Make the Most of The MBA Tour: Create a Targeted School List

The MBA Tour presents an incredible opportunity for you, as a prospective MBA student, to gather information, make contacts, and advance yourself in the admissions process. But to make the most of the event, you will need to consider it a targeted mission rather than merely time to explore. The MBA Tour will have many booths distributing information, including school tables with admissions representatives expounding on their latest and greatest offerings. It is an easy environment in which to get distracted. As such, prior to the event, you should carefully consider your preliminary school list, the programs that are most compelling to you, and information you’d like to collect at the tour to help you finalize a sound school selection strategy. This preparation will help you to stay focused on your own priorities, rather than ending up overwhelmed with extraneous information.

We recommend utilizing the following three criteria to compile a list of ten schools’ tables that you want to visit at the event, and to prioritize your top choice schools (3-5), which you will likely want to spend additional time researching and networking with while there.

1.       Rankings/Prestige: While we would discourage you from judging schools on rankings alone, US News & World Report’s list of Best Business Schools, for example, is still important to consider when gaining an in-depth understanding of how potential employers will view your investment. Many rankings are also based on algorithms that incorporate various factors of interest to students such as quality assessments, placement success, and student selectivity. As such, you might want to research various rankings and find the one that most closely suits your interests.

2.       Geography/Network. The second, and perhaps somewhat surprising aspect to consider when putting together a school list is geography. Place will play a crucial role in your ability to network. Thus, we often encourage students who know they want to end up in a certain location to consider the top MBA programs in that city, or within the geographic region. Similarly, if your goals are related to a certain industry, it can be invaluable to attend a school near one of the industry’s hubs.

3.       Career Placement. The last, but perhaps most critical component, is to develop a thorough understanding of which companies are recruiting and hiring employees from the MBA programs you are interested in. We suggest prospective students gain a thorough knowledge of the information contained in each school’s career placement report and engage with the school’s counselors in the career center to learn more. It can also be helpful to look for student clubs or associations within a business school relevant to your goals (e.g., Finance Club, Luxury Goods Club, Marketing Club), as they will often host events connecting potential employers with interested students, as well as providing other resources.

Enjoy The MBA Tour!  If you’ve thought through your goals and school selection priorities, it will likely be a memorable experience.

Alternatives to Allopathic Medical Programs in the United States

For the 2017-2018 school year, over 51,600 students submitted an average of 16 applications each for placement into a U.S. Allopathic Medical School. With a resulting, 43 percent admittance rate and 41 percent matriculation rate, almost three out of every five applicants found themselves without a spot. While re-applicants made up just under 30 percent of the applicant pool in 2017 – 2018, and schools look favorably on re-applicants, there are some medical career alternatives worth considering.

1.       Osteopathic medicine. According to the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine (AACOM), more than 20 percent of current medical students in the United States are training to be osteopathic physicians. These physicians or surgeons, who receive a D.O. rather than an M.D. degree, are doctors licensed to practice in the United States. While the education and certification paths are similar, differences exist in both the training curriculum and philosophy of patient care. AACOM says, “Osteopathic physicians use all of the tools and technology available to modern medicine with the added benefits of a holistic philosophy and a system of hands-on diagnosis and treatment known as osteopathic manipulative medicine. Doctors of osteopathic medicine emphasize helping each person achieve a high level of wellness by focusing on health education, injury prevention, and disease prevention.”

Osteopathic residency is currently in a transition to a single accreditation system for those pursuing both osteopathic and allopathic degrees. By 2020, all medical internship, fellowship, and residency programs will be accredited by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), whereas previously the ACGME accredited allopathic programs and the American Osteopathic Association (AOA) accredited all osteopathic. The changes are very much underway, and according to National Resident Matching Program 2017 data, 3,590 D.O. candidates submitted rank order lists of programs with a match rate of 81.7 percent. Both the number of candidates and match rates were all time highs.

2.       International Medical Programs. While the U.S. is home to many excellent medical schools, there are also compelling programs in Israel and the Caribbean, which tend to be less competitive from an admissions standpoint. Caribbean schools often have the benefit of rolling admissions, and allow for students to start in January. In Israel you can attend an American Medical Program where classes are facilitated in English, though you may need to acquire some Hebrew for matriculation at The Technion and the Sackler School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.

In 2017, according to the National Resident Matching Program, the number of U.S. citizen graduates of international medical schools who registered for the match and submitted rank order lists of programs declined. However, for the 5,069 who submitted rank order lists of programs, the match rate was the highest since 2004 at 54.8 percent. Match rates tend to be higher among those attending American medical programs in Israel, as compared to graduates of Caribbean programs.

3.       Podiatry School. Doctors of Podiatric Medicine are certified physicians or surgeons who specialize in diagnosing and treating conditions affecting the foot, ankle and related structures of the leg. These Physicians receive a DPM, rather than an MD, and undergo a similar education, residency, and certification process. 

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects faster than average growth in the employment of podiatrists, with projected growth of 10 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is due to the aging population and the likely increase in demand for medical and surgical care of the foot and ankle, as well as for treatment of issues associated with chronic conditions, such as diabetes and obesity, that impact patients’ feet and ankles.

4.       Physician’s Assistant. A Physician’s Assistant works closely with a licensed physician or surgeon as a part of a collaborative medical team and can examine, diagnose, and treat patients under supervision. While certification requirements vary by state, most PAs graduate with a master’s degree from a Physician Assistant degree program and then need to complete a set number of clinical work hours before sitting for the National Certification exam.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects much faster than average growth in the employment of PAs, with projected growth of 37 percent from 2016 to 2026. This is due to the growing and aging population and a projected increase in the demand for healthcare services.

Innovation and Technology: Key Topics in Today’s Law School Curriculum

As the legal industry continues to evolve, so too has legal education. Thus, prospective law students should pay careful attention to the changing markets for legal services, how technology may be disrupting their fields of interest, and how schools on their list are responding to such change.

In a recent Forbes Online article, Mark Cohen describes the changing landscape of legal services as the role of legal technology increases. He references a Thomson Reuters analysis, issued earlier this year, that showed a 484 percent increase in new legal services technology patents filed globally over the past five years, with the majority filed in U.S. and China (38 percent and 34 percent respectively). The analysis reports that these numbers “reflect the rise of alternative legal services—such as virtual law firms—and the rapid expansion of the online legal industry. This trend is in large part being driven by businesses and individuals looking beyond traditional channels for legal advice.” And it supports findings presented in Deloitte’s Future Trends for Legal Services report, published in 2016, which reported data from a survey of in-house legal services purchasers. Over half of respondents predicted technology would replace the tasks of in-house lawyers in just five years. Additionally, respondents reported a need for legal partners that go “beyond legal,” or what a major law firm typically delivers, and incorporate expertise on industry topics, cyber and data security, and proactive knowledge sharing.

