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5/15/12

I'm Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions. I'm glad to be here on Wall Street Oasis back with kindred spirits. Right out of Harvard Business School I worked for Goldman Sachs and have spent most of my professional career in and around the financial industry. I worked on both the sell and buy sides (Barclays Global Investors, now BlackRock), and have worked on Wall Street, Asia, and San Francisco.

You might think I am partial to HBS, but I'm actually quite fond of Stanford Graduate School of Business, as a communications and resume coach and an editor of GSB professors' academic papers. I am also a writer for the Journal of PortfolioManagement. Back to MBA admissions, I'm a member of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, the industry group, and a bit of an ethical watchdog on all things MBA admissions.

Lately I've been doing pro-bono work for the Forte Foundation, which has really amazing resources for women, and for a group called Service2School.org, which offers free application counseling to military vets.

And yes, that's me communing with a monkey in the pic.

For this Q&A thread, I'd like to focus on these two things:

  1. How you can improve your profile to get into one of the best business schools in the world
  2. How to talk about leadership in your application.

In both cases, the answers may surprise you.

I look forward to reading your questions and learning about you.
If you keep it to just a paragraph or two, it's easier for everyone to read and for me to include your question in my response. No worries about follow up questions, please ask!

I will do my best to check in often and respond promptly.

Comments (620)

11/16/12

Hi Betsy,

I know this subject might have been beaten to death already, but in times of freaking out, all is fair.
Would you say that schools care whether you have visited their campuses or not? By not visiting a certain school, am I hurting my chances?

Your help is so much appreciated.

I may not be on the Jedi Council, but I sure am great with the Force.

See my WSO blog posts

Accepted.com
11/16/12

Hi Dis, if you can, you should visit the school. But if you are thinking of trying to squeeze it in now before round 2, I think the stress of trying to make it happen would outweigh the benefit. Of course if you are talking about Columbia, NYU, Yale, or Wharton and you live in NY, then you probably should get yourself there. But if you are talking about someplace more than a commuter's distance away, don't kill yourself.

If we were having this conversation in, say, March, I would be much more insistent. Spring is a pretty time to see schools and students are much more available to talk and wax eloquent about their experience. You won't be pressured by deadlines and you really can take in the fact that the school is marketing itself to you.

Please don't freak out. Hope that helps!

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

12/17/12

hey Betsy -- i had a two part question regarding business schools view of applicants who have recently switched jobs / careers, both in regards to the commonly heard 'buckets' classification of applicants and how heavily the new industry experience is weighed.

when people have been in a new industry for a year (or less) upon applying to business school, does it look weird to the adcom that these people have switched into a new role or new industry and want to hop back into business school to do something else? or, as with all business school applications, it depends on how you weave it into your story? for example, i took the year to shoot down to brazil to work at a start up (because ive never lived or worked outside of the country, nevermind at a startup in an emerging economy) and i figured now is the time to take the chance to explore this avenue as i have no kids or family and also i have angel invested in the company (not sure if this is anything of note to include or how to include it? i imagine angel investing in a startup youre working for is a bit weightier than just working there since youre a partial partner). however, i plan on talking about wanting to take my financial markets expertise from trading, my relationship building skills that ive used to launch many non profit/mentoring ventures and combining it with my experience in brazil to say that id like to do private banking, specifically for a desk servicing brazil. i like to think that this story weaves the threads together well as opposed to someone who goes from marketing to finance for a year and then wants to jump back into marketing-- but i feel it mostly depends on the story? basically: do adcom cautiously eye when youve been in a new role or industry for just a year and youre reapplying? :)

secondly, how long of a new experience is required until you are shifted to a new industry/demographic 'bucket'? its well known that business schools like to have a varying class of different industries and experiences but are people who are a hybrid of two different industries be considered in the bucket that they have the most experience in or their most recent experience? or is there not really 'bucketing' at universities in such a discrete manner?

12/17/12

Hi Short, glad to see you again -- it's been a busy time of the year, mostly with deadlines. Yikes, can you believe that MIT Sloan is actually *before* the end of the year? Anyway,

You ask

does it look weird to the adcom that these people have switched into a new role or new industry and want to hop back into business school to do something else?

If you can make it make sense, then it is not weird. Especially if you have tried your hand at a startup after working in a fairly big company, the combination of those two experiences actually add value to your future career -- whatever it may be -- and also to your business school classmates. So no, it isn't weird, and please don't be defensive about the switch.

As for how you weave it together, and this bit of advice is true for any essay, wrap your head around the reasoning before you try to convince someone. If you can pull all the threads together -- startup, emerging markets, and you at the center, then it should work. Clarify it in your mind first before trying to convince the adcom. If you feel like you are on solid ground with yourself, then you will have a more logical explanation for your career goals. Don't ask them to connect the dots for you -- you do it for them.

You also ask

secondly, how long of a new experience is required until you are shifted to a new industry/demographic 'bucket'?

I think it depends. Whoa, you are saying, what a lame response! My guess is that it's at least a year, but what do I know? Yes, some schools do bucket (Harvard says they have different readers for different industries in the US, and then the rest of the world is bucketed regionally), but does it matter? Are you asking if you will be compared with all the other Brazilian startup guys? Or the other ex-traders? I think it will be both, but I'm not sure you can -- or should -- do anything now.

Thanks also for spelling discrete correctly!

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

12/19/12

haha it always bothers me when i see 'discreet' ;) yes i agree that there is nothing that can be done to change any of that, just curious for curiousity's sake! thank you as always betsy :)

12/21/12

Betsy,

Thank you for this thread! I posted this in the other thread but I figured I'd post it here as well :) I read through your entire thread before I posted so not just posting for the sake of it.

Academics: 2.7 GPA from a top public school in CA (Berkeley/UCLA). Econ major.
Work experience: I was an analyst-associate promote at a boutique investment bank. Recently left to work in strategic planning for a Fortune 100 as a sr analyst in the international FP&A group, focusing on all regions around the world. (very unique group. not traditional FP&A nor strategy. can elaborate in pm if needed). Total experience so far: 4.5 years. Never a day unemployed since graduation.
Personal background + story: Bi-lingual in Mandarin. Grew up in Asia and worked internationally for the i-bank for several months and now in a group with significant international operation and focusing on their international operations and finance strategies. That's the story I'd like to tell and the main reason for MBA is to enhance my knowledge to one day be in the leadership position at an international company.
GMAT: Haven't taken. Will start studying. I've always done well quantitatively but not great at verbal.
Recommendations: I have reasons to believe I can get glowing recs from my previous employer's CEO and if I perform well from my team. Everyone on my team (of 10) has MBA (Stanford/Columbia/USC/Carnegie) so they know the game.

My questions:
-What kind of schools should I be looking at with my type of profile? Assume I can take classes and score 700 on GMAT. My grades/academics aren't stellar so I don't think I have a shot at HBS/Stanford. I believe my finance + operations experience bode well for Wharton/Chicago but again the academics may hold me back. Thoughts on reach/safety schools?
-My current employer can support my partially (if not entirely) for the MBA if I choose to partake in a part-time program. I'm in California so I think Haas/UCLA/USC will be part of the discussion if so. Do you think there is any stigma to a part-time program? This would make sense financially.
-I'd have 5~6 years of experience depending on when I apply (2013 or 2014). I have heard my academics won't be as stressed upon as if I just recently graduated. Is this true?

Thank you. I look forward to hearing your response.

1/3/13

huethan:
Betsy,

Thank you for this thread! I posted this in the other thread but I figured I'd post it here as well :) I read through your entire thread before I posted so not just posting for the sake of it.

Academics: 2.7 GPA from a top public school in CA (Berkeley/UCLA). Econ major.
Work experience: I was an analyst-associate promote at a boutique investment bank. Recently left to work in strategic planning for a Fortune 100 as a sr analyst in the international FP&A group, focusing on all regions around the world. (very unique group. not traditional FP&A nor strategy. can elaborate in pm if needed). Total experience so far: 4.5 years. Never a day unemployed since graduation.
Personal background + story: Bi-lingual in Mandarin. Grew up in Asia and worked internationally for the i-bank for several months and now in a group with significant international operation and focusing on their international operations and finance strategies. That's the story I'd like to tell and the main reason for MBA is to enhance my knowledge to one day be in the leadership position at an international company.
GMAT: Haven't taken. Will start studying. I've always done well quantitatively but not great at verbal.
Recommendations: I have reasons to believe I can get glowing recs from my previous employer's CEO and if I perform well from my team. Everyone on my team (of 10) has MBA (Stanford/Columbia/USC/Carnegie) so they know the game.

My questions:
-What kind of schools should I be looking at with my type of profile? Assume I can take classes and score 700 on GMAT. My grades/academics aren't stellar so I don't think I have a shot at HBS/Stanford. I believe my finance + operations experience bode well for Wharton/Chicago but again the academics may hold me back. Thoughts on reach/safety schools?
-My current employer can support my partially (if not entirely) for the MBA if I choose to partake in a part-time program. I'm in California so I think Haas/UCLA/USC will be part of the discussion if so. Do you think there is any stigma to a part-time program? This would make sense financially.
-I'd have 5~6 years of experience depending on when I apply (2013 or 2014). I have heard my academics won't be as stressed upon as if I just recently graduated. Is this true?

Thank you. I look forward to hearing your response.

HUGE apologies for not responding sooner. This time of year is very hard for anyone trying to have a life, especially for those who are working on MBA admissions. Deadlines! Today is the deadline for Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck, Michigan Ross, and more, and everyone I am working with has pushed against this day. And we are not even done with the Round 2 cycle.

So, Huethan, you've put a lot of material in this post, and there are a lot of moving parts. The first: your grades.
Most of what I am saying relates to a full-time program:
Sadly, a 2.7 is tough. Without an alternative transcript, that is, taking courses to prove that you can sit in a classroom and actually do the work, most admissions committee members will simply pass -- even if you have a tremendous GMAT (specializing in quant).
For part-time, particularly at the California schools you mentioned, there's a little more emphasis on work experience and contribution, and it's possible, but you really need to prove you can do the school work. Glowing recs are ancillary.
Basically, here's the deal -- interesting work experience can only get you so far.

Having said all that, the quality of your transcript is also important. If you had a bad freshman year and then pulled it together, challenged yourself, and did well, then your low GPA may be mitigated. They do look carefully at transcripts and the choices you make during undergraduate.

I do not believe there is a stigma to a part-time program except among people who are in the midst of full-time programs, and they are hardly going to be giving you employment any time soon. I think the adults in the room recognize that working full time and going to school part time is laudable, and demands tremendous maturity, balancing, and focus. You still receive an MBA, the diploma is exactly the same.

As for your comments about "academics won't be stressed upon as if I recently graduated," Let's just say that in the part-time program the GPA will have a lesser weight, but you still need to prove that you will excel in a classroom, and I am not sure how else to show it but by an alternative transcript.

Having said all that, let me know if there are any mitigating circumstances (other courses, certifications like a CFA, or something like that) that prove you can be a great student. Push back on my thesis! I am only reading a post in a forum -- what am I missing?

Best regards to you, Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/3/13

Betsy Massar:

HUGE apologies for not responding sooner. This time of year is very hard for anyone trying to have a life, especially for those who are working on MBA admissions. Deadlines! Today is the deadline for Wharton, Kellogg, Tuck, Michigan Ross, and more, and everyone I am working with has pushed against this day. And we are not even done with the Round 2 cycle.

So, Huethan, you've put a lot of material in this post, and there are a lot of moving parts. The first: your grades.
Most of what I am saying relates to a full-time program:
Sadly, a 2.7 is tough. Without an alternative transcript, that is, taking courses to prove that you can sit in a classroom and actually do the work, most admissions committee members will simply pass -- even if you have a tremendous GMAT (specializing in quant).
For part-time, particularly at the California schools you mentioned, there's a little more emphasis on work experience and contribution, and it's possible, but you really need to prove you can do the school work. Glowing recs are ancillary.
Basically, here's the deal -- interesting work experience can only get you so far.

Having said all that, the quality of your transcript is also important. If you had a bad freshman year and then pulled it together, challenged yourself, and did well, then your low GPA may be mitigated. They do look carefully at transcripts and the choices you make during undergraduate.

I do not believe there is a stigma to a part-time program except among people who are in the midst of full-time programs, and they are hardly going to be giving you employment any time soon. I think the adults in the room recognize that working full time and going to school part time is laudable, and demands tremendous maturity, balancing, and focus. You still receive an MBA, the diploma is exactly the same.

As for your comments about "academics won't be stressed upon as if I recently graduated," Let's just say that in the part-time program the GPA will have a lesser weight, but you still need to prove that you will excel in a classroom, and I am not sure how else to show it but by an alternative transcript.

Having said all that, let me know if there are any mitigating circumstances (other courses, certifications like a CFA, or something like that) that prove you can be a great student. Push back on my thesis! I am only reading a post in a forum -- what am I missing?

Best regards to you, Betsy

Hi Betsy,

No worries! I really you taking the time you took to answer my question. I understand there is a frenzy this period and hopefully I'll be in the midst of it this year.

There weren't really any mitigating circumstances; I averaged about 25 hours a week of work during college to pay tuition as I got little support from the fam. I had multiple jobs, ranging from start-up analyst to wealth management intern to tutoring businessmen Chinese as well as the work-study program that my alma mater offered (which will be one of the part-time schools I apply). My grades were up and down the first three years but pulled together in the fourth year to have my best year academically and got into banking. (was also initially a computer science major). I passed level 1 of CFA but did not continue in the program.

Sounds like I should look into the alternative transcript route. Is it okay to approach potential schools about my situation and see what they think?

Thanks for everything.

1/3/13

huethan:

Hi Betsy,

No worries! I really you taking the time you took to answer my question. I understand there is a frenzy this period and hopefully I'll be in the midst of it this year.

There weren't really any mitigating circumstances; I averaged about 25 hours a week of work during college to pay tuition as I got little support from the fam. I had multiple jobs, ranging from start-up analyst to wealth management intern to tutoring businessmen Chinese as well as the work-study program that my alma mater offered (which will be one of the part-time schools I apply). My grades were up and down the first three years but pulled together in the fourth year to have my best year academically and got into banking. (was also initially a computer science major). I passed level 1 of CFA but did not continue in the program.

Sounds like I should look into the alternative transcript route. Is it okay to approach potential schools about my situation and see what they think?

Thanks for everything.

Actually, a job to pay for school is a mitigating circumstance, so it's not out of the question. I encourage you to go ahead and check with admissions folks at events, in person, and wherever. They are the ones who are on the line, even people like me and my compatriots in the industry are just interpolating.
They will say that they look holistically, (they always say that and they really do). There may be little downside to an alternative transcript anyway -- some schools require that you get a B or better in calc or stats anyway, or they encourage you to take it over before you begin your program.

The other thing about an alternative transcript, is that it shows you are trying to better yourself, and also remind yourself about what it means to do well in a class (even if it is online). I personally benefited from this approach, so you can see why I am partial. But I have also seen it work for many clients and friends.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/3/13

Betsy Massar:
Actually, a job to pay for school is a mitigating circumstance, so it's not out of the question. I encourage you to go ahead and check with admissions folks at events, in person, and wherever. They are the ones who are on the line, even people like me and my compatriots in the industry are just interpolating.
They will say that they look holistically, (they always say that and they really do). There may be little downside to an alternative transcript anyway -- some schools require that you get a B or better in calc or stats anyway, or they encourage you to take it over before you begin your program.

The other thing about an alternative transcript, is that it shows you are trying to better yourself, and also remind yourself about what it means to do well in a class (even if it is online). I personally benefited from this approach, so you can see why I am partial. But I have also seen it work for many clients and friends.

Thanks Betsy really appreciate your help and insight! I will reach out to the schools after I take my GMAT in April.

1/3/13

huethan:

Thanks Betsy really appreciate your help and insight! I will reach out to the schools after I take my GMAT in April.

let us know how it goes.
By the way, can I just say I find the "Seal of Approval" hilarious! I have no idea why, but it makes me laugh every time I see it.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

12/21/12

here comes a hoo-dinger that im curious to ask ALL of the reps on this site about because I am not sure how many people are experienced on this topic since it deals with the Consortium

On the Consortium's website, it says that the schools are not aware of the rankings PRIOR to the fellowship round and they are not used in admissions decision making. HOWEVER, there is a huge amount of evidence that certain schools are *very* sensitive to the ranking that they are placed in in terms of admitting you -- Tuck, Yale, NYU, maybe even Berk and I've heard things about Anderson and Johnson being picky too. From what I've gathered, these schools like to be put in the top 2 or 3 of your list. I've heard that Tuck *must* be #1, Stern really prefers #1 but will take #2 but 3rd you're very ding worthy... Yale is fine with 1/2/3, Berkeley I have no idea.

Are schools like this for the fellowship award too? I heard from the Consortium that theschools you arent accepted into 'drop out' of your ranking and the schools who accept you re-arrange your rankings (ie 1 and 2 no offer, 3 and 4 move to 1 an 2) but I am not sure if this is true because they say your ranking metrics dont matter for admissions purposes

Ross is currently the only school that supposedly 'blacks out' the listings but these other top programs use it as an admissions metric as I had said above -- do you have any specific knowledge of which schools do this?

Thank you for your time as always Betsy :)

12/21/12

Anecdotal evidence: I know of a student who did not get a Berkeley fellowship because it was not at the top or near the top of his list. He had assumed the ranking would not get in front of the admissions folks, but he was wrong. He actually just listed them in a kind of random order. Big mistake. They *told him* he should have ranked Berkeley higher. (It was lower on the list for no reason at all) He is at Haas and really happy, but there you go.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

12/22/12

Hello, and thanks for all the help you have provided for applicants,

MBA Targets: Yale, Dartmouth, Rice, Texas, USC, UCLA, UChicago

Academic info:
3.0 GPA no-name state school in Texas
3.8 GPA MA Econ- NYU
750 GMAT (q49, v42)
Member of under-represented minority

Work experiece:
2 years as real estate analyst for major PE firm
2 years as RE investment banking analyst for middle-market investment bank

Thank you

1/3/13

wsomonkey90001:
Hello, and thanks for all the help you have provided for applicants,

MBA Targets: Yale, Dartmouth, Rice, Texas, USC, UCLA, UChicago

Academic info:
3.0 GPA no-name state school in Texas
3.8 GPA MA Econ- NYU
750 GMAT (q49, v42)
Member of under-represented minority

Work experiece:
2 years as real estate analyst for major PE firm
2 years as RE investment banking analyst for middle-market investment bank

Thank you

So so so sorry for being so late in getting back to you. Seriously, I'm behind on everything with all these deadlines. Yikes.

Here's what I can say so far from what i can tell -- your quant score and the NYU 3.8 definitely help you get it over the net. And you probably have a job they can understand, so that makes it easy. Being a member of an under-represented minority is helpful once your numbers are in order, and they look like they are.

As to which schools, I honestly have no idea with just numbers. You know as well as I do that Rice is going to be easy, but as for the rest, they all have their own style. USC and UCLA are also a little less demanding, to get into, mostly due to rankings. But it also depends on what you want to do in the future and what are your other selling points.

Having said all that, is this for Round 2? Let us know how you get on!

Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/2/13

Betsy, thank you so much for taking the time to do all this. I was hoping you could provide some more information on creating an alternate transcript. Suppose I take online classes at UC Berkeley. Here are my questions:

-Which is better: taking classes you lacked in undergrad, such as STEM for business majors, or correcting weaknesses in your undergrad grades, such as retaking Calculus because you got a C in undergrad calculus?

-Do you put this new school and GPA on your resume? Since it isn't degree seeking, do you just call it "Continuing Education" in the place where you would normally put your Degree?

-How do you approach the subject in your essays or discussions with the school. Is it okay to admit that you are creating an alternate transcript to remedy shortcomings in your undergrad, or do the schools need to believe you had a genuine interest in learning additional material?

-Could you describe the types of candidates you believe could benefit from an alternate transcript, versus candidates that may not find it worth their time or money?

Thanks

1/14/13

MFFL:
Betsy, thank you so much for taking the time to do all this. I was hoping you could provide some more information on creating an alternate transcript. Suppose I take online classes at UC Berkeley. Here are my questions:

-Which is better: taking classes you lacked in undergrad, such as STEM for business majors, or correcting weaknesses in your undergrad grades, such as retaking Calculus because you got a C in undergrad calculus?

-Do you put this new school and GPA on your resume? Since it isn't degree seeking, do you just call it "Continuing Education" in the place where you would normally put your Degree?

-How do you approach the subject in your essays or discussions with the school. Is it okay to admit that you are creating an alternate transcript to remedy shortcomings in your undergrad, or do the schools need to believe you had a genuine interest in learning additional material?

-Could you describe the types of candidates you believe could benefit from an alternate transcript, versus candidates that may not find it worth their time or money?

Thanks

Something tells me that I haven't responded to this question, and for that I am really sorry! These are really good questions, so I will go one by one.

1. When you ask which is better, taking a class you lacked in undergrad or retaking a class, I guess it depends. If you got a C in calculus and did not take business statistics, then go ahead and take the stats class. If you took both but did fine in stats, then you might want to retake the class over; it may be too easy for you, so see if there's something more challenging that still shows you are a)able to perform well in an academic environment, even if it is online and b)able to commit to a course on top of your day-to-day work and other activities; proving that you can do many things at once and still excel

2. You don't need to put it on the resume unless you want to. If you do want to, you can put it in the "other" section. Normally, the education, like work experience goes from recent to less-recent, and you may not want to lead your education section with a continuing ed course. Puts too much emphasis on it.

