clients was the youngest in his class at age 25.) The Fri/Sat option still has an upcoming deadline of May 29. The FEMBA program at UCLA is taking applications until April 27. Option B for some Angelinos might be to apply to the USC part-time program where the final deadline is May 1 but applications are accepted on a rolling basis thereafter. If you live near Austin, you are in luck; there are several evening Texas (McCombs) MBA program deadlines upcoming. Round 2 is due on May 14. Texas R4 deadline for Both Dallas and Houston weekend programs is May 14. At CMU-Tepper the last part-time deadline is coming up quickly at April 18.


    CBS January Term


    Application comes out in June for Columbia J-term – this is a great option if you don’t need an internship, but don’t try to fake it, you will not get in. Watch their video: this is for those family business applicants, entrepreneurs, those who will not end up becoming a liability for the school because they did not do an internship. If you are planning on seeking on-campus recruitment, this option is ill-advised. Most finance positions require an internship, which is of course the forte of the school.


    If you want spring entry, look at Europe or Canada because outside of this program, we don’t have spring intake here.


    Canadian applicants


    There’s a glimmer of hope for Canadians citizens and permanent residents who hope to apply; among the top schools, UT Rotman Round 4 is due April 29; Round 4 at McGill-DeSautels in magical Montreal is May 1 (that is a lot of M’s!) Both are 2-year programs which is optimal for those of you who would like to take advantage of the 3-year work visa offered to you post-MBA. The last deadline, R4 is coming up for Schulich-York on April 30. Same for HEC-Montreal on May 15.

    Ivey is the top-ranked school, starting in March, but only a 1-year program which means you will only get one year to stay in Canada post-MBA. I have discussed that option below.


    UK & EU Schools for September Intake


    So be aware: the recommendation situation is a bit more complicated if you applied to Round 2 US schools and want to throw in an app at UK schools for this year. UK deadlines: ship has sailed for Oxford. That’s OK, did you really want to dress for school like you are headed to Hogwarts? Ok so maybe you did.

    But there are still May 3 deadline for Cambridge, May 3 and June 21 for Imperial. Warwick has deadlines in May 31 and July 31. Manchester has a May 15 deadline open to international students and a June 13 deadline open to those coming from the UK and the EU.


    EDHEC has pretty flexible timing; for September batch, they will accept applications until June 30th for international applicants and July 31 for EU and UK citizens and permanent residents.


    Europe 2020 January intake + March intake @Ivey in Canada.


    To share a slice of my life right now: my poor client interviewed with IMD in Switzerland last week, interviewed with IESE a few days later, last Friday, and then applied to HEC R3 January intake on Monday. Slept last night; plans to do case prep this week, is on pins and needles to hear from LBS R3 tomorrow, Thursday, and is flying out to Barcelona for Assessment Day.

    So, all European MBA programs are global in nature and emphasize cross-cultural exchange; if you apply, would be a bonus if you had international work experience OR goals that necessitate a global program.

    The biggest and most popular opportunity is INSEAD for R2 due 4/17, or R3 due on June 5.

    January intake HEC round 5 of 11 rounds is due on May 1. Would not recommend you submit to September batch at all, at this point, unless the earth will certainly open up and swallow you whole should you not start in September.


    IMD R2 is May 1; this is a program designed for older adults, the average age is 31; the same as HEC.   


    RSM-Erasmus: Round 1 just passed yesterday, Round 2 is June 4. please make sure to apply here if you have any interest in green energy. Check out the Erasmus Center for Future Energy Business.


    EDHEC is accepting applications for January batch until November 15 and for UK and EU citizens, until December 5. The school has campuses in London, Singapore, and throughout Northern France. They are ranked #1 in finance in France; their MS in Finance is ranked #1 worldwide.


    IE Madrid: there is rolling admissions for IE “IMBA” or international MBA. When it comes to IE, I feel it is a case of buy low sell high. There was a kerfuffle with regards to multiple votes being submitted to the Financial Times in 2017 which caused them to be unranked in 2018, ouch. And for 2019 they have fallen #31 globally when they were ranked #8 globally in 2017.


    The PR issue is there, but I think the fundamentals are in place for them to rebound. Very reputable for entrepreneurship, and they have the strongest “online” (well, hybrid-ish) MBA program out there.


    Important note: my greatest concern is that Prodigy is no longer a lender for them, from what I understand, at least for India. Unsure about other parts of the world, so heads up, please investigate that before applying. I am looking to get clarification on that from my Prodigy contact. That said, Spanish banks are willing to finance international applicants which is a real vote of confidence.


    IVEY Western – Canada


    It’s is the top program in Canada, and uses the case method, a huge bonus in my book. However, it’s a 1-year program so that will only afford you a 1-year post-MBA visa. Ivey starts in March so they are earlier in their cycle and that will improve your chances. The next “deadline” is April 8; however, admissions are rolling. Would recommend you get it in ASAP but definitely before Round 3 deadline on July 15 to have the greatest advantage.

    And of course, Executive MBA programs are a great option for those seeking an MBA more to maximize their current path and climb the ranks, rather than change industries altogether. They are not for career switchers though; so, if you are a switching hopeful 31 or older, absolutely apply to European programs for January intake.


    I hope you find the ideal fit somewhere in there – and if you do end up waiting, really leverage your time to improve your application.




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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    IMD Assessment Day and the end of an era

    I kind of feel like I am sending my kid off to kindergarten, even though he is 33. It’s been a long process preparing my candidate…as of late, for his interview at IMD…but also so rewarding, navigating all the questions has allowed us bring about a more concrete vision and path for his future.