The future for practicing lawyers is shaping up to look considerably different from what we’ve grown accustomed to. Cohen predicts that in the future, “Fewer lawyers will engage in pure ‘practice’ and many more will leverage practice skills and a suite of new ‘delivery’ skillsets to perform as-yet unidentified legal delivery functions.“

So, what does this mean for prospective law students? It means they should be paying close attention to how schools’ are adapting their curricular offerings and knowledge center initiatives to integrate technology and business topics. Daniel Linna, Director of LegalRnD at the The Center for Legal Services Innovation at the Michigan State University College of Law recently launched a prototype for the Legal Services Innovation Index. This is a tool that can be used to track and measure innovation in legal education. While Linna warns that it does not measure quality and should not be considered a ranking, in using this tool, prospective law students can quickly gather information and compare technology-related offerings at various schools. The prototype model currently uses ten technology and legal-service delivery disciplines and includes 38 schools. It is not yet a comprehensive tool, but there are plans for increasing its scope.

Most importantly, Linna’s prototype is a much-needed acknowledgement of the changing nature of the field and the need for law schools to think innovatively about how best to prepare the lawyers of the future. “We need to start measuring these things, start describing innovation and measuring it,” Linna said. “We need metrics for what is happening in the legal industry.”

The Center for Legal Services Innovation has also created an innovation measurement for Law Firms, which is in Phase One.

MBA Application Essays: Prompts Designed to Get Beyond Applicants’ Professional Experiences to Gauge Creativity and Assess Values

Throughout the MBA admissions process, schools’ admissions committees are looking to get to know applicants as fully as possible so they can put together a diverse but cohesive group of students. Thus, many schools will require you to respond to “out of the box” essay prompts designed to explore your creativity, communication skills, and values. We examine some such prompts below, as well as some strategies you could consider when responding to them.

Booth Moments Presentation/Essay

University of Chicago Booth

 Exercise:  Booth asks applicants to choose a photograph or “moment” from a small collection that resonates with them, then explain why in an essay or slideshow.

Strategy: While this essay is an invitation for you to showcase your personality and interests to the admissions committee, it is also the only essay requested, which means you must convey a lot of information. We recommend that you organize your essay content prior to selecting a photograph. You’ll want to consider your past experiences and future goals, how the Booth MBA will help you to achieve your goals, and what you will offer the Booth community. Then, look through the photographs and determine the one that will allow you to transition smoothly from the “moment” to the rest of your content. While you do not want the photograph to seem like an afterthought, you do want to make sure that it serves as a means to an end.

Tactics: As a rule of thumb, your essay should be approximately 750 to 1,000 words in length. We recommend the slideshow option only for applicants who are exceptionally well versed in creating this type of visual.

From the Admissions Committee:

Video Questions

Kellogg School of Management and Yale School of Management

 Exercise: Kellogg and Yale ask applicants to respond to several short video essay questions, in order to exhibit their personality, grasp of the English language, and what they could bring to the MBA community.

Rationale: Kellogg states that the video essay questions are “designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper.” Student culture is a key focus in Kellogg’s admissions efforts, and they want to get to know applicants as fully as possible to ensure they construct a close-knit and collaborative class. Similarly, Yale is looking to gauge your communication skills and your ability to think on your feet. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your values, interests, creative thinking ability, and goals rather than worrying too much about the “correct” or expected response. 

Your Strategy: While the video essay may feel uncomfortable at first, it is an excellent opportunity for the admissions committee to get to know you better. Prior to participating in the video essay, review your submitted application and think through your personal goals and interests and how those align with the MBA program. While you do not want to look scripted in your responses, you do want to be prepared, which will help you to relax and show your personality and communication skills.

Tactics: Both Kellogg and Yale provide practice questions that will help you to get comfortable with the format and technology, and we recommend taking advantage of this. You can also practice with a friend using Skype to get a feel for the interview format.

From the Admissions Committees:

Video Statement

MIT Sloan

Exercise: Sloan requests applicants to provide a 60 second video statement introducing themselves to their future classmates. It is important to note that the video will only be used during the admissions process and will not be shown more widely.

Strategy: Familiarize yourself with the Sloan values and culture and then take time to clearly link your own values, passions and goals with those of the greater Sloan community. The Admissions Committee should gain a clear understanding of why you want to attend the school and what you will bring to your class.

Tactics: Create an outline of ideas that you want to express in your video and practice saying the content aloud. While we do not recommend memorizing a script, as you will want to sound natural in the video, we do want you to feel confident with your talking points prior to making the recording. Finally, take advantage of the fact that you can record the video as many times as you want.

From the Admissions Committee:

25 Facts

Duke Fuqua

Exercise: Fuqua asks applicants to create a list of 25 (numbered) facts about themselves, not to exceed two pages.

Rationale: Duke believes that their program is served by putting together a diverse community from each applicant class and that “different types of people, points of view, and experiences bring out the best in everyone”. To get to know you better, beyond your professional and academic background, they are looking for 25 facts that will provide them insight into your likes/dislikes, passions, and hobbies.

Strategy: You will want to use this space to differentiate yourself from other applicants and to provide the admissions committee insight into how you can bring a unique perspective, skill set, or passion to the incoming class. Spend some time thinking through potential facts and talk to your friends, family, and others to brainstorm ideas. While your facts may involve inspirational figures in your life, be sure to keep the focus on yourself. And, while it is perfectly acceptable to use facts spanning your entire life, it is important to note that most should be inspired by experiences you’ve had as an adult (18+).

Tactics: While this is an atypical essay type, remain conscientious about your use of grammar in the facts. They may take on a more conversational writing style, but each one should be technically correct.

From the Admissions Committee:

Pick Six

NYU Stern  

Exercise: Stern asks applicants to describe themselves to the admissions committee and future classmates using six images, a brief introduction, and image captions.

Rationale: This format is reflective of current social media trends, and is becoming a more common form of expression for individuals and brands; the admissions committee is looking for your competency in putting together such a deliverable.  

Strategy: Think of your response to this prompt as you would an advertising campaign or curated art exhibition. Individual pieces should be able to stand on their own, but they must also meaningfully connect and contribute to a larger story. Prior to looking through images, consider first what you could convey overall. Keep in mind the themes of the business school application: innovation, leadership, and teamwork. But also explore other possibilities: a unique passion, a personal mantra, your life’s unique path to this point, future aspirations, and/or how you will contribute to the Stern Community. Additionally, consider a cohesive theme that could bind your images together. To choose your theme, consider your interests and passions, and how you could incorporate them into your image selections. If you are an artist, you may want to select images of your own work, while a movie buff may choose to incorporate screenshots of famous scenes, to represent their strengths and future goals. If you’re an analytical type, don’t let this exercise overwhelm you. Your images don’t have to be pictures, but can also be graphs, maps, or word clouds. Try to find a mix that feels true to you, while ensuring that each image gives the admissions committee insight into your personality.

Tactics:  Do not let the captions become an afterthought. While it is easy to get attached to an image, remember that the words and images must work together to tell your story.

From the Admissions Committee:

Waitlisted? Don’t Give Up Hope. Write a Letter of Intent.

News you have been waitlisted at one of your top-choice medical schools can bring a range of emotions. It’s not the desired outcome, of course, but the game isn’t over. Their admissions committee still sees you as a worthy applicant, capable of handling the rigors of the program.

