Thursday, May 30, 2013

Harvard Deadlines for 2013-14 MBA Admissions

HBS has released their deadlines for applying to their MBA program starting in the fall of 2014.

Round 1 - 

Deadline: 9/16/2013 (12noon Boston time)
Decision: 12/11/2013

Round 2 - 

Deadline: 1/6/2014 (12noon Boston time)
Decision: 3/26/2014

Round 3 - 

Deadline: 4/7/2014 (12noon Boston time)
Decision: 5/14/2014

This and all other information is available at the HBS admissions website.

John Couke

Michigan Ross 2013-14 MBA Admissions Essays

Michigan Ross has released their application essays for those aiming to enter their MBA program in the fall of 2014:

1. Introduce yourself to your future Ross classmates in 100 words or less. 

2. a. What about your professional experiences has led you to determine that business school is 
the right next step? (150 words)

2. b. As you have researched MBA programs, what actions have you taken to learn more about 
Ross and what has led you to believe that Ross is the right MBA program for you? (150 

2. c. What career do you plan to pursue after business school and why? (150 words)

3. Describe a time in your career when you were frustrated or disappointed. What advice would 
 you give to a colleague who was dealing with a similar situation? (400 word maximum) 

4. Optional question: Is there anything not addressed elsewhere in the application that you 
would like the Admissions Committee to know about you to evaluate your candidacy? (300 

word maximum)

As always, please review their essay questions at their admissions website.

John Couke

MIT Sloan MBA Admissions Deadlines for the 2013-14 Admissions Season

MIT has released their admissions deadlines for those aiming to enter their MBA program starting in the fall of 2014.

Round One - 

Deadline: 9/24/2013 (3pm ET)
Decision: 12/20/2013

Round Two - 

Deadline: 1/7/2014 (3pm ET)
Decision: 4/1/2014

Reapplicants can submit in either round.

For more information, and to confirm this information, please go directly to the MIT Sloan admissions pages.

John Couke

Harvard Business School Releases their Essay (yes - only one) for the 2013-14 MBA Admissions Season

Harvard Business School has released their essay prompt for those aiming to enter the class of 2016, and apparently it's optional:

  • You’re applying to Harvard Business School.  We can see your resume, school transcripts, extra-curricular activities, awards, post-MBA career goals, test scores and what your recommenders have to say about you.   What else would you like us to know as we consider your candidacy?
They've also included their own instructions on it:

There is no word limit for this question.  We think you know what guidance we're going to give here. Don't overthink, overcraft and overwrite. Just answer the question in clear language that those of us who don't know your world can understand.

And a note in their admissions blog as to whether you need the essay at all:

Maybe there will be admits this year who say we don't need to know anything else beyond the credentials they have already submitted - for them, the application may be "essay-less".

My quick thoughts:

No word limit doesn't mean it's okay to write 17 pages as a response. Conciseness is important.

A bucket list of everything not included in the prompt may not work well either - especially if it reads as a list or is unfocused. Focus is important too.

Whatever the topic you choose, make sure it's important.  By this I mean make sure it says something significant about you that will help the reader to understand more about who you are and what drives you.

Even though Dee Leopold has stressed that some may choose not to submit an essay, I'd imagine that the vast majority of applicants would have something they want to add to their application about themselves. This essay is a good place to do that.

Be sure to confirm this and all relevant directions and instructions at the HBS admissions site.

John Couke

Stanford GSB 2013-14 MBA Essay Analysis

What follows is an analysis of the 2013-14 essay questions in the Stanford MBA application. There are 3 things worth noting as you read this post:

1. These are my opinions based on my experience with successful Stanford GSB admits. They are not suggestions meant for everyone to follow blindly.  A lot of people (most?) have no idea what to do or how to begin the process of approaching essay questions, and for them I have tried to provide some insight here.
2. My approach offers more of a starting point than a finishing point.  You'll find more expansive (and better written) analyses of the Stanford essays online elsewhere.  But as far as initial brainstorming goes, I think this analysis serves its purpose.
3. Be sure to read Stanford's own advice on their essay questions, you can do so here and here. The admissions team at the GSB goes further than most programs in offering information and analysis on their own essays. They will, after all, be reading what you wrote so their advice is therefore worth considering.

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?

