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Getting on the wait list can be frustrating, especially when you’ve been wait-listed at one of your top choices. You should still congratulate yourself on the accomplishment because it means you’re close to being accepted. Many candidates are denied admission outright, so pat yourself on the back.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that with most business schools, you still have more work to do. Begin with the following steps:

· Be sure to contact the number provided by the school, if they’ve provided one, and let them know you are still interested.

· Let them know in writing of your continued interest.

· Write down the contacts you have at the school, whether they’re alumni, students, faculty, or admissions committee members. You may consider contacting them about your waiting list status later in the process.

· Some wait-listed applicants also visit the schools and meet personally with admissions committee members regarding their candidacy. This also shows great interest and drive to attend the school.

Just sitting back and waiting for an acceptance letter won’t help your candidacy, but well-thought-out moves based on why you were not originally accepted can. In order to figure out the reason for not being accepted, contact the school by phone or simply reassess your application based on statistics available on the school’s website for their class profile.

Weak GMAT. If based on GMAT scores, retake the GMAT. Each person is allowed to repeat the test up to five times a year. Take a course, if you didn’t originally. They are likely to improve your score. Send the updated scores to the school.

Weak Transcript. There is little you can do to dramatically improve a weak transcript. However, enrolling in courses and receiving good grades in business school preparatory classes shows initiative, interest, and improvement. Also consider sending in an additional recommendation from a professor that can attest to your academic strength.

Weak Work Experience. Let the school know about any added responsibilities or roles you have taken on since applying. Leadership or management roles may be especially helpful.

Weak Community Service. Send updates about leadership roles you’ve taken within community service organizations. Consider sending a recommendation related to your community service work, especially from a current student.

Weak Professional Goals. Consider telling the admissions committee more concisely where you have been and are going. You may do this in an interview, especially if you have yet to interview, or in a letter directed to an admissions committee member.

For a few schools—such as HBS or Wharton—that ask that you do not contact or update them, it’s best to follow their directions. Do not contact them. A concise, thoughtful recommendation from an alumnus or student may help, but otherwise allow them to simply make their own decision based on your previously submitted application.

With any school, be sure all correspondence is substantive and be careful not to overdo it. Use your people skills to understand when you have done enough.

At most top MBA programs, interviews are a required and important part of the application. Even where they are not required, they are generally recommended by admissions staff.

The interview offers admissions committees the opportunity to access a candidate’s ability to verbally communicate who they are. They see a candidate’s charm, beyond their written expression and their ability to think on their feet. Overall, a candidate should aim to behave in a manner that encourages conversation and open discussion. However, this requires practice. A few guidelines are the following:

· Aim for consistency with the written application. Candidates should be sure to review essay questions prior to the interview and make responses align with their written responses.

· Research the school. You may even want to have knowledgeable questions in mind for the interviewer related to the school’s program.

· If you tend to be nervous in interview situations, find a way to relax yourself.

· Be honest!

· Be prepared especially to explain your weaknesses and make them strengths. Avoid using the old, “I’m a perfectionist line.”

· Support your answers with examples.

In practice sessions with friends or co-workers or individually (ideally still aloud), practice the following themes:

College and (Graduate education if applicable). Why did you attend the college you did? What was your experience like? How were your classes? Which ones in particular stand out? What were your college extracurricular activities?

Job. Why did you choose the job(s) you chose?

MBA. Why? Why now? Why at ___? Where else did you apply? What is your top choice? Where would you like to work in short and long term? What curriculum methods interest you?

General. Tell us about yourself, according to your resume. Where do you see yourself in five years? Why do you leave the house each day? What is your opinion on random business issues (ethics, current markets)? How would people describe you, including friends, co-workers, and supervisors? Describe your style of leadership, your approach to ethical questions. Describe your strengths and weaknesses. Rate yourself in terms of motivation, teamwork, organization, loyalty, work ethic. If money was not a worry, what would you do?