3. You don't need to mention your alt transcript in your essays. You might mention it in the optional essay if appropriate. If you want to bring it up during an interview, fine. They will see it for what it is: either an interest or an attempt to prove to yourself that you can do the work.
When I did my alt work, (seven semesters of one biz course each -- starting with statistics -- but remember, I was totally liberal arts. Macroeconomics was about as analytical as I got), I have to say part of it was to prove to myself that I was interested and able to do the work. Coming out of college with a lame GPA, I felt pretty weak.
So the courses, especially as they built on each other, made me feel better about myself. Hence, I was a stronger candidate.

4. I will answer the question about the type of candidates in the next post. Someone just rang on the other line and I need to take the call....

Watch this space!

Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/17/13

Hi MFFL, I keep meaning to write to you, but for some reason the system is not saving my writing.

In short, I think any candidate who never took stats or calculus OR who got less than a B in those courses would benefit from an alternate transcript.

It's not that expensive, especially compared to what you will get out of it, which is a sense that you can master the material, especially while you are probably working full time. It shows smarts, commitment, and an ability to do more than one thing at a time. It also will help YOU feel like you are on top of the material.

There's no downside, from an admissions point of view, unless you don't do well in the course. But then, you don't have to forward the transcript.

Tell me how it goes,
Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/3/13

Betsy Massar:
I'm Betsy Massar, founder of Master Admissions. I'm glad to be here on Wall Street Oasis back with kindred spirits. Right out of Harvard Business School I worked for Goldman Sachs and have spent most of my professional career in and around the financial industry. I worked on both the sell and buy sides (Barclays Global Investors, now BlackRock), and have worked on Wall Street, Asia, and San Francisco.

You might think I am partial to HBS, but I'm actually quite fond of Stanford Graduate School of Business, as a communications and resume coach and an editor of GSB professors' academic papers. I am also a writer for the Journal of PortfolioManagement. Back to MBA admissions, I'm a member of the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants, the industry group, and a bit of an ethical watchdog on all things MBA admissions.

For this Q&A thread, I'd like to focus on these two things:

  1. How you can improve your profile
  2. How to talk about leadership in your application.

In both cases, the answers may surprise you.

I look forward to reading your questions and learning about you.
If you keep it to just a paragraph or two, it's easier for everyone to read and for me to include your question in my response. No worries about follow up questions, please ask!

I will do my best to check in often and respond promptly.

Betsy, Many thanks for for taking out the time to answer our questions. I plan on doing a MBA and want to check if my stats are ok for the schools that I am targeting.

If not, I would appreciate if you could please recommend some schools to me given my stats

My top programs are: 1) Harvard 2) Wharton 3) Columbia 4) Tuck 5) Kellogg 6) Stanford

GPA: 3.4 at a top 25 US liberal arts college

Job after employment: IBD at a mid tier bulge bracket firm working with clients in both Europe, Middle East & Africa.

Work Experience: Expecting 4/5 Years. I am not sure where do I land up after my current banking gig, or if I was to stick here.

GMAT:Yet to take it but very confident about getting above 700

Note about GPA: It's less than 3.5 only because I had one rough semester where I got a 2.2 due to family problems. I was constantly going in and out of the US. It dropped my overall from 3.5 to 3.4. That particular semester, I got a D in a non-major related course including a B- and a B+.

Other stats include:

- Director of my dad's firm that provides audit and consultancy related services. I only started getting involved recently once I started my new job in banking
- Strategy Head of a Non-Profit org. that provides free uni counseling services
- captain of horse polo team

I am also an international student.

I would appreciate if you could provide me advice on what schools you feel I should target, and how many years/type of of work experience would candidates like me generally require to compensate for the low GPA.

Many thanks.

1/3/13

Hi Betsy. I have a question that is probably somewhat out the norm, haha. I am of a very unique ethnicity defined as Louisiana Creole. The best way I can describe it is we are a mix of French, Spanish, and African. Both of my parents and all my grandparents are of creole descent. While little is known about us outside of south Louisiana, several books have been written about us in recent years. So my question is what would be the appropriate selections to make for race on the application. It would seem in my case Caucasian and African-American, however, i'm worried if I get an interview that an interviewer may look at me and think I am trying to game the system (based on my looks people have asked was I Hispanic, Spanish, or Hawaiian).

I am not trying to get any type of edge based on race, but I do want to properly communicate what makes me unique, and I consider my heritage a very important thing. Would someone like me possibly benefit from writing an optional essay on my cultural background?

Thanks

1/11/13

hedge:
Hi Betsy. I have a question that is probably somewhat out the norm, haha. I am of a very unique ethnicity defined as Louisiana Creole. The best way I can describe it is we are a mix of French, Spanish, and African. Both of my parents and all my grandparents are of creole descent. While little is known about us outside of south Louisiana, several books have been written about us in recent years. So my question is what would be the appropriate selections to make for race on the application. It would seem in my case Caucasian and African-American, however, i'm worried if I get an interview that an interviewer may look at me and think I am trying to game the system (based on my looks people have asked was I Hispanic, Spanish, or Hawaiian).

I am not trying to get any type of edge based on race, but I do want to properly communicate what makes me unique, and I consider my heritage a very important thing. Would someone like me possibly benefit from writing an optional essay on my cultural background?

Thanks

Hi Hedge,
Sorry it has taken so long to reply. These round 2 deadlines got the best of me, and still I want to just sleep for the next few days. But, more deadlines next week...

So to answer your question, the check-box is usually based on the US Government regulations, which are:

A person belonging to a racial or ethnic group which historically has been disadvantaged and underrepresented in the workforce. Minority groups have been defined by the federal government to include American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Asians/Pacific Islanders, African Americans/Blacks, and Hispanics/Latinos. Definitions of these minority groups follow:

American Indian/Alaskan Native : Persons having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who maintain cultural identification through tribal affiliations or community recognition.
Asian/Pacific Islander : Persons having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, or the Pacific Islands. This area includes, for example, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, and Samoa.
African American /Black, Not of Hispanic Origin: Persons having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.
Hispanic/Latino : Persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race..

So, if you have origins with any of these groups, then I guess you are free to identify yourself that way.
As for your look vs. your ethnicity, it's too hard to tell these days. I mean, did you know Keanu Reeves is part Japanese? Does Cameron Diaz look Hispanic? And I know a beautiful tall blonde lawyer who is legitimately Native American, coming from a tribe whose people go back 10,000 years.

So, if you are comfortable identifying yourself with any of these groups, note the word is "origins." It's likely you get to judge what that means, not admissions.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/4/13

Betsy, Many thanks for for taking out the time to answer our questions. I plan on doing a MBA and want to check if my stats are ok for the schools that I am targeting.

If not, I would appreciate if you could please recommend some schools to me given my stats

My top programs are: 1) Harvard 2) Wharton 3) Columbia 4) Tuck 5) Kellogg 6) Stanford

GPA: 3.4 at a top 25 US liberal arts college

Job after employment: IBD at a mid tier bulge bracket firm working with clients in both Europe, Middle East & Africa.

Work Experience: Expecting 4/5 Years. I am not sure where do I land up after my current banking gig, or if I was to stick here.

GMAT:Yet to take it but very confident about getting above 700

Note about GPA: It's less than 3.5 only because I had one rough semester where I got a 2.2 due to family problems. I was constantly going in and out of the US. It dropped my overall from 3.5 to 3.4. That particular semester, I got a D in a non-major related course including a B- and a B+.

Other stats include:

- Director of my dad's firm that provides audit and consultancy related services. I only started getting involved recently once I started my new job in banking
- Strategy Head of a Non-Profit org. that provides free uni counseling services
- captain of horse polo team

I am also an international student.

I would appreciate if you could provide me advice on what schools you feel I should target, and how many years/type of of work experience would candidates like me generally require to compensate for the low GPA.

Many thanks.

1/11/13

Coolac:
Betsy, Many thanks for for taking out the time to answer our questions. I plan on doing a MBA and want to check if my stats are ok for the schools that I am targeting.

If not, I would appreciate if you could please recommend some schools to me given my stats

My top programs are: 1) Harvard 2) Wharton 3) Columbia 4) Tuck 5) Kellogg 6) Stanford

GPA: 3.4 at a top 25 US liberal arts college

Job after employment: IBD at a mid tier bulge bracket firm working with clients in both Europe, Middle East & Africa.

Work Experience: Expecting 4/5 Years. I am not sure where do I land up after my current banking gig, or if I was to stick here.

GMAT:Yet to take it but very confident about getting above 700

Note about GPA: It's less than 3.5 only because I had one rough semester where I got a 2.2 due to family problems. I was constantly going in and out of the US. It dropped my overall from 3.5 to 3.4. That particular semester, I got a D in a non-major related course including a B- and a B+.

Other stats include:

- Director of my dad's firm that provides audit and consultancy related services. I only started getting involved recently once I started my new job in banking
- Strategy Head of a Non-Profit org. that provides free uni counseling services
- captain of horse polo team

I am also an international student.

I would appreciate if you could provide me advice on what schools you feel I should target, and how many years/type of of work experience would candidates like me generally require to compensate for the low GPA.

Many thanks.

Question: do you really think a 3.4 is a low GPA? I don't. But if you are concerned about the 2.2 due to family problems, you will be able to explain it on your optional essay. It's not that big a deal. What was the D in? Non-major related isn't really the point; it's whether it was in a STEM course, in which case I would recommend you take it over.

It sounds to me like you have a few years more to do well at your job and excel. That's really it. Be good at what you do. Take on more responsibility than your peers. Have a life. Be interesting. Keep playing polo.
Do everything you are doing, and do it well. Business schools like people who have a pattern of excellence, in everything they do. But not such an intensity that they aren't fun.

So keep your options open, talk to people at schools, who are on your team at your IB, do as much cross border work as you can, challenge yourself to take on new projects, and study hard for your GMAT.

As for what schools are for you? I think you know better than I do what interests you and what kind of people you want to surround yourself with. Go on a field trip, particularly during springtime when students are all happy and less wound up about jobs or grades. Sit in on classes, ask students what they like and what they don't like about their program, and think hard about how you would feel if you were in their shoes.

You are very lucky to have so many choices. Take advantage.

Best to you,
Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/13/13

betsy betsy! another question for your lovely and wise self. do you think it is better to interview with alumni in your home country? since im down in brazil i may 'have to' interview with alumni down here (as i wont be back into the states for another 3-4 weeks after im expecting to hear about interviews) but im not sure how flexible adcoms will be about this. i think id be more comfortable interviewing with americans vs brazilians but i was wondering if you had any thoughts about it?

1/14/13

shorttheworld:
betsy betsy! another question for your lovely and wise self. do you think it is better to interview with alumni in your home country? since im down in brazil i may 'have to' interview with alumni down here (as i wont be back into the states for another 3-4 weeks after im expecting to hear about interviews) but im not sure how flexible adcoms will be about this. i think id be more comfortable interviewing with americans vs brazilians but i was wondering if you had any thoughts about it?

Happy New Year, Short!

Interview where it is easiest for you. If you aren't going to be able to get up north during the time that they have open for interviews, why not interview in Brasil? (note my local spelling; I took Portuguese in college for one year, and that's about all I learned except how to pronounce feijoada).

If you say you'd be more comfortable interviewing with your own nationality rather than local Brazilians, sure, why not plan a trip home? I heard from some friends who do what I do in Brazil (the wonderful Ricardo Betti), that many of his students make the effort to get on campus because it shows commitment. In your case, you've probably been on campus, so no need to get that under your belt.

Anyway, you'll be fine either way. I hope you hear NOTHING but GOOD NEWS!

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/14/13

Hi Betsy,

I have an offer to work at a small early stage venture capital firm straight from undergrad. I am interested in working in VC long term and see this as a good opportunity to do so early on. I also want to go to business school in a few years. I was wondering whether this experience at the unknown VC or if having experience in a more well known IB/Consulting shop then possibly transitioning to VC is better positioning for business school. Thanks in advance!

1/15/13

dawson:
Hi Betsy,

I have an offer to work at a small early stage venture capital firm straight from undergrad. I am interested in working in VC long term and see this as a good opportunity to do so early on. I also want to go to business school in a few years. I was wondering whether this experience at the unknown VC or if having experience in a more well known IB/Consulting shop then possibly transitioning to VC is better positioning for business school. Thanks in advance!

Hi Dawson,
Congratulations on the offer to work for an early-stage VC firm. You are lucky, not that many students get this opportunity, as you well know.

I sometimes tell people not to over-think the universe. I know that sounds woo-woo, but I think you have a great opportunity to work in a very exciting field. Because the firm is relatively small, you will have opportunity to see and work on things you wouldn't be able to if you were to go to a big firm. You will have a chance to talk directly to clients, get to explore with them their innovative ideas, and add value to the process.

On the other hand, you *may* not be getting the kind of training you would get in a larger environment, such as a well-known investment bank or consulting firm. But, a couple of thingsL

1. You have this VC offer and you don't have an IB/consulting job
2. Business schools are looking for a people with a diversity of experiences and skills
3. You may be competing with your IB/consulting colleagues for the same spot in a business school class
4. MOST IMPORTANT: VC firms uniformly want people with VC experience. Check it out on these forums or elsewhere, so if that's your long-term goal, then take advantage

You may find that you don't even need to go to business school. I am here in the heart of Silicon Valley and I have met young VC analysts who feel like they aren't sure whether spending 2 years and thousands of dollars to go to school to come back and compete for the position they would already have if they had stayed.

And then, to go back to my comment on over-thinking. Sometimes you have to experiment and see what works. You have your whole future ahead of you. How lucky is that?

Let us know what you decide,
Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/16/13

.

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

1/20/13

Hi Betsy. Do M7 schools ask/consider in the applications if the applicant is a first generation college grad? For instance, assuming said applicant had a very competitive GPA and GMAT, would a first generation grad be given some "leeway" for attending a good, but not great large state school vs an Ivy or "public ivy" school?

Thanks for all your help!

1/22/13

hedge:
Hi Betsy. Do M7 schools ask/consider in the applications if the applicant is a first generation college grad? For instance, assuming said applicant had a very competitive GPA and GMAT, would a first generation grad be given some "leeway" for attending a good, but not great large state school vs an Ivy or "public ivy" school?

Thanks for all your help!

Hi Hedge, sorry for the delay in response. Had (or still have?) the flu.
I think that everyone, whether they are an MBA adcom or an interviewer for a job, appreciates what it means to be first-generation college. It's a plus no matter what.
I think that there are some misconceptions about attending a state school vs. an Ivy. There's luck involved in a lot of that -- and indeed, if you were first-gen college and attended a state school, you did the most with what you had. I am not sure you get leeway, though. Because MBA programs don't want to fill the class with only Yalies or only people from state schools.

The most important thing is that you made choices in college that show ambition and curiosity. You participated where you could, and yes, if you had t work a 30-hour week to support your family, they consider that too. It's all part of the picture.

From the way you write this query, I am guessing you have ZERO to worry about in terms of where you went to school. Just a guess.

I am going to post this now, but then I am going to try to find the list of schools where HBS or Stanford students attended undergrad. I think it is revealing.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

1/22/13

JamesHetfield:
Betsy, since we are on the question of HBS admissions, I have a personal question to ask you.

It seems like conventional wisdom that HBS/Stanford are trending younger, and targeting people with 3-5 years of W/E and assuming most people graduate college at 22, competitive applicants will be in the 25-27 age range.

My question is, is it really the age that they are looking into, or post-college W/E. I'm asking because I started college late, and I will graduate when I am 24/25.

Anyways, good to see schools similar to mine in that list. Keeps my hopes of getting into a top B-School alive.

This worked! I now know I can paste a question from one thread to another. Genius!
Now, let's get this conventional wisdom thing all cleared up. There's a huge range of ages and work experiences at HBS and GSB. As for median ages trending younger, I say bah.
I wish I knew how to post a picture, because it's all right here at this link.
http://www.hbs.edu/mba/admissions/Pages/from-the-a...

clearly the mode of students is 4-to-5 years work experience for the class of 2014. But that doesn't mean the age is getting younger at all -- as you can see, there are 49 students with 8 or more years of work experience.

Anyway, as you can see that the whole issue is work experience, not age. So if you graduate when you are 24/25, there's probably a good reason for it, and that makes you even more interesting to them.

As for Stanford, the median years of work experience is about 4. They don't seem to print the ages. This link
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/mba/admission/class_pr...

Shows data from the classes of 2008 to 2012. The ranges of work experience is from zero to 13 years in the latest class. I met a guy at the GSB class of '15 with almost no work experience. He was a good guy, not a rocket scientist. Probably very lucky, too. I also saw someone in the same class with about 12 years work experience. Again, lucky, and just what they were looking for that day.

So that's what I know.
Hope it helps,

Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

2/8/13

Another question! I know adcoms tend to want to hear about big accomplishments to add to your profile -- promotions, new scores or grades, etc -- but what about the startup you work for and are a limited partner of receiving a generous (1mm+) initial seed round? :D is that something you should tell the adcoms? is there a way to phrase it you think?

2/8/13

shorttheworld:
Another question! I know adcoms tend to want to hear about big accomplishments to add to your profile -- promotions, new scores or grades, etc -- but what about the startup you work for and are a limited partner of receiving a generous (1mm+) initial seed round? :D is that something you should tell the adcoms? is there a way to phrase it you think?

Do you mean 1)after the deadline? 2)or at an interview? Or 3)if you are on the waiting list?

1. After the deadline, it really depends. Some schools, such as Wharton and Harvard, won't take any additional information after the deadline, so it doesn't really matter if you won the Nobel Peace Prize (although if you did, they might hear about it anyway, so it's kind of moot). Thinking about it more, I think most schools don't want to be bothered after the deadline, and will either brush you off or think mean thoughts about you if you pester them too much.

2. At an interview, definitely, and if you were one of the people who participated in the fundraising, of course you should explain how you helped make it all happen. It's probably a team effort anyway, and your participation in a successful team effort is worth mentioning

3. On the wait list? Sure, why not, if you are polite about it, just an email explaining that the startup you are working for is now a real entity, having successfully raised $1 mm, and you were part of a team that made the successful fundraising. If you weren't really that involved in the fundraising, but you are just trying to make it clearer that your company is on the map, I don't think that's worth mentioning unless you are in an interview situation.

Question: did the money come from a name firm? That helps too.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

2/13/13

i was involved in the fundraising process as a whole but did not source the specific group that we ended up giving us the term sheet - it was a different group of private investors which was recently formed to help represent some family offices in pe/vc investments here in brasil. it was partially to be like hey, see we are a real company and got money since anyone can be a 'startup' and i think it shows validity. i didnt pester them too much i hope haha :) jsut said hi i have an update, the startup i work for secured a seed capital round at xyz valuing our company at abc from 123 capital, us as a team were able to do this in six months of being publicly operational and i contributed to it from a variety of angles including helping with the fundraising

2/13/13

shorttheworld:
i was involved in the fundraising process as a whole but did not source the specific group that we ended up giving us the term sheet - it was a different group of private investors which was recently formed to help represent some family offices in pe/vc investments here in brasil. it was partially to be like hey, see we are a real company and got money since anyone can be a 'startup' and i think it shows validity. i didnt pester them too much i hope haha :) jsut said hi i have an update, the startup i work for secured a seed capital round at xyz valuing our company at abc from 123 capital, us as a team were able to do this in six months of being publicly operational and i contributed to it from a variety of angles including helping with the fundraising

I think you handled it well enough, saying, yes, I have an update. It wasn't a negative, but to be honest, if if was a straight after-the-submission update (not waiting list), then it probably didn't affect your candidacy.

But thanks for the question and keep them coming.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

2/13/13

Hi Betsy,

A quick questions for you -

I saw this in another forum and wanted to ask the expert :)

The 5-year limit on GMAT scores: can you apply up to five years after you take the exam, or does the exam have to be still valid when you start business school in the fall?

Thanks!

3/13/13

Hi Betsy,

I am a Junior business student in Carnegie Mellon.
Here are some of my stats:
gpa: 3.93/4.00
gmat: i've registered to take it this May; how high should i aim for?
internship experience
2013.1~2 JPMorgan Asset Management (Retail sales intern)
2012.5~7 BNP Paribas (Debt capital markets intern)
2009.6~8 The Boston Consulting Group (Research assistant)
2012.Spring~Present Research assistant under a finance professor in my university
2009.10~2011.8 Military service
Publications
I have written a book about the military life, which in sold bookstores in Korea, sold about 500 copies.
Extracurricular, on-campus activities
Codirector of a economics/finance newspaper on campus, subscribed to 60+ finance clubs in universities
2nd place in a case competition (boeing)

As you could see on my resume, I target to work in finance and my primary choice is IBD, although I have not experienced an internship here. I received admissions from Morgan Stanley in Seoul but is not an offer based internship, so I'm looking for other companies with offer possibilities.
1. I guess it may be a little early to discuss my admission possibilities for an MBA, but I would still like to know some possibilities for Princeton and MIT's Master in Finance program. I also am thinking of applying to Harvard's 2+2 program, but I've heard business majors are really difficult to get in.
2. I also would like to know how much it will affect my admission chances if I were to get employed in a Korean domestic Securities/IB firms. It seems to me that even in Korea top BB employees seem to get the highest MBA admissions.
3. What do you think I should do to improve my chances, both in the long run and the short-run, to increase my chances for Mfin and MBA programs? I'm targeting M7 for MBAs, but as of now my primary goal is Harvard. How long should I work? (I graduate in May 2014).
4. What GMAT score should I receive, at least? I guess 750+ is the best, but...