    So, by preparing for interview, it has been a quest into many other areas. how is your post-MBA goal job going to make you happy? Why aren’t you just going for it now? How can you do more of what you love and less of what you don’t? Given that IMD is known as highly introspective leadership program I’m glad for it.


    Now he’s in Switzerland, prepping for the case analysis tomorrow and Friday is Assessment Day at IMD. It’s so surreal that he made his way from the middle east to Geneva to Lausanne in a matter of a few hours and now he’s sitting in a hotel room, eating his $22 burger, practicing his French, looking out on to a lake.


    So much work has gone into this process, some days easier than others. We have done a ton of introspection, figuring out his brand, values, what separates him and now he’s standing at the station waiting to get on the train (figuratively.) 


    I can’t imagine how I would feel being in a foreign country and then being asked to deliver a presentation, do a case analysis with your competitors, do a 1-1 interview, then the alumni interview over lunch…’s a long a$$ day y’all.


    Maybe I can imagine it; I had to argue my thesis in front a panel of French professors but it was at the end of the semester, when I could finally speak the language fluent-ish. So, I am sure it is a bit like that but they are asking for him to jump, hum, bark and dance all in the same show.


    Then, back to work on Monday and he’s interviewing with IESE on Friday, thankfully via Skype. I think the bulk of the work is behind us thankfully. I am feeling a bit confused like now what? We have been saddled up side by side for several months, it will be a little weird to put this level of focus on other clients. Maybe I will feel better once he has his first acceptance letter; or maybe it will be that much harder.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Operations Consulting vs. Strategy Consulting

    Strategy consulting is a subset of management consulting.


    Management consulting pertains to answering questions raised by someone who manages either the whole or a part of the business. The questions can range from ‘I have been facing problems in delivering my product by the due date. How can I manage my operations better?’ to ‘We have lost a huge chunk of market share in the last quarter. How do we fix it?’


    Now, there are various types of questions which an organization needs help with and each question is resolved by a specific consulting group.


    How do I better manage operations in my organization – Operations Consulting
    What role should IT play in my business and day-to-day operations – IT consulting
    How can I optimize my HR functions such as benefits and talent management – HR consulting


    Most of the above questions are raised by mid-management team members who strive to meet the year end targets set by the CXOs.


    Strategy consultants usually are brought in to answer questions which are raised by CXOs and Board members. The question that they try to answer ranges from ‘What is the reason for drop in this years profits ?’ to ‘Does it make sense to acquire our nearest competitor ?’.


    Thus, the different categories of consultants try to answer different set of questions and strategy consultants usually end up answering the ones which the CXOs and board members need help with.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Rotterdam Erasmus 2019 Recommendation Questions

    With the quality of life in Rotterdam, kind of a cool place to do an MBA. It has one of the best green energy programs out there, 


    Applications are accepted through November but earlier the better, as always. 


    How long and in what capacity have you known the candidate? *Maximum Length all questions – 375 chars – quite brief


    • What is your opinion of the candidate’s motivation and suitability for a career in senior management? 
    • What do you consider as his or her principal qualities and weaknesses?
    • Please comment on the candidate’s interpersonal skills (Such as performance in a team environment with peers, subordinates and supervisors).
    • Please add any further remarks on the candidate that you consider relevant (Additional pages may be attached).
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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    London Business School 2019 Recommendation Questions

    Well, Round 2 US application deadlines are coming to a close, and many applicants are seeking a way to leverage their efforts and extend the season.


    Applying to European programs is the key – they usually have 4 rounds, and sometimes a January intake.


    LBS Round 3 is indeed competitive, but for diverse applicants, it can be a means to submit an additional application to a really outstanding global program. 


    Recommendation questions *no word limits specified

    #1 How do you know the applicant? How long have you known them for?

    #2 What would you say are the applicant’s key strengths and talents?

    #3 What would you say are the applicant’s key weaknesses or areas for improvement? 

    #4 In which areas of development has the applicant progressed most in the time you’ve known them?

    #5 If you are a professional referee, would you work with the applicant post-programme? If you are an academic referee, what will be the applicant’s main contributions to the programme?

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  • 04/17/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    HEC-Paris 2019 Recommendation Questions

    Upcoming Deadlines


    HEC    3          Sep-19           February 1st 2019

                1          Jan-20           February 1st 2019

                2          Jan-20           March 1st 2019


    Letter of Recommendation – no word limits noted

    #1 How long and I what capacity have you known the candidate? 

    #2 If this is a work-related reference, in what position is/was the candidate employed and for how long? 

    #3 What do you consider to be the candidate’s principal strengths/talents? 

    #4 What do you consider to be the candidate’s weaknesses or areas that need improvement?

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  • 04/17/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    2019 IMD Letter of Recommendation Questions

    While deadlines close on US schools, things are just beginning for IMD. Round 1 due on 2/1 – if you are a mid-career professional looking for a 1-year European MBA register for this info session 1/17 at 9am ET. 


    Also, start considering possible anecdotes for your recommendation talking points


    IMD 2019 Recommendation Questions. *no word limit is indicated. 


    ​​What is your relationship with the applicant? (drop down)


    1. How long have you known the applicant and in what capacity?

    2. Describe the applicant’s role in your organization. What has his/her single most important contribution been to the organization?

