30 Tips For Your MBA Admissions Success

Fortune may favor the brave, but when applying to business school it is careful planning and meaningful self-reflection that win the day. With round-one deadlines for the world’s top MBA programs less than six months away, this is the time to put together a plan for admissions success. You’ve got a lot of ground to cover: • Introspection about your personal and professional goals • Research to identify the schools that match your objectives • Study for the GMAT or GRE, and any courses that boost your academic record • Outstanding professional performance to strengthen letters of recommendation • Purposeful community engagement and genuine leadership opportunities • Outreach to b-school students and alumni combined with campus visits That’s quite a to-do list, but MBA admissions success doesn’t just happen — you create it. And that means accepting all the challenges that are involved, and not just pursuing the ones you like. You don’t have to go to business to make a success of your life, but this is your chance to shape your own path, and not rely on somebody else’s. To more accurately quote business philosopher Jim Rohn, “Successful people do what unsuccessful people are not willing to do. Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.” So where do you get started? Pursuing the theme of insightful quotes, I asked my colleagues at Fortuna Admissions for their advice, based on years of insider experience working in the admissions offices of the world’s top business schools. Here are their 30 tips for MBA admissions success. Self-Awareness And Defining Your Personal And Professional Goals 1. “Be your authentic self in your application. The most engaging candidates strip away the pretence, and don’t try to fit into a mould.”...

Why More MBAs Should Buy Small Businesses

Searching for a small business to buy and run instead of taking a more traditional post-MBA job like consulting is an idea that we’re seeing catch on at top business schools. At the Harvard Business School, for example, the number of MBAs who decide to look for a business to acquire right after graduation has gone from less than a handful a decade ago to more than a dozen, and in an occasional year, twice that amount. Stanford’s most recent study of search funds also reports a record number of active search funds. Still, we often wonder why more students don’t follow the entrepreneurship-through-acquisition path. One of the most common concerns that we hear as we advise our students at HBS is that searching for a business to buy — a full-time endeavor — is too “risky.” While everyone should surely weigh this choice based on their own individual circumstances and subjective preferences, we think that these concerns about “risk” are misplaced and that searching for a business is less risky than other career paths that are traditionally considered more stable. We put quotes around “risk” because we don’t think our students are focused on financial measures of risk — like the volatility of lifetime earnings — when they tell us that searching for a business seems more “risky” than taking a more traditional job. We don’t think there is much data to assess the actual financial risk of searching in comparison to other more traditional careers because there isn’t much historical data on financial rewards for either career. And, interestingly, while our students talk to us a lot about the “risk,” they don’t talk to us about the money differential; indeed, when they look at the business plans...

4 Stats to Measure Before Signing Up for an MBA...

As a young professional working at the International Finance Corporation, an arm of the World Bank, Bruno de Faria had a solid career but worried his business acumen was weak. “I was a political science major in college. I had a little bit of an international relations background, but my work was becoming more and more related to business – finance, accounting, marketing,” the 36-year-old says.​ “I wanted to develop, personally, those skills.” He decided an MBA would give him the knowledge he lacked, but a business school degree often comes at a cost. Many schools charge students $50,000 or more in tuition and fees per year, and full-time MBA programs usually require a two-year commitment. Business school experts recommend applicants weigh their return on investment before enrolling and how long it will take to recoup the money lost​. The investment includes the time in school, the salary a full-time student gives up while in school​ and the total cost of attendance.​ For de Faria, measuring his income before and after graduation was important. “I looked at my salary going away, our incremental expenses and then what would be the expected salary that I’d get after graduation. So, that would be the return,” says de Faria, whose wife worked while he was an MBA candidate at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business. “Then I looked at in how many years, more or less, what would be my payback period?” Graduates from two-year, full-time MBA programs usually recoup their investment in three and a half years, according to a February report from the Graduate Management Admission Council. Their median cumulative base salary three years after graduation is $348,000. Prospective business school students should consider four factors in determining...