The number of students who are admitted each year from the waitlist varies based on the school. Highly ranked and competitive programs will typically admit fewer from the waitlist than those further down in the rankings, as they will have a higher yield (acceptances resulting from initial admissions offers).

You can influence your chance of being selected from the waitlist of any school by continuing to showcase your interest in their program. Just as it is critical for medical schools not to overfill their incoming class, they do not want to have empty seats when the school year begins. Therefore, if you can show that you will improve their yield, a key component in medical school rankings, they will be more likely to send to you a letter of acceptance. Engagement with the program through visits and meetings with professors, admissions directors, and current students is an effective way to show interest. But don’t forget to craft a compelling letter of intent too. It should include the following:

  • Meaningful updates since you’ve submitted your application. Did your research study finally get published? What have been the key takeaways in that internship you began in August?
  • Reiterate your interest in the school by citing specific courses, experiential learning opportunities, professors, etc. that make sense given where you’ve been in your life and career so far and where you want to go. Why do you believe you are a good fit?  What will you bring to the incoming class? How will their program help you achieve your goals?
  • Mention any experiences you’ve had on a campus visit/tour or during your interview that increased your commitment to the school.
  • The Yield Protection Statement: “Medical School X is my first choice and, if admitted, I would absolutely attend.” If you can make such a statement, this will be the most impactful component of your letter.

As the waiting game continues, keep in mind that many schools do not use “rolling waitlists.” Instead, they often wait until they have received final admissions decisions from prospective students on May 15th. After this date, prospective students will only be able to hold a seat at one medical school. While prospective students can withdraw from a school if they are accepted from the waitlist into a preferred school up to the point of matriculation, students cannot hold a seat at both schools.

Good luck!        

MBA Interviews: When the Interview Requires More than an Interview

To get to know applicants better, some MBA programs will ask interview participants to submit additional materials or participate in supplementary activities. We have profiled a few of these exercises below to provide you with additional insight. 

1.       Harvard Business School, Post-Interview Reflections

Description: Within 24 hours of the interview, candidates are required to submit a written reflection through Harvard Business School’s online application system. The submission is not a formal essay. Rather, it should be written similarly to a post-meeting summary one would write to a colleague or supervisor at work.  

Rationale:  Shortly after instituting the Post-Interview Reflection, Harvard’s Admission Blog described the exercise as a chance to both get students’ opinions regarding their interviews, as well as a real-world practicum. Professionals routinely need to send emails summarizing meetings and offering assessments and their ability to do this well is critical for workplace success.

Your Strategy: Be genuine and think critically about the interview. What were the highlights? What could have gone better? Were there remaining “gaps” after your interview, and if so, how do you wish you could have addressed these? The post-interview reflection is an opportunity for you to demonstrate real-world critical thinking and writing skills, as well as offer any information that you feel you did not adequately explain in the interview. In other words, Harvard is not expecting your most polished product, but rather a thoughtful assessment of your interview coupled with a compelling communication. As such, this piece should not be crafted prior to the interview, adapted from another essay, or used as additional resume space. However, you may want to take some time immediately after your interview to make notes on areas that you’ll want to include in your submission. Then give yourself a bit of reflection time prior to producing your final product. You’ll want to make the most of this final opportunity to show the admissions committee who you are and how you think.

2.       MIT Sloan, Pre-Interview Essay Submission

Description: Those invited to interview at Sloan will be asked to answer the following question: The mission of the MIT Sloan School of Management is to develop principled, innovative leaders who improve the world and to generate ideas that advance management practice. We believe that a commitment to diversity, inclusion, equity, and well-being is a key component of both principled leadership and sound management practice. In 250 words or less, please describe how you, as a member of the MIT Sloan community, would work to create a campus that is welcoming, inclusive and increasingly diverse. 

Rationale: The interview process is about getting to know applicants more thoroughly. This is a chance to not only demonstrate that your values match those of MIT Sloan, but that you are willing to proactively work to put those values into action during your business school tenure.

Your Strategy: Your response to this question should go beyond what clubs and extracurricular activities you will participate in at Sloan. Rather, it should examine how you will demonstrate leadership in creating a diverse environment and promoting wellbeing among your peers. Using examples from your past leadership experiences, demonstrate your ability to cultivate a positive culture. And be sure to clearly link the perspective you gained from these experiences to what you hope to accomplish at Sloan. 

3.       Northwestern Kellogg, Video Essay

Description: In responding to several short video essay questions, Kellogg’s video essay allows you to further demonstrate what you will bring to the community in an interactive way.

Rationale: Kellogg states that the video essay questions are “designed to bring to life the person we have learned about on paper.” Student culture is a key focus in Kellogg’s admissions efforts, and they want to get to know applicants as fully as possible to ensure they construct a close-knit and collaborative class. As such, this is an opportunity to showcase your personality, values, interests, and goals rather than worrying too much about the “correct” or expected response. 

Your Strategy: While the video essay may feel uncomfortable at first, it is an excellent opportunity to allow the admissions committee to know you better. Kellogg provides practice questions that will help you to get comfortable with the format and the technology, and we recommend taking advantage of this. Prior to the video essay, review your submitted application and think through your personal goals and interests and how those align with Kellogg. While you do not want to look scripted in your responses, you do want to be prepared, which will help you to relax and show your personality.

4.       University of Michigan Ross, Team Experience 2.0

Description: Those invited to interview at Ross will also be invited to participate in the Team Experience 2.0. In this exercise, teams are tasked with developing a business challenge and solution using random words. Then, they are required to present the case to an evaluator, who will ask each group a follow-up question based on the solution they present.

Rationale: The Ross Admissions Committee says that the goal of the exercise is to assess how an applicant can contribute to and problem-solve as a team-member in real-time. This exercise will mimic the format of most business school group work and will demonstrate to the admissions committee your ability to lead, collaborate, and contribute to a group’s shared goal.  

Your Strategy: As you take part in the Team Experience 2.0, you will want to consistently show your leadership and collaboration abilities. This includes ensuring that all members of the team are participating, celebrating and enhancing good ideas, kindly but productively questioning your teammates, and ultimately encouraging the group towards a decision. Similar to the Wharton Team Based Discussion, you will succeed to the extent that your team succeeds. As such, do not become overly competitive or domineering in the discourse. Instead, look for the ways in which you can help your team to determine the best solution.

Top Ten Tips for the MBA Behavioral Interview

If you have been invited to interview at any or all of the schools on your list, congratulations!  Now you must begin preparing for a memorable and acceptance-worthy performance.

1.       Upon receiving the invitation, schedule the interview as soon as possible. This will enable you to avoid scheduling conflicts and select the time of day when you have the most energy.

2.       Read all you can about the school. If possible, schedule a full visit prior to the interview, which often will include a tour, class observation, and conversations with current students. Additionally, talk to current or former students already in your network to gain insight on the interview process and other aspects of their MBA experience.

3.       Review your application and think through how you will coherently explain your path to this point, as well as your decision-making and most meaningful experiences at each step. You will likely have some introductory question(s), which will require a three-minute elevator-pitch response, as well as several other questions that will require you to illustrate your points regarding such things as your ability to thrive in a team-based environment, etc., with specific examples from your work experience. 

