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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.


    APPLICATION TIPS


    ~Extracurricular activities~ – if this is a strength of yours, lucky you, they have 3 boxes for college and 3 boxes for post-college AND an unlimited text box to talk about your hobbies. This is unlimited for a reason – it’s more fun to be around people who are interested in a variety of different things. Rather than list your hobbies, also discuss how they have shaped you and why they are meaningful to you. If you have stuff to talk about here, this can be a game changer for overrepresented applicants.


    ~Short Answer Question~


    ~What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)~


    Have a tight focus with regards to industry, role and geography. When you have those specifics down, you have enough information to take concrete actions that lead to a good outcome post-MBA. This is important as CBS is the only EMBA I know of that allows on-campus recruitment (OCR) aside from Duke.  They do look at your ROI equation and want you to feel it was worth it when you’re slogging through those loans or reflecting on the time spent.


    ~Essay 1~


    Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)


    The goals need to make sense given the program format. They do offer OCR – the only one I can think of among EMBA programs – but last I checked, not summer internships so if you state IB, where you need an internship, this would be a bit of a red flag. Like other EMBA programs, the goal of progression within your same company or industry is ideal. Hopefully, what you learn at CBS you can “apply on Monday” and progress faster. Having an altruistic-oriented long-term goal is a bonus if it makes sense with the rest of your narrative.


    ~What they are looking for:~ does this person have the right background for their near-term goals? How logical does this person seem? Does this person have realistic expectations of the program? Can we help this person? If this person spoke about their goals to a recruiting company, would they reflect well on CBS or not? How good is the fit between their goals and what separates CBS – if we picked this person would they likely enroll (yield protect.) Clubs, OCR, block classes, NYC-based Executives in Residence, and a need for a NYC-based program are all good differentiators.

     

    ~Essay 2~


    Please describe a professional situation where you faced a particular challenge. What was the outcome and what did you learn from the experience about your own strengths and personal development needs? (500 words maximum)


    Replace the word “strengths” for “skills” and if it’s a work example, this question is very similar to the “behavioral” question for the Kellogg EMBA application and could likely be repurposed with some modification.


    I would recommend that you first list all the problems that you have solved at work within the past 3 years. If you are coming up blank, think about how your activities have generated value at work. Then rank each in terms of the result achieved or importance of the problem solved.


    You absolutely must coordinate with your recommender on which stories they will tell so you don’t repeat one of those here.


    Now we get to the skills part. You might want to Google “list of managerial skills” to draw inspiration and further brainstorm. Conflict resolution, strategic thinking, adaptability etc.


    Regarding execution, STAR or CAR for sure. STAR is situation/task/action/result, but I reframe this as problem/goal/action/result.


    ~Situation/Problem~: you want to pick something that is not massively technical; it can be conveyed in few enough words to leave room for parts that help them get to know you. Do not cover a whole project – the essay will sound like a white paper. Rather, pick a specific obstacle within that project or a certain aspect of it.


    ~Task~: the goal – which is basically the opposite of the problem. This is not a work project type task. Sometimes the task can be something like becoming a more active listener.


    ~Action~: this shows them how your mind works. Given the task (goal) what path did you pursue? You want to SHOW DON’T TELL and each strength needs some storytelling. It’s OK to focus on just 1 or 2 things. Deep not wide wins every time.


    ~Result~: it’s nice when you can quantify the result – by a lot – but anecdotal results are passable in a pinch. Don’t chuck out a story that shows passion and purpose because there is no dashboard of metrics attached. One example might be illustrating how you turned around a gossipy work environment and through this, everyone had better morale and therefore X good thing became possible or happened.


    The pressure test here is that they come away with a sense of how you lead, what your role might be in your study group, what makes you “you” in the workplace, the kind of problems you are known for solving. Help them get to know you above all things. Speak plainly, directly and succinctly.


    ~Optional Essay~


    Is there something else you feel would be helpful for the Admissions Committee to know? An optional third essay will allow you to discuss any topics that do not fall within the purview of the required essays. These might include, but are not limited to:


    • Adverse circumstances in your background


    • An exciting side venture in which you are working


    • Areas of concern in your academic record


    • Or just a fun fact!