    3. What do you consider to be the applicant’s top three strengths?

    4. What do you consider to be the applicant’s weaknesses or opportunities for improvement?

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  • 04/17/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Gearing up for Round 2

    Hello, it’s been a long while since my last blog. For those of you who have not yet obtained interviews to your dream schools, I encourage you to reach out for a ding analysis to get a different result from Round 2. 

    My clients have been doing great and interviewing at all the schools to which they applied with one exception – reapplications. So that has been interesting to experience. I’m now a bit sour on reapplications, especially those submitted the following year after a ding, without a sizeable GMAT boost.

    Gearing Up for Round 2

    Seven short weeks to JANUARY 2.

    NOW IS THE TIME to start working on your applications if you haven’t already! At this point, the best way you can increase your chances to get admitted is to give yourself 2 full months for the applications.

    Please don’t underestimate the complexity of this process and shoot yourself in the foot. My process with clients is interviewing, brainstorming, outlining, drafting and editing. Then doing this across your CV, essays, recommendation talking points and application boxes. Also, you need to turn your LinkedIn profile into a sharp marketing tool.


    If you are looking for a proven partner in this process, fill out my prospective client form and send over your CV to start the conversation.


    Application Box Tips

    Great way to create quick momentum.


    What should these look like? Yummy little candies for the adcom. Sweet and succinct.


    • Distills valuable information about you clearly and succinctly. Elevator pitch.
    • Everything illustrates qualities that business schools value – strategic thinking, results orientation, etc.
    • Employment section gives the reader a clear, succinct understanding of the experience you’ve gained, employing simple, universal language.
    • The activities and awards point to the overall brand that you set forth in other aspects of the application.

    Recommendation Talking Points


    Think through specific anecdotes y ou would like them to discuss and outline those for them.


    Choose anecdotes where they have observed you model the qualities that business schools are seeking! Leadership, teamwork, etc.


    Review each of the recommendation questions for each school.

    Pondering the GMAT Question


    If your GMAT is “good enough” please do not try to PACK IN another GMAT sitting to score an extra 20 points at the cost of the quality of your applications. That is too risky and unlikely to be the best  way to invest your time 7 weeks from deadlines.


    You need time to do this right, especially considering you will be faced with multiple deadlines on the same day. That said, it does not make sense to apply to schools without a GMAT (or GRE) 


    To Your Continued Success! Wishing You All My Best!

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  • MBA Prep Coach Wait Image
    04/17/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q&A – Writing Applications Before Having a GMAT


    I am appearing or rather going to appear for GMAT in a month or so, just wanted to know if I should take the​​ risk of applying to B schools right now or just skip this year’s admission process altogether? I have a rather average CV and my aim for GMAT is 650, my country of choice is Singapore and around in the asia region. So to sum it up, should I take the plunge or not? Thanks.



    HELL TO THE NO. It’s very difficult to build up momentum for an application you might not be qualified to submit. For this reason, I do not work with applicants who have not yet sorted their GRE/GMAT. 


    Also, this will give you more time to strive for 700+. To maximize ROI for this whole process it’s best to go in with good stats and aim for top schools. 


    Take the GMAT so many times that you are sure there IS NOT ONE MORE POINT LEFT IN YOU. 
    Leave nothing on the table. If you want to stay in Singapore, INSEAD is the best school and you want 700+


    Regardless of your GMAT score, you will need to do a quality job on your applications. 
    This requires researching yourself, your goals and your schools to do a good job on this. 
    It takes time. You cant slap some crap together the night before here and make any headway believe me. 


    This is a long journey – and you want to do your absolute best at every stage to get a good chance of achieving an acceptance. 


    ​​INSEAD is a huge application in particular – give yourself 2 months to complete it and more if you work a lot of hours or plan to submit a lot of other apps in R2. 

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  • 04/17/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Navigating IESE Essay Questions

    Essay Question I: How do you expect to be changed by your experience at IESE and what impact you would like to make after your MBA? (word limit 300 max)


    Another way to ask you why you are choosing IESE. Because most IESE applicants are also applying to LBS and INSEAD…along with other European schools. For purposes of yield, they do want to know that you have a special interest in their school and this is a sly way of getting that information (one idea might to be to show why Barcelona is a must for you.)


    “How do you expect to be changed” this is another way of asking you how you expect to be transformed by your experience at their school; it’s kind of like why MBA + why IESE specifically.


    Pretty clever question because in one go they are learning about why you need THEIR program (what’s in it for YOU? how do you need them to help transform you?) and how you will be more successful as a result of it (what’s in it for THEM? will you be an alumni who will make them proud and attract foundation dollars?)


    Essay Question II: What are your short and medium term post MBA career goals and how will IESE help you achieve them? (word limit 300 max)


    A bit tricky because unless you navigate this carefully, potential for overlap between the 2 questions.


    My recommendation would be to focus the first essay question around personal qualities and a personal transformation and then the long-term legacy you hope to have. Using process of deduction here long-term is the only term missing in the second essay question.


    For essay two, just stick to the post-MBA job and make sure it is something they can help you with.


    If you are looking to become the next cleantech entrepreneur IESE might not be the right school, so take a look at their employment statistics and make sure your goal is obtainable via IESE. Medium term; the path you would take to achieve the long term legacy goal mentioned in the first essay.


    Hope this helps!

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  • 04/17/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    The mantra: succinct, but complete

    If I can brag a bit – MBA Career Services love my résumés.  “Don’t you dare change a single word!” were the words spoken to my client who started at Stanford GSB last fall. It went into the resume book as-is. Most of his colleagues started almost from scratch.