4.       Be able to thoroughly explain why the school is the perfect intersection of where you’ve been and where you want to go. Elaborate on specifics, such as courses, professors, and extracurricular activities that make sense given your past experiences, interests, and achievements, as well as future plans. Remember, though, depth is better than breadth.  We would rather you explain at length one or two specifics that really set that school apart for you, than briefly mention of 7-10 attributes.

5.       Be prepared to weave into your responses what you will be able to offer the school. Make it clear how your experiences and interests, personal and professional, will benefit the school and create a stronger, more diverse MBA class and alumni base.

6.       Think through your career successes and failures and consider what you learned from both. Especially when answering a question regarding a failure, it is vital to spend only 20 percent of the response covering the situation. The rest should be devoted to action you took to prevent similar failures going forward and what you’ve learned as a result.

7.       Determine if there are any red flags in your application materials, and, if so, craft a response that addresses the issue without making excuses.  For example, if asked about the ‘C’ you received in calculus sophomore year, make mention of those specific areas in your transcript and post-baccalaureate experience that are more indicative of your ability to compete in a rigorous academic environment.  

8.       Stay current on domestic and international news. The Economist is a good, wide-reaching source for this. You will also want to be aware of any news related to your current company, industry and desired career path as these are great topics for an interviewer to draw from.  Setting up google alerts for key phrases related to your company and industry will help.

9.       Prepare three questions for the end of the interview, which will show your knowledge of and enthusiasm for the school.

10.   Compose a hand-written thank you note on high quality stock, and snail mail it to your interviewer. In the note, thank them for their time, reiterate your interest in the school, mentioning a specific or two, and if you can, make note of something memorable you spoke about during the interview.

The Wharton Interview: Excel in the Team Based Discussion

An invitation to Wharton’s Team Based Discussion can be as nerve-wracking as it is exciting. But with preparation and the proper mind-set, it can be an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think on your feet and respond under pressure. To ace the interview, consider the following tips:

1. Prepare thoroughly. After you receive the scenario, create a proposal and know it inside and out. Practice your presentation, out loud. Present in front of a mirror, or a live-audience of friends. Be sure that you feel confident about your ability to present your idea in a relaxed way, showcasing how you thought through the exercise. While, you don’t want to memorize your presentation word-for-word or sound overly rehearsed, you do want to be able to describe your idea in an articulate and conversational way. Your interview day may include other activities, such as attending a lecture and/or interacting with current and prospective students. You will want to be confident prior to arriving on campus with no need for last minute prepping.

2. Be prepared to explain and answer questions on your proposed idea. You can do this by considering what questions may arise from your proposal and writing out your responses to them. The more people you can share your idea with and collect questions from, the better. After working with an idea for a long period, it becomes harder and harder to poke holes in it. Let your friends, co-workers, or parents help you with this process.

  • To help you start, make sure that you are comfortable responding to the following.
  1. What are the beneficial outcomes of your proposal for students? For Wharton?
  2. What are the risks of your proposal?
  3. What assumptions are you making?
  4. What are the drawbacks or limitations of your idea? Why are these acceptable?
  • Be able to articulate the “why?” behind all the components of your proposal, as well as the “why not?” for other potential possibilities. This is important because (most likely) your proposal will not be selected. However, if you can find other students who have a similar “why?” as the foundation of their ideas, it will help you to collaborate with them and contribute to the discussion.

3. Prepare yourself to provide meaningful input to the discussion by continuing to be well informed of international business news. The Economist is a good, wide-reaching source for this. While there is no expectation that you will be an expert on everything, you should be conversant in current events and be able to make high-level social, political and economic observations about others’ proposals.

4. Be a team player. This cannot be stressed enough. While there is an aspect of competition to the interview, the team-based discussion is an opportunity to show your collaborative nature. Don’t try to “win” by pressuring the group to select your proposal. Instead, demonstrate how you will fit into the MBA community by being inclusive and showing leadership, humility, and adaptability. Articulate your thought process clearly, be positive about others’ ideas, continue to move the group forward by summarizing ideas, and question respectfully. Remember that the point of the exercise is to drive towards a strong team outcome; the better the team interacts together, the better all of you look individually.

5. Day-of tips:

  • Wear a business suit.
  • Feel free to bring notes, but do not read them directly or rely on them for more than a memory trigger.
  • Introduce yourself to other prospective students and work to build a friendly rapport prior to the interview.
  • Prepare three to five questions for the evaluators during the wrap-up portion of the interview.
  • As much as possible, relax and try to enjoy the experience. This could be representative of the dynamic you’ll live in for the next two years. Ensure it feels right to you.

Use Social Media to Enhance Your Graduate School Application

Last week, Kaplan Test Prep released data from their survey of over 150 business schools across the U.S. on the role of social media in the admissions process. Of the admissions officers surveyed:

  • 35 percent say they have visited applicants’ social media profiles to learn more about them, up 13 percentage points from 2011
  • 33 percent of those admissions officers who’ve visited applicants’ social media profiles say that they do so “often”
  • Social media has helped and harmed applicants’ admission prospects in almost equal proportions (48 percent and 50 percent respectively)
See the full press release, including a video summary of the findings here: 

Admissions officers who are reviewing students’ social media pages are looking to get to know the student and their background more fully. Prospective students can take advantage of this by ensuring that their social media profiles are up to date and supportive of the personal brand they’ve put forth in their applications. As such, we recommend that anyone applying to a graduate program, or an internship or residency, take at the least a cursory social media scan. Below, we have provided guidelines for doing so.

The Basics: If nothing else, confirm the following.

  • Ensure that your social media privacy settings reflect your preferences, but keep in mind that even private information can leak or be distributed more widely.
  • Review your pictures. Are there any that present you in a manner that would be embarrassing for an admissions officer to see? Be sure to go back and review even your oldest pictures. Remove those that you deem inappropriate, borderline, or simply not reflective of you.
  • Ensure that your LinkedIn resume is up to date, grammatically correct, and in line with what you’ve submitted to the admissions committees. Similarly, confirm that your posts on Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are grammatically correct.
  • Confirm that none of your content could even potentially be considered racist, sexist, or containing prejudicial language. You should consistently represent yourself as someone who will add to a diverse intellectual environment. Make it clear to your friends that you should not be tagged or otherwise included in groups that don’t share this spirit.
  • Review your profiles often. Ensure that others are aware that you don’t want to be tagged in inappropriate pictures, videos, or comments.

The Upgrade: Use social media to enhance your application.

  • Consider if your pictures are showcasing your hobbies and interests beyond, but including, time spent with friends. If not, add pictures that show a broader array of “you”. This might include shots from travel, volunteer work, cultural activities, time with pets, or engaging in other hobbies that show off aspects of your personality that will bring your essays and interviews to life.
  • Ask co-workers from various points in your career to post recommendations on your LinkedIn account.
  • Ensure that your goals are consistent between your application and social media posts. Don’t post different career goals than those that appear in your application, or actively discuss pursuing full-time careers that don’t require the graduate program to which you are applying.
  • Keep your accounts up to date. Post about your current activities and events including conferences, speeches, or panels and include your reactions to the events. Share news or research articles on areas that you’re interested in. Take this opportunity to show off your writing and critical thinking skills or link to a blog containing your writing.
  • Don’t hide those things which make you different. Admissions officers want a diverse graduate population, and social media is the perfect way to show off qualities and interests that set you apart from the crowd, as well as demonstrate how you currently contribute to the diversity of your community.