    This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (500 words maximum)

     

    Quite innovative - CBS has merged the getting-to-know-you book or movie essay with the optional essay. So, if you need to expand upon why your academic record is less than stellar, you can do that, but if not, it’s space to park almost anything else you haven’t included in the online application.

    Expanding upon a leadership experience or passion project is great. Keep in mind they are looking for people who are what I call a social value-add – others enjoy the program more because of you. This is the only “personal” essay so I really urge you to use the opportunity.

    Note: don’t avoid this essay because you think you are whining and making excuses for yourself. It’s a great opportunity to help adcom get to know you as a person, and the challenges that have shaped who you are. The more they understand you on a personal level the more they grow attached to you, campaign for you and the better your odds.


    ~Recommendation~


    Take this seriously. For the strengths question you want to have a claim – pointing to your USP – and then tell a detailed but accessible story to back up said claim. Recommendations are always important, but especially for EMBA because they want to know how others experience you (consider: you are the product they are selling to others). Also, it’s a way for CBS to gauge the kind of classroom contributions you would make. This is important for the EMBA where ideally students learn as much or more from each other as they do the professor.


    Select your recommender based on the stories they can share – they are ideally an eyewitness to you solving problems, leading and being a strong team player. Prioritize this over title or status. Brainstorm with your recommender; coach and guide them. Choose a story together for each question. Have transparency over this part of the application. If they make statements that conflict with other parts of the application, you will be seen as too risky and likely be dinged.


    ~Common pitfalls~: recommender overly reliant on ChatGPT, pulls from review file without modifying, doesn’t answer the question squarely, doesn’t answer both the questions, doesn’t do any storytelling. Cramming and jamming a bunch of superficial stuff in there but nothing gets developed, the reader has no traction and so it has no impact. Uses industry jargon and acronyms, which prevents the reader from understanding anything. Use of conceptual superlatives and adjectives but nothing the reader can “see” or absorb.


    Good luck to all!

    #cbsembaapplication #cbsgsbessaytips #embaleadershipessay #cbsstrengthsessay #cbsemba

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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)


    Before getting wrapped up in this combination of skills thing, I would recommend that you first list out all the problems that you have solved at work or outside of work within the past 3 years. If you are coming up blank, think about how your activities have generated value in any setting. Then rank each in terms of the result achieved or importance of the problem solved.


    The actions matter, but the challenge/problem you describe tells them what matters to you, where you invest your energy. I was fortunate that all my full-time, part-time and EMBA Kellogg candidates were admitted this past year despite all of them being overrepresented. Kellogg puts a special focus on inclusiveness, so my strategy was to set them apart by digging out examples showing inclusive leadership.


    That said, each of recommender needs to speak to the same, so strategize content accordingly. I always strive to park work examples in the recommendations and use the essays to help the reader feel closer to you as a person. Everything else is work stuff – this is your one chance to share something different!


    One candidate shared how her husband was the target of racism – and what she did to increase appreciation of diverse cultures within that community to decrease discrimination and prejudice. Another was a micro influencer who spoke about a blog she posted on a controversial topic, causing her and her followers to be plagued by trolls and even threats. The skills she demonstrated showed how she restored peace in the comments section

    .
    Now we get to the skills part. You might want to Google “list of managerial skills” to draw inspiration and further brainstorm. Conflict resolution, strategic thinking, adaptability etc.


    At the heart of it Kellogg is looking for leaders who use collaboration and empathy to innovate. That is central to the Kellogg brand and what I perceive to be, in large part, the question behind the question. You want to refer to your ability to influence, or lead without authority, in a compassionate, non-manipulative way.


    What you don’t want to do is refer to some regression you did that solved a problem and it’s lacking the human factor. You want intellect + heart.


    Regarding execution, STAR or CAR for sure. STAR is situation/task/action/result, but I reframe this as problem/goal/action/result. CAR is a bit easier to master – challenge/action/result – especially when it comes to résumé bullets and interview prep.


    Problem: you want to pick something that is not massively technical; it can be conveyed in few enough words to leave room for parts that help them get to know you. Do not cover a whole project – the essay will sound like a white paper. Rather, pick a specific obstacle within that project or a certain aspect of it.


