Jun 28, 2011

MBA for a career change? Go for it!

These days, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who stays with one company or even on one job track throughout his or her entire professional life. By some estimates, two thirds or more of graduating M.B.A.s use the degree as a means of switching careers. If you’re looking for the fast track to gain the skills and network to launch your career in a new direction, a popular way to do so is through an M.B.A. program. So-called “career switchers” look upon the degree as a way to expand international job opportunities, develop the right connections for future employment, and establish the potential for long-term income and financial stability. In fact, there’s even an M.B.A. for Career Change offered by Willamette University’s Atkinson Graduate School of Management.

I personally went to business school because I wanted to transition from finance to marketing. While I did achieve this, I also found that the M.B.A. experience opened up my mind to an array of new possibilities. I ended up in a career with a marketing focus, but it unfolded in a way I never would have considered before my M.B.A. Since application season is ramping up, I have a few words of advice for those applying to business school now or in the near future. If your undergraduate degree or work experience falls into the nontraditional category, make sure you clearly convey your long-term career goals within your application and essays, and explain in detail how you arrived at the conclusion that an M.B.A. would help you further your professional aspirations.

Business school demands a huge investment of your time, energy, and finances, so make an airtight case to the admissions committee for why you want to go into this new field. Show that you know what the industry requires, the challenges you expect to face, and convey all previous experiences that demonstrate you have the transferable skills to make this switch.

Speaking with M.B.A. Podcaster, Regina Resnick, assistant dean and managing director of the Office of M.B.A. Career Services at Columbia Business School, says demonstrating transferable skills depends on whether you’re changing industry or function or both.

“Your work experience should reflect everything that you’ve done and be complete and accurate, but you may want to put more emphasis on those things that relate most closely to your new job opportunity,” she explains. This may mean taking additional classes to bulk up your quantitative skills, or highlighting extracurricular activities that cement the reason for your career shift. Once you’re in business school, you have the opportunity to see how you fit in that new industry through coursework, student groups, internships, or networking with alumni. Self reflection and exploration are key components of the M.B.A. experience, giving students a chance to sample various fields and functions without making any firm commitments.

Embarking on a new career path with a freshly minted M.B.A. tucked under your arm isn’t just about new knowledge acquired in the classroom. It’s about leveraging your existing experience with enhanced skills, and even more so, it’s about making the most of personal relationships. All of the people, classes, activities, etc. in an M.B.A. program catapult you into a whole new sphere, and you may come out with completely new ideas that help facilitate career change in ways you would not have thought of before. For me, this is the best part and the real opportunity business school provides.

from US News Education

Jun 25, 2011

How to handle a low GPA in MBA Applications

A lot of times applicants are concerned that completing an undergrad degree from a second tier school or a low GPA or a non-quant major (non -  finance, economics, engineering, etc) or all of them, will be seen by the admissions committees as a major red flag in their application. It is indeed true that in when the applicant has a very weak academic grades from a lower grade schools, the top business schools may feel that the candidate’s application does not demonstrate his/her ability to stand out in a competitive, rigorous academic environment.

Looking back at our clients who had profiles similar to these, we recommend that following steps can help address this issue a great deal:

• Crack the GMAT
A low GPA can also be addressed through a high GMAT score. A great GMAT Score, especially in the quantitative section, tells the adcom that at least the applicant is smart and has the potential. Suddenly, the low GPA doesn’t automatically categorizes you into a future struggling-with-academics student.

• Take a quantitative class BEFORE applying
This can be done by building an alternative transcript and acing the course at your community college or a night school. If there are specific weak spots in your academic transcript, retake those classes and do well in them. For e.g. if you are a humanity major, take a statistics class and get a A in the course. Building such kind of transcripts as these will not only demonstrates to the adcom that you have the ability to stand out in a rigorous academic environment, but also reflects upon your seriousness and commitment about a business education.

• Stress on the analytical/quantitative aspects of your professional life 
You will need to demonstrate to the adcom that your earlier academic performance was a just a brief lapse in concentration and focus and is not a true reflection of your abilities or attitude. Rather than just writing about it in your optional essay, demonstrate this belief and confidence about your attitude through facts – in your resume and essays. Show them you have all the analytical abilities that it takes to become a successful business leader. For example, if you went on and worked you’re a** off to in a finance industry and grew quickly through ranks, let these stories say something about your passion, abilities and attitude. Through your essays and resume, demonstrate to the adcom that it would be a mistake for them to judge you just on your low GPA.