While, social media should continue to be a personalized and fun outlet for you, don’t forget to consider that it may also inform admissions committees or future employers about who you are, and ultimately impact their final decision. 

The Multiple Mini Interview: Preparation and Day-of Tips for Success

Each year, an increasing number of U.S. medical schools are using the Multiple Mini Interview, an interview type focused on obtaining a deeper understanding of how a student processes information under pressure and uses critical thinking skills to derive an answer. The unique format allows prospective students multiple opportunities to make a “first impression” and reduces interviewer bias because of the recurrence of opportunities for a student to think through and address various types of questions.   

Multiple Mini Interviews typically consist of between four and ten interview stations, some with rest stations included in between. At the stations, interviewees are provided with a question prompt and a couple of minutes to think through the situation, then they’re asked to respond within a five to eight-minute period. The requested response could take various forms including collaborating with other prospective students, acting out a scenario, responding to an ethical or policy scenario, writing an essay, or providing a behavioral interview response. Whatever the format, applicants’ responses must showcase critical thinking skills, strong sense of ethics, and ability to see multiple viewpoints.

Preparation for the MMI should be focused on increasing your comfort level in reading a prompt and analyzing the question quickly so that you can articulate a thorough and comprehensive response. The MMI does not aim to assess your knowledge of specific topic areas, but rather is a format designed to extract a more genuine version of you.

We recommend you consider the following as you prepare for the interview:

  • Don’t forget the goal. As you practice your MMI responses, be sure that you’re integrating qualities into your answers that demonstrate intellectual curiosity, empathy, humility, professionalism, commitment to medicine and research, and tenacity. MMI questions are designed to reveal an authentic version of you, so as you prepare, make sure that you’re highlighting those qualities that will make you an excellent medical student and doctor.
  • Get current. Familiarize yourself with policy and ethical issues in healthcare by reading about current events. Write down key topic areas you encounter frequently and take informed positions. Practice describing your position, out loud, with an eight-minute time limit.
  • Practice your pace. If possible, participate in mock MMI interviews to get a more realistic interview experience and gather candid feedback. If you do not have someone to provide a mock interview, review sample MMI questions and record and time your responses. Critique your responses, focusing on how well you verbalized your thought process and supported your viewpoint, as well as, how adequately you made use of the time available. While this exercise may feel uncomfortable at first, it will be helpful to get used to working within the time constraints of the interview.  And viewing a recording will help you to hear/see what improvements you need to make.

On the day of the interview:

  • Read each prompt carefully and think through all aspects of the response. If the question allows you to make a counter-argument, do so, and share why you opted for the conclusion you did. If it is an ethical or values-based question, be sure to point out areas of nuance.
  • Make eye contact, look friendly, speak clearly and use every station as an opportunity to showcase your professionalism. If you start to stumble or get frustrated, take a deep breath or sip of water and compose yourself before continuing.
  • Use your time carefully; during the two minutes of preparatory time, outline your response and the general timing you’d like to abide by to make each of your key points.
  • Start fresh at each station; regardless of how well or poorly you did in the last mini interview, leave it behind and focus entirely on the prompt at hand.
  • For introverts, the MMI can be particularly challenging. Be sure to give yourself some quiet time prior to the MMI to gather your energy.

Selecting a Law School that Values Student Well-Being

When selecting a law school, prospective students have many things to consider, including rankings and prestige, program specialties, and job placement rates. Another, however, is garnering a great deal of media attention in the wake of last week’s International Mental Health Day: student wellbeing and the availability of mental health support programs.

According to the Dave Nee Foundation, depression among law students is 8-9 percent prior to matriculation, then jumps to 27 percent after one semester, 34 percent after the first year, and 40 percent after three years[i]. Two studies, conducted by the American Bar Association and Yale Law School in 2014, also showed a high percentage of law students indicating that they needed psychological assistance. In the ABA Survey, 42 percent of students reported that in the past year they needed help with a mental health or emotional problem. [ii] And in the Yale Study, 70 percent of students reported experiencing mental health challenges while in law school[iii]. These studies and others like them, have increased awareness of the mental health challenges faced by both law students and the legal profession.

A report released in August 2017, by the American Bar Association’s National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being, made recommendations for sweeping reforms that stakeholders throughout the legal profession can make to improve well-being and ultimately the competence and dependability of the profession. Specifically, the task force calls upon law schools to[iv]:

  • Create best practices for assisting students experiencing psychological distress;
  • Assess law school practices and offer faculty education on promoting well-being in the classroom;
  • Empower students to help fellow students in need;
  • Include well-being topics in courses on professional responsibility;
  • Commit resources for onsite professional counselors;
  • Facilitate a confidential recovery network;
  • Provide education opportunities on well-being related topics;
  • Discourage alcohol-centered social events; and
  • Conduct anonymous surveys related to student well-being.

The report also highlighted examples of law schools that offered programming to meet the recommendations:

  • Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law: created a well-being curriculum including workshops, mindfulness and resilience courses, and meditation sessions
  • Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center: established a student-volunteer program to train students on recognizing mental health problems and referring them to assistance
  • American University Washington School of Law: implemented random “check-in” outreach, which invites students to a brief conversation with the Student Affairs office

As a prospective law student, you may be wondering how this information can help inform your school selection. First, we suggest that you keep the task force’s recommendations top of mind as you research schools. Let their advice guide you as you’re learning about the culture of a school and the student body. Ensure that the schools you are applying to are taking the lead in breaking down mental health stigma through informative discourse and are proactively assisting students to seek help when they encounter problems. Be sure to ask administrators and faculty how they are working to address student well-being challenges. Then gather students’ opinions on the efficacy of these actions. Are current students aware of existing resources, clubs, and programming the administrators mention?  If so, how are the students engaging with the programs? And are student social and networking events promoting healthy, productive behaviors or do events center around alcohol or other potentially harmful ways to reduce stress?

Your law school experience will be pivotal. Ensure that you are selecting a school that values and promotes your wellbeing now, as much as it values your job placement.







Unemployed and Considering Graduate School? Ensure This Time is Meaningful and Productive

If you are currently unemployed, graduate school can appear both tempting and daunting. Tempting, in that it will offer a new path forward complete with a career center. Daunting in that it may be necessary to directly address the unemployment period within the application. While unemployment should never deter you from attending graduate school, we encourage our clients to consider carefully if graduate school is the right path for them. The money and time invested must lead to an optimal path forward to be worthwhile. Though graduate school can be tempting to alleviate the pains of unemployment, if you have never considered it prior to unemployment, it might not be the right move now.