Step 4: Application Components

Although there are many components to the application, the following are common concerns of applicants and admissions committee members.

· Essay. Overall, tell your story honestly and with humanity while always answering the question. Describe your teamwork successes and work both in and out of the workplace.

· GMAT. Take a practice test and assess your scores against the ranges of your target schools. If your score is not up to par, consider a professional test preparation course. Give yourself adequate time to reach your target score and practice.

· Interview. Interviews are generally relaxed, but it’s recommended that you practice prior to your interview. Review your application, the school’s website, and come ready to have a good conversation. Avoid extreme wordiness, shyness, and poor eye contact, which all can come across as poor preparedness.

Step 5: Choosing Your School

· Consider attending the weekends for admitted students, which will give you a chance to meet admitted students and might help you decide on a school.

· You also may consider getting in touch with current students, faculty members and admissions staff.

· Reassess location benefits, reputation and your goals.

Step 6: Summer Before School

Take advantage of the opportunity to get to know members of your class at local events or online forums. In addition, if you’re in need of preparation consider taking refresher courses. Some students also take this opportunity to travel or visit friends and family, as school and work may not allow for extended trips or visits in the near future.

Step 7: Getting a Job

The process varies according to the school and your interests. Generally, if you are interested in a field that is typical of students in your program, you will find that the business school has its own process you can follow as soon as 1-3 months after you begin your study. If you are interested in an atypical path, you might have to do additional legwork on your own in terms of making contacts and getting interviews. Yet, each school will help you perfect cover letters and resumes and tailor them to the jobs you want.

Posted on February 3, 2009 by Manhattan Review

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Recommenders should be individuals able to comment on your preparedness for business school, your past experiences, and your personal and professional attributes. A recommender need not be a big name at your company or elsewhere, but most importantly someone who knows you well.

Sometimes this aspect of the process is frustrating. Your recommender is pressed for time, forgets they promised you a recommendation. But you can make it easier on yourself and your recommender by making sure you:

· Provide them with a copy of your resume, even essay draft.

· Meet with them (whether by phone or in person).

· Give them a clear understanding of deadlines.

On the recommendations themselves, if you feel appropriate doing so request that your recommender address how they know you, your accomplishments, you vs. others in similar roles, your strengths, and your weaknesses. As a rule, the more specific a recommendation is, the better the recommendation is.


Your resume is also an important selling point to the admissions committee. It should be flawless and in a style the admissions committees find suitable. Some schools, for example, insist that the resume be one-page, so you should adapt, cut, and edit to their expectations. Some guiding principles to follow include the following.

· Do not include high school experiences in your business school resume.

· List your work experiences first, before your education.

· Do not state your objectives.



Do the best you can and give yourself adequate time to prepare. Take a review class or seek out private tutoring to ensure that your score is as good as it can be.

Undergraduate GPA

It can not be changed. For some it will be a strength, for others a weakness. Consider explaining in an optional essay, for example, a low GPA, but do not make excuses. Professional or academic successes post-college do say a great deal already.

Extracurricular Activities

Do not simply list these activities. Make sure that you also explain them and their importance to you as well as your particular accomplishments. If you do not have at least 4 extracurricular activities, consider explaining why: Were you working? Were you fulfilling other personal or professional roles? What in the future would you like to do outside the professional sphere? How will you ensure that you are able to do so?

Posted on November 17, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Business schools often ask candidates several essay questions. Generally, schools ask about the applicant’s professional goals and experiences, achievements and/or leadership roles, impact, ethical dilemmas faced, specific events/role models that led you to where you are and where you want to be, and disappointment and how it was handled.