Thank you in advance!

3/13/13

Junior99097:
Hi Betsy,

I am a Junior business student in Carnegie Mellon.
Here are some of my stats:
gpa: 3.93/4.00
gmat: i've registered to take it this May; how high should i aim for?
internship experience
2013.1~2 JPMorgan Asset Management (Retail sales intern)
2012.5~7 BNP Paribas (Debt capital markets intern)
2009.6~8 The Boston Consulting Group (Research assistant)
2012.Spring~Present Research assistant under a finance professor in my university
2009.10~2011.8 Military service
Publications
I have written a book about the military life, which in sold bookstores in Korea, sold about 500 copies.
Extracurricular, on-campus activities
Codirector of a economics/finance newspaper on campus, subscribed to 60+ finance clubs in universities
2nd place in a case competition (boeing)

As you could see on my resume, I target to work in finance and my primary choice is IBD, although I have not experienced an internship here. I received admissions from Morgan Stanley in Seoul but is not an offer based internship, so I'm looking for other companies with offer possibilities.


Hi Junior, thanks so much for checking in with me on this thread. It needed some bumping up in the queue, so I might have to give you a silver banana!

You have a lot of things going on in your post, and if you don't mind, I'd like to take it in pieces. So; let's talk about your first few lines. The first is that you are at Carnegie Mellon -- a great school, and a challenging one. I know also that when admissions directors consider "target" or "non-target" schools, they are looking for the quality of the academic experience. I think you would agree that a lot (not all) of your classmates are pretty bright, and that, in turn challenges you. And your grades so far look pretty great. I hope you have pushed yourself by trying to take some courses that don't come naturally to you. And as a business student, I hope you are stepping out of th

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

3/13/13

Betsy Massar][quote=Junior99097:
Hi Betsy,

I am a Junior business student in Carnegie Mellon.
Here are some of my stats:
gpa: 3.93/4.00
gmat: i've registered to take it this May; how high should i aim for?
internship experience
2013.1~2 JPMorgan Asset Management (Retail sales intern)
2012.5~7 BNP Paribas (Debt capital markets intern)
2009.6~8 The Boston Consulting Group (Research assistant)
2012.Spring~Present Research assistant under a finance professor in my university
2009.10~2011.8 Military service
Publications
I have written a book about the military life, which in sold bookstores in Korea, sold about 500 copies.
Extracurricular, on-campus activities
Codirector of a economics/finance newspaper on campus, subscribed to 60+ finance clubs in universities
2nd place in a case competition (boeing)

As you could see on my resume, I target to work in finance and my primary choice is IBD, although I have not experienced an internship here. I received admissions from Morgan Stanley in Seoul but is not an offer based internship, so I'm looking for other companies with offer possibilities.

Hi Junior, thanks so much for checking in with me on this thread. It needed some bumping up in the queue, so I might have to give you a silver banana!

You have a lot of things going on in your post, and if you don't mind, I'd like to take it in pieces. So; let's talk about your first few lines. The first is that you are at Carnegie Mellon -- a great school, and a challenging one. I know also that when admissions directors consider "target" or "non-target" schools, they are looking for the quality of the academic experience. I think you would agree that a lot (not all) of your classmates are pretty bright, and that, in turn challenges you. And your grades so far look pretty great. I hope you have pushed yourself by trying to take some courses that don't come naturally to you. And as a business student, I hope you are stepping out of the obvious and taking something like Greek philosophy (good for logic and debating!).

You ask for the GMAT -- do the best you can do. How high should you aim for? Why not a perfect score? I'm sort of kidding, but that would stand out. How are you doing on practice tests? The very best thing you can do is try to have a balanced score -- for you, if you can get over 85% on both the verbal and the math sections, you won't have a thing to worry about.,,and at this stage of the game, getting things out of the way so you can concentrate on learning and leadership is a good thing.

It sounds also like you have had some interesting internships, although they are short and sweet, so all I can see is that you can get in, but in reality, most people wouldn't have had a chance to make a contribution. So workwise, as a practical matter see if you can get a job with one of your previous employers (to show some longevity) and see if you can do something that really helps them do their business better or smarter.

And congratulations on writing a book. I did too (www.admittedmba.com), it's a workbook and guide for the MBA application process. The writing part is a lot easier than marketing, so congratulations on it selling in bookstores. Also, congratulations on the case competition. You seem to be like a very smart, capable guy!

More on the second half of the post in a bit.... I need to answer some emails before 5 pm my time.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

3/14/13

Junior99097:

As you could see on my resume, I target to work in finance and my primary choice is IBD, although I have not experienced an internship here. I received admissions from Morgan Stanley in Seoul but is not an offer based internship, so I'm looking for other companies with offer possibilities.
1. I guess it may be a little early to discuss my admission possibilities for an MBA, but I would still like to know some possibilities for Princeton and MIT's Master in Finance program. I also am thinking of applying to Harvard's 2+2 program, but I've heard business majors are really difficult to get in.
2. I also would like to know how much it will affect my admission chances if I were to get employed in a Korean domestic Securities/IB firms. It seems to me that even in Korea top BB employees seem to get the highest MBA admissions.
3. What do you think I should do to improve my chances, both in the long run and the short-run, to increase my chances for Mfin and MBA programs? I'm targeting M7 for MBAs, but as of now my primary goal is Harvard. How long should I work? (I graduate in May 2014).
4. What GMAT score should I receive, at least? I guess 750+ is the best, but...
!

Hi again Junior, I said I would finish the rest of your questions, and I'll try to start here.
First, a question back to you, you say your internship is not an "offer-based" internship in Seoul? Not quite sure I follow. I think most important is that you get a job at a firm that makes you happy, especially since you have so many firms already on your resume. Of course, you might be able to remove some later, so it doesn't just look like a string of brand names. Sorry if that sounds harsh, but like I said in my last posting, 2 months only shows you can get in the door. It doesn't show you can add value.

As for your comments about a Master in Finance, check with Illiniprogrammer here on WSO. I believe he is at Princeton. He, and TNA, who advises on MSF degrees (I cannot hold a candle to either of them) know about the program and the job possibilities.
However, if you are interested in investment banking, which is, ultimately, a job about negotiation and deal doing, then the MSF is not really the right ticket. The MSF is more for people who want to do quantitative analysis, probably at an asset management firm.
As for your comment about the HBS 2+2 program, I don't know whether it is harder for a business major to get in. I think that's not really something the admissions committee at HBS thinks about. They like good grades and great scores, but beyond that they are looking for real leadership, like running your own enterprise (for profit or not) while going to school. I know you have performed military service, so that might give you the edge, particularly if you had some professional challenges.

When you say, improve your chances, I guess I need to understand what you mean. To do what?
go into investment banking or go to a name school. The former makes sense, but the latter doesn't give me enough sense of your why or your what. "My primary goal is Harvard" feels awfully shallow to me.
I don't get the sense that you are shallow, so I challenge you to think about what your goal might be (you won't be audited if you change your mind later) and how you are going to gain some real, meaningful experiences that will influence others and your organization.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

3/14/13

Hi Betsy,

Wondering if you might be able to provide some advice for me?

I graduated from a top-15 undergrad business school with a triple major in Finance/Accounting/International business with a 3.7 GPA. Also got my Masters in Accounting in my 4th year (my masters GPA was also 3.7) and was a 4-year varsity athlete

Licensed CPA
730 GMAT (about to expire so I'll need to take again. Expecting a ~750)

By the time of application, I'll have 4 years of work experience (1 already, 90% 2 promotions) at a fortune 50 company - 2 in a finance rotation program, where I did one year in a tier-2 China city. After the program I joined the Treasury group at the same company where I am on the team responsible for ABS activity and will have been there for 2 years by the time I apply

I mentor 5 employees in my old rotation program and am involved in future people planning for the program.
15 hrs/week of volunteer tax prep for low-income people.

I'm hoping to do management consulting with an international focus.

Hoping for one of the following schools:

Harvard
Wharton
Kellogg
Booth
Sloan
LBS
Ross
McCombs

Thanks!

3/14/13

dinho:
Hi Betsy,
730 GMAT (about to expire so I'll need to take again. Expecting a ~750)

when does it expire? Rather, what date did you take it. Also, just curious, have you waited 5 years? Not that there's anything wrong with having a life. But wondering what made you study and do well for the GMAT and then not do anything with it?

Also, do you speak any other languages or are you multicultural?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

3/14/13

i took it in march '09 (when i was a junior) so i could apply for my MACC - i had one week to take the test before the application deadline - so had minimal time to study. i'm planning on applying for fall 2014, and thought maybe for those top schools i might need to improve my score since i'm not from a bank.

i'm as white as can be and am not fluent in any other languages besides english - but i can get around in spanish and chinese if i had to (not in business though)

3/14/13

dinho:
i took it in march '09 (when i was a junior) so i could apply for my MACC - i had one week to take the test before the application deadline - so had minimal time to study. i'm planning on applying for fall 2014, and thought maybe for those top schools i might need to improve my score since i'm not from a bank.

i'm as white as can be and am not fluent in any other languages besides english - but i can get around in spanish and chinese if i had to (not in business though)

Actually, don't buy in that you need to improve your score because you are not from a bank. That point doesn't compute. The expiration matters, though, and you should call the admissions office to find out if they require that the GMAT has to be valid at matriculation. I think it is at the time of the *application*. It is worth the 3 mins out of your time to find out for sure. 730 should be fine.

As for the rest of your chances, I think that it's a fine list of schools. (And glad you put in Ross and McCombs -- nice to see someone who is not only considering the tippy-top) If you are in the US, you should take some time and visit these schools now that it is springtime to make sure the fit works for you. Each of those schools has a very different personality. Visit now, not in the fall; current students are more open and happier now that they have figured their way around. (or have their jobs nailed down).

So I have to say, your numbers are fine, but they simply get you over the net. Your work experience looks pretty good, and career progression does matter. The rest is about your character and your personality. It's about your patterns. Challenging yourself academically, but also taking on challenging projects at work. China, where I've lived, is a very challenging project, so that's the kind of thing all the top schools are looking for. Also, they want to know if you are interesting. Really! Why would anyone want to pay $150,000 to go to school for 2 years with you? Because you add value! That's what the application wants to know -- what kind of contribution will you make to your classmates, not just in terms of joining the management consulting club, but in terms of adding a different perspective?

So really, the best thing you can do between now and then is 1. figure out if you have to take the GMAT (don't if you don't have to) 2. Visit schools and figure out where you fit -- and think about your personality, your interests, and your strengths/weaknesses when you consider yourself at a business school 2b. talk to everyone you can about the business school experience and absorb all of it and 3. Think about and act like a leader at work.

Make sense?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

3/15/13

Thanks Betsy - it definitely makes sense. I will try to visit as many of those schools in the next couple months as I possibly can. Good to know that I at least will have a chance at some of those top schools, but of course it's never a given so want to have some backups too! I really appreciate the feedback

3/15/13

dinho:
HAlso got my Masters in Accounting in my 4th year (my masters GPA was also 3.7) and was a 4-year varsity athlete

!

Dinho, I forgot to mention, especially with the conversation going on at the other thread on whether a marathon will make you stand out (probably not). Being a varsity athlete and getting good grades and getting a Masters shows that you have a lot of initiative and can do more than a few things at once -- and with both sides of your brain. I am not saying this makes it all home free, but I do believe this pattern of excellence shows up well.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

3/15/13

and for anyone that is wondering, most schools on my list (all but Wharton) just require the GMAT when you apply. Wharton requires it when you enroll

3/15/13

dinho:
and for anyone that is wondering, most schools on my list (all but Wharton) just require the GMAT when you apply. Wharton requires it when you enroll

Great to know; did you just do a survey today? I meant to do the same thing, but haven't gotten around to it.
I want to use info!

As for you, would you consider forgetting Wharton and living your life by applying to only other schools? Seems like a high price to pay time-wise.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

3/29/13

Just a heads up, I am coming to the WSO conference in June, so if any of you that I have met virtually are planning to go, please let me know -- would love to meet you in person.

The discounted tickets are great value, and if I recall, the hotel deal is pretty good too.

Hope to see you there.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

3/30/13

Hi Betsy,

Just a quick question- how competitive is 2 year IBD stint at Top MM/ BB bank for WE at top MBA schools? Other stats being- internships at F500 every summer starting the summer before freshman year, 3.8+ finance/acct major at non target, 730 GMAT, and good leadership activities in college (treasurer of a major philanthropic event, president/founder of alumni board of HS, college judicial board) Some people on here say that's enough, and some say it's not.

Another follow up question- would 3 year of Financial Leadership Development Program at General Mills be "Better" work experience for B-School than 2 year stint as an analyst if everything else was equal?

3/31/13

DoctorAndre:
Hi Betsy,

Just a quick question- how competitive is 2 year IBD stint at Top MM/ BB bank for WE at top MBA schools? Other stats being- internships at F500 every summer starting the summer before freshman year, 3.8+ finance/acct major at non target, 730 GMAT, and good leadership activities in college (treasurer of a major philanthropic event, president/founder of alumni board of HS, college judicial board) Some people on here say that's enough, and some say it's not.

Another follow up question- would 3 year of Financial Leadership Development Program at General Mills be "Better" work experience for B-School than 2 year stint as an analyst if everything else was equal?

Hi Doc, 2 years at a typical finance track is by no means a sure shot, even if all other stats are well within the range. I personally think a 3 year leadership development program is more interesting, and will give you the chance to be a better-rounded candidate, but there are some unknowns, such as: what you would do at either job and how would you stand out?

I think from what you tell me, you need more to make the admissions committee feel inspired by your candidacy. That is, what kind of initiative have you taken to really make a difference. If you are just graduating now and choosing between the two jobs, I say pick the one where you feel you are really going to learn a lot about a lot of things, work on teams, lead teams, and have some impact.

The fact that you have had all those internships means that you have been pretty much of a go-getter, and it probably shows elsewhere (I hope so). I'm not sure that being president/founder of an high school alumni board is what you should lead with. For example, college alumni stuff never really differentiates students; everyone does it. High school is even less differentiating. I kind of like the college judicial board, but it's still not like you have embarked on a startup on the side, which seems to be fairly common these days.

I want to make one more point about targets vs. non-target schools.Some schools I know are more rigorous than others, target or not. Grade inflation is rampant at some schools and not others. Also, admissions people want to know if you challenged yourself in your 4-years at school. Finally, this is especially true for finance majors or engineers, are you interesting?

And here's what I have been seeing a lot of over the past few years: international experience beyond summer travel. Have you lived or worked abroad? Have you operated in a foreign language or culture? If either job you consider allows you to join an international team, that's what will help your candidacy more than job function.

Wow, hope you don't mind my long answer!
Let me know if you have any more questions.

Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

4/1/13

Betsy Massar:
DoctorAndre:
Hi Betsy,

Just a quick question- how competitive is 2 year IBD stint at Top MM/ BB bank for WE at top MBA schools? Other stats being- internships at F500 every summer starting the summer before freshman year, 3.8+ finance/acct major at non target, 730 GMAT, and good leadership activities in college (treasurer of a major philanthropic event, president/founder of alumni board of HS, college judicial board) Some people on here say that's enough, and some say it's not.

Another follow up question- would 3 year of Financial Leadership Development Program at General Mills be "Better" work experience for B-School than 2 year stint as an analyst if everything else was equal?

Hi Doc, 2 years at a typical finance track is by no means a sure shot, even if all other stats are well within the range. I personally think a 3 year leadership development program is more interesting, and will give you the chance to be a better-rounded candidate, but there are some unknowns, such as: what you would do at either job and how would you stand out?

I think from what you tell me, you need more to make the admissions committee feel inspired by your candidacy. That is, what kind of initiative have you taken to really make a difference. If you are just graduating now and choosing between the two jobs, I say pick the one where you feel you are really going to learn a lot about a lot of things, work on teams, lead teams, and have some impact.

The fact that you have had all those internships means that you have been pretty much of a go-getter, and it probably shows elsewhere (I hope so). I'm not sure that being president/founder of an high school alumni board is what you should lead with. For example, college alumni stuff never really differentiates students; everyone does it. High school is even less differentiating. I kind of like the college judicial board, but it's still not like you have embarked on a startup on the side, which seems to be fairly common these days.

I want to make one more point about targets vs. non-target schools.Some schools I know are more rigorous than others, target or not. Grade inflation is rampant at some schools and not others. Also, admissions people want to know if you challenged yourself in your 4-years at school. Finally, this is especially true for finance majors or engineers, are you interesting?

And here's what I have been seeing a lot of over the past few years: international experience beyond summer travel. Have you lived or worked abroad? Have you operated in a foreign language or culture? If either job you consider allows you to join an international team, that's what will help your candidacy more than job function.

Wow, hope you don't mind my long answer!
Let me know if you have any more questions.

Betsy

Betsy,

I actually really appreciate your long answer. :-) Very insightful. Another question is, does graduating college in 3 years instead of 4 put me at a disadvantage for MBA? I'm actually debating between graduating one year early and doing the FLDP offer vs. SA in IBD and graduate in 4 years.

For the foreign part- I was actually born in another country (Asia), lived there untill middle schoo, and can speak my native language. Does that "count" as international experience?

4/1/13

FLDP?

do you have a particular investment banking job?

coming from Asia isn't as good as actually working there as an adult, so if you can figure out a way to do some business overseas, and then add another continent into your mix, you have it covered.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

4/1/13

Betsy Massar:
FLDP?

do you have a particular investment banking job?

coming from Asia isn't as good as actually working there as an adult, so if you can figure out a way to do some business overseas, and then add another continent into your mix, you have it covered.

Financial Leadership Development Program* at Gen. Mills, as mentioned in the prior post. And the I-Banking summer analyst job is M&A at a top Middle Market bank (William Blair, Baird, Houlihan Lokey)

Follow up q'n about international experience- how about micro-finance trips to a foreign country? I've been a Treasurer and in charge of fundraising for the aforementioned philanthropic group on campus since my Freshman year. So it might go well in with my interest in utilizing my business ability to help non profit organizations.

4/2/13

DoctorAndre:
/quote]

Financial Leadership Development Program* at Gen. Mills, as mentioned in the prior post. And the I-Banking summer analyst job is M&A at a top Middle Market bank (William Blair, Baird, Houlihan Lokey)

Follow up q'n about international experience- how about micro-finance trips to a foreign country? I've been a Treasurer and in charge of fundraising for the aforementioned philanthropic group on campus since my Freshman year. So it might go well in with my interest in utilizing my business ability to help non profit organizations.

Hi Doctor, sorry to take so long to revert. Had an IT crisis. I think it is all better now.
It's hard for me to say one or the other, to be honest. I do think that a 3 year program that exposes you to all aspects of business and gives you a chance to do some work with international teams would be better, *ceteris paribus* for setting you up. But all things are never equal, and you could gain a lot from both. I personally like the General Mills one because you will be taught leadership, while the other job isn't about leadership, but about running around after partners and clients. But that's just me!

As for the microfinance stuff,yes, that's always interesting,and seeing if you can set something up that really has an impact would be an interesting learning experience too. Being on the ground and trying to make something happen is hard work, and that could be an interesting challenge for you.

Hope this helps!

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

4/1/13

Choosing between a small amount of aid at Tuck and a full tuition scholarship to Darden

Just wanted to know what you'd do in this case:

I tend to lean more towards Tuck because of how lowly regarded my undergrad institution is (so that it "looks" more impressive making the leap from tier 4 UG to Top 8 ivy b-school) and because it's a slightly better fit based on what i was looking for (every school to which I applied is similar in terms of culture). Both schools should take me where I want to go, but I want to work overseas, so is the tiny difference in prestige worth 6 figures?

And of course, you never want to look a very generous gift horse in the mouth...

4/18/13

Hi Betsy,

I just sent you an email.

4/18/13

Hi Betsy,

So, given that I'm a senior graduating in a couple of weeks it probably is a bit too early to be asking for an evaluation of my profile, but I'm curious nonetheless. I'd like to hear your opinion on target schools and things I can do to improve my profile over the next 4-5 years.

Will graduate with:

GPA: 3.58 double major in Economics and Political Science from a large, well-known, mid-ranked, state university.

GPA caveats: Significant upward trend. Last 2.5 years about a 3.8. GPA damage by low grades when studying abroad in freshman year, a couple of low passing grades since then. 3 semesters of calculus with about a B- average. (B,B,C+)

Work Experience: Currently interning and hired full time post-graduation working as financial analyst at a F1000 semiconductor manufacturer.

GMAT: Not taken, but I took the GRE without studying and the conversion table converted it to a GMAT of 680. So I don't think getting 700+ is an unreasonable goal.

ECs: Study abroad in the UK. Volunteer ESL teacher in South Korea for a summer, teaching rural underprivileged kids. English coaching tutor for a year for foreign students in the university's pre-admissions TOEFL test-preparation and English skills program.

Interesting facts: Graduating with my undergraduate degree two years early (age 20) due to excessive amount of community college courses taken in high school.

Interested in General Management/Strategy.

The last act is tragic, however happy all the rest of the play is; at the last a little earth is thrown upon our head, and that is the end for ever.

4/18/13

ARMMonkey:
Hi Betsy,

So, given that I'm a senior graduating in a couple of weeks it probably is a bit too early to be asking for an evaluation of my profile, but I'm curious nonetheless. I'd like to hear your opinion on target schools and things I can do to improve my profile over the next 4-5 years.