    Task: the goal – which is basically the opposite of the problem. This is not a work project type task. Sometimes the task can be something like becoming a more active listener.


    Action: this shows them how your mind works. Given the task (goal) what path did you pursue? Of course, we want to show both intellect + heart in this part. Don’t go bananas and list a bunch of skills; it’s not that kind of contest. The point is that you want to SHOW DON’T TELL and each skill needs some storytelling. Deep not wide wins every time.

     
    Result: it’s nice when you can quantify the result – by a lot – but anecdotal results are passable in a pinch. Don’t chuck out a story that shows passion and purpose because there is no dashboard of metrics attached. One example might be illustrating how you turned around a gossipy work environment and through this, everyone had better morale and therefore X good thing became possible or happened.


    #kelloggessaytips #mbaleadershipessay #kelloggskillsessay #kelloggptmba #kelloggewmba #kelloggemba #kelloggmba

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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?
     
    You can tell they want specificity because you only have 400 words for 3 questions: Why MBA, Why Booth and Why Booth Evening/Weekend. What overlaps in the Venn diagram for these 3 things?
     
    In other words, where is the intersection of your current situation, your goals, Booth, and your need to go part-time (stay employed.)
     
    I suggest you use CAR – challenge/action/result – starting with the problem you are motivated to solve by way of Booth Evening/Weekend MBA. Think “pain points.”
     

    Challenge

     

    A couple paths: one, looking at things from the standpoint of your current company. Would an MBA help you uplevel the company in some way? What are your core competencies and competitors? Would you help shape a new product or gain knowledge around finance options that would up their game? Maybe your company is set to scale 10X. The consequences of any decision are amplified and you having no business background is increasingly risky.

    Another option is to look at yourself as the current company. Research your goals – make sure you are clear on what you are trying to make manifest by way of an MBA. This way you can concretely identify what gaps are standing in the way.

     

    Action

     

    I call this your business plan for business school. Consider the goals and the gaps, and match this up with the 4 C’s: classes, clubs, community and culture.

     

    Classes - Appears pretty direct – review the curriculum of what you want to take and how it will create a positive result for you personally or your company. However, make sure to incorporate what sets Booth apart (because to be honest 99% of the people I work with on Booth PT apply also to Kellogg PT and admissions knows that!)


    How does the way you learn align with Booth? Appetite for debate? Passion for data-driven decisions? Interest in finding frameworks to solve problems? The interdisciplinary Chicago approach? There are some key cultural differences between the schools. Kellogg would choose teamwork, empathy and collaboration over analytics, bold individual contribution and spirited debate.


    Clubs – One professional club and one social club is ideal. Make sure to network and to research here. If you are hoping to break into consulting, reach out to the Evening Weekend Booth Consulting Club (BCC) and what you quote will add specificity and color to your essay.


    Community – How do you intend to socialize with others to build up a sense of shared community? This could be Boothies Breaking Bread, the rooftop happy hours, investigate the options.


    Given the nature of the program, Booth is really looking for the “glue guys” when it comes to building community. Students are likely to be on different tracks and timelines. If you have concrete examples of culture-building, reflect them in the resume and maybe even share these stories in the optional essay.


    Keep in mind it’s a short essay and better to go deep in a couple areas than shotgun a bunch of stuff where nothing really sticks with the reader; find your best points and elaborate rather than covering everything.


    Again, to speak convincingly its best to speak with students and alumni - reach out to those hosting Booth admissions events and hit people up on LinkedIn. What you uncover will add sincerity, clarity and gravitas to the points you make in the essays and interview.

     

    Result

     

    What’s the upside of solving the gaps, pain points or challenges mentioned in the beginning? How will an MBA catapult you on to a new career trajectory? How will you be adding more value at your current company, or where you want to work after graduating? Is there some unmet market need you will fulfill? If there is some socially beneficial aspect to the work you plan to do, mention that. Inspire Booth admissions to help you carry this out.

     

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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 mbamath.com 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?

     

    PART-TIME


    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.

     

    EU SCHOOLS & CANADA

     

    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.

     

    COLUMBIA JANUARY INTAKE

     

    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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  • Woods tools image
    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

    Question:

     

    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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RECENT POSTS

  • 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.