The goal of the essay is to fill in the picture that the admissions committee has of the applicant. The essays should be seen as your opportunity to show, explain, and support your candidacy. In the essay portion, the admissions committee wants to get to know you better and understand why you want an MBA, why now, and why at their particular school. Also, they want to know how an MBA is going to help you achieve your goal in both the short and the long term, as well as what you uniquely have to offer. For some applicants answers to these questions are clear; for others, they require greater introspection. Regardless of whether your answers to these questions come easily or with difficulty, you must be sure that your essays answer these questions. This is one of the foremost concerns of admissions committee and it may seem elementary—but you must ANSWER THE QUESTIONS. They ask the particular questions they ask for a reason, and they want answers to those questions, not to other ones. Your answers should be precise, clear, and straightforward, even if you employ creative styles in your answers. Do not leave them guessing.

Optional essays are an opportunity for you to provide additional information about yourself. You can explain pitfalls, gaps, hardships, or highlight items that have not been properly illuminated in other areas of the application.

Once you have decided on where to apply you are ready to begin attacking the essay portion.

· Create a list of different experiences you’d like to cover in the essay section. You may consider categorizing these according to leadership, team experiences, and growing/learning experiences.

· Read over all essays, required and optional, for a given school. Determine which experiences you’d like to cover in which essays or if any experiences are best left out as a result of being difficult to match with a particular school.

· Outline Essays. Your outlines should include a thesis, supporting points and specific examples.

· Write freely. Do not concern yourself yet with whether or not a particular point is helpful or harmful, just write.

· Edit. This will most likely be an ongoing process. Admissions committees want to see well-edited, clear, concise prose—this may require the help of a trusted friend or seeking out an admissions consultant. The committees read your essays several times so even minor mistakes are likely to be noticed.

Posted on November 10, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Piecing together a full application may at first seem daunting, but applicants from a variety of backgrounds with a variety of personal and professional obligations continue to do so from year to year, in ever increasing numbers. So there is no need to feel discouraged from the outset by particular application components. Instead, begin by figuring out what you will both offer and get out of an MBA program.

Overall Advice:

There are a few guiding principles to follow in the application process.

· Match yourself to programs. Through research, going to campuses, and talking to students and/or alumni, you can begin the process of understanding what MBA programs can offer you and whether your background experiences are suited to a program. Consider the strengths of particular programs and whether these complement your interests.

· Remember also that schools want diversity. Do not assume that simply because your professional experiences are out of the ordinary for a school that it should be automatically eliminated. Your application gives you many opportunities to connect yourself to the school (and, uniqueness is a plus).

· Schools do not frown upon candidates that come from less known or small companies or less represented professions. Make your function and the function of your organization or company clear, and it will likely be a strength in your application.

· Apply in the early application rounds. B-school applications are not something to rush through.

· Send in your applications once you’ve completed them. Sometimes server problems arise at the last minute as many applicants are trying to get applications in.

· After submitting applications, take a couple of days to rest and then start preparing for interviews.

Posted on November 3, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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The addition of a presentation component in the University of Chicago’s graduate application also acknowledges Microsoft’s PowerPoint as an essential tool for today’s tech-savvy, business world. “No one in business today could pretend to be facile in business communications without PowerPoint,” said a declarative Clarke L. Caywood, associate professor of integrated marketing at Northwestern University in an interview with The Chicago Tribune. “It’s like being able to read.”

First created in 1984 at Forethought, a small software company in the Silicon Valley, the visual aid program was originally titled Presenter. In 1987, Presenter was acquired by Microsoft, where it quickly became known as PowerPoint. Now PowerPoint is an internationally recognized program, with 500 million registered copies creating an estimated 30 million presentations a day, but despite PowerPoint’s obvious popularity in the corporate world at large, until Chicago’s recent addition PowerPoint hasn’t been utilized in MBA graduate applications.

Surveying other top B schools recently to see if they too are eagerly adding the presentation element to their own graduate applications, surprisingly, many are doggedly sticking to the essay question. Brent Chrite, associate dean and director of the MBA program at the University of Arizona’s Eller College of Management, recently told The Arizona Daily Star, “[the PowerPoint presentation’s] an innovative and interesting idea. It’s just not clear to me how that format lets you capture the [applicant’s] depth of insight that’s important to us.” A recent email from the admissions committee at Dartmouth College’s Tuck [SCHOOL OF BUSINESS] shares a similar, albeit frank response to the PowerPoint-presentations-in-future-applications query, “We do not require and do not envision requiring a powerpoint.”