    • Every single word has a purpose (pare it down – hence the image!)
    • It uses universal language instead of industry jargon, to the extent possible.
    • One page only, but maximize space horizontally.
    • Give context: provide a one-line company description if needed.
    • Give context: provide a job scope statement under your role.
    • Each bullet is an accomplishment that states a result and an action.
    • Results: ideally, making money, saving money or saving time.
    • Anyone from any industry would be able to step into your resume, and comprehend the value of what you have done.
    • There is space to breathe on the page. It has white space, and the reader feels good when they look at it. It looks inviting.
    • It includes “fun facts” about you and demonstrates community leadership.

    For more tips like these, follow me on LinkedIn.

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  • 04/17/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q & A: Botched INSEAD Video Interview

    Q: I botched my video interviews. Out of the four questions, I only nailed one of them. I really struggled in one of them and gave an incoherent, rambling response. And the other two, I wasn’t as fluent as I could have been and struggled to find the right words. 


    How true is it that they don’t disqualify people based on the video essays?


    A: I listened to an interview last year between a key member of the Adcom and a large admissions consulting firm. Adcom person did indeed say that it was only a means of fishing out applicants who they might have otherwise turned down. 


    It was criteria that would give them a reason to say yes; not a reason to say no. This might be a lie, but that is their story on paper.


    Rather than pacing and ringing your hands, channel that anxiety towards amping up your profile. This way, if you end up getting wait-listed you have a viable reason for submitting an update letter where I can help you make your case over again.


    This means: amp up previous or current community service, retake the TOEFL, get a high-profile or international work project, get on the board of something, or if possible, get a promotion.


    Getting a promotion at work before MBA is the best but the last person I helped get off the INSEAD waitlist…1 month before enrollment…only got promoted to Organizer for the local Soccer Club. So think broadly about leadership.


    And of course if it doesn’t end up working out you have more juicy stuff to report for round one US/UK apps if you choose to do that.


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you. 

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  • 04/17/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    Q&A: When Should I Apply?

    Q: Hi Farrell, I hope you had a great weekend. I’m at the early stages of looking into an MBA programme, at what point in your career do you think it’s best to apply?


    A: If you’re going for HBS and GSB they do like younger applicants… I generally hear from people around age 25, and they have about three years of work experience. 2 years is the absolute minimum – 5 years is optimal and for EU or UK schools 5 years is the minimum. In either case,  I think I would wait to get a promotion first, establish a little bit of longevity at your current job. Just kick ass there. However, make sure that you do not neglect the community service angle.


    Given you are a fresh grad working for a huge consultancy, they are not going to be handing you the keys to the castle so for that reason you need to get into a community organization that aligns with your profile where you can have a significant leadership position. To show what you can do to make an impact, in a sense, the way one would in a startup.


    And make sure that it’s something you’re passionate about and adds value to your overall narrative. For that reason, it’s important to get more clarity on your post-MBA and long term goals. I would recommend that you do Career Leader, which helps establish your interests and motivations. It’s is a very popular assessment used by most Business Schools but you would be way ahead of the game to have some traction on those before applying.


    I’m not sure where you are with the GMAT but you can never start too early with that, because it’s a black box as many find out to their chagrin. Scores are good for 5 years. The trick for you right now is to find a way to distinguish yourself PWC, a great brand name but there are so many consultants to apply to Business School, and the challenge is to make sure you have find a way to get the community service factor in there despite having to work a billion hours. Many try to contribute internally and do a lot of mentoring which is good but common.


    There’s quite a bit that you can do now — take the actions to prepare the CONTENT and the writing will take care of itself. The content is about taking stock of what you have achieved, but also, researching yourself, your goals, and the schools. If you do this, writing the applications will be a far less painful process, but instead, an exciting journey of self-discovery, where you are gaining more clarity about who you are and how you want to contribute.


    I recently tweeted that people think applying to business school school is about writing essays but it’s really all about the decisions you make before you get down to writing those essays. 


    Hope that helps!

    Cheers, Farrell

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  • 04/17/2020 - Farrell Hehn 0 Comments
    7 Questions To Help You Find The Career of Your Dreams

    Trying to figure your dream career can be really challenging, especially if you’re older and are considering starting something new. It can be an intimidating prospect with so many possibilities and so much uncertainty.


    How can anyone possibly figure out their dream career? There are so many options, each with pros and cons.


    What can you do?


    Fortunately, you don’t have to wander blindly as you try to identify where you want to be in life. There are some very specific questions you can ask that will help you nail down who you are, what you love and what you really want to.


    Consider these questions to be a map leading you to your desired destination.


     Question #1: Who Are You?


    If you are facing in the right direction, all you need to do is keep on walking. – Anonymous


    Before you can figure out what you want to do, you need to determine who you are and what you stand for. A dream career will line up with your core value and most tightly held beliefs. If you choose a career that contradicts these core values, you’ll probably end up deeply unhappy.


    Ask yourself:


    • What do I care about most?
    • What underlying values motivate everything I do?
    • What am I willing to sacrifice for?
    • What drives me?


    For example: I am Jessie, a single mother of three children. I am a spiritual, kind, loving person. I care deeply about helping my children succeed, social justice and alleviating poverty. I’m driven to sacrifice my time and comfort to provide financial security for my children. I’m driven to use my planning skills to help the homeless in my city.


    Identifying your core values shapes the trajectory of your career path.


    Question #2: What Do You Love Doing?


    Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do. – Pope John XXIII


    What are you passionate about? What do you absolutely love doing? What gets your juices going, your creativity pumping and your energy moving? What do you think about when you’re standing in line at the grocery store?