    APPLICATION TIPS


    ~Extracurricular activities~ – if this is a strength of yours, lucky you, they have 3 boxes for college and 3 boxes for post-college AND an unlimited text box to talk about your hobbies. This is unlimited for a reason – it’s more fun to be around people who are interested in a variety of different things. Rather than list your hobbies, also discuss how they have shaped you and why they are meaningful to you. If you have stuff to talk about here, this can be a game changer for overrepresented applicants.


    ~Short Answer Question~


    ~What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (50 characters maximum)~


    Have a tight focus with regards to industry, role and geography. When you have those specifics down, you have enough information to take concrete actions that lead to a good outcome post-MBA. This is important as CBS is the only EMBA I know of that allows on-campus recruitment (OCR) aside from Duke.  They do look at your ROI equation and want you to feel it was worth it when you’re slogging through those loans or reflecting on the time spent.


    ~Essay 1~


    Through your resume and recommendations, we have a clear sense of your professional path to date. What are your career goals over the next three to five years and what is your long-term dream job? (500 words)


    The goals need to make sense given the program format. They do offer OCR – the only one I can think of among EMBA programs – but last I checked, not summer internships so if you state IB, where you need an internship, this would be a bit of a red flag. Like other EMBA programs, the goal of progression within your same company or industry is ideal. Hopefully, what you learn at CBS you can “apply on Monday” and progress faster. Having an altruistic-oriented long-term goal is a bonus if it makes sense with the rest of your narrative.


    ~What they are looking for:~ does this person have the right background for their near-term goals? How logical does this person seem? Does this person have realistic expectations of the program? Can we help this person? If this person spoke about their goals to a recruiting company, would they reflect well on CBS or not? How good is the fit between their goals and what separates CBS – if we picked this person would they likely enroll (yield protect.) Clubs, OCR, block classes, NYC-based Executives in Residence, and a need for a NYC-based program are all good differentiators.

     

    ~Essay 2~


    Please describe a professional situation where you faced a particular challenge. What was the outcome and what did you learn from the experience about your own strengths and personal development needs? (500 words maximum)


    Replace the word “strengths” for “skills” and if it’s a work example, this question is very similar to the “behavioral” question for the Kellogg EMBA application and could likely be repurposed with some modification.


    I would recommend that you first list all the problems that you have solved at work within the past 3 years. If you are coming up blank, think about how your activities have generated value at work. Then rank each in terms of the result achieved or importance of the problem solved.


    You absolutely must coordinate with your recommender on which stories they will tell so you don’t repeat one of those here.


    Now we get to the skills part. You might want to Google “list of managerial skills” to draw inspiration and further brainstorm. Conflict resolution, strategic thinking, adaptability etc.


    Regarding execution, STAR or CAR for sure. STAR is situation/task/action/result, but I reframe this as problem/goal/action/result.


    ~Situation/Problem~: you want to pick something that is not massively technical; it can be conveyed in few enough words to leave room for parts that help them get to know you. Do not cover a whole project – the essay will sound like a white paper. Rather, pick a specific obstacle within that project or a certain aspect of it.


    ~Task~: the goal – which is basically the opposite of the problem. This is not a work project type task. Sometimes the task can be something like becoming a more active listener.


    ~Action~: this shows them how your mind works. Given the task (goal) what path did you pursue? You want to SHOW DON’T TELL and each strength needs some storytelling. It’s OK to focus on just 1 or 2 things. Deep not wide wins every time.


    ~Result~: it’s nice when you can quantify the result – by a lot – but anecdotal results are passable in a pinch. Don’t chuck out a story that shows passion and purpose because there is no dashboard of metrics attached. One example might be illustrating how you turned around a gossipy work environment and through this, everyone had better morale and therefore X good thing became possible or happened.


    The pressure test here is that they come away with a sense of how you lead, what your role might be in your study group, what makes you “you” in the workplace, the kind of problems you are known for solving. Help them get to know you above all things. Speak plainly, directly and succinctly.


    ~Optional Essay~


    Is there something else you feel would be helpful for the Admissions Committee to know? An optional third essay will allow you to discuss any topics that do not fall within the purview of the required essays. These might include, but are not limited to:


    • Adverse circumstances in your background


    • An exciting side venture in which you are working


    • Areas of concern in your academic record


    • Or just a fun fact!