Will graduate with:

GPA: 3.58 double major in Economics and Political Science from a large, well-known, mid-ranked, state university.

GPA caveats: Significant upward trend. Last 2.5 years about a 3.8. GPA damage by low grades when studying abroad in freshman year, a couple of low passing grades since then. 3 semesters of calculus with about a B- average. (B,B,C+)

Work Experience: Currently interning and hired full time post-graduation working as financial analyst at a F1000 semiconductor manufacturer.

GMAT: Not taken, but I took the GRE without studying and the conversion table converted it to a GMAT of 680. So I don't think getting 700+ is an unreasonable goal.

ECs: Study abroad in the UK. Volunteer ESL teacher in South Korea for a summer, teaching rural underprivileged kids. English coaching tutor for a year for foreign students in the university's pre-admissions TOEFL test-preparation and English skills program.

Interesting facts: Graduating with my undergraduate degree two years early (age 20) due to excessive amount of community college courses taken in high school.

Interested in General Management/Strategy.

Hi ARM,
First, congratulations on graduating, and I hope you enjoy yourself and take a break. I am glad you are thinking that business school is a 4-5 year prospect for you, because, frankly, you are young and need to beef up your life experiences. Correct that: you WANT to beef up your life experiences. So that's the most important thing you can do. I think starting out as a financial analyst for a semiconductor firm might give you a good point of departure, but if you have a lot of energy, I am guessing you will get bored, so I would suggest going to South Korea or some place to work in a semiconductor company. Not joking! If you did ESL, then you know what it is like to live abroad. Or go to Taiwan, that's a hugely fun place. I lived there for 3 years and had a grand time. Learned more about OEM and original equipment design than I would have ever imagined.

As for the test scores, for the elite schools, you need to get higher than a 700, and go for over 80% on the quant. The GRE is fine, but your GRE quant score needs to be higher than 80% because you are being ranked against humanities and social science majors.

I'm not giving you any ideas about target schools at this stage, because it would be useless without knowing more about you. As you meet people and figure out who you are and what you want, some of it will become clearer -- it's way too early to limit yourself.

Have fun.

Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

5/12/13

Hi Betsy,

Thanks for doing this! Am asking for a friend, who's looking to apply to business school and is curious about his chances at HBS/GSB.

Stats:
Chinese-American Male, 24 years old.
Undergrad: Harvard, government major, 3.55 GPA
GMAT: 760

Work Experience: 2 years at Goldman Sachs in investment banking (top group - TMT/FIG), currently an associate at Blackstone/KKR (don't want to be too specific).

ECs: Study abroad at Oxford, volunteer EMT, worked with a rural village in Uganda, helped raise money for a hospital there (big focus), Vice-President of Alumni Association, some other smaller activities.

Fluent in English and Mandarin.

dollas

5/13/13

boobielover:

Hi Betsy,

Thanks for doing this! Am asking for a friend, who's looking to apply to business school and is curious about his chances at HBS/GSB.

Stats:
Chinese-American Male, 24 years old.
Undergrad: Harvard, government major, 3.55 GPA
GMAT: 760

Work Experience: 2 years at Goldman Sachs in investment banking, (top group - TMT/FIG), currently an associate at Blackstone/KKR (don't want to be too specific).

ECs: Study abroad at Oxford, volunteer EMT, worked with a rural village in Uganda, helped raise money for a hospital there (big focus), Vice-President of Alumni Association, some other smaller activities.

Fluent in English and Mandarin.

good morning from the west coast. sorry that I didn't get to this earlier -- during the not-crazy admissions season, I try to not work on Sundays. Let's see how long that lasts!

With the caveat that "chances" are "odds" are worth what you believe they are worth, I would certainly say that your friend wouldn't be crazy in the least to apply to both programs. He is in the ballpark in terms of the correlated stats -- not that you can say correlation=causation.

The real trick here is to figure out what this person adds to the class, and that's what admissions officers do every day, just like a portfolio analyst does. I've been thinking about this theme -- and watch out for an article either here or on Poets & Quants:

A business school class is much like a portfolio, and admissions officers are like PMs who are trying to create an efficient frontier of performance. At Harvard and Stanford, they are trying to go beyond beating the index, although because of the size of the Harvard class, the portfolio probably has more beta in it than the smaller class at Stanford. So think of them both as long-only absolute return funds.

What this means is that with a Harvard undergrad GPA of 3.6 (why not round up?), a government major, and work experience at the very good training grounds of GS and a PE firm of note, with interesting outside activities (I think Uganda is very interesting, VP of alumni association, less so), the student passes the first, and maybe the second screen. But then there's the deeper analysis, and that is the answer to the question -- what does this student add? And is there already a high correlation of people in the portfolio (that is, the admitted class), that are already contributing the alpha potential of this student?

So if the student is articulate, fun, funny, interesting, and adds to international diversity (still unknown from the info provided), then he will get a close look. But for all of you who have put forth recommendations before a chief investment officer, you don't know the results up front.

I hope this analysis doesn't come off as snarky; it isn't meant to be at all. It's just that a choosing a business school and carefully selecting an efficient portfolio feels close.

It also means that there are more than a few portfolios out there. And Harvard and Stanford are not the only games in town. Some might think so, but I'd argue that hedging is a good strategy for risk control.

Make sense?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

Accepted.com
5/18/13

Hi Betsy,

I know you have said numerous times that getting a 48 or higher on the quant is critical to be competitive at the top programs. I just took the GMAT and got a 760, 47Q 47V, and while I'm obviously pleased with the overall score, the 47Q concerns me. What are your thoughts?

5/18/13

MFFL:

Hi Betsy,

I know you have said numerous times that getting a 48 or higher on the quant is critical to be competitive at the top programs. I just took the GMAT and got a 760, 47Q 47V, and while I'm obviously pleased with the overall score, the 47Q concerns me. What are your thoughts?

Hi MFFL, Congratulations on a 760! You must feel pretty relieved. That is a terrific number, and normally turns heads at most schools. I go on and on about getting a 48 because it is over 80%, which is the normal threshold. It's a dotted line though; given that you have done so well overall on the test my guess is that you will get the benefit of the doubt. So don't even think about a retake.

The other thing is that the gmat quant score really matters for those who haven't proved that they can do post-graduate analytical work. Now by analytical, I do not mean just using excel. I mean really using critical analytical thinking skills that show rigorous quant skills.

So only if you have only taken humanities courses and are working in, say, theater, would I encourage you to even think twice about the quant score of 47. And even then, I would just encourage one line in the optional essay about your ability to handle the analytical work of a rigorous MBA program.

Does that make sense? Any other questions about the application ? I know that Columbia has already
released their questions, so time to start thinking about the essays -- grrrrrr.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

5/19/13

Thank you for your prompt response Betsy. I am still ~2 years away from applying, so that's pretty much the only question I had at this point. Your insight is much appreciated

5/22/13

MFFL:

Thank you for your prompt response Betsy. I am still ~2 years away from applying, so that's pretty much the only question I had at this point. Your insight is much appreciated

Very smart that you studied for and took the GMAT well in advance of the application cycle. This will allow you to concentrate on the rest of the process, which requires a lot of project management, networking, and forward thinking. You already show signs of a good candidate; I see a high correlation between those who plan well in advance and those who are successful in their b-school quest.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

5/21/13

Hi Betsy,
I have a IT background, want to apply business school in the 2013 and enter in 2014, or perhaps wait one year. I know there are a number of introduction/outreach events. Do admissions officers take note of the students they meet there? Is it worth it to try to talk to the admissions officer or the alumni there, or just sit in the audience and take notes? Also, what do you think of those big MBA fairs?

5/22/13

windycity2000:

Hi Betsy,
I have a IT background, want to apply business school in the 2013 and enter in 2014, or perhaps wait one year. I know there are a number of introduction/outreach events. Do admissions officers take note of the students they meet there? Is it worth it to try to talk to the admissions officer or the alumni there, or just sit in the audience and take notes? Also, what do you think of those big MBA fairs?

Thanks for the question, windycity. Like the previous poster, you are smart to think ahead and plan for your business school application. I've never heard anyone *ever* say, oh, I think I started too early! They always say they wish they had more time to research, network, figure out their own strengths and weaknesses.... the list goes on.

As for introduction events, especially where there is only one or, say, a few schools presenting, is just to listen in. Hobnobbing with admissions types is fine, and makes sense if you have a specific question, but you will get a much better ROI by listening carefully, especially to what admissions officers say in public. They are well-schooled in what message they are sending out to the public, and you can get a really good sense of the way they are trying to present the school to you. It is a marketing exercise for them, and you are the target market.

As for alumni, think about whether they are the kind of people you want to be, or want to work side-by-side with. If you admire what you see, then you are getting good information about the culture of the school. By the way, alums who do not make admissions decisions (and most do not), don't have any idea whether you will get in. In fact, Dee Leopold, ead of admissions at HBS, prohibits alums from talking about the admissions process at her events, saying, "They think they know why they got in, but they may have been admitted in spite of that fact".

MBA fairs are useful for learning about schools in the broadest sense. You may pick up something about a school you hadn't considered. I wouldn't waste a good Saturday or Sunday afternoon though.

Tell me this, windycity, what are some of the goals you have for yourself in going to business school? Thinking of changing out of IT? Many do, successfully. Also, are you thinking of going full-time or part-time?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

5/29/13

I had a master degree in computer science and had worked in a IT company for 4 years now, still have passion for IT industry but would like to explore opportunities in financial industry.

I am thinking to apply for both full time and part-time program. But only part-time program in Chicago. Since I can still keep my job. I know the parttime admission is much easier, not sure if it's worth it. Willing to listen to your advise. Thanks, Betsy.

5/23/13

Betsy,

With the unique nature of CBS's admissions process, would admissions be a little put off by an applicant that submitted RD early on (say July/August) so that they would be early in the review order? Would they think the applicant didnt consider CBS a priority choice given they could have easily applied ED?

Thanks.

5/23/13

mba86:

Betsy,

With the unique nature of CBS's admissions process, would admissions be a little put off by an applicant that submitted RD early on (say July/August) so that they would be early in the review order? Would they think the applicant didnt consider CBS a priority choice given they could have easily applied ED?

Thanks.

Hi mba86, thanks for the question on the Columbia Business School admissions process. Quick answer is: don't jump the gun. It isn't necessary to gain advantage.

But you raise a pretty serious meta-question: When should I apply to business school?.
People ask that all the time, and they could mean, what year, or what round, or what month?

Admissions officers world-over will say, "apply when you're ready" -- and then add, "but not Round 3". As for what year, a question you didn't ask, that all depends on whether you are at your own inflection point. But I'll get to that if someone on this thread asks me.

Now, to your point, I am assuming you are not applying Early Decision (ED) to Columbia,because you want to open yourself up to the possibility of a range of schools. (I'm not a fan of a binding early decision process because I do find it limiting and, in investment terms, a weird, expensive option). In short, you want to keep your options open. But you do want to get into the queue early so you get yourself considered before they have already filled half the class, right?

I've emailed someone at Columbia to verify their timeframe, but until I hear otherwise, I think you should wait until after the October deadline for early decision to apply. Simply because your application will not get reviewed until December.

Here's what it says on the CBS MBA FAQ page (http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/admissions/faq):

The Admissions Office will begin reviewing August-entry regular decision applications in December once all required materials have been received. Applications are reviewed in the order they are received.

So if you apply in July, your application is sitting around for 4-5 months before anyone even glances at it. It looks like you want to be first in the queue under the regular decision cycle, but that's outweighed by the additional experience you get on the job. I say this because I am guessing that you are really in the period of your maximum contribution to your firm. Like I started out, it's an inflection point: you want to go to business school when you are ready to move on. From your employer's point of view, you've finished ramping up and are performing well, making a difference, and really contributing. So this next 3-4months could be really interesting, giving you added ammunition to make your case.

I am certain that if you apply in October or even November, you will still be at the head of the long line of applicants, most of whom are reading this forum and wishing they already finished studying for the GMAT.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

5/23/13

Hi Betsy,

Thanks for everything you're doing here! I was wondering if you could take a look at my situation and let me know what my chances are, and what I can do in the next year to improve my chances.

24 year old white male (will be 25 during application season)
Vanderbilt Univeristy
Majors: Economics and History, Philosophy. Minor: Corporate Strategy
GPA: 3.65
GMAT: 730 (97% verb, 73% math)
Work: Interned in risk management and investment management in college. Joined a small but prestigious private bank in NYC in their management training program (very selective, lasted 5 months). Placed in Treasury, rotated around different desk roles in the department, promoted to an officer role after 2 years.
ECs: Ran a student think-tank, was a VP of a student tutoring group for inner-city kids, hired by the school as a writing consultant (all at college). Lead a group in my company to tutor disadvantaged kids, volunteer with my company's official charity group, write about the NBA for ESPN-sponsored websites (outside of college).
Goal: Break into Private Equity by attending a top-ten school. Dream school is Columbia (have very good recs there, including a very charitable/successful alum and a professor at the school). Also looking at NYU. Will apply to Wharton/MIT/HBS/etc but unsure of my chances there.

So I guess I have three questions:
1) Do you think my chances are anywhere near realistic?
2) What can/should I do about leadership roles? I was approached to lead a Toastmasters chapter for our branch here, would that help?
3) I've been tapped by a partner to take a sales role that would start soon - they know and are comfortable with the fact that I'd only be there a year and the fact that I'm applying to bschool - would it be a smart move to take the job? I'm not sure if ad comms would disapprove of the short-term move, or if it would show ambition by taking a lateral job.

Let me know what you think, and thanks again!

5/24/13

chaminadems:

Hi Betsy,

Thanks for everything you're doing here! I was wondering if you could take a look at my situation and let me know what my chances are, and what I can do in the next year to improve my chances.

24 year old white male (will be 25 during application season)
Vanderbilt Univeristy
Majors: Economics and History, Philosophy. Minor: Corporate Strategy
GPA: 3.65
GMAT: 730 (97% verb, 73% math)
Work: Interned in risk management and investment management in college. Joined a small but prestigious private bank in NYC in their management training program (very selective, lasted 5 months). Placed in Treasury, rotated around different desk roles in the department, promoted to an officer role after 2 years.
ECs: Ran a student think-tank, was a VP of a student tutoring group for inner-city kids, hired by the school as a writing consultant (all at college). Lead a group in my company to tutor disadvantaged kids, volunteer with my company's official charity group, write about the NBA for ESPN-sponsored websites (outside of college).
Goal: Break into Private Equity by attending a top-ten school. Dream school is Columbia (have very good recs there, including a very charitable/successful alum and a professor at the school). Also looking at NYU. Will apply to Wharton/MIT/HBS/etc but unsure of my chances there.

So I guess I have three questions:
1) Do you think my chances are anywhere near realistic?
2) What can/should I do about leadership roles? I was approached to lead a Toastmasters chapter for our branch here, would that help?
3) I've been tapped by a partner to take a sales role that would start soon - they know and are comfortable with the fact that I'd only be there a year and the fact that I'm applying to bschool - would it be a smart move to take the job? I'm not sure if ad comms would disapprove of the short-term move, or if it would show ambition by taking a lateral job.

Let me know what you think, and thanks again!

Hi Chaminadems, LOTS going on here, so I may answer you in pieces.

First, I've got a question. I had no idea there was a minor in "corporate strategy." Is this new? I don't know if I like it or not, as I view college as more of a place to explore ideas rather than actually be so practical as to learn corporate strategy. So, call me old fashioned -- but I *might* be able to be convinced.

I am going to answer question 1. first -- are your chances anywhere realistic? Since Columbia is your dream school, let's break it down.
You can answer that question yourself by checking out the Columbia school student profile for last year's class:
http://www4.gsb.columbia.edu/mba/admissions/classp...

And it looks like you are right in their range, so sure! Your chances from the numbers point of view are fine. Harvard, Wharton and Stanford also have pages of statistics like this, and you will see that you "qualify."
You also look like you have a decent interest in investment management and risk, and have been promoted after a two year rotation. All of that sounds fine, but I'd have to know more about the quality of that work experience -- that is, how did you influence the people around you? You are probably thinking, what a mushy question? But once you "qualify" that's what makes the difference.

Now, this connection with an alum may be of value, as it never hurts, but recommendations are not about glamorous contributors and more about substance. I'm a little nervous with the way you phrased it, but if this person knows you well and has a great insight about your strengths, weaknesses, focus, and contribution to the organization, then that's the most important point.

Back to some of your other questions -- about leadership. Admissions officers look at leadership more as a representation of emotional intelligence. The are less concerned about titles and more concerned about impact. Business schools really care about the components of leadership: influence, active listening, flexibility, and how you incorporate that in your life. So it really doesn't matter if you take on a role as president of Toastmasters -- which is a laudable organization in that it teaches you many of the skills you will need in business and business school. (BTW, I like Toastmasters a lot; and just to name drop, I am in the same Toastmasters club as last year's international president, Michael Notaro.) But just adding that officership is not going to sway the committee one way or another. Rather, I would recommend spending the time going deeper into something you are already very involved in, and see if you can make a game-changing difference. FWIW, it sounds like you already have a decent pattern of involvement during and after college.

I'm going to stop here and let you absorb some of it all. I'll turn to the one-year before business school question next.

Hope this gives you food for thought!

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

5/28/13

chaminadems:

3) I've been tapped by a partner to take a sales role that would start soon - they know and are comfortable with the fact that I'd only be there a year and the fact that I'm applying to bschool - would it be a smart move to take the job? I'm not sure if ad comms would disapprove of the short-term move, or if it would show ambition by taking a lateral job.

I promised I would come back to this question, despite it being longer than a day or 2.
Now, having read over the question, I think you must take the job -- hope it's not too late for this answer, and I am guessing that others on this site have recommended as much.
I actually don't see any downside. Admissions officers and future employers like it when a candidate is selected out of a competitive pool to do something bigger. If it is considered a step up, then yes, what a great opportunity! Also, you will never regret learning how to perform in a sales job. I've done it -- sold both debt on Wall Street and equity in Asia, and it's a humbling experience. You will learn to think on your feet and and be on the line -- it's really great training. Also, as the front man, you'll also appreciate what it takes for a company to deliver great client service.
I think you were worried about only one year, but the only people who might push against that would be your employer, and if they are aware of your plans, then why not? Or am I missing something here?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

5/24/13

Betsy,

Thanks so much for your great reply. To answer a few of your questions:

Vandy doesn't have a business major or minor. The closest they come is a group of minors labeled under "Managerial Studies," where you can choose Corporate Strategy, Financial Economics, and Leadership and Organization. They all require accounting and some basic business classes. I chose corporate strategy because it had a good blend of finance and leadership classes. In hindsight finec would have been better, but I was concerned about not being able to put in the time for so many quant-heavy classes over a short period.

I definitely understand about the recommendation. The alum has known me since I was young, but hasn't worked with me in a business capacity. I plan on having my main recs come from my previous two bosses. Is there any way I can leverage having those contacts (the alum/professor at the school) aside from recommendations?

My last concern is about private equity. I know that business school is a great way to meet people in the industry and learn the technical knowledge I'd need going forward, but I don't to get lost among the other people applying for the same reason. How can I recast that in a positive light?

Again, thanks so much for all your help, I've learned a lot.

5/24/13

chaminadems:

Betsy,

Thanks so much for your great reply. To answer a few of your questions:

Vandy doesn't have a business major or minor.


I actually think that you can learn more about business strategy by taking history and logic courses than business courses as an undergraduate, but I am definitely old school :-)
chaminadems:
Is there any way I can leverage having those contacts (the alum/professor at the school) aside from recommendations?

Just be yourself and talk to them about your goals and see if they can offer insight. Then if they offer to help you with a letter or a well-placed word, or an introduction to someone else, take advantage. Lots of people get letters from high-up connections, and they don't hurt, but why not see if you can leverage the mentor relationship?

chaminadems:
My last concern is about private equity. I know that business school is a great way to meet people in the industry and learn the technical knowledge I'd need going forward, but I don't to get lost among the other people applying for the same reason. How can I recast that in a positive light?

Again, this is personal to me, but I always want to know why someone is interested in PE in the first place. I worry that there's a lot of interest in it because it's vogue, or there are famous rich people doing it. If you can identify the core reason in your heart why you want to be doing this job, why breaking in is so important to you, and what you intend to do once you are in that industry, then your authentic answer will differentiate you.
It sounds foolish to say" I've always dreamed of turning around a company" but if you look back at your life and career, and figured out the steps that make you actually say that, then it isn't a matter of "recasting", but a matter of telling the deep truth about yourself. .That's the interesting part. And believe it or not, that's the stuff that will connect you with the admissions reader.

still owe you the answer about the job change before b-school. Short answer, though: if it is a definite progression up (or forward, or whatever), then do it.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

5/24/13

Hi Betsy!

Thank you for doing this-it is very helpful. I really appreciate that you're taking the time to answer our questions.
I'm wondering if I should transfer to an ivy league school in order to get look better on my resume for i banks and, ultimately, MBA programs. I'm going to be a sophomore at a T25 private school (think UVA, Emory, Notre Dame) where I'm majoring in finance and minoring in art history and energy studies. Right now, I basically have a 4.0 GPA and I'm involved in a few clubs that deal with finance and I'm on student government. Would it be prudent to transfer to an ivy league school where there is better OCR/connections? Would it also be easier to get into MBA programs if I transferred even though I have a solid GPA?

5/28/13

semitar93:

Hi Betsy!