Your answer to this question will serve as your introduction to the reader of your application. As with any good introduction, it should be honest, insightful and memorable. And as with any good application essay, it should help the reader feel you could fit into their school's community, and offer something positive to it.

1. There are two questions here - what and why.

a) What

The answer to the "what" part can be almost anything, so it is important that you not limit yourself when brainstorming or evaluating potential topics with someone who knows you and the application process well.  I've seen people write good essays that are based upon a wide variety of topics, so don't rule anything out as you consider your own options.  When you have narrowed down your list of topics, ask yourself two questions about each in order to narrow the list a bit further.  1) Is writing about this topic going to allow me to help my reader understand one of my key strengths or characteristics well? and 2) Is this topic going to show that I possess some characteristic that could be appealing to admissions at Stanford?  Both are important and I don't think you can fully evaluate your topic choice without considering each of these questions.

b) Why

What matters most to you may be the subject of your essay, but it is the "and why" part of the question that really requires introspection. If what matters most to you is to sell something to people all over the world, great, but WHY does this matter to you?  If what matters most to you is to be the best at something, then again, why? With this question your essay needs to go to a deeper level of introspection. If you are driven to do or value something, where has that drive originated from? Maybe the product you sell is nice, but can that alone explain the drive you have to sell it? Probably not. Introspection means an awareness of yourself - what you're good at and why you do things for instance. People with strong levels of introspection tend to be successful at making big transitions (like attending b-school) and contributing to teams of smart people coming from diverse backgrounds (another common trait to the b-school experience).

2. Balance personal and professional, past and future

A good essay will often include personal and professional elements.  Think about it: is it possible that what matters most to you has absolutely nothing to do with your job? It is possible, although it may cause your reader to wonder how you have shaped your career. The reverse is also true: is it possible that what matters most to you is entirely a work-related topic, that has absolutely nothing to do with your life outside of your job? Again this is possible, though I would think it even much less likely, in that what matters most to you should by definition be something you've devoted yourself to (hence the fact that it matters).

In the same way, what matters most to you should optimally touch upon your past, and also your future.  If what matters most to you is dinner tomorrow, then it may sound like you have not considered the question deeply (unless of course you have a really creative explanation for that dinner tomorrow). If on the other hand what matters most to you started and finished in elementary school, your reader might feel they are not getting to know who you are today through your essay.

3.  Key strategy: show proof

No matter your choice of topic, it is important that your essay be persuasive. In order for the reader to feel like the what and why are genuine reflections of who you are, you need to give examples of actions you have taken that show your topic to be true. These actions should not be token ones, but rather strong ones. Imagine if someone writes that protecting the environment is what matters most to them (I am not necessarily endorsing this as a valid topic choice). It would be necessary to detail something they did to benefit the environment in their essay.  Moreover, it would be extremely helpful if what they had done involved continuous effort, rather than just donating money. How did they get involved? What did they do? This is what people mean when they say "show" your passion. 

Finally, I think that showing proof is especially important if your "what" isn't a thing (like your family) or an activity (like driving change in your organization) but is instead a feeling or emotion (like being competitive or not complacent).  All can possibly work as topics - but especially with the latter case, you want your essay to move beyond your thinking and to shed light on the concrete actions you have taken.

Essay 2: What do you want to do - REALLY - and why Stanford?

This essay has two easily identifiable parts: your goals, and how joining the Stanford MBA will help you position yourself to be able to achieve those goals.

1. Your Goals

You should be able to describe both short-term and long-term goals in this essay. I would define a good short-term goal as the best possible thing you can do with the combination of a Stanford MBA and the experience you will bring to the program. Most good long-term goals I have seen in the past involve a mix of three things: 1) they are big, 2) they are global and 3) they impact on other people or society in a positive way. Every year people ask me what the REALLY part means and why it is so emphasized in the question. I give a two part answer:  

a) If you have big, crazy goals, Stanford wants to hear about them.  Don't hide what you are really and truly interested in impacting in the future.
b) If all you are going to explain is that you want the MBA to transition to a typical post-MBA field, like consulting or banking, you probably need to give a bit more detail in terms of why this goal is attractive to you.

2. Why Stanford

This to me is one of the most straightforward questions a school can ask in their application.  It is important that you demonstrate how you feel a strong fit with the GSB using concrete examples. See my previous post on fit for several possible categories of examples.