If you’ve known awhile that eventually you would pursue a graduate program, a period of unemployment may provide a beneficial time to study for entrance exams and create compelling application materials. However, admissions committees will want to see that you are using your time wisely and productively, extending yourself beyond the work on your application materials. In order to present the employment gap as a critical time of development, consider the following:

On the application itself, you should not dwell on or make excuses for the employment gap.  Rather, you will want to address it briefly, explain that it is not indicative of weakness in ability or character, has not hindered your pursuit of your goals, and you did indeed spend the time productively, gaining valuable insight. You ultimately want to show the admissions committee that you will work hard throughout the graduate program, be able to secure professional placement and that, instead of slowing you down, this obstacle has given you an opportunity to adjust course, work harder, and become better.

IQ is Important, but Don’t Forget About EQ

This summer, NYU Stern updated its MBA application to include an EQ Endorsement. Separate from the professional recommendations, Stern is asking applicants to have a friend or colleague submit a clear and compelling example of the applicant’s emotional intelligence. While NYU is at the forefront of formalizing the request for a demonstration of emotional intelligence, admissions committees have long been interested in self-awareness, maturity, leadership, and other skills highly correlated with EQ.  Demonstrating that you have the academic prowess to succeed in an MBA program is no longer enough; it is also critical to display emotional intelligence throughout your application.

There are several current models and definitions of Emotional Intelligence. One commonly used definition is from Mayer, Salovey and Caruso’s 2008 article in American Psychologist. “Emotional Intelligence includes the ability to engage in sophisticated information processing about one’s own and others’ emotions and the ability to use this information as a guide to thinking and behavior. That is, individuals high in emotional intelligence pay attention to, use, understand, and manage emotions, and these skills serve adaptive functions that potentially benefit themselves and others.”

Essentially, those with a high EQ can work successfully with others by understanding how emotions play a role in the workplace through employees’ thinking, decision-making, and conduct. This understanding helps those with EQ to have positive interactions with others, but it is much more than just building camaraderie with coworkers. Emotional intelligence is also the driving force behind persuasion and leadership, and those who are adept can facilitate difficult situations and conversations effectively and improve the motivation and performance of colleagues using these skills.

Mayer and Salovey created a developmental model of emotional intelligence, with four key components (each with four sub-components):

-        The ability to perceive emotions in oneself and others accurately.

-        The ability to use emotions to facilitate thinking.

-        The ability to understand emotions, emotional language, and the signals conveyed by emotions.

-        The ability to manage emotions so as to attain specific goals. 

Read more about the model here:

While some people have higher EQ levels innately, it is also a skill that can be enhanced through increasing self-awareness and practice. As such, in your business school applications, you can showcase your emotional intelligence strengths, but also show self-awareness by referencing those areas that you are actively working to develop.

Take the time to weave examples of your emotional intelligence throughout your essays as well as in your recommendations. EQ-related skills are often included on the recommenders’ skills assessments so make sure that your recommenders are aware of your abilities in this arena by providing them with stories and anecdotes that they can consider when filling out the skills assessment and completing the open-ended question(s).

Some prompts to help you start thinking through specific examples that will illustrate your emotional intelligence include: 

-        Describe difficult co-worker or team dynamics and how your emotional awareness allowed you to repair these relationships and/or environments.

-        Reference times where perceiving and responding to the emotions of others helped you to drive a conversation or project forward in a different, but ultimately more effective manner.

-        Think through examples of relating to others, particularly others who are different from you, to increase teamwork or buy-in to an idea or project.

-        Think further about those times you’ve disagreed with colleagues in a rational and beneficial way, which ultimately helped you determine the best path forward.

-        Consider a time when you assisted a coworkers’ development by giving them difficult feedback or having a tough conversation.

With many corporations and recruiters showing an interest in emotional intelligence, thinking through how you can continue to develop and showcase your EQ will be a beneficial investment of time, not just for the MBA application period, but for all of your professional endeavors going forward.


Using Recommendations to Strategically Enhance Your MBA Application

While MBA recommendation letters typically will not make or break your admissions decision, they can reinforce the personal brand you’ve presented throughout your application. We encourage you to use recommendations strategically so that they validate and expand upon key themes already introduced.

Selecting Your Recommenders

We advise selecting recommenders who can comment on your post-graduate, professional experiences and accomplishments. Recommenders should know you well and be able to provide detailed insight into working with you, which includes assessing your professional skills and personality traits. This intimate knowledge of your abilities is significantly more important than the job title of your recommender.  The one exception is if you have a senior colleague with significant influence at the school to which you are applying who would be willing to serve as a recommender.

Select recommenders that will provide a well-rounded view of working with you, though you should elect to have each provide a slightly more nuanced focus on a character trait that you exhibit and have spoken about in your application (i.e., leadership and teamwork).

Taking a Strategic Viewpoint

As mentioned, it is critical for recommendations to validate and enhance the existing application content. As such, read through your essays and make note of traits that you are highlighting for the admissions committee, then determine which recommender would best be able to write anecdotes about you exhibiting those traits. Additionally, if you see gaps in your application, you may choose to close those gaps using the recommendation letters.

Setting Your Recommenders Up for Success

Most importantly, provide each recommender with enough time to meet your request. We suggest that you allot two months between making the request and the submission date.

Provide a portfolio of information to each recommender that includes the following information:

  • School names, recommendation questions, and submission date(s)
  • Method for recommendation submission (e.g., online via link)
  • Background information and your future career goals
  • Sample recommendation letter (customized)
  • Illustrative anecdotes from your work together (customized)

The sample recommendation letter and illustrative stories that you provide should be unique for each recommender and should highlight the qualities you are wanting the recommender to expand upon. These inputs will allow you to subtly influence the recommenders’ output and will ensure that the recommendations include concrete and varied examples that reinforce your existing application content.

The timely provision of this portfolio of information will reinforce to your recommenders that you appreciate their time and are serious about your applications. It will also provide much needed direction that will allow them to allocate their time wisely in support of your efforts.  

After the recommender has submitted the recommendations, be sure to thank him/her for spending time in support of your application.

Frequently Asked Questions

I have a great relationship with my college advisor, would it be appropriate to use her as a recommender?

For entry into business school, it is best to use professional references who can speak to your work experience and skills acquired.

What if I don’t feel comfortable telling my direct supervisor that I am submitting applications to business school?

While it is preferable to have a recommendation from a direct supervisor, it may not always be an option and schools are understanding of this fact. Do attempt to have a former boss, professional colleague who is superior to you on an org chart, or someone who knows you in a more professional context write a recommendation. In some cases, this could include someone from a volunteer activity where you demonstrate teamwork and leadership skills.

How many recommendations is it appropriate to ask a recommender to write?

While this depends on how strong your relationship is with the recommender, our general rule of thumb is to ask a recommender for no more than three recommendations per round. This prevents the recommender from having to meet a burdensome number of back-to-back deadlines.

Is it necessary to get specific recommendations written for each school?

While ideally you will get your recommenders to address each recommendation topic directly, it may be necessary for him/her to write a single recommendation that addresses all the questions from your prospective schools together. Many schools have similar or shared questions for recommenders making this feasible. 

Medical School Interviews 101

The medical school interview is a critical and exciting opportunity, as the outcome will be the most influential factor in your admission success.  It is your chance to showcase your personality, drive, and commitment to a medical career as well as those characteristics that will benefit your medical school class and future patients.