    This does not need to be a formal essay. You may submit bullet points. (500 words maximum)

     

    Quite innovative - CBS has merged the getting-to-know-you book or movie essay with the optional essay. So, if you need to expand upon why your academic record is less than stellar, you can do that, but if not, it’s space to park almost anything else you haven’t included in the online application.

    Expanding upon a leadership experience or passion project is great. Keep in mind they are looking for people who are what I call a social value-add – others enjoy the program more because of you. This is the only “personal” essay so I really urge you to use the opportunity.

    Note: don’t avoid this essay because you think you are whining and making excuses for yourself. It’s a great opportunity to help adcom get to know you as a person, and the challenges that have shaped who you are. The more they understand you on a personal level the more they grow attached to you, campaign for you and the better your odds.


    ~Recommendation~


    Take this seriously. For the strengths question you want to have a claim – pointing to your USP – and then tell a detailed but accessible story to back up said claim. Recommendations are always important, but especially for EMBA because they want to know how others experience you (consider: you are the product they are selling to others). Also, it’s a way for CBS to gauge the kind of classroom contributions you would make. This is important for the EMBA where ideally students learn as much or more from each other as they do the professor.


    Select your recommender based on the stories they can share – they are ideally an eyewitness to you solving problems, leading and being a strong team player. Prioritize this over title or status. Brainstorm with your recommender; coach and guide them. Choose a story together for each question. Have transparency over this part of the application. If they make statements that conflict with other parts of the application, you will be seen as too risky and likely be dinged.


    ~Common pitfalls~: recommender overly reliant on ChatGPT, pulls from review file without modifying, doesn’t answer the question squarely, doesn’t answer both the questions, doesn’t do any storytelling. Cramming and jamming a bunch of superficial stuff in there but nothing gets developed, the reader has no traction and so it has no impact. Uses industry jargon and acronyms, which prevents the reader from understanding anything. Use of conceptual superlatives and adjectives but nothing the reader can “see” or absorb.


    Good luck to all!

    #cbsembaapplication #cbsgsbessaytips #embaleadershipessay #cbsstrengthsessay #cbsemba

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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)


    Before getting wrapped up in this combination of skills thing, I would recommend that you first list out all the problems that you have solved at work or outside of work within the past 3 years. If you are coming up blank, think about how your activities have generated value in any setting. Then rank each in terms of the result achieved or importance of the problem solved.


    The actions matter, but the challenge/problem you describe tells them what matters to you, where you invest your energy. I was fortunate that all my full-time, part-time and EMBA Kellogg candidates were admitted this past year despite all of them being overrepresented. Kellogg puts a special focus on inclusiveness, so my strategy was to set them apart by digging out examples showing inclusive leadership.


    That said, each of recommender needs to speak to the same, so strategize content accordingly. I always strive to park work examples in the recommendations and use the essays to help the reader feel closer to you as a person. Everything else is work stuff – this is your one chance to share something different!


    One candidate shared how her husband was the target of racism – and what she did to increase appreciation of diverse cultures within that community to decrease discrimination and prejudice. Another was a micro influencer who spoke about a blog she posted on a controversial topic, causing her and her followers to be plagued by trolls and even threats. The skills she demonstrated showed how she restored peace in the comments section

    .
    Now we get to the skills part. You might want to Google “list of managerial skills” to draw inspiration and further brainstorm. Conflict resolution, strategic thinking, adaptability etc.


    At the heart of it Kellogg is looking for leaders who use collaboration and empathy to innovate. That is central to the Kellogg brand and what I perceive to be, in large part, the question behind the question. You want to refer to your ability to influence, or lead without authority, in a compassionate, non-manipulative way.


    What you don’t want to do is refer to some regression you did that solved a problem and it’s lacking the human factor. You want intellect + heart.


    Regarding execution, STAR or CAR for sure. STAR is situation/task/action/result, but I reframe this as problem/goal/action/result. CAR is a bit easier to master – challenge/action/result – especially when it comes to résumé bullets and interview prep.


    Problem: you want to pick something that is not massively technical; it can be conveyed in few enough words to leave room for parts that help them get to know you. Do not cover a whole project – the essay will sound like a white paper. Rather, pick a specific obstacle within that project or a certain aspect of it.