Thank you for doing this-it is very helpful. I really appreciate that you're taking the time to answer our questions.
I'm wondering if I should transfer to an ivy league school in order to get look better on my resume for i banks and, ultimately, MBA programs. I'm going to be a sophomore at a T25 private school (think UVA, Emory, Notre Dame) where I'm majoring in finance and minoring in art history and energy studies. Right now, I basically have a 4.0 GPA and I'm involved in a few clubs that deal with finance and I'm on student government. Would it be prudent to transfer to an ivy league school where there is better OCR/connections? Would it also be easier to get into MBA programs if I transferred even though I have a solid GPA?

The quick answer is that if it ain't broke, don't fix it. If you want to transfer to an Ivy League school because you want to go to a particular school, then do it, of course. But if you are happy where you are and getting a lot out of it, then coming from Emory, Notre Dame, or UVA with a strong GPA and all around profile won't hurt your chances one bit.

I can illustrate this with several anecdotes. Not too long ago I researched the question of "feeder" schools by looking through the list of schools that sent students to HBS. Here's the resulting blog post, http://masteradmissions.com/wp/2013/01/25/feeder-s...

with the punchline that you don't have to have gone to Harvard, Yale or Princeton to get into HBS.

Heck, I went to Vassar, and my best friend from my class went to UMass.

Also, as a coach at Stanford Graduate School of Business, I've seen students from a range of schools --- one that caught my eye was a young woman from an undergraduate school that was barely ranked by US News.
Sure she had a 3.9, and she couldn't write to save her life, but she did fine and was well-regarded by her classmates.

I also know plenty of students from HYP type schools who didn't get into their dream schools even with decebt GPAs. It's really the whole picture.

I do recommend if you do not transfer that you take some kind of STEM course (math or science, not econ) and continue with that A-average. Energy studies sounds a bit like political science (my major) which doesn't prove you can run the numbers like you need to in business school.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

5/26/13

Hi Betsy, I have some questions about being admitted as a college senior.

I'm interested in applying to MIT (2 year deferred admission) and Yale Silver Scholars. I think these would be beneficial because they both allow you to gain WE but I'm assuming a very small amount of students are admitted like this.

My stats are GRE: 160Q 162V 5.5 AWA, couple internships with gov and middle office BB, and a 4.0 gpa.

Think I have a shot?

5/29/13

cakepie:

Hi Betsy, I have some questions about being admitted as a college senior.

I'm interested in applying to MIT (2 year deferred admission) and Yale Silver Scholars. I think these would be beneficial because they both allow you to gain WE but I'm assuming a very small amount of students are admitted like this.

My stats are GRE: 160Q 162V 5.5 AWA, couple internships with gov and middle office BB, and a 4.0 gpa.

Think I have a shot?

Hi cakepie (nice name!)
You are right, very few students are admitted to these programs, but I can tell you one thing: you are never penalized if you don't get in and apply for regular admission several years later. So, the quick answer is, "why not?"
Having said all that, I think the grades and the GRE scores are pretty much the minimal thing that they are looking for. Who is to sneeze at a 4.0? That's wonderful; it gives comfort to admissions officers and future employers of your smarts and dedication. The GRE is less clear, and they will look at that in conjunction with the kind of quant work you have done undergraduate.
The thing any admissions officer looks for is leadership potential, and to be honest, it isn't clear from what you written here so far exactly what that leadership potential might be. I know that some who do apply to deferred admit programs have already started businesses and non-profits -- those things are kind of in vogue. Or, one story that the HBS admissions director used to talk about, someone who was president of the student government at a Big 10 school (with something like 50,000 students -- it's like being Mayor!). Another student I know was co-captain of her NCAA Division 1 team and competed at the Olympic trials.

Given the small number of places in such a class, and the competition for the spot, it's not a lay-up. It's worth, however, talking directly to people who are involved in recruiting for the program and getting their advice -- admissions officers really want to see people who have done their homework and can make the case that not only will they add to a class in a substantive way, but that they need to be admitted now.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/7/13

I would really appreciate your input:

White
Male
27 years old
730 GMAT
3.81 GPA
BS and MS in Accounting from top program (though University as a whole is well-known but not necessarily a target)

Work Exp:
1 year at top Economics Consulting firm.
2 years at a start-up hedge fund where I was #2. The fund has performed relatively well.
4 years at my family's farm RE / operating firm (10,000 acres in 2 states) doing accounting / CFO-type work

Extra-curricular:
Student leader of organization that focuses on the community integration of individuals with various learning disabilities. I have continued to be involved after college and am currently trying to get a local high school chapter started. I am also an avid endurance athlete and have completed a full Ironman triathlon. Spent 2 years living full-time in Russia (fluent speaker) on a humanitarian mission.

MBA goals:
To be honest, I want to leverage it to get into a bigger, well-established hedge fund, essentially doing the same thing. This might change over time, though.

Questions:
Can I get general feedback / advice for M7 admission?
One concern I have is that I am getting too old. If I apply this year for a 2014 start I will be 28 at matriculation, which I don't think is old, but for family-related reasons I prefer to apply for the following year when I will be 29. Is that too old for any of the schools? Should I seriously consider applying this year because of the age difference? Any tips or advice I should think about as I consider this?

6/10/13

Sir Dancelot:
Can I get general feedback / advice for M7 admission?
One concern I have is that I am getting too old. If I apply this year for a 2014 start I will be 28 at matriculation, which I don't think is old, but for family-related reasons I prefer to apply for the following year when I will be 29. Is that too old for any of the schools? Should I seriously consider applying this year because of the age difference? Any tips or advice I should think about as I consider this?

Hello Sir, and I apologize for taking so long to reply. I tried to have a weekend, and then today I got caught up in deadlines....

OK, back to you. I'm going to focus on the age question, because it is specific, and because your other info seems to be within the range of what most schools are looking for, and I will get to some of that later. Remember, it's not entirely about checking the box, but you did do some stuff that looks pretty good, at least on paper.

But back to the age. Admissions committees are looking more at work experience, rather than age. There's a myth about "oh, I am too old to go to business school", and that not true. It depends on your experience and the quality of your experience, and whether you are at an inflection point in your career, and I cannot answer that, you can.

But, here's the one question from my side -- if you are doing the family business and want to go back to the hedge fund business, and in fact, to go to a more established hedge fund, I wonder if you might get too entrenched in the real estate business. It's just a thought that your jumping off point might be better now than next year -- this is not an age but a work experience thing. If you have 5 years at the family firm rather than 4, and then want to go back to the investment management side of the business, it just needs some explanation and justification. And, you don't want to be on the defensive.

So why not now? Carpe diem and all that?

Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/11/13

Betsy Massar:

Sir Dancelot:

<
Can I get general feedback / advice for M7 admission?
One concern I have is that I am getting too old. If I apply this year for a 2014 start I will be 28 at matriculation, which I don't think is old, but for family-related reasons I prefer to apply for the following year when I will be 29. Is that too old for any of the schools? Should I seriously consider applying this year because of the age difference? Any tips or advice I should think about as I consider this?

Hello Sir, and I apologize for taking so long to reply. I tried to have a weekend, and then today I got caught up in deadlines....

But, here's the one question from my side -- if you are doing the family business and want to go back to the hedge fund business, and in fact, to go to a more established hedge fund, I wonder if you might get too entrenched in the real estate business. It's just a thought that your jumping off point might be better now than next year -- this is not an age but a work experience thing. If you have 5 years at the family firm rather than 4, and then want to go back to the investment management side of the business, it just needs some explanation and justification. And, you don't want to be on the defensive.

So why not now? Carpe diem and all that?

Betsy

Why not now? I have family requirements that all but prevent me from leaving to business school next year.

Regarding my work experience, sorry for my lack of clarity, but I am currently at the hedge fund and work with my family's business on the side and on weekends. I wouldn't consider myself a real estate guy - my full time job is the hedge fund.

Let me know if this information changes any of your advice. Thanks for your response.

6/11/13

Sir Dancelot:

Why not now? I have family requirements that all but prevent me from leaving to business school next year.

Regarding my work experience, sorry for my lack of clarity, but I am currently at the hedge fund and work with my family's business on the side and on weekends. I wouldn't consider myself a real estate guy - my full time job is the hedge fund.

Let me know if this information changes any of your advice. Thanks for your response.


OK, it's clearer now. I think, then, with 2 years at the hedge fund after 1 year of economic consulting, you won't be disadvantaged to wait a year.
It sounds like your commitments/requirements are pretty serious, and you have to respect them more than any assumption about what a business school *might* say. There are so many moving parts to an application, it feels like you'd be turning yourself inside out on a guess that age is the driving factor, when in fact, it's only part of it, and you aren't outside of the normal distribution anyway.

Make sense?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/11/13

Betsy Massar:

Sir Dancelot:

Why not now? I have family requirements that all but prevent me from leaving to business school next year.
Regarding my work experience, sorry for my lack of clarity, but I am currently at the hedge fund and work with my family's business on the side and on weekends. I wouldn't consider myself a real estate guy - my full time job is the hedge fund.
Let me know if this information changes any of your advice. Thanks for your response.

OK, it's clearer now. I think, then, with 2 years at the hedge fund after 1 year of economic consulting, you won't be disadvantaged to wait a year.
It sounds like your commitments/requirements are pretty serious, and you have to respect them more than any assumption about what a business school *might* say. There are so many moving parts to an application, it feels like you'd be turning yourself inside out on a guess that age is the driving factor, when in fact, it's only part of it, and you aren't outside of the normal distribution anyway.

Make sense?

Thank you!

6/9/13

Hi Betsy,

I was wondering why don't top MBAs look "down" upon those who have worked in Big 4 Audit/Tax. I have read a lot on these boards as well as heard from other people that top MBAs don't look for a lot of Big 4 Audit people. Is there a specific reason why or do Top MBA programs look for the individuals with the glorified careers

6/10/13

artfuldodger23:

Hi Betsy,

I was wondering why don't top MBAs look "down" upon those who have worked in Big 4 Audit/Tax. I have read a lot on these boards as well as heard from other people that top MBAs don't look for a lot of Big 4 Audit people. Is there a specific reason why or do Top MBA programs look for the individuals with the glorified careers

Hi Art,
I am not really sure that top MBAs look down on those who have worked in Big 4. Are you saying that admissions committee members think that audit/tax at a big 4 is less impressive than another job?
It's really hard to prove, so I am not sure I can answer broadly.
I can say that admissions people look at career progression and influence. If your job in tax/audit influenced your organization, team, client, or, say, a small country in Asia, then in fact, you probably will be considered (if the rest of your profile falls within the normal distribution of admitted students) realistically. If your job is boring and you want to get out and go to business school because your life is a Dilbert cartoon, then you probably won't get noticed.
So, take what you read on these boards with a grain of salt :-), including what you read here. But if you do a LinkedIn advanced search, you will find that each business school within your choice has a good number of individuals who have audit/tax backgrounds. I just did a search under Wharton, typed in Class of '13 or '14, with key words MBA and CPA and found a bunch of students, so it isn't impossible.

Now, if you are concerned about your own candidacy, that's a more interesting and relevant. How can I help you?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/11/13

Hi Betsy,

I had a question regarding letters of recommendation. Seems most of the recommendations ask for a time when the recommender gave constructive feedback and the applicants response to the feedback. For those of us that work in a firm where we really only have one supervisor that is a position where they actually give us feedback on performance (ex. analyst under PM at HF/research associate under analyst for sell side research), how should we approach the constructive feedback question if the second rec is written by someone we worked on a project, but was not necessarily in position where they gave us any constructive feedback (such as helping another sector pm on an analysis occasionally).

Thanks

6/11/13

mba86:

Hi Betsy,

I had a question regarding letters of recommendation. Seems most of the recommendations ask for a time when the recommender gave constructive feedback and the applicants response to the feedback. For those of us that work in a firm where we really only have one supervisor that is a position where they actually give us feedback on performance (ex. analyst under PM at HF/research associate under analyst for sell side research), how should we approach the constructive feedback question if the second rec is written by someone we worked on a project, but was not necessarily in position where they gave us any constructive feedback (such as helping another sector pm on an analysis occasionally).

Thanks

Hi mba86. Funny, I read this on the plane while sitting next to another admissions consultant, Vince Ricci of VincePrep. He is very cool, and we discussed this question together (two heads are better than one?). We came to the conclusion that you may be construing the phrase, "constructive feedback" too narrowly. You might want to look at the word feedback more broadly. Anyone you work with gives you feedback all the time -- through body language, through any friendly (or unfriendly?) to-and-fro about the work at hand.
The admissions committee members are looking for another opinion outside of just the formal review, but someone who has commented on you in some way. Someone who might have said, "hey, that was a great report, but I would have wanted to see more detail in the way you looked at the competitor analysis." Or, "have you considered doing more public speaking? You are a natural and I'd like to see you interact with clients more."
Anyone senior to you can say something like that -- it's natural. So if you can think about any such interaction with that PM, remind him (or her) of it, and talk it through.
Your next job is to manage the interaction with that PM in a way so that he or she will feel comfortable about couching that interaction in a way that favors you without it sounding too much like boilerplate.

Does that help?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/12/13

Betsy Massar:

mba86:

Hi Betsy,
I had a question regarding letters of recommendation. Seems most of the recommendations ask for a time when the recommender gave constructive feedback and the applicants response to the feedback. For those of us that work in a firm where we really only have one supervisor that is a position where they actually give us feedback on performance (ex. analyst under PM at HF/research associate under analyst for sell side research), how should we approach the constructive feedback question if the second rec is written by someone we worked on a project, but was not necessarily in position where they gave us any constructive feedback (such as helping another sector pm on an analysis occasionally).
Thanks

Hi mba86. Funny, I read this on the plane while sitting next to another admissions consultant, Vince Ricci of VincePrep. He is very cool, and we discussed this question together (two heads are better than one?). We came to the conclusion that you may be construing the phrase, "constructive feedback" too narrowly. You might want to look at the word feedback more broadly. Anyone you work with gives you feedback all the time -- through body language, through any friendly (or unfriendly?) to-and-fro about the work at hand.
The admissions committee members are looking for another opinion outside of just the formal review, but someone who has commented on you in some way. Someone who might have said, "hey, that was a great report, but I would have wanted to see more detail in the way you looked at the competitor analysis." Or, "have you considered doing more public speaking? You are a natural and I'd like to see you interact with clients more."
Anyone senior to you can say something like that -- it's natural. So if you can think about any such interaction with that PM, remind him (or her) of it, and talk it through.
Your next job is to manage the interaction with that PM in a way so that he or she will feel comfortable about couching that interaction in a way that favors you without it sounding too much like boilerplate.

Does that help?

Betsy,

Thanks for the response. I think you are correct that I was thinking too narrowly. I was thinking from the point of view that it had to be "constructive criticism" rather than something along the lines of "xxx did a good job on xyz, but I gave him feedback on areas abc to continue to work on as they develop".

6/12/13

mba86:
I was thinking from the point of view that it had to be "constructive criticism" rather than something along the lines of "xxx did a good job on xyz, but I gave him feedback on areas abc to continue to work on as they develop".

exactly. I was just in a conference with admissions directors of about 10 schools (its the Association of International Graduate Admissions Consultants annual meeting), and it became even clearer how dependent the adcom are on getting really good 3-dimensional recommendations. Generic stuff does a real disservice to the applicant.

Here's a "best of the web" I put together on recommendations, if you haven't seen it before. http://masteradmissions.com/wp/2011/09/13/wranglin...

Also, the same article can be found on Poets & Quants, (yep, also written by me)

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/11/13

Hi Betsy,

I just took the GMAT and got a 710 (44 V/ 43 Q). The quant is 61%, verbal is 97%. While I am happy with the score, I know the quant is a little low so my question mostly pertains to that.

I am graduating from HYPSW with a 3.9 gpa (liberal arts major) and working at MBB. Would I be competitive for H/W/S and other top programs? Thanks!

6/11/13

skdude:

Hi Betsy,

I just took the GMAT and got a 710 (44 V/ 43 Q). The quant is 61%, verbal is 97%. While I am happy with the score, I know the quant is a little low so my question mostly pertains to that.

I am graduating from HYPSW with a 3.9 gpa (liberal arts major) and working at MBB. Would I be competitive for H/W/S and other top programs? Thanks!

very quick answer, that quant is a deal-killer, especially with a liberal arts major.
I think it is worth your while to do what you can to prove you can do the quant work. I am sorry I don't have any happier news for you, but it's just too far away from what they admit they are looking for (over 700 AND balanced, which means you need at least a 46 or 47 quant).

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/11/13

Hi Betsy!

I was curious to know if you could give me advice on what schools I should be targeting. Is Top 5 out of the question? Will my "LGBT" profile make me unique enough for top 5 to overlook my weak GMAT? What schools are realistic, which schools are stretches or slim chances? Is GMAT the deal-breaker for me?

Gay, South Asian, Male
Born and raised in northeast USA
27 years old
GMAT 670 (I highly doubt this score can be raised any higher!)

Undergrad - 3.8 GPA in Marketing from large state school (think Penn State, Florida, Wisconsin)

Worked 2 years at boutique consulting firm (think FTI, Navigant) doing operational/regulatory consulting (not strategy) - left job after receiving promotion

Graduate - Completed one-year masters at Oxford University in Finance-related degree (Earned a 2:1, which was the highest grade they give, no first or distinction awarded.)

anticipated 2 years at large Real Estate PE firm in London/NYC as an analyst.

4.5 years of total work experience upon entering b-school, assuming september 2014 entry.

Extracurricular Activities
President & Founder of sport club in undergrad
Captain of sport team in grad school
Founder of small LGBT non-profit organisation

THanks for your help!!

6/11/13

TacoBell:

Hi Betsy!

I was curious to know if you could give me advice on what schools I should be targeting. Is Top 5 out of the question? Will my "LGBT" profile make me unique enough for top 5 to overlook my weak GMAT? What schools are realistic, which schools are stretches or slim chances? Is GMAT the deal-breaker for me?

Gay, South Asian, Male

Hola TacoBell, Hate to rain on your parade, but being LGBT in 2013 is not going to give you any edge, nor will it give you preferential treatment. Full stop. I just don't see any way it would matter whatsoever.

the 670 GMAT is on the weak side, so if you can get your score up and make sure quant and verbal are balanced, then you might be in a better position. I think your international experience -- going to school in the US and then Oxford, working in both London and NY makes your profile potentially more interesting, but that's only one piece of it. It's about how you really show leadership at work and how you influence those who work around you. I'll never be able to tell you much about that from a forum, which is why I don't "handicap" or tell you what school is a stretch or not.

I think you would benefit from doing a lot of school research and networking with current and recent students. The summer is a fantastic time to meet up with people between years and really get some clarity of your fit with some of the schools. It's not all about rankings, no matter what people here on WSO say!

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/12/13

Betsy Massar:

Here's a "best of the web" I put together on recommendations, if you haven't seen it before. http://masteradmissions.com/wp/2011/09/13/wranglin...

Also, the same article can be found on Poets & Quants, (yep, also written by me)

The podcast notes from Kirsten Moss is a dead link. Any chance you have another copy of that somewhere else online?

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

6/12/13

Otter.:

The podcast notes from Kirsten Moss is a dead link. Any chance you have another copy of that somewhere else online?

Try this link:
http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/sites/default/files/do...

They re-edited Kirsten Moss's name out since she left GSB (she's not doing admissions anywhere that I know of)

Seriously, thanks for the heads up -- I'll fix the link on the blog post

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/13/13

Thanks Betsy!

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

6/13/13

Sort of off topic typing this here because I am sitting in a conference listening to the director of admissions and career services at Wharton:
Ankur Kumar says that there are more Wharton interns at Google and Amazon than Goldman and Credit Suisse this summer

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/13/13

And, sorry to be using this thread like a twitter feed, but head of Wharton career services, Shannon Connelly, says that the students who are most successful getting offers in PE have 2 years of pre-MBA banking experience and 2 years of PE experience.

One more stat: 27% of students entering Wharton demonstrate interest in PE, and 10-11% land jobs in that field.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/24/13

Hi Monkeys, Long time.
I was in Philadelphia, specifically at Wharton, meeting with all kinds of great people there. I have to say the academics are first-rate, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Here are some links to some of the outstanding programs there: http://masteradmissions.com/wp/2013/06/15/wharton-...

Meanwhile, I have a question for any of you with actual MBA admissions experience (student on the admissions committee, for example, or worked in an MBA admissions office. I'm writing an article for Poets & Quants about how admissions officers assemble a class. I actually have a few theories, but I'd be interested in non-snarky observations about the assembly process.

Feel free to post any knowledge-based thoughts about the way a school puts together a class. Or, if you've got any serious questions about it.

Thanks, Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/26/13

Betsy Massar:

And, sorry to be using this thread like a twitter feed, but head of Wharton career services, Shannon Connelly, says that the students who are most successful getting offers in PE have 2 years of pre-MBA banking experience and 2 years of PE experience.

One more stat: 27% of students entering Wharton demonstrate interest in PE, and 10-11% land jobs in that field.

This is interesting. Do you have any data on this for the IM/HF group?

6/26/13

mba86:

Betsy Massar:

And, sorry to be using this thread like a twitter feed, but head of Wharton career services, Shannon Connelly, says that the students who are most successful getting offers in PE have 2 years of pre-MBA banking experience and 2 years of PE experience.

One more stat: 27% of students entering Wharton demonstrate interest in PE, and 10-11% land jobs in that field.

This is interesting. Do you have any data on this for the IM/HF group?