Why B-Schools Struggle to Enroll More Women

Today, women are almost as likely as men to fill the seats of medical school and law school classrooms. Yet the share of women enrolled in MBA programs hasn’t risen above 37.2 percent in the past decade, according to the more than 100 schools providing full-time MBA enrollment figures in surveys by AACSB International, an accrediting organization. “There’s a frustration on the part of a lot of women, and probably men, too, that we haven’t made more progress,” says Amy Hillman, the dean at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. In August the White House convened 150 leaders from top business schools and had them sign a pledge to take steps to boost female enrollment by cultivating potential applicants early on in their education and by offering more financial aid. “When business schools are missing out on a large share of female college graduates, they are missing out on an extremely large share of the top qualified college graduates,” says Betsey Stevenson, a University of Michigan economist who served on President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and helped lead the August summit. “If they want to continue to be a relevant part of the training in the 21st century, they are going to have to make changes that will make them more attractive to women.” Deans say business schools suffer from a unique timing problem. Unlike law and medical schools, which tend to enroll students soon after they finish college, the full-time MBA program is designed for people who’ve already proved themselves professionally. Elite B-schools typically prefer that applicants have about five years of work experience, which means the average MBA student is 30 years old at graduation, Bloomberg data show. Women in their late 20s who...

Silicon Valley May Want MBAs More Than Wall Street Does...

PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel said MBAs are predisposed to “herdlike thinking and behavior.” Venture capitalist Marc Andreessen dubbed them a contrarian indicator, saying “if they want to go into tech, that means a bubble is forming.” In a post on the question-and-answer website Quora, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who earned an MBA from Harvard in 1995, said that while she got “great value” from her experience, she wasn’t ready to recommend the degree to the country’s future tech stars. “MBAs are not necessary at Facebook and I don’t believe they are important for working in the tech industry,” Sandberg wrote. Silicon Valley’s trash talking of the MBA obscures the reality that U.S. tech companies are hiring B-school grads in ever-larger numbers. Business schools sent 16 percent of their 2015 graduates into technology jobs, according to a Bloomberg Businessweek survey of students who’d accepted offers by that spring, making it the No. 3 industry for MBA grads after finance and consulting. By one measure, Silicon Valley values MBAs more than Wall Street does. In 2015 tech companies paid business school graduates more than financial companies did, according to Businessweek’s poll of more than 9,000 MBAs. “If I said all people with a law degree are worthless, what would you say?” says Rich Lyons, dean at the University of California at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. Forty-three percent of its 2015 class went into tech, according to the survey. “It’s such an unwarranted generalization. Firms wouldn’t keep coming back to hire our MBAs if it wasn’t a valuable skill set.” Amazon.com, Microsoft, Google, and IBM were among the 15 companies that hired the most MBAs in 2015, according to data reported by 103 business schools to Businessweek, proof that while...

6 Factors for Prospective International MBA Students to Weigh...

Currently there are more than 450 institutions offering MBA programs in the U.S., with dozens of different concentrations. An MBA degree from an accredited university is one of the most prestigious and recognizable business degrees at the master’s level. Since courses are very diverse and focus on various topics, it offers a wide range of career opportunities. The process of choosing an MBA program can be daunting, especially if you are an international student. Researching your options and getting a grip on what preparations to take is big task. Here are some factors to consider as you start this process to help you make the best decision. 1. Accreditation: It might not be first on your list but it is an important factor: Choose an institution that is accredited. This is a good way to make sure the institution you are researching offers a qualitatively sound program. The number of institutions offering MBA programs is rising, especially online options, but this doesn’t mean that every institution offers you the same value for your money. Since an MBA is a big investment, you want to make sure that you get the best value for your money. Accreditation from the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International tends to be most prevalent among U.S. programs. 2. Requirements: While looking at various MBA programs you want to get a clear picture of the requirements. What tests do you have to take? Is an essay or an interview a requirement? Will references help your acceptance? Every program has different types of requirements or requires different test scores to be accepted. You want to make sure that you know what to expect and that you take the appropriate amount of time to prepare...