Countering this, Martinelli asserts that today’s business environment consistently demands brief yet informative communication. MBA applicants should then readily reflect their capacity to work under these constraints, and a PowerPoint presentation is the best means of judging that quality. “Whether it be e-mail, PowerPoint or a two-minute elevator speech, successful businesspeople need to learn how to express their full ideas in very restrictive formats. We feel the new application requirement represents this very common challenge,” said Martinelli in an interview with EditorsChoice.

Perhaps, as Martinelli told BusinessWeek, there is a “buzz in the market,” and more B schools in future MBA graduate applications will eventually adopt the PowerPoint presentation as a valid form of an applicant’s disposition and achievements. For now, though, many B schools are concerning themselves with enhancing their essay questions. Many top B schools now have more contemporary essay queries like Harvard’s, “How have you experienced culture shock?” and the University of California, Berkley’s Haas {SCHOOL OF BUSINESS}’s, “If you could have dinner with one individual in the past, present, or future, who would it be and why?” that provoke more personal responses.

After a successful pilot, the highly esteemed University of Chicago’s Graduate School of Business has officially accepted the PowerPoint presentation as an integral component of their graduate application. In addition to the two traditional essay questions, a mandatory four-slide PowerPoint presentation will be included as a means to better know their prospective students and attract more innovative thinkers to the university. “We wanted to have a freeform space for students to be able to say what they think is important,” Rose Martinelli, associate dean for student recruitment and admissions at the University of Chicago and key admissions officer behind the decision recently expressed in an interview with The Washington Post. “To me this is just four pieces of blank paper. You do what you want. It can be a presentation. It can be poetry. It can be anything.” Although this ambiguity may seem a bit daunting to MBA applicants, Chicago has set the following ground rules:

 * The PowerPoint presentation must be no more than four slides.
* The presentation must consist of “static” slides, or slides that do not contain hyperlinks or video as each presentation will be printed and added to their application file for review by the admissions committee.
* A Word document containing notes may be attached to the presentation if an applicant feels a further explanation of his or her slides is necessary.

As to Martinelli’s expectations: “I really don’t know what we’re going to get,” she recently told The Washington Post. However, after reviewing thousands of pilot presentation submissions this past year, Martinelli does know that more conservative slideshows did not fair as well. With only four slides given, a nebulous question and the desire to stand out, it may seem instinctual for applicants to immerse themselves in constructing the visual aspects of the presentation first. However, an applicant’s first focus should be finding something distinctive about themselves that would be beneficial for the Chicago admissions committee to know and was not previously addressed in earlier essays. Only after securing a sound topic should applicants “get creative” with their presentations through the use of strong pictures, legible fonts, and colors. In addition, applicants should also bear in mind that their projects will be printed out before they are judged by the admissions committee. “You could tell when someone figured out how to work with the ambiguity and really embraced that,” Martinelli told BusinessWeek, favoring the applicants who weren’t “going to play it safe and regurgitate what is in my application already.”

Martinelli later conceded to BusinessWeek that the university may “put some further context or shape around it [the PowerPoint presentation],” but for now, the former guidelines and restrictions (and ambiguity) will apply.

Below is the actual PowerPoint question you can find the Chicago GSB application.

Chicago GSB PowerPoint Presentation

We have asked for a great deal of information throughout this application and now invite you tell us about yourself. Using four slides or less, please provide readers with content that captures who you are.

We have set forth the following guidelines for you to consider when creating your presentation.

The content is completely up to you. There is no right or wrong approach this essay. Feel free to use the software you are most comfortable with. Acceptable formats for upload in the online application system are PowerPoint or PDF.

There is a strict maximum of 4 slides, though you can provide fewer than 4 if you choose.