Essay 3: Answer one of the three questions below.  Tell us not only what you did but also how you did it.  What was the outcome? How did people respond? Only describe experiences that have occurred during the last three years.

Consider the balance of your overall essay set when deciding which essay will work best for you. If, for instance, your essay have empathized more personal than professional examples, then perhaps a work-related story here would balance your essay set nicely.  But in each ace - building a team, improving an organization, or going beyond what was defined or established - there is an opportunity to use either a personal or a professional story.

The three year requirement is not new, but nonetheless it is worth emphasizing that a more recent story will help the reader to understand how you think and act now - rather than how you used to think and act.

Option A: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.

Here let me define and elaborate upon two parts of the question: "built or developed a team" and "performance exceeded expectations".  First, note that you do not need to have been the official leader of the team. You should however have contributed to the team, by helping to define or rework the roles of members, bringing members together or otherwise helping the group get from point A to B. Was your contribution training, motivation, or the development of a mission statement that others could rally around? Be clear as to what exactly you contributed, and how this had a concrete impact on the team's ability. 

Next, you should define how exactly this team exceeded expectations. If numbers or dates are involved then this is straightforward, as the team may have beaten a budget or achieved something well in advance of a target date. But what if the expectations were vague to begin with? What if the expected outcome was not clear? In this and other cases, it is important in your essay that you show a) the initial expectations on the team (or project being managed by the team) and b) how the eventual outcome went beyond that. 

Option B: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you identified and pursued an opportunity to improve an organization.

If someone identifies and pursue an opportunity, they are taking initiative. Initiative is when you decide to do something, and you devote your energy to accomplishing it. In some cases the eventual outcome may not be clear, but taking risk is often part of taking initiative. Have you done this before? Note that it does not have to end in success (though a success story may be more effective than a failure story). But it should be an experience that you initiated, through one of your ideas, and then pursued, by involving or convincing others. Don't forget to state clearly the impact of the improvement you made on the organization. How were those around you affected, and is this impact still being felt?

Option C: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you went beyond what was defined or established.

A truly excellent response to this essay is, to me, part creativity and part initiative. Both are involved in the process of going beyond what is established. Have you ever created a new way to solve an existing problem? This could fit here. Otherwise, have you ever created something new, or changed the way something was done? Any of these could work. They key here is to show that you have experience doing more than just taking orders, or fulfilling the responsibilities that have been handed to you. 

Additional Information

Only complete this section if there is any other information that is critical for us to know but is not captured elsewhere (e.g., extenuating circumstances affecting academic or work performance). Do not include essays. This section is limited to 250 kbs.

As the question shows, you are only meant to use your answers here to explain weaknesses in your application, rather than submitting additional essays about your strengths or accomplishments. 

Overall Comments about the Essay Set

1. Stanford offers a guideline as to how to use your word count (limited to 1,600) across your three essays.  They suggest (only as a starting point they stress): Essay 1 - 750 words, Essay 2 - 450 words, Essay 3 - 400 words.  But this is not hard and fast and as your stories evolve for each question, you may find you have more word count allotted to Essay 1 at the expense (for instance) of Essay 3.  This is natural.  

2. If you are applying to multiple programs, this essay set is not a great one to start with. The questions are unique, and for most Stanford is a top-choice destination.  Given this, it is best to start your essay writing process (and development) on other schools.  Over time your writing will likely improve in both focus and detail, and so only after working through a few other applications should you start in on these questions.

3. This is an essay set.  As with all schools, Stanford will read your essay as a set. Make sure your own voice is consistent and natural throughout the whole thing.  

John Couke

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Stanford GSB Essays for 2013-14 Application Season

The Stanford GSB has released its essay questions for this year, and they are identical to last year's prompts. Stanford's admissions essay page is here, and I highly recommend everyone considering applying to review all the information they include here. 

Essay 1: What matters most to you, and why?

Essay 2: What do you want to do - REALLY - and why Stanford?

Essay 3: Answer one of the three questions below.  Tell us not only what you did but also how you did it.  What was the outcome? How did people respond? Only describe experiences that have occurred during the last three years.

Option A: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you built or developed a team whose performance exceeded expectations.
Option B: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you identified and pursued an opportunity to improve an organization.
Option C: Tell us about a time in the last three years when you went beyond what was defined or established.