11 MBA Programs With the Highest GMAT Scores

Preparing for the GMAT can be a tiring process, but scoring high is critical to gaining admittance to a top-ranked MBA program. At the 11 schools with the highest GMAT scores, incoming full-time students in fall 2015 had an average score of 715 or higher on the admissions exam, which has a maximum score of 800. Stanford University had the highest average GMAT score – 733 – among the 129 business schools that submitted this data. While the average GMAT score at Stanford rose by one point from its 2014 class, the school dropped a spot in the U.S. News Best Business Schools rankings, tying for No. 2. Harvard University, which took over the No. 1 spot in the rankings this year, had an average GMAT score of 725 – one point lower than its fall 2014 average. Harvard Business School also had more full-time students enroll in fall 2015 than any other school that submitted this data, boasting a class of 937. Among all the MBA programs that provided data on GMAT scores, the average was 630, much lower than the 722 average among the top 11. Below are the 11 business schools with the highest average GMAT scores for incoming full-time students in fall 2015. Unranked schools, which did not meet certain criteria required by U.S. News to be numerically ranked, were not considered for this report. Business school (name) (state) Incoming full-time enrollment (fall 2015) Average GMAT score U.S. News b-school rank Stanford University (CA) 733 University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) 732 University of Chicago (Booth) 726 Harvard University (MA) 725 Northwestern University (Kellogg) (IL) 724 Yale University (CT) 721 New York University (Stern) 720 Dartmouth College (Tuck) (NH) 717 Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) 716 Columbia...

What is a free MBA worth in the marketplace?

Coming soon: a tuition-free MBA. It was announced this week from University of the People, which already offers no-tuition bachelor’s degrees. The idea of its new degree is to extend advancement opportunities to people who can’t afford graduate business education. The question is whether an MBA from an untested new program will be worth their time, as many employers may be skeptical of a new degree from an online program. Tuition alone for an MBA from an elite school typically tops $120,000 over two years. A University of the People graduate will pay only about $2,400 in fees. Expenses stay low through online classes and support from foundations. University president and founder Shai Reshef is realistic when it comes to competing with other business schools. “People who can get into great universities which will cost a great amount of money, if they can do it and afford it, they should do it,” he said. The idea is to create a space where people who could never afford any MBA can pick up skills that’ll advance their careers. University of the People’s program is accredited and professors from top global business schools are supporting it. But despite its credentials, it’s still hard for managers who might hire these graduates to gauge the value of a degree from such a new and unusual program. “I’ll be curious to see how employers look at that,” said Russ Poulin, policy and analysis director at WCET, a nonprofit that tracks online higher education. “It is not a brand that is well known.” The value of the degree could increase over time if the program’s reputation grows. University of the People’s undergrad program has already attracted thousands of students from around the world. Reshef said...

3 interview questions every applicant to Columbia b-school must nail...

If you have your sights set on Columbia, it pays to be ready for the kinds of questions they’ll ask during the interview process. Columbia is unique among top business schools in that they don’t require an applicant to undergo an interview as a requirement for admission. However, being granted an interview can be a good sign in Columbia’s notoriously competitive process. Typically, between 5,500 and 7,000 applications to the business school are received each year. In 2010, for example, only 15% were accepted. So answering questions in the right way is key. Here are three sample interview questions from Columbia business school interviews — and tips on how to navigate each. 1. What kind of leader are you? Although this is an open-ended question, it’s best to respond with a concrete example. Giving a list of adjectives, such as “goal-oriented,” “collaborative” or “future-focused,” won’t set you apart from the crowd as much as a brief yet specific story that illustrates the kind of leader you are. Columbia is looking for high-impact leaders who seek out to achieve results — and who get them. However, the way you pursue those results is also important. The school wants students who can work well together on teams and who can leverage the best of what each person brings to the table; after all, these are skills that will serve well not only in the learning community but also in the business world beyond. Make sure to include results in your response. Since Columbia wants high-impact leaders, show how your efforts made a positive impact on a situation or group of people. A good response might include something like, “I am proud to report that we were able to raise $75,000 in...