Scheduling the Interview

Most medical schools have rolling admissions, so we recommend scheduling your interview as early as possible in the interview season, which runs from the fall to the spring.  Before solidifying your travel plans, you should contact nearby schools where you have applied to let them know you have an interview in the area and when your interview is scheduled.  This serves the dual purpose of letting the other school know that you are ‘in demand’ while also showcasing a strong interest in their program.

What the Interviewers are Looking for

Most medical schools will offer prospective students one or two 30-minute interviews with faculty members or students.  The interviewers are looking to assess your interpersonal traits, your commitment to and aptitude for medicine, your potential contributions to the school and your class, discuss and resolve any red flags and finally ensure that your interview is consistent with your application.

med school traits.jpg

Interview Types

The Multiple Mini Interview: While this type of interview has been used mainly in Canada, it is growing in popularity within the United States. This interview format consists of multiple “stations” through which each applicant rotates.  At each station, you are given a scenario, asked to role-play, or asked to do a team exercise.  You are provided a couple of minutes to read each exercise and prepare, then you must have a discussion with the interviewers in the room or perform the team task. 

The scenarios are designed to evaluate your values by presenting a dilemma to which you must respond.  Be sure to carefully consider the various sides of the dilemma and to address them all. Role playing exercises test your communication skills and team tasks test your communication skills and ability to work others.  Some stations may be clinically based while others are not. 

The Traditional One-on-One Interview: This interview is the most common.  Each interviewer has his/her own style of interviewing to which you should respond appropriately.  Most commonly, in an “Open File” interview, the interviewer will have access to your submission materials. However, it is important not to assume that your interviewer knows anything about you as he/she may not have had time to review your file. In a “Closed File” interview, the interviewer will have limited access to your application.  These interviews, therefore, offer a greater opportunity to drive the discussion content. 

The Group Interview: This situation involves several interviewers and interviewees.  The objective is to see how you interact with and respond to others. Be sure to listen attentively to everyone’s answers and showcase your ability to be a team player. 

The Panel Interview: Typically, the panel includes multiple interviewers with just one interviewee.

Apply Point’s Tips for Success

  • Take responsibility for the interview content, by creating and driving your own agenda. 
    • Outline the key points and experiences you would like to discuss within the interview.  Take responsibility for bringing up these points, even if they are present in your application.  To do this, review all your application materials, and highlight your most relevant stories and experiences.
    • Speak about any recent accomplishments or events not included in your application.  Continue to improve your candidacy even after you’ve submitted your application.
    • Be proactive about bringing up red flags or weaknesses in your application.  Address these head-on during the interview because they will inevitably come up within the admission committee discussions.  Rather than make excuses, talk about what you’ve learned and/or how you will combat weaknesses going forward.
  • Think about and practice telling your story aloud.  This will help you feel more comfortable connecting the dots between various aspects of your life when asked to elaborate. 
    • Give complete answers and use segues to transition to other related topics you want to discuss.  For example, if you are asked why you selected a particular internship, explain not only the why, but also include the when and the what.
    • Keep the conversation moving; don’t talk any longer than three to five minutes on a given topic.
  • Research the school where you are interviewing as well as the interviewers.
    • Provide specific reasons why the program appeals to you and practice speaking to why you would be a great fit.
    • Be conversational and demonstrate intellectual curiosity with good questions, but don’t interview the interviewer. Be sure that your questions at the interview’s conclusion showcase your interest in the school.
  • Voice your appreciation for the interview’s time and the opportunity to interview.
    • At the end of the interview, thank your interviewer, reiterate why you have a superior fit with this medical school and let him/her know that you would be honored to matriculate.
    • Send hand-written thank you notes.  The note should be short, but should include interview highlights, repeat your interest in the school, and thank the interviewer for his/her time. 

Two Additional Law Schools to Accept GRE as Alternative to LSAT

Two additional law schools, Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center, have joined Harvard Law School and University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law in accepting the GRE for law school admissions. Georgetown will accept the GRE score as an alternative for the LSAT, for those wishing to matriculate in 2018, while Northwestern will accept the scores for students applying to the 2019 entering class.

Both schools conducted studies to determine the ability of the GRE to predict a student’s success within law school. Northwestern’s study was performed in conjunction with ETS, the administrator for the GRE, and found the GRE to be a strong predictor of success for first year Northwestern law students. Georgetown ran an independent study analyzing over ten-years of students’ academic performance and test scores and found that the GRE scores were equal to LSAT scores as predictors of academic success within the Law School.

The four schools that have opened their admissions process to include the GRE did so in an effort to diversify the applicant pool, as well as to reflect the evolving and multi-disciplinary nature of law. “Georgetown Law is committed to attracting the best and the brightest students of all backgrounds,” said Dean William M. Treanor. “We believe this change will make the admissions process more accessible to students who have great potential to make a mark here at Georgetown Law and in successful legal careers, but who might find the LSAT to be a barrier for whatever reason.”

The GRE is offered more frequently throughout the year and in numerous locations, and is often taken by students considering other graduate level educational options. By accepting the GRE, these law schools are helping to alleviate the financial burden of taking multiple tests for students thinking about different paths. Additionally, it may help to recruit students from “non-typical” law school backgrounds, including in-demand STEM students, international students, as well as those from a wider range of socio-economic backgrounds. When Harvard Law School started the pilot GRE program, then-Dean Martha Minow said, “For many students, preparing for and taking both the GRE and the LSAT is unaffordable. All students benefit when we can diversify our community in terms of academic background, country of origin, and financial circumstances. Also, given the promise of the revolutions in biology, computer science, and engineering, law needs students with science, technology, engineering and math backgrounds.  For these students, international students, multidisciplinary scholars, and joint-degree students, the GRE is a familiar and accessible test, and using it is a great way to reach candidates not only for law school, but for tackling the issues and opportunities society will be facing.”

The ABA held a hearing in July to consider specifying what test(s) are valid for law school admissions, which would change current language requiring merely “a valid and reliable admission test.”  While this could impact the ability for schools to accept the GRE as an admissions test alternative, a decision is unlikely to come in the short term. In the meantime, it appears likely that additional law schools will follow the path of these four and include the GRE as an accepted part of the admissions process.  

While the limited number of law schools accepting the GRE might make the LSAT a safer choice for current prospective law students, the broader lessons and values that these law schools are espousing are worth considering when putting together a law school application. Applicants should consider highlighting STEM minors or academic courses, unusual career or internship experiences, or other unique qualities that might add value and interest within the school’s student body.

MBA School Selection: Important Considerations When Building Your School List

According to the 2017 AIGAC MBA Applicants Survey, 39 percent of MBA Applicants reported that their admissions consultant advised them to apply to a school they would have otherwise never considered.

At Apply Point, we work closely with our clients to create a school list that is both compatible with their interests and goals and also sound in terms of acceptance likelihood. We know we’ve succeeded when an applicant has the luxury of choice between multiple programs at the end of the admissions cycle. While there are numerous factors to consider when finalizing school selection, we believe the following three criteria are the most important.