Good question -- let me send an email to Ms Connelly; she was the one who presented this number. It might take a few days -- but Ankur Kumar et al did offer to help out.
BTW, I was really impressed with the bench strength of other areas at Wharton. Particularly the customer data/analytics initiative. When you consider that more students are not going into "tech" than finance (seeing that across the board at schools), such an initiative starts getting really interesting.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/26/13

Hi Betsy - I am joining a HF after 2 years of IBD and intend to go to business school. I hear that few people from hedge funds attend b-school for some reason or another. Perhaps it is selection bias (people going into hedge funds are not interested in b-school?) Or is it for some reason harder for a hedge fund applicant to shine in the admissions process?

Would you be able to shed some light based on your experience?

Thank you,

narby

6/27/13

narby:

Hi Betsy - I am joining a HF after 2 years of IBD and intend to go to business school. I hear that few people from hedge funds attend b-school for some reason or another. Perhaps it is selection bias (people going into hedge funds are not interested in b-school?) Or is it for some reason harder for a hedge fund applicant to shine in the admissions process?

Would you be able to shed some light based on your experience?

Thank you,

narby

I think that you hit the nail on the head, and it's selection bias. But we are going on hearsay only -- and I don't know of any statistical studies we can point to.

There's a huge assumption here on WSO that traders don't get looked at favorably by admissions officers (and I have yet to see real numbers that prove it) and to some extent that notion seems to bleed into hedge fund land. Is it that people are connecting quant-driven HFs with trading? For public consumption, to my knowledge, schools don't break out hedge funds from other investment managers, and that's fair enough. In fact, just about every fund now that would have called themselves asset managers before now call themselves hedge funds.
And I don't know of any bias against the buy side in admisssions.

In any case, it doesn't matter. If you are good, you will get in. If you are good enough, that is, if you have the grades, the scores, the leadership experience, the leadership potential, intellectual and intercultural curiosity, the risk-profile and charisma, you'll do fine, even if you come from a hideously unpopular industry like selling cigarettes to children in emerging markets. I am not trying to be snarky here, I just want you to know that admissions officers really care more about the thoughtfulness behind your career decisions than the check-the-box industry X or industry Y considerations.

Admissions officers care much more what goes inside your head and heart than about one industry over another. Of course, they want to have a diversified class, just like any portfolio manager would want to diversify industries within a fund. It's kind of like, once a stock passed the screens (P/E, cash flow, eps growth) the rest is up to the decisions management makes with the company. Sounds kind of familiar, doesn't it?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/28/13

Hi Betsy!

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions here/do profile evaluations. I was wondering what you thought about my chances for an M7 program, and if you thought it was even worth my time to apply to H/S (probably not). I'll be applying for fall 2014 entry, with a post-MBA goal of going back to strategy consulting at a top firm.

Quick overview:

- 760 GMAT (49Q/46V)
- 28 months of corporate strategy experience at an extremely well known, but not necessarily extremely sexy, F500
- 20 months of strategy/operations/"management" consulting with one of the massive non-MBB shops
- 3.9 major GPA, 3.6 cumulative GPA magna cum laude in Biomedical Engineering from a good-but-not-great flagship state school
- Extracurricular involvement in research at a well-respected medical school (published several papers, but nothing Nature or Science caliber)
- Will be getting involved in undergrad school's out-of-state recruiting starting in July
- Trilingual and dual citizen (US/EU)

6/29/13

Pissingintowind:

Hi Betsy!

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions here/do profile evaluations. I was wondering what you thought about my chances for an M7 program, and if you thought it was even worth my time to apply to H/S (probably not). I'll be applying for fall 2014 entry, with a post-MBA goal of going back to strategy consulting at a top firm.


I don't see why you shouldn't apply to either Harvard or Stanford, if either appeals. Harvard has made it very clear that they are casting a wider net. So if you can afford the $250, why not? Stanford is a little more effort, but they both have identical recommender questions, which are relatively simple... so you might now have to deal too much with recommender fatigue. [/quote]

Quick overview:

<p>- 760 <span class=keyword_link><a href=//www.wallstreetoasis.com/veritas-gmat-prep-discount>GMAT</a></span> (49Q/46V)<br><br /> - 28 months of corporate strategy experience at an extremely well known, but not necessarily extremely sexy, F500<br><br /> - 20 months of strategy/operations/management consulting with one of the massive non-<span class=keyword_link><a href=//www.wallstreetoasis.com/guide/consulting-case-interviews>MBB</a></span> shops<br><br /> - 3.9 major <span class=keyword_link><a href=//www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/canadian-grades-to-gpa>GPA</a></span>, 3.6 cumulative <span class=keyword_link><a href=//www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/canadian-grades-to-gpa>GPA</a></span> magna cum laude in Biomedical Engineering from a good-but-not-great flagship state school<br><br /> [quote:
It's Wimbledon season, so a tennis analogy: you've gotten it over the net stats-wise and work-wise Biomedical engineering is hard, and no matter what everyone says about you have to come from a target school, you will see that people from your school probably get into Harvard and Stanford all the time. You can check it out on LinkedIn, but I wrote up an analysis on HBS here: http://masteradmissions.com/wp/2013/01/25/feeder-s...
and the link within will point you to all the undergrad institutions represented in the HBS class of 2014.

- Extracurricular involvement in research at a well-respected medical school (published several papers, but nothing Nature or Science caliber)
that sounds a little geeky to be extra curricular. Sports, hobbies? clubs? stuff where you can easily show teamwork and leadership? With your language and citizenships have you done work on the ground in some exotic place? These are the things that will make you 3-dimensional to the admissions reader.
Will be getting involved in undergrad school's out-of-state recruiting starting in July

- Trilingual and dual citizen (US/EU)


Love trilingual. That's a nice one. As for citizenship -- that's kind of not that relevant. Not sure what you mean by "out-of-state recruiting" .

But, here's the thing -- your character and leadership style is the biggest driver. Hard to comment on that from the details on a forum like this, but you are (to mix sports metaphors) in the ballpark, maybe you've even gotten on base. But the rest is up to you to show how you add to the campus community and by extension, to the world.

Enjoy the weekend! Wish I were at the conference :-)

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

6/29/13

Betsy Massar:

Pissingintowind:

Hi Betsy!

Thanks for taking the time to answer questions here/do profile evaluations. I was wondering what you thought about my chances for an M7 program, and if you thought it was even worth my time to apply to H/S (probably not). I'll be applying for fall 2014 entry, with a post-MBA goal of going back to strategy consulting at a top firm.

I don't see why you shouldn't apply to either Harvard or Stanford, if either appeals. Harvard has made it very clear that they are casting a wider net. So if you can afford the $250, why not? Stanford is a little more effort, but they both have identical recommender questions, which are relatively simple... so you might now have to deal too much with recommender fatigue.

- 760 GMAT (49Q/46V)

- 28 months of corporate strategy experience at an extremely well known, but not necessarily extremely sexy, F500

- 20 months of strategy/operations/"management" consulting with one of the massive non-MBB shops

- 3.9 major GPA, 3.6 cumulative GPA magna cum laude in Biomedical Engineering from a good-but-not-great flagship state school

It's Wimbledon season, so a tennis analogy: you've gotten it over the net stats-wise and work-wise Biomedical engineering is hard, and no matter what everyone says about you have to come from a target school, you will see that people from your school probably get into Harvard and Stanford all the time. You can check it out on LinkedIn, but I wrote up an analysis on HBS here: http://masteradmissions.com/wp/2013/01/25/feeder-s...

and the link within will point you to all the undergrad institutions represented in the HBS class of 2014.


- Extracurricular involvement in research at a well-respected medical school (published several papers, but nothing Nature or Science caliber)

that sounds a little geeky to be extra curricular. Sports, hobbies? clubs? stuff where you can easily show teamwork and leadership? With your language and citizenships have you done work on the ground in some exotic place? These are the things that will make you 3-dimensional to the admissions reader.


Will be getting involved in undergrad school's out-of-state recruiting starting in July

- Trilingual and dual citizen (US/EU)

Love trilingual. That's a nice one. As for citizenship -- that's kind of not that relevant. Not sure what you mean by "out-of-state recruiting" .

But, here's the thing -- your character and leadership style is the biggest driver. Hard to comment on that from the details on a forum like this, but you are (to mix sports metaphors) in the ballpark, maybe you've even gotten on base. But the rest is up to you to show how you add to the campus community and by extension, to the world.

Enjoy the weekend! Wish I were at the conference :-)

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

7/1/13

mba86:

Betsy Massar:

And, sorry to be using this thread like a twitter feed, but head of Wharton career services, Shannon Connelly, says that the students who are most successful getting offers in PE have 2 years of pre-MBA banking experience and 2 years of PE experience.

One more stat: 27% of students entering Wharton demonstrate interest in PE, and 10-11% land jobs in that field.

This is interesting. Do you have any data on this for the IM/HF group?

Hi mba86, I do have your answer for you, and they are all in the slides that I just posted here at this link
http://masteradmissions.com/wp/2013/07/01/exclusiv...

In a nutshell:
The charts say that fewer students were interested in investment banking up front: just 6%, but 11% applied and (maybe related to those who returned to their own firms?) 15% ended up in that industry. As for investment management (the only way hedge funds are captured in the stats), 11% expressed interest, 17% applied, but only 5% ended up working there. Does that mean investment management is more competitive than PE?

So here's for finance folks, here's what I learned about the class of 2013

PE/VC 28% expressed upfront interest, 12% applied, 11% ended up there
IB 6% expressed upfront interest, 11% applied, 15% ended up there
IM/HF 11% expressed upfront interest, 17% applied, 5% ended up there

I may end up putting these numbers in a separate blog post, but racing around, so not til later.
Interested in your take on the slides.

Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

7/25/13

Hi Betsy,

I have 2 questions and would appreciate your response:
1- Do all schools use Kroll as a background check service? Isn't Kroll under HireRite umbrella?

2- How do they verify self employment?

Thank you in advance.

I may not be on the Jedi Council, but I sure am great with the Force.

See my WSO blog posts

7/25/13

Disincentivy:

Hi Betsy,

I have 2 questions and would appreciate your response:

1- Do all schools use Kroll as a background check service? Isn't Kroll under HireRite umbrella?

2- How do they verify self employment?

Thank you in advance.

Hi Dis,
I actually don't know the answer to question 1. I do know they all do standard background checks, but I haven't dug into their vendors. Kroll is the one most frequently mentioned, but that does not mean that every school uses them. And yes, Kroll is part of the HireRight group: http://www.krollbackgroundscreening.com/about/hire...

2. I've had a number of students who have been self employed pass the background check process without any issue at all. In fact, they never mentioned a thing. But here's a comment from a Poets & Quants article from last Jan on the subject:

For example, a Wharton MBA grad who had run her own marketing consulting business before attending B-school says, "Kroll simply would not leave me alone! I ended up having to dig through boxes of old files and provide my former company's articles of incorporation, bank verification of our business checking account, cancelled checks dating several years back, corporate meeting minutes, and even the cell phone numbers of my ex-business partner and some clients --all just to confirm that my company had actually existed, that I was compensated, and that I conducted operations as stated in my essays. The Kroll verification process took almost 10 days -- and was more stressful that the entire application process."

Sadly, the reality is that background checks are part of the admissions process. But I have never had anyone I ever knew or worked with tell me stories like the one above. But that's just me, perhaps.

Hope this helps
Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

7/29/13

Hi Betsy -- when submitting a resume for business school applications, what is the preferred method of formatting the resume? Should you approach it like a job application resume -- highlighting your professional skills and expertise while keeping it well formatted with white space -- or should you attempt to cram as much as possible -- social leadership and community activism specifically -- on there? I know a lot of schools already will ask you to report your extracurriculars on your application, so is it best to have a 'cleaner' resume as you would for professional applications or should the business school resume attempt to have as much information as possible on it?

A normal HR person will look 30 seconds at your resume to pick things out, but I am not sure if adcom people are given this same time stamp or unlimited amounts of time to read everything on your resume

7/30/13

Hi Short, so sorry to take so long to get back to you. I ALWAYS think cleaner is better. First, here's the download link for a template that I created based on the Stanford GSB recruiting resume. http://admittedmba.com/downloads/index.php

But remember, work experience is really the first reason they care about you, (your beta) unless you are running a professional non-profit. The "other activities" are alpha. So lead with the beta and you won't go wrong.

But having said that, please do take advantage of the last few lines of your resume to make yourself look human. Not over the top, but more than "seen 15 countries in 15 years."

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

8/3/13

Hi Betsy,

During my late teens and early twenties, I got a little carried away travelling the world and ended up spending 5 years on the move. During this time I supported myself by developing skills as a chef and working in this Industry.

The question is a hypothetical one: If I meet all the admissions criteria of the likes of HBS or Stanford supported by very strong and relevant work experience (2-3 years), excellent extra curriculars, excellent GPA and GMAT score, would i be ineligible for serious consideration by admissions due to the additional 5 years work experience accrued whilst travelling even if they are not relevant to my new career trajectory?

Many Thanks!

8/4/13

japes:

Hi Betsy,

During my late teens and early twenties, I got a little carried away travelling the world and ended up spending 5 years on the move. During this time I supported myself by developing skills as a chef and working in this Industry.

The question is a hypothetical one: If I meet all the admissions criteria of the likes of HBS or Stanford supported by very strong and relevant work experience (2-3 years), excellent extra curriculars, excellent score, would i be ineligible for serious consideration by admissions due to the additional 5 years work experience accrued whilst travelling even if they are not relevant to my new career trajectory?

Many Thanks!

I don't see why your five years of working and figuring out the ways of the world would in any way detract from your candidacy. I think it makes you more interesting, to be honest.
You make a great point about the hypothetical: all the admissions criteria, meaning the grades, the scores and probably working in some kind of work environment that has more of a structure than your previous five years.
You need to check most of those boxes.

If you are worrying about AGE, then I don't think it really is that big a deal provided that you can offer leadership experience in your most recent career. If you tell me more about what is hypothetical and what is your genuine best guess, I might be able to answer in a less generic fashion.

Personally, I like the chef and travel angle. But that, alone, won't do it. Assume it might add to an otherwise excellent candidacy. Probably won't detract.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

8/4/13

Betsy Massar:

japes:

Hi Betsy,

During my late teens and early twenties, I got a little carried away travelling the world and ended up spending 5 years on the move. During this time I supported myself by developing skills as a chef and working in this Industry.

The question is a hypothetical one: If I meet all the admissions criteria of the likes of HBS or Stanford supported by very strong and relevant work experience (2-3 years), excellent extra curriculars, excellent score, would i be ineligible for serious consideration by admissions due to the additional 5 years work experience accrued whilst travelling even if they are not relevant to my new career trajectory?

Many Thanks!

I don't see why your five years of working and figuring out the ways of the world would in any way detract from your candidacy. I think it makes you more interesting, to be honest.

You make a great point about the hypothetical: all the admissions criteria, meaning the grades, the scores and probably working in some kind of work environment that has more of a structure than your previous five years.

You need to check most of those boxes.

If you are worrying about AGE, then I don't think it really is that big a deal provided that you can offer leadership experience in your most recent career. If you tell me more about what is hypothetical and what is your genuine best guess, I might be able to answer in a less generic fashion.

Personally, I like the chef and travel angle. But that, alone, won't do it. Assume it might add to an otherwise excellent candidacy. Probably won't detract.

Betsy,

You are a legend, I cannot express my appreciation for your interest, insight and advice.

It may come across as though I am speculating on my path in the future, however I am feeling a sense of urgency (probably AGE related) and I am trying to develop a strategy to achieving my ambitions. I will give you a brief overview of my background and my plans for the future.

I currently hold absolutely no qualifications. No GCSE's, No A-levels, although I have always been naturally academically talented and intellectually and culturally curious, I found the state education system incredibly stultifying. I left school at the age of 15 and started work, labouring in construction. I have always enjoyed study and continued to educate myself outside of an official curricula, which in a strange and slightly ironic turn of events has left me with a surprisingly broad knowledge base as i begin my undergraduate studies.

I am starting my studies at Trinity College Dublin in the coming academic year studying Philosophy, Political Science, Economics and Sociology. The admissions criteria is very selective and I think it is has the most competitive point requirements of all arts degrees in Ireland (don't quote me on that), it may be due to this competitive admissions criteria that half of last year's graduates achieved first class honours (I think thats an equivalent of GPA of 4). As I will focused on my studies (as opposed to doing shots whilst wearing a toga) and I am confident that I will be able to achieve first class honours. The structure is similar to the traditional PPE and I plan to drop, sociology and political science in year 2 and 3.

Currently, I am in the process of networking in order to start up a hospitality management consultancy (I have management, michelin guide and international experience to draw upon). I plan to operate this business part-time whilst I study, partly for experience and partly because It would be a travesty to pass up on the opportunity to apply some of the ideas I have been concocting during my travels.

I will, however prioritize securing internships for over the summer months and put any extra curricular enterprises on hold. I know Trinity College Dublin has recruitment links with some of the more reputable management consulting firms (including Mckinsey) and I will fight tooth and nail to secure an Internship MC firm, I would also particularly like to get an Internship with an NGO if possible.

Post graduation, I will attempt to find employment In the notoriously cutthroat and competitive management consultancy sector armed with my fresh degree. I am confident, mature and my perception is that I think in a way I think would be attractive to prospective employers in the sector, so I will work hard to enter the jobs market with the highest tier firm that will take me on.

Regarding the GMAT, I have been led to believe that both economics and philosophy majors generally do quite well on this, hopefully I will score high enough to satisfy the requirements of the top tier business schools.

I am painfully aware that this may be construed as a speculative flight of fancy as opposed to a tangible strategy, however it is perceived, it is nonetheless my plan of action. Any wisdom, advice, or criticism is greatly appreciated and thankfully received!

Many Thanks Betsy!

8/4/13

japes]</p> <p>You are a legend, I cannot express my appreciation for your interest, insight and advice. /p><br /> I have never been called that, and am indeed humbled. </p> <p>[quote:
I am starting my studies at Trinity College Dublin in the coming academic year studying Philosophy, Political Science, Economics and Sociology.

I know Trinity College Dublin. Great school. If you don't get a first, you are in trouble, it appears.

Currently, I am in the process of networking in order to start up a hospitality management consultancy (I have management, michelin guide and international experience to draw upon). I plan to operate this business part-time whilst I study, partly for experience and partly because It would be a travesty to pass up on the opportunity to apply some of the ideas I have been concocting during my travels.

sure you really need business school?
I will fight tooth and nail to secure an Internship MC firm, I would also particularly like to get an Internship with an NGO if possible.

It might make sense to try your hand at consulting -- see whether it is all it is cracked up to be. As for an NGO, if this is for checking the box, I think that isn't necessary, given your history. If it is because you are interested, it sounds like you will have a lot on your hands with your startup, so maybe you can just connect that startup with community work.

Regarding the GMAT, I have been led to believe that both economics and philosophy majors generally do quite well on this
. Not so sure. It's not a linear relationship. It's a computer adaptive test, and kind of a head trip, so you need to be wary of overconfidence.

I am painfully aware that this may be construed as a speculative flight of fancy as opposed to a tangible strategy, however it is perceived, it is nonetheless my plan of action. Any wisdom, advice, or criticism is greatly appreciated and thankfully received!

Many Thanks Betsy!

The only part that doesn't make sense is the decision to go into the "notoriously cutthroat" management consulting industry. That's not how I would describe it. But what's missing, especially since you have a very interesting background and approach, is why you would want to do consulting in the first place. It might be too much structure for you -- clearly you have an independent streak. Also, consulting feels less vogue these days than entrepreneurship, so not quite following the reasoning. I get the sense that consulting is good for people who want to tell others what to do, but not do it themselves. You seem to be much more hands-on and creative.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

8/5/13

Thanks Betsy, your perspective is very useful in analysing my decision making processes.

sure you really need business school?

Haha, I think so. Although I have a strong grasp of many of the elements of business administration, I think a MBA would give me a more holistic and wide reaching comprehension of the field. A top school would be particularly beneficial in the context of networking and a prestigious 'merit honour badge' (tongue in cheek) that would hopefully give me some clout in the business world.

. Not so sure. It's not a linear relationship. It's a computer adaptive test, and kind of a head trip, so you need to be wary of overconfidence.

Ok, i will definitely bear that in mind. I've been looking at the GMAT material, it does seem to be quite tricky, the questions I looked at seem to be looking for a process of deductive logic to be demonstrated. Perhaps I should intermittently test myself and improve on the areas I am weak on.

The only part that doesn't make sense is the decision to go into the "notoriously cutthroat" management consultancy industry. That's not how I would describe it. But what's missing, especially since you have a very interesting background and approach, is why you would want to do consulting in the first place. It might be too much structure for you -- clearly you have an independent streak. Also, consulting feels less vogue these days than entrepreneurship, so not quite following the reasoning. I get the sense that consulting is good for people who want to tell others what to do, but not do it themselves. You seem to be much more hands-on and creative.

Perhaps the internet is strewn with wounded and burnt out management consultants weaving tales of treachery and politics, I'll take their anecdotal evidence with a pinch of salt.

I'll briefly explain the logic behind my plan of going into management consultancy. My interest in MC is supported by a few points.

Firstly, I want a entry route into the USA. I hope that a MC firm will provide me with an opportunity to transfer.

Secondly, although I am hands-on and creative, I think a spell in a structured quantitative environment would round my skills well and hopefully help me in the future with invoking confidence with potential investors. I think that combining natural generative creativity with the structured framework based approach to problem solving of consultancy would be a very, very strong combination.