    Task: the goal – which is basically the opposite of the problem. This is not a work project type task. Sometimes the task can be something like becoming a more active listener.


    Action: this shows them how your mind works. Given the task (goal) what path did you pursue? Of course, we want to show both intellect + heart in this part. Don’t go bananas and list a bunch of skills; it’s not that kind of contest. The point is that you want to SHOW DON’T TELL and each skill needs some storytelling. Deep not wide wins every time.

     
    Result: it’s nice when you can quantify the result – by a lot – but anecdotal results are passable in a pinch. Don’t chuck out a story that shows passion and purpose because there is no dashboard of metrics attached. One example might be illustrating how you turned around a gossipy work environment and through this, everyone had better morale and therefore X good thing became possible or happened.


    #kelloggessaytips #mbaleadershipessay #kelloggskillsessay #kelloggptmba #kelloggewmba #kelloggemba #kelloggmba

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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?
     
    You can tell they want specificity because you only have 400 words for 3 questions: Why MBA, Why Booth and Why Booth Evening/Weekend. What overlaps in the Venn diagram for these 3 things?
     
    In other words, where is the intersection of your current situation, your goals, Booth, and your need to go part-time (stay employed.)
     
    I suggest you use CAR – challenge/action/result – starting with the problem you are motivated to solve by way of Booth Evening/Weekend MBA. Think “pain points.”
     

    Challenge

     

    A couple paths: one, looking at things from the standpoint of your current company. Would an MBA help you uplevel the company in some way? What are your core competencies and competitors? Would you help shape a new product or gain knowledge around finance options that would up their game? Maybe your company is set to scale 10X. The consequences of any decision are amplified and you having no business background is increasingly risky.

    Another option is to look at yourself as the current company. Research your goals – make sure you are clear on what you are trying to make manifest by way of an MBA. This way you can concretely identify what gaps are standing in the way.

     

    Action

     

    I call this your business plan for business school. Consider the goals and the gaps, and match this up with the 4 C’s: classes, clubs, community and culture.

     

    Classes - Appears pretty direct – review the curriculum of what you want to take and how it will create a positive result for you personally or your company. However, make sure to incorporate what sets Booth apart (because to be honest 99% of the people I work with on Booth PT apply also to Kellogg PT and admissions knows that!)


    How does the way you learn align with Booth? Appetite for debate? Passion for data-driven decisions? Interest in finding frameworks to solve problems? The interdisciplinary Chicago approach? There are some key cultural differences between the schools. Kellogg would choose teamwork, empathy and collaboration over analytics, bold individual contribution and spirited debate.


    Clubs – One professional club and one social club is ideal. Make sure to network and to research here. If you are hoping to break into consulting, reach out to the Evening Weekend Booth Consulting Club (BCC) and what you quote will add specificity and color to your essay.


    Community – How do you intend to socialize with others to build up a sense of shared community? This could be Boothies Breaking Bread, the rooftop happy hours, investigate the options.


    Given the nature of the program, Booth is really looking for the “glue guys” when it comes to building community. Students are likely to be on different tracks and timelines. If you have concrete examples of culture-building, reflect them in the resume and maybe even share these stories in the optional essay.


    Keep in mind it’s a short essay and better to go deep in a couple areas than shotgun a bunch of stuff where nothing really sticks with the reader; find your best points and elaborate rather than covering everything.


    Again, to speak convincingly its best to speak with students and alumni - reach out to those hosting Booth admissions events and hit people up on LinkedIn. What you uncover will add sincerity, clarity and gravitas to the points you make in the essays and interview.

     

    Result

     

    What’s the upside of solving the gaps, pain points or challenges mentioned in the beginning? How will an MBA catapult you on to a new career trajectory? How will you be adding more value at your current company, or where you want to work after graduating? Is there some unmet market need you will fulfill? If there is some socially beneficial aspect to the work you plan to do, mention that. Inspire Booth admissions to help you carry this out.

     

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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 mbamath.com 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?

     

    PART-TIME


    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.

     

    EU SCHOOLS & CANADA

     

    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.

     

    COLUMBIA JANUARY INTAKE

     

    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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  • 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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