The answers for all the essay questions cannot exceed 1,600 words in total.  The school offers a guideline as to how to use your space:

Essay 1: 750 words
Essay 2: 450 words
Essay 3: 400 words

Note however that these are only guidelines, not word limits per essay imposed by the school.

There is also an Additional Information section to the application. Please review all information directly at the Stanford GSB admissions website

John Couke

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Columbia MBA Program Essay Topics for 2013-14 Admissions Season

The Columbia MBA program is the first (to my knowledge) to release essay topics for admission to the class entering in the fall of 2014

Short Answer Question - What is your immediate post-MBA professional goal? (100 characters maximum)
Essay 1 - Given your individual background, why are you pursuing a Columbia MBA at this time? (Maximum 500 words)
Essay 2 - Columbia Business School is located in the heart of the world’s business capital – Manhattan. How do you anticipate that New York City will impact your experience at Columbia? (Maximum 250 words)
Please view the videos below:
Essay 3 - What will the people in your Cluster be pleasantly surprised to learn about you? (Maximum 250 words)
Optional Essay - An optional third essay will allow you to discuss any issues that do not fall within the purview of the required essays.

For more information please see the admissions pages at the Columbia MBA program.
John Couke

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

MBA Essay Goals

Good MBA Essay goals:

are a logical progression of your experience and the MBA

The short-term goal should be relevant to both your experience and the MBA you'll get.  At the same time, any mid-term or long-term goals should be well-thought out and connected to the achievement of the short-term goals.

show you at your best

What is your potential, given your current level of experience and the MBA to which you are applying? This should be seen through your goals. If you can and want to position yourself to be running a company that is changing the world, then this should be in your goals.

confirm your passion

What kind of impact are you really passionate about having on the world? Where does that passion come from? The answers to these questions should be apparent in a well-crafted goals essay. 

are easy to explain/understand and therefore grasp

You don't want to have to spend 2 pages or 5 minutes detailing what your goals mean, or why they are important.  Good goals should be clear and impressive.

are strategic

This is perhaps the most important thing to remember. The goals you put in your application are not a promise, nor are they your father's wish or the instructions from your boss. They are instead a portrait of your potential, an advertisement of what you are positioning yourself to become, an introduction to who you are now and will be in the future that puts you in the best possible light and maximizes your chances of getting admitted to a top MBA program.

John Couke

Sunday, May 19, 2013

UC Berkeley Haas 2013-14 MBA Admissions Deadlines

The UC Berkeley Haas School of Business has released application deadlines for those aiming to enter their MBA program in the fall of 2014 at their official admissions website.

Round 1 - 
Deadline: 10/16/2013
Decision: 1/15/2014

Round 2 - 
Deadline: 1/8/2014
Decision: 3/26/2014

Round 3 - 
Deadline: 3/12/2014
Decision: 5/15/2014

As always, please confirm deadline and other application information directly at the Berkeley admissions website.

John Couke

Wharton 2013-14 MBA Application Deadlines

The Wharton School is now disclosing application deadlines for those aiming to enter their MBA program in the fall of 2014 on the Quick Facts and Dates section of its official admissions website.

Round 1 - 
Deadline: 10/1/2013
Decision: 12/17/2013

Round 2 - 
Deadline: 1/7/2014
Decision: 3/25/2014

Round 3 - 
Deadline: 3/27/2014
Decision: 5/6/2014

As always, please confirm deadline and other application information directly at the school's admissions website.

John Couke

Michigan Ross 2013-14 MBA Admissions Deadlines

Michigan Ross has updated a page on its admissions website with application deadlines for those aiming to enter their MBA program in the fall of 2014.

Round 1 - 
Deadline: 10/1/2013
Decision: 12/20/2013

Round 2 - 
Deadline: 1/2/2014
Decision: 3/14/2014

Round 3 - 
Deadline: 3/3/2014
Decision: 5/15/2014

As always, please confirm this information directly at the school's admissions website.

John Couke

INSEAD Application Deadlines for the September 2014 Intake

INSEAD has updated their admissions website to reflect deadlines for those aiming to enter their program in September 2014.

Round 1 - 
Deadline: 10/2/2013
Interview Decision Notification: 11/8/2013
Final Decision Notification: 12/20/2013

Round 2 - 

Deadline: 11/27/2013
Interview Decision Notification: 1/10/2014
Final Decision Notification: 2/21/2014

Round 3 - 

Deadline: 3/5/2014
Interview Decision Notification: 4/11/2014
Final Decision Notification: 5/23/2014

Please verify all deadlines directly at their admissions website.