While we discourage clients from judging schools on rankings alone, US News & World Report’s list of Best Business Schools, for example, is still important to consider when gaining an in-depth understanding of how potential employers will view your investment. Many rankings are also based on algorithms that incorporate various factors of interest to students such as quality assessments, placement success, and student selectivity.


The second, and perhaps somewhat surprising aspect to consider when putting together a school list is geography. Place will play a crucial role in your ability to network. Thus, we often encourage students who know they want to end up in a certain location to consider the top MBA programs in that city, or within the geographic region. Similarly, if your goals are related to a certain industry, it can be invaluable to attend a school near one of the industry’s hubs.

Career Placement

The last, but perhaps most critical component, is to develop a thorough understanding of which companies are recruiting and hiring employees from the MBA programs you are interested in. We suggest prospective students gain a thorough knowledge of the information contained in each school’s career placement report and also engage with the school’s counselors in the career center to learn more. It can also be helpful to look for student clubs or associations within a business school relevant to your goals (e.g., Finance Club, Luxury Goods Club, Marketing Club), as they will often host events connecting potential employers with interested students, as well as providing other resources.

During the school selection period of the application process, we encourage prospective students to keep an open mind and fully explore the many options that exist. Speaking with professors, career placement professionals, current students, alumni, and admissions directors at different programs is a wonderful way to start.  Your personal MBA rankings may not look exactly like those in US News and World Report or Financial Times. And that is just fine.

Prospective Law Students: The Pros and Cons of Submitting an Early Decision Application

At Apply Point, we often receive questions from prospective students on the utility of applying to a law school through Early Decision (ED) or Early Action (EA). ED is a binding agreement between the law school and a student. In this agreement, a student agrees not to submit ED applications to other programs and, in the case of an acceptance, must withdraw any outstanding applications or not attend law school that year. Conversely, EA or non-binding early programs, do not require a commitment from the applicant, but do provide an accelerated timeline for the receipt of a decision. Before you finalize your application game plan, it is important to consider the pros and cons of ED, a tempting option, as your likelihood of acceptance can be significantly higher.

So, what are the advantages of Early Decision?

Because ED is a yield protection round (everyone admitted must attend), admissions directors can be more forgiving of slight weaknesses. It must be noted, however, that the typical acceptance rate bump will not likely hold true for programs that offer generous scholarships along with binding acceptance, such as the George Washington University Law School’s Binding Presidential Merit Scholarship Program or the Emory University Law School’s Merit Scholarship.

Additionally, ED applicants often receive notification of their acceptance or rejection early, which allows them to continue in the application process with other schools. Students who are not accepted or rejected, early, move into the wider pool of applicants.

and the disadvantages?

While the yield protection aspect of ED is advantageous to applicants when it comes to admissions likelihood, in most cases, applicants are at a disadvantage when being considered for merit-based scholarships. The school simply doesn’t have to do anything to sweeten the deal when the decision is binding. It is also important to note that, on Yale Law’s ‘Ask Asha’ Blog, the Assistant Director of Admissions noted that she considers ED commitments made at other schools. So, students who may have received an acceptance from Yale will not have the opportunity for consideration after applying ED to a different program.

Apply Points’ Take:

We generally do not recommend applying to a law school ED unless an applicant is sure they would attend, regardless of merit-based aid or other opportunities.


The GMAT V. The GRE: Which Test is Best for You?

For the past two years, respondents to the AIGAC MBA Applicant Survey have reported that the standardized test is the most challenging component of the MBA application. While there is no way to completely defray the stress associated with the GMAT or GRE (the top 50 business schools accept both), it is helpful to think critically about which one will provide you the best opportunity for success.

At Apply Point, we generally make the following recommendations:

You might prefer the GMAT if:

  • Your strengths are quantitative, analytical
  • You are adept at interpreting data presented in charts, tables, and text to solve problems
  • You know that you want to attend an MBA, or business-related program, such as a MS Finance.

You might prefer the GRE if:

  • Your strengths are verbal, writing
  • You want to keep your graduate school options open. The GRE is accepted at most graduate programs, including a couple of law schools.

In Kaplan’s 2016 Survey of Business School Admissions Officers, 26 percent of admissions officers reported that those submitting a GMAT score have an admissions advantage over those who submit a GRE score. However, 73 percent said that neither exam has an advantage. In 2014, Harvard Business School’s Admission Director shared that the school looks carefully at the score components in combination with the student’s transcript and resume. As such, prospective students should use the test strategically to fill in any “gaps” or answer open questions that may stem from their transcript and/or work experience. For example, an applicant with an undergraduate degree and work experience in finance may need to bolster their application with strong verbal scores, while a communications major will want to demonstrate his/her ability to handle the rigors of the quantitative coursework in the MBA by providing a strong quantitative score on the GMAT/GRE.

Above all, an applicant should take the test they feel most comfortable with and are most likely to succeed on. Taking a diagnostic exam of each is a good place to start.

The Medical School Application’s Work and Activities Section: Key Tips to Consider Before You Begin Drafting

Crafting a compelling Work and Activities Section is an important priority for any medical school applicant. It will allow you provide depth on your most meaningful experiences and communicate how a particular research position, teaching opportunity, or clinical exposure inspired your interest in the study of medicine. It will also give you the chance to show through anecdotes such characteristics as intellectual curiosity, adaptability, empathy, as well as your aptitude in critical and creative thinking, or your ability to thrive in a collaborative environment.   

The AMCAS application allows for a total of 15 entries, with three designated as “most meaningful.”  While all of the entries allow for a 700-character (including spaces) description of the activity, the three most meaningful entries include an additional requirement of 1,325 characters (including spaces) where you can provide further context on the perspective you gained and lessons you learned.

Key tips to consider before you begin drafting:

·       Take advantage of all 15 entries, considering the various experiences you have had that influenced your decision to apply to medical school. To start, brainstorm and write them all down in chronological order, limiting yourself to college or post-graduate experiences. This section is purposely broad and can include activities from a multitude of categories (listed below). If you find that you do not have 15, carefully consider even one-day community service events that had a particular impact on you. Keep in mind that while not all experiences will be equally meaningful, several experiences are probably still worth sharing if they influenced your path in some way.

·       After brainstorming all the potential activities, make note of the 15 most relevant, making sure to span a diverse array of categories. Pay particular attention, however, to clinical activities, research, and community service.

·       When selecting your three most meaningful experiences, highlight first those that demonstrate a commitment to medicine and service to others. After that, consider work/activities that are unique and, therefore, will help differentiate you to the admissions committee.

·       When you describe your work/activities, be sure to clearly articulate what you did and what the outcome(s) of your participation included. In your descriptions, highlight also the qualities that you used or developed through your involvement, noting your academic/intellectual growth, maturity, sound judgment, and compassion, as well as ability interact well with others. It is also important to include, where possible, the impact of the activity on your decision to apply to medical school.

·       After writing your descriptions, read them aloud, and edit. Confirm that you are within the allotted number of characters. Such a stringent character limitation emphasizes the importance of tight, clear language and perfect grammar.

The Work and Activities section gives the medical school admissions committee a summary of all those experiences that ultimately inspired your interest in and commitment to a rigorous, yet rewarding career path. Thus, it is vital to ensure each word moves your candidacy forward in a compelling way.