    As you ponder this question, don’t limit yourself to things that you think could be a career. Do you love reading? What about hiking? Does the thought of making a delicious meal make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Do you get pumped at the idea of helping someone make money?


    Finding your dream career starts with identifying your true passions. Once you’ve nailed those down, you can start moving toward the how.


    Question #3: What Are You Really Good At?


    You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand. – Woodrow Wilson

    This one will get your mind going in a slightly different direction. What do you have real talent for? What’s the thing everyone says you’re amazing at? Art? Coaching sports? Teaching? Writing music?


    Many times, a dream career comes at the intersection of your skills and passions. Of course, this makes sense. If you’re passionate about photography, you spend a lot of time taking photographs and thus get really good at it.


    When you combine your skills and your passions, you’ll often discover a dream career waiting to happen.


    Question #4: What Goals Do You Have?


    What are your long term goals when it comes to:


    • Relationships?
    • Health?
    • Family?
    • Finances?
    • Spiritual development?

    In some ways, your goals will shape the dream career you pursue. For example, if you want to be a family man who spends most of his time at home, a career as a traveling musician probably isn’t right for you. If you want to be financially secure by the time you’re 45, it will be difficult to spend your life working among the poor in India (although that’s an admirable goal).


    Ideally, your dream career will align well with your life goals.


    Question #5: If You Could Do Anything, What Would It Be?


    The only goal you can’t accomplish is the one that you don’t go after! – Vilis Ozols


    If your life had no limits, what would you do? Think about it. If you had all the money, time and resources you needed, how would you spend your time? Where would you go? Who would hang out with?


    This line of thinking pushes you outside your normal box. You probably have a series of limiting beliefs when it comes to what you can do with your life. In many ways, this is reasonable. There are actual limits imposed on you by your job, relationships, etc. But many of our limiting beliefs simply aren’t true. We’ve picked them up somewhere over the years and unconsciously treat them as law.


    When you think about a limitless life, it allows you to explore possibilities you’ve never considered.


    Question #6: Who Do You Look Up To?


    The value of a man should be seen in what he gives and not in what he is able to receive. – Albert Einstein


    Who are the people you truly and deeply admire? Think on both a personal level and a professional level. Is there an author you love for her ability to turn phrases and create beautiful word pictures?


    Is there a friend you admire for his willingness to help anyone at the drop of a hat?


    Is there a photographer who always inspires you with his astounding nature shots?


    What about a mentor who you look up to for her constant guidance?


    As you think about the people you admire, consider why you hold them in such high esteem. What unique qualities do they possess? How could those qualities segway into a career for you? Could you become like the photographer you love? Could you also become a wonderful author?


    Identifying the people you look up to can help you get ahead on what a dream career could look like for you.


    Question #7: What Do You Dislike Doing?


    Better to have spent a life reaching for a dream that never came true, than to have slept through a life that never had a dream. – Samantha Pickreign


    This question will take you to the other end of the spectrum. Are there particular activities you really dislike? For example, if you’re an introvert who really doesn’t like being in large crowds, a career as an event planner probably isn’t for you.

    When you consider these activities, think about why you don’t like doing them. Do you dislike manual labor because you don’t like being outside or because you’re in pain afterwards? Do you hate writing because you struggle with words or simply because you don’t like sitting in front of a computer?

    Your goal isn’t necessarily to figure out what careers you want to avoid, although that helps. Rather, you want to determine why you don’t like particular activities. Knowing that you dislike the outdoors keeps you away from much more than manual labor and should be taken into account when considering your career.

    Putting It All Together


    Once you’ve answered all these questions, you can begin considering possible careers. You should have a good idea of what you love doing, what matters most to you and what types of things you want to avoid.


    Now you’re ready to start taking steps in the right direction.


    Depending on the complexity of your dream career, there are some relatively simple steps you can take to get started:


    • Taking online classes in your field of choice
    • Joining a mentor program
    • Reading books about your dream career
    • Starting a small side business

    What matters most is that you do something. Take at least one step in the direction you want to head.




    It’s never too late to start doing what you love. You don’t have to work in a job you hate until you retire. If you know the right questions to ask and the correct steps to take, you can chart a path to the career of your dreams.


    Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Dare to live the life you have dreamed for yourself. Go forward and make your dreams come true.”


    We wholeheartedly agree.


    This article originally appeared here at and has been republished with permission from

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Consider a statistic or trend that shocks you. Why it is important to you and how could it be changed for the better?

    I just wanted to offer some advice on the main essay topic as I know some people are racking their brain over this. Oxford wants to learn about your values. If it is shocking to you then it’s probably tripping upon some deeply felt principal. Ponder what that might be and speak from that place. Consider that they are trying to get to know you at the deepest level by understanding what motivates you, and examining if those values are a match for the Oxford Community. To generate some ideas you might actually consider looking at successful essays for Stanford’s main essay question which also speaks to values. For the part about how you would change this, I think they are looking to assess your innovative and strategic thinking abilities. Be imaginative.

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  • Goals blog post MBA Prep Coach
    04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    MBA Applicants – SET GOALS FIRST

    So often applicants think about other aspect of their application (school selection, resume etc.) prior to considering their MBA goals, and I really feel this is a classic case of the tail wagging the dog.




    To write a persuasive application, it’s critical that you have those goals honed and refined. Background + MBA = Post-MBA Goal. So in order to solve for “MBA” part here, you need to figure out the right side of the equation.