Thirdly, My network sucks (yes it is varied and global, but i literally know only one or two successful people in the business world.) A few years with a MC firm, would hopefully help me develop a better and more rounded set of connections.

I feel that career management consultants in general are risk-averse entrepreneurs who crave a bastion of stability to cling to. I do however, think that a spell in the sector would be very beneficial to my professional development. I do want to be an entrepreneur, my plans are in place to help me develop my capacity to implement repeatability and scalability to my idea's.

8/7/13

Hi Betsy,

I want to create a 4 year action plan that will help me get into the best possible school that I can given my situation. I graduated from a non target last year with a sub par cumulative gpa (2.9, with a 3.4+ major gpa in econ). There's absolutely no trend in my GPA. While in college, I did many internships and was very involved on campus (started and held leadership roles in clubs)

I graduated in 5 years (don't know if that will hurt). After graduating, I started working full time at a well regarded not for profit as an analyst.

What do I have to do in the next four years to make myself a good candidate for b school (top 20)? What can I do now to make adcom overlook my gpa? Is my low gpa too big of a hurdle to overcome? Thanks for any insight.

8/9/13

Planetbeing:

Hi Betsy,

I want to create a 4 year action plan that will help me get into the best possible school that I can given my situation. I graduated from a non target last year with a sub par cumulative gpa (2.9, with a 3.4+ major gpa in econ). There's absolutely no trend in my GPA. While in college, I did many internships and was very involved on campus (started and held leadership roles in clubs)

I graduated in 5 years (don't know if that will hurt). After graduating, I started working full time at a well regarded not for profit as an analyst.

What do I have to do in the next four years to make myself a good candidate for b school (top 20)? What can I do now to make adcom overlook my gpa? Is my low gpa too big of a hurdle to overcome? Thanks for any insight.

first, not sure why graduating in 5 years will hurt unless you were put on academic probation. Schools always ask that, and it's tough, but not impossible to overcome.
The best thing to do would be to go on a campaign to take courses in "prerequisites" for the business school curriculum. Calculus, Business stats, corporate finance (coupled with accounting), and anything else that shows you are a new and improved candidate.

It goes without saying that you should do well on your GMAT. There is a strong correlation between hours studying for the test and a good score, especially if you are guided by the right tutor or test prep company. So there's that.
And then, of course, there's your work -- you didn't mention anything about that. But I will have to say that schools look for strong career progression as well as internal leadership. There are some here on WSO who will say that it has to be one industry or another, but truth is, I've seen people successfully matriculate at top schools from all kinds of industries. It's a matter of performing well, doing extra work, taking on more responsibility, and giving back to the workplace in terms of mentoring and leadership.

That's it for starters; hope it helps.

Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

8/9/13

Hi Betsy,

I am going to business school in order to alter my career path, and believe I want to end up in the financial services/investment management industry. However, I am not 100% committed, and intend to explore other possible industries/roles. Is it okay to admit that I have not planned out my exact post-MBA path in the essays?

Thanks!

8/12/13

Blax0r:

Hi Betsy,

I am going to business school in order to alter my career path, and believe I want to end up in the financial services/investment management industry. However, I am not 100% committed, and intend to explore other possible industries/roles. Is it okay to admit that I have not planned out my exact post-MBA path in the essays?

Thanks!

Hi Blax0r,
Sorry to take so long to get back to you. These summer weekends are, well, my last hurrah, as first-round applications loom. Remember when the October was the month? Now it's mid-September, and I'm scurrying around with everyone else. Ruins a good August.

Now, to answer your question. Let me tell you that you are thinking about it exactly the right way. It helps a lot when you are writing applications to be able to envision a future in a specific career. It helps you wrap your brain around the idea of what you want to be when you grow up, or even what you want to do REALLY. Harvard used to have a question, long since discarded, about your "career vision" and I like that.

The reality is that careers are fluid, and every business school worth its ranking in the top 10 will tell you that students change their minds about careers all the time. That's because you are bumping into such great new ideas about yourself and about what's out there that it's impossible to march forward as if you had blinders on. In fact, a business school would be doing itself a disservice if it encouraged you to stick with the plan.

The other thing is that industries and functions change all the time. If you like financial services because that's been your background, great, but we all know that it's very fluid -- remember the job market in 2009? But it's also somewhat flexible. You could change functions within the industry, or use your financial skills in another industry, or you could go abroad, or you could invent something new. Or you could work for someone who invented something new (Sofi.com?). Who really knows.

So see if you can imagine a path, and if it isn't the one that works out, that's ok. They don't audit you. Promise.

Make sense?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

8/13/13

Betsy Massar:

So see if you can imagine a path, and if it isn't the one that works out, that's ok. They don't audit you. Promise.

Make sense?

Thanks for the great advice Betsy! I'm glad to hear that going into b-school with an open mind on the future isn't going to hold me back. I *believe* I understood your message (see bolded above), and will definitely emphasize a possible path on my applications.

8/14/13

OK, some schools do compare going-in goals with actual jobs landed (see the charts in these slides from Wharton: http://masteradmissions.com/wp/2013/07/01/exclusiv...

But they don't take your diploma away, if that's what you are worried about.
In all honestly, there are too many variables, including macro ones, that will influence your career choice upon graduation. Also, some might choose a career in consulting, say, in the short term, to get to somewhere else in the long term --- there are many variables. You just don't want to look clueless going in, at least on the surface.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

9/4/13

hi betsy,

can you talk a little about the interview process for the M7? specifically, is it better to interview on-campus vs off-campus/skype - i've heard mixed on this, would love your feedback

9/4/13

Hi Dinho,
Thanks for saying hey on the thread. I feel like "the doctor is in" right now. Burned out from some other work I was doing today and realized I missed everyone here!

So... the interview process is different for EVERY school. No kidding. I personally think interviewing on campus is better for you, mostly because you feel the personality of the school when you are there, so you feel more connected, and probably interview better. Harvard has interview hubs, and it's with an admissions officer (all HBS interviews are with an admissions committee member), so if you interview outside of Boston, it's the same.
I know that Skype interviews are more common, but I don't know of a school that uses them as a policy.
I also think that you should concentrate first on getting the interview! Unless you are thinking of Tuck or Kellogg, which require an interview up front. In Tuck's case, they really want you to go there. It's Hanover. If you love it, you love it, if you don't you'll know.
As for Kellogg, you can interview locally or there -- It doesn't really matter, unless you live within a few hours of Chicago; you should just get yourself there.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

9/4/13

Betsy Massar:

Hi Dinho,

Thanks for saying hey on the thread. I feel like "the doctor is in" right now. Burned out from some other work I was doing today and realized I missed everyone here!

So... the interview process is different for EVERY school. No kidding. I personally think interviewing on campus is better for you, mostly because you feel the personality of the school when you are there, so you feel more connected, and probably interview better. Harvard has interview hubs, and it's with an admissions officer (all HBS interviews are with an admissions committee member), so if you interview outside of Boston, it's the same.

I know that Skype interviews are more common, but I don't know of a school that uses them as a policy.

I also think that you should concentrate first on getting the interview! Unless you are thinking of Tuck or Kellogg, which require an interview up front. In Tuck's case, they really want you to go there. It's Hanover. If you love it, you love it, if you don't you'll know.

As for Kellogg, you can interview locally or there -- It doesn't really matter, unless you live within a few hours of Chicago; you should just get yourself there.

thanks for the feedback - i appreciate it. definitely agree i need to get an interview first, but am applying to kellogg so that was where the question came from. good to know on the others though.

9/4/13

Also, Duke has an open admissions policy up to a certain date, and it is worth checking it out.

Now, onto some other news: I have a video about
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATIONS. This is mercifully brief, and discusses all you need to know about getting your recommendations together.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

9/4/13

Also, Duke has an open admissions policy up to a certain date, and it is worth checking it out.

Now, onto some other news: I have a video about
LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATIONS. This is mercifully brief, and discusses all you need to know about getting your recommendations together.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

9/19/13

Betsy,
Please can you evaluate my candidacy for Wharton, Dartmouth (will apply EA), Columbia (will apply ED or possibly J-term), MIT and Chicago? Does my likelihood of admission at Columbia improve if I apply J-term over ED? I am applying next year (fall 2014) in round 1 for admission in fall 2015. My goal post graduation is to either continue work in investment banking or asset management.

I am a Caucasian, American male who graduated from a non-target (top 25 per 2013 US News & World Report) with a 3.6 cumulative GPA in business administration. After graduation, I worked for 2 years as an investment banking analyst at a BB in the US. Afterwards, I worked as a corporate development associate for 1 year at a fortune 100. I have worked as an investment banking associate at a boutique bank for the last year (will be 2 years by the time I apply to MBA programs).

I scored a 760 on the GMAT (quant 48, verbal 47, 5.5 AWA, 8 IR). For extracurriculars, I'm the Director of Development (in charge of marketing and fundraising) for a non profit that has raised over $20k to date since founding 2011. I volunteer at a well known youth mentor-ship non-profit for children facing adversity (will have 1 year of experience by the time I apply to MBA programs) and I volunteer at a non profit for adults learning job interview skills (will have 2 years of experience by the time I apply to MBA programs).

Thank you Betsy!

9/20/13

Hi Masterg, thanks for the questions. I'll try answering one-by-one, since you have a lot to digest.

masterg:
Does my likelihood of admission at Columbia improve if I apply J-term over ED?

I would lean toward early decision. I don't know that J-term is easier, possibly harder than the regular term, in that they are looking for people who are kind of established, that is, don't need the internship. For you, if you wanted to stay in investment banking, then I could see you skipping the internship. But if you do really want to go into asset management, then you probably want the two-year program anyway.

I scored a 760 on the GMAT (quant 48, verbal 47, 5.5 AWA, 8 IR).
I think that's a good number. It's so strange; a 48 score used to be over 80% -- but I think that admissions folks are willing to consider 48 as a strong showing.

For extracurriculars, I'm the Director of Development (in charge of marketing and fundraising) for a non profit that has raised over $20k to date since founding 2011. I volunteer at a well known youth mentor-ship non-profit for children facing adversity (will have 1 year of experience by the time I apply to MBA programs) and I volunteer at a non profit for adults learning job interview skills (will have 2 years of experience by the time I apply to MBA programs)

I think all those activities are laudable and do show that you are have a sense of responsibility to the community. I think that people do look at extra-curricular activities all wrong: no one gets in or gets dinged because of extra curriculars. I think what the schools care about is if you have a "habit" of service -- not just something you figure out you need to do in the last year or so. Anyway, you check the box on that.

So I guess you fall within the profile of the schools you mentioned above. Basically, no red flags. And that's all fine. But I really haven't told you anything you couldn't have figured out by finding the averages for the statistics you mentioned -- all of those numbers are public.

FIT is the most important, and without knowing you, or at least learning more about your, I cannot tell much about your fit for any of the schools you mention. That's what's going to determine whether you get in or not. Your focus, the way you talk about yourself, how you work in teams, how interesting you are, and the quality of your recommendations will all wrap up to paint a picture of your fit with the school.

At this point, my advice would be to take on as much leadership as you can on the job: raise your hand for new projects and go above and beyond to add value to your organization. Also, start your application early! Take your deadlines seriously. I am in the midst of working with round 1 people and everyone is so far behind, and it is hurting the quality of their apps.

If you have any additional specific questions, feel free to ask. As you can tell, I am not crazy about offering evaluations -- I don't think they add much value to you, so I'd rather you ask specific questions and we can go from there.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

9/20/13

Thank you Betsy, that is very helpful. I really appreciate your feedback!

9/25/13

Hi Betsy,

When admissions officers say they are looking for "interesting" people with interesting passions outside of work, what exactly do they mean?

I did my undergraduate at a top 15 school and am currently working in IB at what people here would consider a "top" group (GS TMT/GS FIG/MS M&A/BX R&R). I don't know whether I'll be doing PE/VC/HF/Corporate Strategy later down the line, but I am fairly certain that I would like to pursue an MBA. One of my biggest passions throughout college has been dance - specifically breakdance/hip hop dance - and a large part of my leadership and community activities on campus have revolved around the dance. I am also volunteering at a nonprofit community center where I teach dance to inner city children over the weekend.

I'm worried that, while an interest like this may be unique, I may be perceived negatively due to different societal biases and the generally negative view people have towards the culture. My peers are all pursuing things like entrepreneurship or technology during their free time and I'm worried that being involved in something like breakdance might not have the long-term, world-changing potential that admissions officers look for in candidates. Should I keep dance as a hobby and focus my efforts and free time on something a little more marketable? Something related to start-ups, technology, and entrepreneurship since business schools are starting to view that sector as more desirable?

9/25/13

MCHS11:
My peers are all pursuing things like entrepreneurship or technology during their free time and I'm worried that being involved in something like breakdance might not have the long-term, world-changing potential that admissions officers look for in candidates. Should I keep dance as a hobby and focus my efforts and free time on something a little more marketable? Something related to start-ups, technology, and entrepreneurship since business schools are starting to view that sector as more desirable?

Please do not drop dance as a hobby! That makes you LESS interesting. You are a dancer! So don't change.
I knew a guy who was a techie engineer who choreographed waltzes, so believe me, something not run-of-the-mill is a breath of fresh air.

Running out. I will add more on this in a bit.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/16/13

Hello again, so sorry to take forever to reply. As you probably know, the Round 1 deadlines for most top schools have bunched up since your note. I did say that I would write more about why you shouldn't drop dance, and now I realize that I didn't follow up on my promise.

Indeed, everyone is pursuing stuff like entrepreneurship, and oh how popular it is. I think there is some differentiation in some cases, for example, if the startup turns into a financial success, or ends up being a game-changing force in the industry. But now, it seems that everyone is doing them, and some of them are kind of ridiculous. Look, there's nothing wrong with trying one's hand a entrepreneurship if it is right. I think people learn a lot and wonderful things can happen. But it isn't required for admission, and if it isn't part of what makes someone tick, FINE.
Admissions officers look at leadership in many ways, and classes comprise people with all kinds of talents and interests. If everyone was a mobile gaming entrepreneur in a class, how boring would that be?
Be true to yourself. That's what works. That's what will interest people in you. Dance is powerful. Own it.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/16/13

Hi Betsy,

Thanks for doing this. Your career sounds awesome and I hope I have as much variety/fulfilment in mine. I am considering applying to both the HBS 2+2 program and Stanford's deferred entry program (in next year's application cycle), and am hoping you can comment on whether I stand any shot after looking at my stats (below). While I know you can't say whether I would get in to either place, I'm just looking for an opinion as to whether I'm delusional and would be wasting my time by applying, or whether I may as well give it a go/am a potentially competitive applicant.

-University: Best university in Australia (according to numerous rankings) and one of the best in the southern hemisphere. Top 30 in the world, if you believe rankings.
-Degree: Bachelor of Commerce (Finance major)
-GPA: 3.75-3.85 (cumulative) on the US scale, depending on how I do from now till when I graduate. Major GPA is currently (and potentially will end up as) a 4.0.
-International experience: Spent over 1 year of my degree studying abroad in the US, and growing up, lived in a different country to where I go to school.
-GMAT: 750+ (depending on whether I want to take it more than once- for now, assume 750 and a pretty even verbal/quant split).
Work experience: going into FT IBD at a firm that is a BB (or equivalent) in its home country and nearby areas but probably MM in the US- think Macquarie/Nomura. Interned at the same bank in IB and also have boutique ER experience ("head" intern, if that adds anything).
EC's: apart from spending 2-3 months in South America building homes/community centres/schools/hospitals (stuff of that nature), working at an orphanage and teaching english in poverty-stricken areas, nothing that really stands out- senior research analyst on university's student fund, volunteer experience (Ronald McDonald house- cancer support- and the SPCA- animal cruelty prevention/animal care) here and there etc.
Recommendations: solid (could maybe even say stellar) but no HBS/Stanford alums (not sure how important that is). One academic and one IB reference. Academic reference is from a professor in the US (school I studied abroad at).
Essay(s): solid, perhaps the strongest part of my application.

Looking forward to reading your thoughts. Thanks again.

10/16/13

Hi notthehospitalER,
First, can I tell you how much I like your name? I have no idea what it means, but I do like it. And I certainly do appreciate your kind words.

Regarding the programs you talk about, I think there's no real reason NOT to apply. I mean, what's the harm? $100 for the fee? which is quite a bit lower than the regular MBA application fee.

Anyway, I've possibly published this before here on the WSO site, but I'll reprint it again; this is from a Dee Leopold webinar on June 1, 2013. She spoke about all things admissions, including 2+2:

Q: Are the qualifications for a 2+2 applicant different than for a regular applicant?
A: Qualifications is probably a word I wouldn't use, but I would say that as we evaluate college seniors, rising seniors, obviously we are evaluating you relative to other people in that cohort, I would say that when we are admitting the 2+2 group we have fewer data points in which to assess your fit, the likelihood of you thriving here, the likelihood of you benefitting from this degree then we do for someone who's been out 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 years. So that I would say that our academic hurdle is rock solid for 2+2 candidates. It's not a particular hurdle, but we are looking for people who have done very well academically. .. with the 2+2 cohort, we need to pay particular attention to your academic record.
---------------------------------------
She also said that the cohort is very small, about 100 students, and they are perfectly happy to see you apply again after 2+ years of work experience if you don't get in this time. In fact, she says people reapply later all the time and do get in.

One thing, if you can figure out how to speak another language or live in another culture other than the US, I think that's useful, so the South America work is interesting. I also think that elected or selected leadership positions of note are also helpful. This is beyond volunteer work, which is fine, but really should be meaningful.

I'd also like to point out that having an alum as a recommender doesn't matter, and it's much more about the quality of what they say about you.

Does this help?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/16/13

The username was made when I was thinking about going into equity research, but doesn't really mean anything haha.

Thanks for your advice- it helps. Am I correct in assuming you're saying I won't get laughed out the door if I apply? I've always heard that international experience is a good thing in applications and I have a lot of it, so was hoping that since I check all the other boxes (at least, I think I do- correct me if I'm wrong) that my international experience will help separate me from other candidates. I was also hoping that my volunteer work overseas would show leadership/community involvement- is this not true?

10/16/13

All your assumptions are true, but they still don't mean that you will get admitted, because it's really about who they determine are tomorrow's leaders today. And that's different for every class.
And so what if you get laughed out the door? You're tough, you can take it.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/17/13

Haha I can, but don't want to waste my time if there is no shot- however, I'm still going to apply. Thanks!

10/17/13

Hi Betsy, big fan and long time lurker. Heres my profile;

- Top 30 undergrad business school
- 3.1 GPA
- 720 gmat
- 2 years audit and due diligence big 4, NY
- 1 year Equity research top IB in West Africa
- 1 Year (at matriculation) Impact investment PE fund in West Africa
- minority (pretty obvious where from)
- Strong ECs - most especially for community service (math teacher to inner school kids, head of 2 school clubs, advisor and volunteer to African healthcare org (almost a decade))
- Post MBA goal is to continue in PE in an emerging market

There isnt much to be done to strengthen my profile between now and R2 deadlines, but assuming my recs and essays are solid, what are my chances for HBS, WBS, CBS, Booth, Kellogg, Stern, LBS and Yale.

10/18/13

Hi Rich, Thanks for the inquiry. I'm afraid I don't do odds, as they really don't add much value to anyone, and there are just way too many variables. So I will comment on your candidacy in general, and hope that helps.

I think your West African heritage is a big plus, but it's not the only driver here. I've worked with African candidates before and while you are underrepresented, schools want to make sure you can do the work. So a 3.1 GPA might be a little bit on the low side, depending on your trend and the kind of courses you took. It's like, getting a C in organic chemistry is not equal to getting a C in accounting. (The organic chemistry C is often par for the course).
Your 720 looks good, but of course the Quant/Verbal split matters.
Now if you are from W. Africa, assuming you speak French too? That's a bonus.
Goals make perfect sense, so you are good there.

As for the schools, well, the good news is that you are diversifying your risk, if you are really applying to all 8 schools. But I do wonder what the connection is between all those schools for you. Kellogg? Yale? I love those schools personally, but they have very distinctive personalities, and aren't looking for the same type of person who would be happy at Wharton, Chicago or LBS. Or maybe not?
Convince me.

Finally, not sure what a "top 30 undergrad business school" means. Not that it may matter, but if you had a 3.8 from that school, your admissions path might be a bit easier.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/18/13

Thanks a lot Bets. Like I initially thought, my app execution needs to be top notch. I'll probably shoot for 5 of those schools. Yale and Kellogg is all about diversifying. Regardless, I think they are excellent schools. My post mba PE position will solely be from my own network and not on campus recruiting and my contacts are fine with both schools. Thanks a bunch.

10/21/13

Keep us all posted on your progress. A lot of folks on this forum are interested in real stories that they can relate to.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/21/13

Hi Betsy ! Question for you that I think you'd have good experience answering with your professional experience experience in investment management... these more so pertain to the 'experienced professionals' type jobs that MBA applicants can apply to off the beaten track of typical MBA hiring

Obviously in b-school resumes you focus on leadership/team items a bit more than you normally do in professional resumes but do you think that for relationship focused roles in investment management its better to highlight these leadership/community roles rather than leave them out (for roles in private banking, investment management etc)? Or do you think no one really cares about these things on the professional side so much?