John Couke

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Interview with Cambridge Judge Business School's Conrad Chua

I am pleased that Conrad Chua, the Head of Admissions, Marketing and Recruitment at the Judge Business School at theUniversity of Cambridge could take time out of his busy schedule to answer my questions. Be sure to follow his twitter feed or take a look at his blog.

1. How did you get into this line of work? What do you like and dislike about it?

I stumbled into it! Through a previous role, I got to know a recent alum from Cambridge Judge Business School who gave me great insights into the values and ethos of the MBA programme. These resonated with me so that when this role became available, it was a natural choice for me.
I have been in this role for three years now, enough time for me to see talented people go through the entire Cambridge MBA lifecycle - from a prospective candidate to a current student and now as alums. I love hearing their stories about their lives and their accomplishments. And it helps that I have a good, committed team that reflects the values of the school and our community.

The only thing I would like to see change is the harmful way in which MBA rankings are perceived. I value feedback and rankings do measure some very important criteria but we should understand that an MBA experience cannot be reduced to a number.


2. The Cambridge Judge admissions website lists 110 as the minimum required TOEFL score for entering the program.  Should applicants not apply if their score is only 100? How about 105?

Candidates may still apply if their score is 100 or higher in TOEFL.  However, any later offer would be conditional on them undertaking an assessment by the University of Cambridge’s Language Centre.  They may then request that the individual attend an English course prior to the MBA if necessary.

3. Why is the second referee to be a team member or peer? What kind of information are you hoping for?

The Cambridge MBA is a highly practical programme, with a focus on group work and collaboration. This includes real consulting projects for actual clients. As such we need to understand how a candidate works within a team setting, and what skills they utilise and contributions they make when working with others.  The value of a diverse class only comes when people are willing to share their experience and skills with others.

4. Why do you ask as the 3rd required essay a hypothetical question about what the applicant would change about their current organization?

The third question is designed to help us to understand the candidate’s ability to reason an argument and to critically analyse the industry and company in which they have been operating.  It is also an opportunity to demonstrate clarity in writing and original ideas.


5. Cambridge is gaining a reputation for being strong at entrepreneurship. Do you agree, and if so can you give example as to how?

Cambridge cannot help but be strong in entrepreneurship by virtue of the environment in which the business school sits.  Firstly, the wider University of Cambridge is a hub of ideas and innovation, and has been for 800 years.  Secondly, this has infiltrated into the local business environment and the city is renowned for being one of the start-up hubs of the UK – Silicon Fen.  An example of how we take advantage of this is through the Cambridge Venture Project. At an early stage of the programme the students are required to undertake an actual consulting project on a real brief for a local start-up or other entrepreneurial venture. 

6. Some MBA professors bring real-world experience to the classroom. Others focus on academic research. How would you characterize the faculty at Judge?

Our faculty are very international, with a range of backgrounds.  Many have worked in leading global companies and bring that experience into their research and teaching.  Others have followed a more traditional academic path, but will bring “real-world” experience to their work through their engagement with clients on Executive Education courses, or through consulting projects that they may be doing for companies.  One of the benefits of a relatively small programme such as the 150 cohort at Cambridge is that they are open and accessible, available to discuss ideas with the students whom they will get to know by name and not just as another face in a lecture theatre.

7. The Cambridge Venture Project occurs relatively early within the academic calendar. What are the benefits of getting such a hands-on experience so early within the MBA?

There are two main benefits to undertaking the CVP early in the MBA.  As I mentioned previously it is firstly an opportunity to sample the local entrepreneurial scene and to work on a project for a business that is in its early stages of development.

Secondly, it feeds in to the core course in Management Practice. The CVP is undertaken with your study group – up to five individuals with a broad range of backgrounds who will not know each other very well. The exercise therefore also provides insights into how teams form and organise themselves and how this can be managed.  This can then be related back directly to the Management Practice module.

Outside the Classroom

8. Cambridge uses a college system. What benefits does this offer to students in the MBA program?

The collegiate system allows MBA students to engage and network with brilliant minds from across the various disciplines being practiced within the University of Cambridge.  In the past this has even led to the formation of successful entrepreneurial ventures.  It is also a place to socialise and undertake extra-curricular activities.  The Colleges allow participation at all levels, so there is the opportunity to try out a new cultural or sporting activity.  Being Cambridge, rowing is particularly popular amongst the MBAs.