    Then, take Goal + Experience = Long Term Goal. Hopefully this long-term goal will stir the adcom on both an emotional and analytical level.




    Consider this: schools invest more money in you than you pay in tuition. So while many consider this process to be shopping for an MBA program, in fact, your application should be likened to a pitch. Think Shark Tank.


    Why should they invest foundation dollars in you vs. someone else? They are more likely to choose the applicant who has carefully considered why they are applying to the school, and what they are trying to make manifest by going there. Successful Shark Tank applicants rarely walk into the room presented a with few different “options” for potential products, or a generic, half-baked idea. They don’t say, well, give me the money, I want to explore first, and see what sounds good to me once I get there. That would be a ridiculous way to approach starting a business, a sure plan for financial ruin. Yet, business school applicants do this all the time.




    Check this out. For the admissions committee, in this case, *YOU* ARE THE BUSINESS. You are the business they are investing in. Show them you have a business plan for business school. Show you have a strategy and specific tactics to carry out said strategy.


    This doesn’t mean that you can’t engage in big, blue-sky thinking. Schools like to see a big vision. One of my recent Wharton Lauder admits has a goal of establishing a consultancy in Africa that will allow Africans to effectively increase the percentage of arable land, solving part of the hunger crisis, and make the agriculture market a viable means of economic growth there.


    THE EXAMPLE So, big vision is encouraged, however, you need to connect the dots. Background + MBA = Goal. In this case, he had visited Africa, traveled extensively, and has a masters in Engineering. All he needs is a business education – knowledge if marketing, finance – mentorship, and an understanding of the competitive landscape there. The Lauder program allows students to spend time abroad doing these things, so this is a fit. What Wharton-Lauder offers matches what he needs to achieve his goal. But we couldn’t establish that fit with crappy, fuzzy, generic goals.


    So my message is this – set MBA goals first, to show how your Background + MBA = Goal. Demonstrate how YOU will leverage the opportunity – a key reason for adcom to admit you. Once you do this, the process of writing your applications becomes far easier, you gain momentum, and the passion and precision shines through.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Indian MBA Applicants – Real Talk

    Hello Indian readers. Someone wrote to me recently, asking, “why do the credentials for Indians have to be so much higher than for, say, Nordic applicants?”


    And it made me think to myself, maybe not all Indians are “in on” the dynamics of business school admissions. This is the stuff that admissions representatives will not tell you. I will lay it all out.


    Indians are extremely overrepresented, in fact, I believe they are the largest group in the application pool. And here is the crux of the issue.


    Stanford (or any other business school) cannot pack the class full of Indians. Imagine that you walk into the class and you find wall-to-wall Indian students. This lack of diversity in terms of thought, perspective, and experiences would greatly decrease the value of what the school is selling – diverse experiences, exposure to various perspectives, industries and walks of life.


    In essence, Stanford is protecting the experience of the students. This is why they want to have diversity in many forms, and citizenship or nationality is at the head of the list. However, it’s not the whole enchilada. An Indian male IT applicant would fare worse than a gay female Indian artist. If the school doesn’t offer they don’t have diversity, it lessens the experience for the students and reduces the reputation of the school.


    The whole situation is really unfortunate because most Indians are very bright and test well on the GMAT, which is endemic of the problem. Competing against their others with a similar profile proves difficult. The whole situation is quite unfair in a myriad of ways.


    If you are an Indian national, the acceptance rate for you is half of what it is for the reported average. So for Stanford, that goes from 6% to 3%. If you are in IT – well, that goes to 2%. The numbers are honesty quite deflating.


    One of the biggest mistakes, however, is to assume that a high GMAT score and GPA is the answer to the problem. A decent GMAT is necessary in most cases, however, in my practice I find that most Indian candidates grossly underestimate the importance of doing the application well. Your profile will only help you to the degree you can communicate the value of it.


    What does this look like?


    Resume: Every single word has a purpose. It uses universal language instead of industry jargon. It contains resume bullets that are one line, focusing on actions and quantifiable achievements. If not a quantifiable achievement, something that speaks to human motivations, such as saving time and improving a process. Anyone from any industry would be able to step into your resume, and comprehend the value of what you have done. There is space to breathe on the page. It has white space, and the reader feels good when they look at it. It looks inviting. It has simple elegance.


    Essays: The essays use anecdotes and examples that are written in chronological order. The reader can mentally see the story unfold. The story is told in brief sentences in a way that is accessible to a broad audience. Each essay shows a different side of you, yet all of them feel authentic, sincere, and accessible. They demonstrate self-awareness, personal growth, leadership and results-orientation. You reach the reader on both an analytical and emotional level.


    Letters of recommendation: The recommender can “see” you – see the uniqueness of you – and articulate that eloquently. The letter is comprised chiefly of clear, specific anecdotes that point to your talents in the area of problem-solving, teamwork, leadership, communication and innovation. The reader is emotionally moved by the content and, ideally, wants to champion you to the adcom in quite the same way as the writer.


    Online application: Twitter on steroids. Elevator pitch. Distills valuable information about you clearly and succinctly. Everything illustrates qualities that business schools value – strategic thinking, results orientation, etc. Employment section gives the reader a clear, succinct understanding of the experience you’ve gained, employing simple, universal language. The activities and awards point to the overall brand that you set forth in other aspects of the application.


    This is where the opportunities lie. Do the app well. Your profile matters – but if delivered badly – if the value of it is obscured – the reader will not see it. And everything you have worked so hard for won’t even matter.