50 Reasons Why You Should Get An MBA

To MBA or not to MBA? There’s no question! The Masters in Business Administration has been catapulting careers to unprecedented heights since Harvard Business School launched the first ever MBA program in 1908. Today, the MBA is the world’s most sought-after business management degree; the pièce de résistance for many an international b-school. Michael Bloomberg has one, Google CEO Sundar Pichai has one, Donald Trump sometimes says he has one. Heck, even Shaquille O’Neal has one. Basically, MBAs are cool. BusinessBecause (also cool) is in the business of supporting people on their MBA journey all the way from the very beginning. With this in mind, we spoke to MBA students, grads, professors, admissions staff, bloggers and entrepreneurs — and asked them all the same simple question: Why should I get an MBA? Here’s what they said: Browse by category: Click any of the links below to jump to each category Fast-Track Your Career Go Global Entrepreneurship Hard Skills, Soft Skills Networking, Parties and Social Life Me, Myself and I Fast-Track Your Career 1. Go From MBA To CEO Who runs the world? MBAs. MBAs grads hold the reigns of some of the world’s biggest firms: Apple, Google, JPMorgan and Coca-Cola included. 2. Double Your Earnings Get rich quick with a return on your investment in under four years. 3. Change Industry Want to switch from finance to fashion? An MBA is the perfect opportunity to start afresh. 4. Get Access To Top Employers Julia Sanchez, head of global alumni relations at Spain’s IE Business School, says an MBA will “open your eyes to infinite possibilities”. 5. Scholarships MBAs can be costly. Prodigy Finance lets you fund your degree with community-funded student loans. 6. Go From MBA To US President...

Online Tool Helps Prospective Students Find the Right MBA Program...

Prospective MBA students have a new tool to use when trying to find the right school: the “MBA Rankings Calculator.” Designed by the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, the web-based tool allows users to create a custom list of MBA programs by choosing the factors that matter most to them, including salary and placement, employer reputation, and return on investment. Around 250,000 students in the US pursue an MBA each year, and according the US Department of Education the average cost for a year in an MBA program is $30,000. That means the MBA market amounts to more than $8 billion annually. It’s a big business and rankings play a strong role in guiding early decision-making. The Foster School’s Rankings Calculator was developed to help MBA applicants make informed decisions and access diverse rankings metrics in one convenient place. Prospective and current MBA students helped shape the calculator design and select the metrics. “Obviously, we urge MBA candidates to always consider the culture, the community, the location, the student services, program performance and other areas that matter to them when choosing an MBA program,” said Dan Poston, assistant dean of master’s programs at the Foster School. “But we know for nearly all candidates the rankings are a consideration. Not only does this tool help them filter data from multiple rankings to see the results that that are most important to them…it’s just fun to explore how school rankings change based on different priorities.” To achieve this, the calculator leverages data licensed from U.S. News & World Report, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Financial Times, Forbes and M7 Financial. Prospective applicants distribute 100 points across up to 10 metrics. Based on the results, candidates can fine-tune their formula to develop...

7 Money-saving Tips for MBA Students and New Grads...

In business school, you learn how a disciplined, strategic approach to finances helps organizations ultimately achieve great things. Along the way, it becomes important for you to apply that lesson to yourself. The years in business school and then working as a new MBA are, for many, a budget-conscious time. Between leaving your job to complete the degree and perhaps incurring student-loan debt to ease the financial burden, you may need to pinch some pennies before you reach your full earning potential as an MBA. Here are seven ways that soon-to-be and recently graduated MBAs can save money: 1. Make a budget with specific goals. For many people, making a budget is a chore, but not you — as an MBA, this is your bread and butter! Think of it as you would an assignment in business school: What does Company X (i.e., you) need to do in order to meet shareholder expectations (i.e., have enough money to pay all your bills while still enjoying life and generating some savings)? The more specific you can get about your spending allowances and savings goals the better. If you have trouble tracking your expenses and sticking to a budget, try using a free money-management app such as Mint. If you end up with money left over in your budget, consider investing in the future. There are many new companies that help automate this process and optimize your investments, such as Betterment. 2. Cut back on inessentials. In business school and then as a new MBA, you’re exposed to a lot of wealth. It can be tempting to want to join the party. But now is the time to buckle down and wait for the years when you have more disposable income....