Slides will be printed and added to your file for review, therefore, flash, hyperlinks, embedded videos, music, etc. will not be viewed by the committee. You are limited to text and static images to convey your points. Color may be used.

Slides will be evaluated on the quality of content and ability to convey your ideas, not on technical expertise or presentation.

You are welcome to attach a document containing notes if you feel a deeper explanation of your slides is necessary. However the hope is the slide is able to stand alone and convey your ideas clearly. You will not be penalized for adding notes but you should not construct a slide with the intention of using the notes section as a consistent means of explanation.


Posted on October 18, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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October has arrived. If you are considering applying for an MBA program in the fall of 2009, now is a good time to begin the process. It’s certainly not too late. You’ll still be likely to be ready to apply in rounds 1 or 2, which offer a pretty good chance of acceptance.

Order of Attack


Preparation can last anywhere from 1-6 months, but 2 months usually is an adequate prep period. Though study can be done individually, taking a course or seeking out private tutoring provides disciplined structure and guidance for your study.


Take the GMAT as soon as you feel ready. If you take it by end of October, you should have the needed time to retake the GMAT (including an additional 1 month prep) if your score is not what you desired.


During preparation, look into different MBA programs. Look at them from as many angles as possible, including ranking, conversations with current students and alumni, correspondence with admissions officers and visits to campuses. Ultimately, select a range of schools you’d like to apply to. The most important criteria to use in determining where to apply is: What places are best suited to your personality, professional and academic history and goals? There are a variety of recommendations as to how many schools to apply to. Some say as few as 3, others as many as 8 or 10. Ultimately, you want to have some options, so lean toward more rather than less, and be sure to include safety schools. You may consider seeking advise from an admissions consultant to determine where it might be best to apply.


Ask for recommendations as early as possible, giving each recommender ample time to complete the forms on time.


The entire process and especially the application involve a great deal of self-evaluation. In this stage it will be most important that you recognize your strengths and weaknesses, and determine how you will express these in your applications. This will also be important in your interview. It is generally recommended that the application show your true self. There is no need to conceal mistakes; the incorporation of constructive explanations for faults, mistakes, or minuses will allow the admissions committee to develop a clear perception of who you really are. Admissions officers especially dislike fakeness and falsehood in applications.

Essays too require evaluation and most importantly they require time, time not only to write, but time to think as well. It is recommended that you spend between 50 and 100 hours on your essays, depending on the number of schools you apply to. Admissions advisors recommend that you devote your energy in particular to making sure each application explains why you want to attend particular programs.

6. INTERVIEW (Should occur as early as possible)

Interviews require preparation. Reviewing your application and practicing interviewing skills with a friend or co-worker is useful. Also, some individuals try to interview as early as possible at a local school and use this interview to test their skills, as well as to inform themselves of answers or approaches that seem to work, and those that do not. And, as your parents or friends have said to you time and again, be yourself and relax.

Posted on October 16, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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Set in the old industrial city of Pittsburgh, Tepper seeks business school students whose backgrounds prove them to be genuinely good and hard-working people, the type you’d like to share an office with. Offering its students a range of extracurricular activities during business school and boasting a superbly functioning administration, which makes the interview and job application process much smoother, Tepper is becoming an increasing attractive location for an MBA. Such flexibility and openness is also displayed in their waitlist policy which allows you, once placed on the list, to update your file, even add a recommendation, before they rank their waiting list applicants. Recently, Tepper has been flooded with 2008-2009 applications, receiving possibly 14% more than last year. In terms of getting into Tepper, just as for other schools, it is recommended that you learn as much as can about the school before applying. This allows you to be able to craft your application in such a way that an admissions committee is likely to interpret as a good match to the school. It also allows you to know early on whether the school will be able to adequately suit your needs. Tepper encourages applicants to visit or engage in its online forum to learn more about the school before applying.

Posted on June 10, 2008 by Manhattan Review

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