    After having read hundreds of applications, I assure you, submitting a quality application will set you apart. It’s an underleveraged strategy.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Focus on Your Unique Contribution

    So often, I am asked to give a MBA profile evaluation based on GMAT + GPA + Work Experience. It’s simply not possible estimate your chances based on these 3 numbers alone. I’m really not sure why applicants, year after year, continue with the perception that that is the case.


    In truth, your chances have a lot to do with whether or not the schools are convinced that you should be part of the class. It’s just like the ding letter from Stanford that says, it is about selection not evaluation.


    It’s not about being good enough. It’s about being what they’re looking for – and outstanding.


    So those low grades or GMAT are not necessarily a deal-breaker, however you need to bring something to the table that would be an offsetting entry for them.


    Unique contribution. What would make them want you – in order to make the class complete?


    A value proposition consists of two items – desirability and exclusivity. Something is more valuable if it is desirable, and also, if it is rare. Uncommon. Unrepeatable. This is your competitive advantage, and it’s worthwhile to take time to figure it out.


    Beyond your profile, some of this has to do with the rest of the applicant pool. Again, selection rather than evaluation. It’s not “all about you.”


    It would be something related to the unique perspective you offer, acquired through your experiences. What you have done in the community types of experiences that have developed your leadership and teamwork skills.


    So sit with the question for a while. What sets you apart from other people with your profile? What would be a reason to select you out of a highly competitive pool?


    If you are interested in partnering with me on your applications, please fill out the prospective client form. 

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Leveraging MBA Networking Events

    School research is so important, and so is making a good impression on admissions. Before attending admissions events, do some research that will lead into some juicy questions.


    Don’t ask them about stats you could easily find online. Rather, ask questions that demonstrate you’ve 1) researched the program and 2) believe it is a fit, based on that research. Use that as your jumping-off point for deeper conversations. Initiate as many meaningful conversations as possible, without sacrificing quality.


    After each conversation, take their business card, and write down what you discussed.  Within 24 hours, email your new contact to follow up, the same way you would send a thank you note after an interview. It’s helpful to reference what was discussed, to reinforce the connection and make you more memorable. You can also ask them to set you up with a student mentor, and if possible, have them arrange a school visit. This will win  a lot of points. Keep in mind, showing a specific interest in a school will increase your chances.


    The biggest headache for business schools is extending offers to people who choose another school. In this way, it’s a prisoner’s dilemma. So doing the work to demonstrate that you would pick them will up your chances. 


    You can get even more mileage out of each event by noting a meaningful piece of information in your essay; i.e., I spoke with Flor (’12) at the Buenos Aires admissions event, and she mentioned XYZ about Cornell. XYZ = something that would make me a fit at your school.


    And please don’t mention collaborative culture because 99.99% of applicants go that route. It is played out.


    If you do mention it, show don’t tell – mention a clear example of what resonated with you. If possible, reference an alumni conversation in your essay that points to how the school is an especially strong fit with your unique career goals. This is a good idea for the prisoner’s dilemma mentioned above.


    If you are unable to attend any events in person, make sure to subscribe to their You Tube and attend the online admissions events. Meet with students or alumni in your city; get creative to show the school you are passionate about their program!


    In sum: make a good impression – before and after the event! 

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Poets & Quants Profile – Farrell Dyan

    Poets & Quants Profile for Farrell Dyan MBA Prep Coach

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Critical Reasoning – Paraphrasing the Questions

    With critical reasoning, the most important thing is to read the question, and understand what your job is.


    Some questions are simple, “what is the assumption,” whereas others are extremely convoluted. They say something like, “which of the following does not support the finding that the conclusion is wrong.” All the double negatives can make it very tough to figure out what’s what.


    Strip it down from the abstract to a very concrete statement, something like, “why is X a bad idea?” And then pose this question to each answer choice. Hello, A, are you telling me why X is a bad idea? You need to set up specific criteria for the answer choice. If it doesn’t say why X is a bad idea, cross it off and move on.


    If you don’t specify what you want out of the answer choice, it’s like walking into the grocery store without a shopping list. You will be lured to pick things that you don’t need and forget about why you went there in the first place.

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    04/17/2020 - MBA Prep Coach 0 Comments
    How Do I Write an MBA Goals Essay?

    I want to share a quick formula to guide you in answering almost any essay question. It’s an approach commonly used in interviews, so you might have heard of it already. It’s called STAR – Situation – Task – Action – Result.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Inference Answers – Go Vague. Or Go Home.

    Boring. So vague, it can’t be wrong. You know, the answer that is so watered down and wishy-washy, it’s basically saying nothing at all? THAT’S YOUR ANSWER!!! The GMAC wants to stay out of legal trouble. For this reason, any answer that is put forth as “true” must be totally indisputable. This means, incidentally, that it needs to be indisputably VAGUE as well. Vague statements are generally more likely to be “true” than specific statements. This strategy is especially helpful when you are looking at two similar answer choices. One of them is clear, detailed and specific, while the other, stating the obvious, dialed-back, to which you might respond, “duh!” Example. If I said you had black hair, there’s a good chance it’s true. But if I said you had black hair, blue eyes and freckles, the chances of that statement being true plummet dramatically. Additional details make the statement less likely to be true. They impose more conditions – and GMAT answers work very similarly. If you are drawn to smart-sounding, specific answers, listen up, you. The analogy I like to use is the Pyramid of Truth. Draw a pyramid on your paper.  On the top of the pyramid, write words such as, “only,” “never,” “always,” “most, “cannot,” …you get the idea. NARROW. Restrictive. Av  oid choosing answers that contain these words. Why? Only, never and always are highly disputable. They are unlikely to be true.