9. Do student clubs and organizations MBAs tend to get involved in originate within Judge, their college, the greater Cambridge community or all of the above?

I see the opportunities for MBAs at Cambridge to be multi-layered.  The Business School Club provides student Special Interest Groups that may be of specific interest to those studying for an MBA.  However students can also engage as part of their College community or at the university level in the amazing range of clubs and societies that only being part of a world leading university can offer.

Thank you Conrad for taking the time to answer my questions!

John Couke

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How to Find and Show Fit with an MBA Program

What is fit? Fit, defined simply, is the linkage between what an MBA program has to offer, and what strengths/abilities/experiences you need in order to achieve your goals. MBA programs are different from each other on many levels, many of which we will explore in this article. One of the most important things an applicant needs to do is figure out which programs really suit their needs, and once they have found such a program, demonstrate this fit in their application and interview. Here's why:

1) It will help you find the right program for you.

This should be self-evident.  If you are going to spend 1 or 2 years of your life at an MBA, and develop skills and a network that will last for many years beyond that, you want to be sure you are in the best possible program - for you.  As noted earlier, not all programs are created equally.

2) It will help you craft a strong application demonstrating why it is best for you.

This is important. In your application to an MBA, you need to demonstrate why their school is the best choice for you. This works on many levels.  First, if you can demonstrate in your application that there is good fit between what the school offers and what you are looking for, you give the appearance of being a safe choice.  In other words, if the school offers you a seat, you are likely to take it - because you have shown you value their school.  Schools are protective of their yield (the percentage of offers made that are accepted by applicants), as a high yield can lead to increased prestige and even higher rankings too. In addition, demonstrating fit in your application makes you a safe choice because it shows the chances are high that you will be a happy student once enrolled (because you'll be getting what you wanted), as well as a happy alum once you leave the program. Failing to demonstrate fit in your application makes you a bit of a wild card: if they admit you, will you choose to enroll, will you be happy there? What if it turns out this program is not what you were looking for or what you really need? This would not benefit you, or the school.  

Given the importance of having a strong fit with a program, it is no wonder that one of the most typical and most important questions you need to answer in essays (and definitely in interviews) is: Why do you want to attend this school?

The list that follows below includes some characteristics of MBA programs that demonstrate how programs differ from each other, and can be used for research, or even towards making clear examples of fit in your essays and interview. It is not exhaustive, but it does serve well as a good starting point.

The Courses

Obviously this is a good initial place to look when considering programs. What do you want to learn, and in particular, in which areas do you hope to be able to do deep dives?  Exploring lists of electives is a good way of seeing which programs offer the education you are looking for.  Moreover, how are the courses organized? If you want to go into HR management post-MBA, it might be wise to study organizational behavior before your internship. Is this possible? What for the banker aiming to go into consulting?  Obviously the MBA offers the typical basket of skills, but will one program make you choose between important electives, where another might allow you to take both? As you consider the ideal courses for you, and even their timing or availability, some programs will rise to the top, while others might eliminate themselves from contention.

Other Academic Opportunities

This section is necessarily broad, because there are so many possibilities to consider.  Here are just two: 
a) Capstone (experiential) programs: are they offered, and if so in the industry or even with a company that will add value to your experience?
b) Overseas trips or study experiences: can you build networks in the places you need to? How much choice do you have in choosing where you might study, and what you might do there?

Clubs and Extra-Curricular Opportunities

What personal goals have you established for your MBA experience? Do you want to be in a place where not only you but your entire family can benefit from the international experience? All programs have some variety of Partners Clubs or events for family members, but further research will help you to find the programs that are ideal for you. What else is important to you? If you desire to be in an Asian Marketing Club, a South American Business Club, or to even create a new club, you'll find quickly that not all programs are created equally.

The Professors

Who will be teaching the programs you wish to attend? Some professors offer benefits over others, such as industry or region-specific experience, a network in a certain field or a research interest in a particular and focused area.  As such, this area of your MBA experience should definitely not be overlooked.