I've definitely had some strong leadership roles in starting/launching some mentoring programs and since I am aiming for relationship-focused roles vs quanty analyst roles I'm thinking they might hold greater value to show more people-based/initiative/social entrepreneurial type ventures..HOWEVER.. the issue of space comes in then.. and worrying about cramming

Do I keep the senior/junior year internships(including the financial advisory internship from 8 years ago) to show I have some client advisory experience on the wealth management side

Do I axe GPAs and GMATs given a- gmat doesnt matter to most non-MBA pipeline roles (although it is 700+ with a higher quant)and b- GPA from college is far enough out (although NYU post bacc is only a couple years removed and is a 3.76 -- will it look odd if I left the NYU but removed undergrad gpa as if im hiding something?)

OR -- do I just slightly decrease the font and try to cram everything on there? :D One person said it might fail the '30 second rule' of trying to look and see everything while retaining a good amount of space on the resume..

Thoughts/feelings/suggestions?

10/21/13

Hey Short, I think there are a lot of variables, and it's hard to answer in a broad-brush way. If GPA is good, it takes up so little room, why cut it? GMAT? meh, I think sometimes it looks like the candidate is trying too hard if he or she isn't coming straight from b-school, but that's personal.
Leadership? well, it really depends on how it is presented. And there are 1001 ways to present, so I am not sure I can really opine. I've got a moment or 2, so you can send me a few versions or highlight what you are talking about and I'll see if I can get you back an answer today.
Mondays are a bit unpredictable, but I'll do what I can.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/21/13

Hi Betsy,

Can you assess my profile for some of the top 8-10 schools? Wharton, Columbia, Tuck, Booth, Sloan, Stern, Kellogg, Haas, Darden, Yale... I would like to target Wharton, Columbia and Booth given my finance background, and desire to likely stay in the field. I won't likely target Stanford because of my age and profile - but I wonder if it would be worth it for me to try for HBS (given they have plenty of Asians-in-Finance already)...

I'm essentially trying to narrow down a list of 4-5 schools to apply for R2. I would like to try for Wharton, Columbia, Booth and fill in the gap for 2 more schools (but not sure what I should try for based on my profile).

General context before my stats - I made a career switch from S&T to corp fin and M&A IB because I realized what I would be doing in banking is of much greater personal interest and has more broader skill sets that could allow a branch out to other things (e.g., corp dev/industry) vs. being in a very niche-S&T area. And, I was also interested in private equity (which I had exposure to in my S&T group) and knew I needed IB experience for it. PE is a long-term career goal, but understandably post-MBA PE is difficult (possible, not very probable) without pre-MBA, so I would be happy with continuing in banking.

I think my general positives would be I have recognized, blue chip names on my resume, and international experience having worked in multiple countries. But I don't have much extracurrics since college, and I'm probably an older candidate.

- Female, Asian, 28-29
- ~3.6-3.7 GPA at top tier Canadian undergrad business
- Top-tier BB (GS/MS/JPM) in nyc, new S&T group - Helped with business development aspect of new group, a lot of client and external party interaction
- Big 4 in Canada, corporate finance team (kind of like mid-market IB essentially), new group - Small and top-heavy team, which meant I had a lot of autonomy and responsibilities beyond my title. Had an early promotion, and was selected for a special strategy secondment for the firm
- Top-tier IB boutique/BB's Asian office - M&A and general corp fin mandates and prospective deals across various Asian countries
- Not much extracurrics besides personal interest activities. But I did get involved with helping with recruiting at my past firms, training new interns/mentorship, etc.
- Didn't take GMAT yet, but I know I need to get at least 700+

Thanks in advance!

10/23/13

Evangel:
I'm essentially trying to narrow down a list of 4-5 schools to apply for R2. I would like to try for Wharton, Columbia, Booth and fill in the gap for 2 more schools (but not sure what I should try for based on my profile).

General context before my stats - I made a career switch from S&T to corp fin and M&A IB because I realized what I would be doing in banking is of much greater personal interest and has more broader skill sets that could allow a branch out to other things (e.g., corp dev/industry) vs. being in a very niche-S&T area. And, I was also interested in private equity (which I had exposure to in my S&T group) and knew I needed IB experience for it. PE is a long-term career goal, but understandably post-MBA PE is difficult (possible, not very probable) without pre-MBA, so I would be happy with continuing in banking

Hi Evangel, I am reposting this from memory -- I wrote something last night I was really proud of, and poof! it went away. So thanks for the question, and I appreciate your asking for my thoughts on the two remaining schools.

First, and this is a big first, I want you to think about what you want. I agree that the 3 schools you mentioned: Wharton, Booth and Columbia will set you up quite nicely. So for the other school, I see the list is really all over the place, and -- tough love here -- looks like a list of rankings.

The real question is not "what does Evangel qualify for" but more to the point, where do you think you will thrive? The other schools on the list have very different personalities. The obvious example is Tuck, which is the most self-selecting MBA program of all. Your resume and numbers are fine (assuming a decent quant score on the GMAT), but imagine the admissions director as portfolio manager; the numbers and your resume is merely a first screen. If you were selecting stocks, you would look at at some fundamental metrics, but you really wouldn't select the stock for the portfolio unless you felt that there was something special about that security. In fact, the analyst would have to make a presentation to the investment committee, showing why that stock should be selected -- and whether the characteristics of the stock actually enhance the performance of the portfolio as a whole.

And some stocks fit in some portfolios, and some fit in others. Your job, in this case is to figure out what school, what portfolio of students and experiences, feels right for you. In the case of Tuck and Darden, they actually want you to visit campus --so as a practical matter, you probably want to make a trip up to Hanover sooner, rather than later if that's really on your list. For Darden, they only require you show up in Charlottesville for an interview.

So I encourage you to turn your question upside down on its head: where do you want to go, or, as Poet Laureate Mary Oliver says (gracing the walls of the literal admissions office at Harvard Business School), What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" http://www.hbs.edu/PortraitProject/

Hope that helps,
Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/28/13

Hi Betsy - Thanks for all of the insight, I've been reading this thread for the past few days and would love to get your thoughts on my profile and situation!

College: regional liberal arts school (top 50 liberal arts) 3.64 GPA in Economics
GMAT: 710 45Q/41V (worried my Q is not high enough)
W/E: F500 Finance leadership development program, 2.5 years in w/ good roles (on brand management teams)
E/C: Business Dev/Strategy consultant to entreprenuers in Africa through non-profit, leadership member of mentoring org

B-School Target & Goals: Looking to get into M7, hoping to open doors to consulting (short term), corporate strategy, or VC (really want VC but understand it's difficult to break in).

A. What are your thoughts on my candidacy for M7 (apply next year with 3 years WE)?
3-5 people apply and are accpeted to M7 from my program annually. Thinking I should retake the GMAT and get a better quant score and raise it overall to about 740? Other than essay & rec's is there something else I can do?

B. Options for next 2 years of work: (1) New bus development role at F500 (2) MBB consulting (lateral at entry level)
Pro's for MBB:
- much more prestigous firm than current & don't have a top undergrad supporting my pedigree
- I know I don't want to do finance, gives me an extra re-boot chance to try another industry and get this experience pre-bschool rather than after
- potentially get school paid for
- MBB on resume should open more doors to strategy & VC even if i end up at same b-school (right?)
- learning curve & intensity of experience will be higher

Cons
- will have 2 promotions by the time i switch, would come in at entry level with UG's (how backwards of a step will schools see this?)
- can't start until Q2 '14, will have almost 3 years WE when switching. Will delay b-school app & start by 1 year (apply with 4 go with 5 instead)

Thanks for the wisdom!

10/28/13

Hi GoneGolfing:
So many questions! I am not sure where to begin. First, on the boring obvious data points, I think the 45 might be on the low side; last time I checked, that represented a 68%, which is kind of weak. The 41 in verbal, or 92%, or so, is fine, and to be expected from someone with a liberal arts education. A 3.6 GPA in econ passes the sniff test, but you would be taken care of on the GMAT side if you got all A's in your math classes.

UGH, I wrote a whole bunch more and then I lost it. Really frustrated.
Will have to come back and answer again when I have the strength to rewrite. Something is wonky with this interface, and I apologize.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/30/13

The first question you ask is about three years' work experience, which is fine, if you think you are ready. It's a very personal thing; I've been emailing someone for the last three years, who only now decided he's ready to apply. I've seen at my workshops over the last 2 years a guy who keeps making jokes that "next year is the year." And I talked to a woman who will only have only 2 years at matriculation, and she feels in her heart she is ready. Do you feel that way?

Next -- tell me this -- or tell all of us this who are reading the forum, why consulting? You are working for a company that does something or makes something, and you are getting some interesting experience up close, particularly in a training program which is showing you all around the company. I don't understand why someone would go from a company to consulting, when it feels more natural to go the other way around. The consulting world introduces you to best practices, but you are still on a team telling someone how to run their business (and they probably won't listen). If you are inside a company, wouldn't you have chance to do be more involved with a real product? (service?).

These are just some questions I challenge you with. I could be way off base, and if so, push back. But I don't think that just because you go to a consulting firm you have a golden path to a business school career. See if you can envision yourself post business school; what do you wish you would have done already? And why? (PS the why is the hardest part).

Hope that helps.
Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

10/28/13

Bummer! Thanks for the comments so far, looking forward to the rest : )

11/4/13

Hi Betsy,

Finally rolling into this thread after assessing my options. Just wanted to get your opinion on how to approach admissions in my case. I've job hopped a couple of times (from i-banking to consulting to PR/marketing). I plan to stay in the PR/marketing world for the next couple of years, with a target entry to b-school around 28 years of age. I'm not going in for a career change, but mainly to check off the boxes and progress in my career (with the eventual goal of becoming a VP of Marketing or similar at a top-tier tech company - think Microsoft, Google, etc.)

Given that so many individuals try to use an MBA as a career changer, how do my aspirations measure up in the admissions process? My preference is towards a good part-time program (Kellogg and Booth are my targets)... or perhaps I should also look into EMBA programs?

My undergrad was from a target school, degree in Economics and Management. Haven't taken GMAT yet but my practice exams have given me 730 or so. I have several years to study and perfect my score though.

Currently: clinical psychologist (in training)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

11/5/13

Hi Chica, thanks for coming by! It's nice to see you here, and I am glad you posed the question. Mostly because I am not even sure that the MBA is required for what you want to do.
The reason I say that is because I've seen a number of people with great jobs in marketing at great companies who don't have an MBA. So I first recommend that you take a look at LinkedIn and see if most of the people who have your dream job are following that career path.
Having said that, an MBA could easily accelerate your career in terms of learning and looking at the world from a more strategic perspective. But that doesn't mean you need to "check that box"
So even if checking the box is your real aspirations, you had probably better not say that in your application :-), rather, think more about your broader educational goals.

I see on this forum that people say part-time programs don't have the panache that full-time programs do, but I find that argument specious. It depends entirely on the person, her experience, and her goals. I think that both Kellogg and Booth have *outstanding* marketing faculty and project-related opportunities. I am assuming, you are already in Chicago?
If you are not in Chicago, an EMBA program might make more sense from a logistical viewpoint. I say that because more students will be coming in from out of town in an EMBA program than in the regular part-time program, and the schedule may work better for you.

Am I answering your question? Did I raise more questions?
Just let me know

Thanks for asking,
Betsy

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

11/5/13

Hi Betsy,

Hope this message finds you really well.

For someone interested in brand / product management for a CPG company (e.g., P&G, L'Oreal etc...) how would you recommending thinking about Columbia vs Kellogg?

My sense is that Kellogg has the edge overall on CBS, in terms of overall standing and reputation, as well as class cohesion and alumni network. And obviously it is "the" marketing B-school.

But also have a strong suspicion that CBS benefits from its NYC location. Many slightly smaller companies seem to recruit there (e.g., in the most recent reports, I see that Revlon, Avon, Bloomingdales, Estee Lauder - all HQed in NYC - all recruited or/advertised at Columbia but didn't appear on the Kellogg list, although both had all the big behemoths like General Mills, Target, L'Oreal, Unilever.)

Would love to get your take Betsy - choose the B-School that's reknown for marketing and has a little more "prestige" (splitting hairs here I know)....or the school that (potentially) has greater access to recruiters in NYC despite not being as known for marketing?

Many thanks!

11/7/13

Hi Bloomtodie (it is me, or does this name seem a little morbid?)
So, I guess there's a little bit of putting the cart before the horse here, as my mother used to say (or grandmother? or great grandmother?). I mean, if boKellth interest you, you may as well apply to both, get in (piece o' cake) and then let them sell themselves to you. Because the reality is that they are both great in their own ways. And they both may have a few things you don't love in their own ways.

On the plus side: Kellogg does have a great culture. It's really fun and I think everyone who goes there feels like it is the right place for them. Evanston is pretty, but note, it is not an urban campus. I don't know when the new Kellogg building will be ready, and the current facilities are a little run down. (having said that, you should have seen Stanford GSB before they opened Knight Management Center.It felt like a 2-star Holiday Inn). They are great at CPG and if you look at LinkedIn and check out the career report, as you probably already have done, you'll see some great names.

You are absolutely right about Columbia as far as being in the center of so many great companies, and they don't even have to come to campus for you to get in front of them. This makes perfect sense. And the school is no slouch in marketing either. But it's stronger in finance, so people think it isn't a marketing school. Still, look at the student clubs and you'll even see a Retail and Luxury Goods club on top of a regular marketing club. But the downside is that it isn't as cohesive, and the culture is, I think, a little patchy.

But, here's something that probably isn't easy for you if you don't live close to New York or Evanston, you need to do your own due diligence. The former head of admissions at Columbia (Mary Miller) once suggested just sitting in the main lobby of Uris Hall and watch what goes on there one day. You'll see so much and get a real feel for the school's ambiance. By the same token, if you can, do the same at Kellogg. It's a time commitment, but, worth the investment.

Make sense?

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

11/9/13

Thank you for such a knowledgeable and thoughtful response Betsy

So it sounds like, on paper, there is no 'wrong choice' when it comes to choosing between the two schools (with the marketing career goal in mind). They both have a set of fairly distinct advantages and disadvantages. That's reassuring to know!

My main takeaway is that, even in the case where you get both offers, ultimately it's not a clear decision and will involve doing some personal soul-searching (perhaps with on-campus visits etc.) to figure out which one works best for the individual.

11/5/13

Not in Chicago, although I could very well end up there in the next few years (4 years between now and my application date). To that effect, how do you find the application process for PT vs. EMBA? Are certain items emphasized more in one vs. the other?

Also interested in your answer to @bloomtodie's question!

Currently: clinical psychologist (in training)
Previously: investor relations (top consulting firm), M&A consulting (Big 4), M&A banking (MM)

11/7/13

Hi Chica, I don't think there's any measurable difference in difficulty or complexity between the part-time and EMBA application process, I do think the programs emphasize different things, mostly experience. To be honest, they may be able to guide you toward the right program for you. Part-time and EMBA programs especially are much more customer-friendly in the application process. They realize that their programs are more self-selecting, and they realize also that you have many life choices, and their program must be compelling for you to apply and then matriculate.

Having said that, in general EMBA programs are more expensive than part-time programs; the legacy is that many students were sponsored. Since the 2008 financial crisis and recession, the percentage of sponsored students has dropped. Still, I know EMBA programs do require that your employer know and (morally) support your candidacy, especially since these programs often require you take some Fridays off. Part-time (non-EMBA, but regular MBA) programs don't have that rigid a requirement for your employer to sign off.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

11/6/13

Back with another quick question:

Is overall GPA the most important thing or are individual grades more important? Specifically, my GPA/grades are relatively solid- 2 B+'s, a C+, and then straight A's for the rest. I'm wondering how the C+ (which was not in a class for my major, but in a similar field- my major GPA is currently, and most likely will end up being, a 4.0) will affect my evaluation by top b-schools, and specifically for the HBS 2+2 program and Stanford's deferred admission program?

PS: attended a HBS 2+2 info session and it seemed great (unsurprisingly).

11/12/13

Oh dear, did I not respond to this? I am so sorry. Sometimes I get rather tied up with stuff, like, say deadlines?
Overall GPA as a headline is important -- sure, but they do drill down to see how you do. If you got slacker grades in your freshman (adjustment) year, but got your act together, that's all a positive.
Your major may or may not be important. I think that the ability to be able to excel at a number of things at once, math, for example, and social history. Makes for a good dinner table conversation, rather than someone who is just good at one thing.
Anyway, if you are a good student with an interesting background, good leadership, and have taken advantage of all opportunities to learn and grow, you are as competitive as anyone

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

11/12/13

Oh dear, did I not respond to this? I am so sorry. Sometimes I get rather tied up with stuff, like, say deadlines?
Overall GPA as a headline is important -- sure, but they do drill down to see how you do. If you got slacker grades in your freshman (adjustment) year, but got your act together, that's all a positive.
Your major may or may not be important. I think that the ability to be able to excel at a number of things at once, math, for example, and social history. Makes for a good dinner table conversation, rather than someone who is just good at one thing.
Anyway, if you are a good student with an interesting background, good leadership, and have taken advantage of all opportunities to learn and grow, you are as competitive as anyone

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

11/12/13

Thanks. More specifically, this is the situation:

I am a student at a top school in Australia on exchange in the US. Specifically, on exchange here in the US I got a C+ last semester due to mitigating circumstances- my mum was going through chemotherapy (had her last session yesterday!) and a class I was taking coincided with the end of her session each week. As a result, I missed a bunch of class because she wanted to skype with me after chemo, and my grade suffered. I got straight A's apart from that one class, and am currently on track for straight A's/close to it this semester also. Next year (when I'll be in the US volunteering and writing a book during a semester off that I have) if I have the opportunity to retake that same class at a different university in NYC (rather than where I'm on exchange, for proximity reasons), say during their summer session, is it worth retaking the class to get a better grade? Will it significantly help/hurt my application either way?

11/12/13

It's really hard to plan tactics like this-- I have t be honest. If you want to retake a course because you feel you missed something, then please feel free to do it. If you are just gunning for a 4.0 because you think it will get you into Harvard, I cannot advise. Really. That's not the part of the process I can really help on.
Every application is different. You may get in with a C+ and you may not get in with an A+. Write a book, have a live, love your mom. As someone whose mom also had cancer, I think that's more important, and am glad you made the choice to talk to her when she was strong and willing to chat.
Decide what's right for your life and go with it. And that also means not letting your entire world revolve around a program that admits 100 people a year.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

11/12/13

Thanks. Regardless of what my posts sound like, I won't really mind if I don't get it- to me, applying is a zero risk potentially high reward scenario, so I'm going to give it a shot. Probably won't retake the course in that case, I can get anything I missed for free by going over the material myself; I'd only retake it if it would improve my chances of admission because the class costs a few thousand dollars. Sounds like it might not be worth that.

11/12/13

A few thousand? Yikes! Buy yourself a nice vacation!

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

11/12/13

Haha I'll consider that, thanks!

One more question, if you don't mind- in a scenario like mine, what kind of services do admissions consultants offer/in what ways does hiring an admissions consultant help?

11/13/13

Ah, what a lead in to promote admissions consulting services. That's kind of fun. But in your case, I wouldn't be too heavy handed, but actually just do some brainstorming and helping get your story down. You are young, you are enthusiastic, and you don't have a million years of decisions to explain. I would find a few themes and talk you through them, help you connect the dots between your work life, your outside-of-work life, your philosophy/hopes and dreams, and your character.

But as Dee Leopold has actually said, "Your story is your story" and while you cannot change that, especially a C+ in a Friday course, an admission consultant can help you tell the interesting parts of your story, your inner rock-star as it were. Most, but not all, the people I've met in this business are more interesting after a few personal conversations. I like to make sure that the cool part shows, not the "I work hard and am always at the top of my class" story. The latter is so boring. Tell me about your own quirky way of thinking about things and where that comes from. That's what would make you one of the interesting voices in the Aldrich classroom.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

11/19/13

Is is then a fair assumption that admissions consulting wouldn't really add that much value in deferred admission applications like HBS, where the essay seems to be truly optional and about explaining parts of an application rather than telling a story? I assume that admissions consulting services add much more value when you actually need to write application essays.

11/19/13

Personal opinion: You'd be crazy to try to get into HBS without an essay. And without a good one.

Betsy Massar
Come see me at my Q&A thread
http://www.wallstreetoasis.com/forums/b-school-qa-...

Ask away!

11/13/13

Betsy Massar:

It's really hard to plan tactics like this-- I have t be honest. If you want to retake a course because you feel you missed something, then please feel free to do it. If you are just gunning for a 4.0 because you think it will get you into Harvard, I cannot advise. Really. That's not the part of the process I can really help on.

Every application is different. You may get in with a C+ and you may not get in with an A+. Write a book, have a live, love your mom. As someone whose mom also had cancer, I think that's more important, and am glad you made the choice to talk to her when she was strong and willing to chat.

Decide what's right for your life and go with it. And that also means not letting your entire world revolve around a program that admits 100 people a year.

Betsy - is this not literally the textbook case of what the optional essay is meant for in b-school apps?

"I have great grades but due to a serious family illness, my grades suffered in one course/one semester. As you can see from the rest of my transcript this is not at all indicative of my usual performance and I will hope that, given the extreme circumstances, you will overlook and not penalize this particular part of my application."

Every adcom I have met seems very personable and friendly and I cannot imagine they would bat an eye at this. Maybe I am being naive.

@notthehospitalER I'm really happy to hear your mom's chemo is over. My best wishes to her and the rest of your family. Cancer is the worst.

Hi, Eric Stratton, rush chairman, damn glad to meet you.

11/13/13

Thanks, appreciate the kind words and the advice.

11/13/13