    For example, If I said I always get GMAT answers correct, that’s unlikely (even for me.) On the bottom of the pyramid, write down words such as, “may, could, might, some, one.” BROAD. May or may not. Could or could not. Might or might not. Lean towards answers that contain these words. They claim very little, in fact, they claim nothing at all really, and must be true. The GMAC is off the hook. If I said I may get some particular GMAT question correct, that is indisputable. I may or may not. Either way, I’m telling the truth. Again, choose answers that are so vague, and claim so little, they can’t be wrong. Bottom of the pyramid. When you are faced with two different answers and one says, “most,” and the other says, “some,” choose the the latter. Just this one tip will clear up major problems with inference questions in Critical Reasoning and Reading Comprehension. One exception, by the way – if the questions states, “which of the following MUST be false.” In such cases, extreme-sounding answers are a good contender.

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    Create a (Business) Plan for Business School

    If it’s one thing that drives me nuts, it’s someone who says they are “going to business school to figure out what they want to do.” THAT IS DUMB. And incidentally, also very EXPENSIVE, because it’s  a waste of your precious TIME. Get clear on your career goal first, so you can pick a program that will help you achieve it. Then leverage your time in business school to achieve said goal. Believe me, when applicants try to conceal their lack of direction, and BS their way through, it comes through loud and clear in their essays. It’s impossible to hide. And the essays are painful to read.


    Business schools want to bring in students who will be successful, make them look good, have a positive impact on endowments. It’s difficult for students achieve greatness if  they have no direction. This is why business schools ask you – hey, applicant, how do you plan to spend your time at our school ? I heartily recommend that you do the introspection work….with a coach if necessary… to construct your career plans before attempting to draft your applications. Do the inner work first. The application essays should be a manifestation of this process, not be the beginning of it. I often hear, “I just want to get into a school and then I’ll figure out the rest when I’m there.” OK. Let’s say you get into a school. Without clear intentions, you will be caught in a tidal wave of courses, clubs, classes and recruiters. Not to mention speakers, internships, externships…you get the picture. Instead of tapping into your heart’s desire, it’s more likely that you’ll be thrown about the sea, shipwrecked, 20 months having slipped through your hands and all you have to show for it is a huge bill. I will end with these words of advice from one McCombs MBA student to an applicant:


    “I didn’t realize how busy I would be! I knew that business school was going to be challenging but the first few months really tested my time management skills. Looking back I was amazed at how much we all accomplished in the fall term. Advice I would have for that is to think about what you want to get out of business school before you get here. Do you want to focus on recruiting, social, academics? And are you okay with priorities shifting as you progress in the year?”

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  • 04/17/2020 - mbaprepcoach 0 Comments
    US News & World Report 2016 MBA Program Rankings

    Some exciting and surprising changes in the new US News & World Report. Stanford was dethroned; HBS is in the #1 place. Chicago-Booth tied with Stanford for the #2 spot, which used to belong to Wharton, now #4.


    New England seems to be taking over. MIT stayed at #5; Dartmouth moved up the #8 spot and the biggest development is that Yale is now #9 – first time ever in the top ten (young MBA program – but safe to assume there will be further ascension in the rankings.)


    NYC is the big loser this year. Columbia is ranked #10 and the big shock – NYU-Stern is ranked #20, down from #11, due to their failure to submit critical data on time to US News & World Report.


    Meanwhile upstate in Ithaca, Cornell advanced one notch to #14. Darden, Duke and Ross are probably crying in their beer right now. Darden has lost its footing as a top 10 school, and the other two will unlikely make the top ten now that Yale is there – and most likely there to stay.


    – Farrell
    I am a MBA admissions consultant who works with clients worldwide. I help both full time and EMBA leaders get into top business schools. Schedule a profile review with me to see if we would make a good team. My goal is to help you create your best applications, get into your dream business school and pursue a career that excites you

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I got the call today and was accepted!! I’m so excited and at a loss for words. Thank you so much Farrell. Unbelievable and feel very humbled and lucky to have this opportunity. I really appreciate you pushing and encouraging me to pursue Kellogg. I wouldn’t be here without you.

"Just wanted to inform you that I received an admit from Kellogg, Tepper, and UCLA in round 2. I am joining Kellogg. Your interview tips helped a lot."

- A. Abhishek

"I thank Farrell whole heartedly for helping me get admitted to INSEAD, my dream B-school. When I found her on GMAT Club, I had already applied to London Business School, and was rejected without getting even an interview. In order to improve my essays and increase the chances to get admitted by my dream school, I decided to go with her, even knowing we on a very tight schedule..."

– Y. Jiang, Xian. China

"Farrell was a real life saver in the MBA application process. I first came to her to help me in developing a holistic application that was tailored to my target schools. Her process effectively identified key strengths and weaknesses in my candidacy and developed a strategy to give me the best chance of getting accepted..."

– L. R., Chicago, IL

"Farrell is the only one who believed in me. First, she spent hours learning about me, to make sure I chose schools that fit me, and also, where the adcom would appreciate my international background the most. Honestly, this is probably the most important part of the application process and most students neglect it..."

– K. Marie, Paris, France

"Farrell not only helped me connect the dots and tell my story, but also guided me through an important process of self-knowledge. The methods used during the process were simple and effective in finding answers about myself and my objectives. Knowing about myself was an essential step towards achieving my short and long-term goals..."

– G. Azevedo, São Paulo, Brazil

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