The Characteristics of the Program

Do you value teamwork, or hands-on learning? Again, not all programs are created equal.  Are you interested in learning via case studies or lectures from professors? The difference in the experience here is substantial. Are grades given to project teams, or individual members? How is in-class participation graded?  Are courses graded on curves, with only (for instance) a fixed number of As offered to students? This will define, in many ways, the amount of competition or collaboration between yourself and your classmates. 

The School's Reputation

By this I don't just mean "is the program known for its strength in marketing or finance".  This is of course important, but in addition, does the school have a reputation for helping students change careers? Has its graduates been successful gaining employment in certain industries or functions, or in certain parts of the world? What companies come to recruit on campus? Is the brand or name-recognition of the program high in your own country? If so, it may help to open valuable doors for you. 

The School's Mission

What does the program exist to do? What kind of leaders are they aiming to create? Does this agree with what you want to do in the future, how you see the world, or how you aim to change yourself? 

Atmosphere / Culture and Other Students

This is why it is important to a) visit campus and b) talk with alumni of the program. Because without doing both, it is hard for you to truly envision whether this school is where you want to spend the next 1 or 2 years of your life.  How do students interact with each other in class, on campus, and in social events?  All schools attempt to forge bonds amongst members of their student body - but not all bonds are created equal.  In terms of the other students in the program, this is on one hand very obvious, and on the other difficult to figure out.  You may be able to access demographics of previous classes, but you won't know more about your own classmates until you actually choose a program.  

The Location of the Program

This is not about the weather.  Rather, what opportunities does the program have regular access to?  The proximity of a few top Californian MBAs to Silicon Valley is one obvious example, although it should be noted this entrepreneurial region is visited by MBAs from all over the US (let alone other countries too).  What kind of opportunities are you looking for in your MBA, and beyond? If your goal is to land a job in a top Canadian company, than Rotman, Ivey or Schulich might inch closer to the top of your list.  If learning Spanish or French as a third language is of value to you, programs in Spain or France might work better.  If, on the other hand, your goal is to become a specialist in Asian business, a program in China, Singapore, or even Japan might fit best.

Again, this is not an exhaustive list - there are certainly more places to look. The point here is that what you need most might not be the same as others - so find the program that fits you best, and then give specific evidence of this fit in your application essays and during the interview.

More reading (from admissions counselors):

More reading (from schools):

John Couke

Friday, May 10, 2013

Cambridge Judge Releases 2013-14 MBA Application Deadlines

The Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge has updated its admissions website with application deadlines for those aiming to enter their MBA program in the fall of 2014.

Round 1 - 
Deadline: 10/11/2013
Interview Day: 11/29/2013*; 12/2/2013
Outcome: 12/6/2013

Round 2 - 
Deadline: 1/10/2014
Interview Day: 2/21/2014*, 2/24/2014, 3/3/2014
Outcome: 3/7/2014

Round 3 - 
Deadline: 3/7/2014
Interview Day: 4/28/2014*, 4/29/2014
Outcome: 5/2/2014

Round 4 - 
Deadline: 4/25/2014
Interview Day: 6/6/2014*, 6/9/2014
Outcome: 6/13/2014

7/1/2014 is the final deadline for submitting all application documentation including test scores and references.

* These are telephone interview days only.

Their admissions site also notes that "applicants are welcome after round 4 on a rolling basis and will be considered on a case-by-case basis".

Please confirm this information directly at the Cambridge Judge admissions website.

John Couke

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Columbia MBA Deadlines for 2013-14 Application Season

The Columbia MBA program has updated their admissions website to reflect deadlines for those aiming to enter their program in January and August 2014.

January 2014 entry - 
deadline: 10/2/2013

August 2014 entry - 
Early Decision deadline: 10/2/2013
Merit Fellowship Consideration: 1/6/2014
Regular Decision deadline: 4/9/2014

Columbia employs a rolling admissions process. Read on (and verify all deadlines) at their admissions website.

John Couke

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Stanford GSB 2013-14 MBA Admissions Deadlines

The Stanford GSB has released their deadlines for applying to their MBA program that starts in the fall of 2014.

Round 1
Deadline: October 2, 2013
Notification: December 11, 2013

Round 2
Deadline: January 8, 2014
Notification: March 26, 2014

Round 3
Deadline: April 2, 2014
Notification: May 7, 2014

The applications and recommendation letters are due by 5pm Pacific Time on each deadline.

Please confirm all information directly at Stanford's own admissions website.

John Couke