• Use of Optional Essay 
Write a convincing optional essay that explains the reasons for such kind of performance and stress on the positives – Don’t leave it for the adcom to guess why you did not perform in your undergraduate years. Be succinct. If you are taking too many lines in the optional essay explaining your low GPA, you are being defensive about it. There are few very valid reasons that can not only address a low GPA but also showcase a different kind of strength in your character and personality. For example, if you had to balance your academics in the face of a family illness, it could be used to demonstrate some a powerful personal and leadership qualities. If you were working part-time or full-time during school, it is a very strong indicator of excellent work ethics and determination while showcasing that you are someone who is passionate about your goals. If you are first in the family to go to a degree school, that in itself shows your perseverance and that you have the will and the passion to face the adversities in your life.

So don't let that low GPA spoil it all for you. Good luck!

Need help to get the best application out there for your dream Business School? Come to BizSchoolPrep Consulting. Whether you are a domestic applicant or an international one, our process is uniquely designed to understand your background, and then create a strategy whose sole aim is to get you to the business school of your dream. Know what makes us different.

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Jun 24, 2011

Round 1 vs Round 2 vs Round 3 of MBA Admissions

Let's start with the final recommendations first. The recommendations are:

1. Apply when you are best prepared, the sooner the better.
2. Avoid the last round.

Let's look at Pros and Cons of each round:

Round 1:
1. You have all the seats empty.
2. No quotas/diversity seats (international, women, etc) are filled.
3. Number of applications are lower than that of Round 2.
4. Little easier to differentiate yourself with the rest of your profile pool just because there are not as many candidates applying from a pool as in Round 2.

1. Highest quality applications (considerable number of reapps!)
2. Extra competition for top schools: Usually most applicants apply to their top schools in their initial rounds (and if don't get in, they apply to the lower ranked ones)
3. Lot of waitlists (Adcom don't know the quality of R2 and hence, follow wait and watch)

Round 2:

1. Maximum number of admits come from R2.
2. You get more time to prepare (or wait for that promotion letter that you plan to leverage in your application)
3. Quality may not be as good as Round 1

1. It gets crowded - Maximum number of applications (and hence, the 1st pro as well!)
2. Less number of seats to be filled (<100%)
3. Lot of quota/diversity seats already filled.
4. If you are from a pool that is well represented (Indian/Male/IT!?), chances are dim that you can differentiate well if you do not have a rock star application (and since few applicants from the same profile have already been admitted in R1)

Round 3:
1. Very few applicants.

1. Too late for internationals! (since notification date is just few weeks before the start of the class and visa, etc takes time. Some schools specifically discourage international applicants from applying in round 3)
2. Too few seats left. You are fighting for those 3-4 seats.
3. You need to have a "super" rock star quality to get in because all the rock stars are already in and few are hovering over your head with wait list balloons!
4. You are better off applying afresh in R1 of the next season rather than using the stale application and applying as reapp.

Need help to get the best application out there for your dream Business School? Come to BizSchoolPrep Consulting. Whether you are a domestic applicant or an international one, our process is uniquely designed to understand your background, and then create a strategy whose sole aim is to get you to the business school of your dream. Know what makes us different.

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Plagiarism in Business School Admissions

"Business schools are making it a priority to combat plagiarism in admissions essays, following an incident last year when a Penn State admissions officer discovered dozens of MBA applicants who copied verbatim from an online essay. Next Wednesday, admissions officers will be gathering in Boston to speak about plagiarism and integrity in application essays at the Graduate Management Admission Council's annual conference. Carrie Marcinkevage from Penn State's Smeal College of Business (Smeal Full-Time MBA Profile), will be moderating the session, along with other admissions officers.

Since the Penn State incident last year, Marcinkevage has become a spokeswoman of sorts for admissions plagiarism, urging her fellow admissions officers to take more decisive action in this area. In February, she started an online discussion group called Integrity in MBA Admissions. Since then more than 100 business school admissions officers have joined the group.

She's also taken action by using a software application designed by iParadigms called Turnitin for Admissions that scans essays, personal statements and scholarship essays for signs of plagiarism. The software is expected to have wide appeal for admissions officers because it is integrated into the ApplyYourself Application system, which more than half of top U.S. business schools use to process applications, according to a press release from iParadigms. "

Moral of the story: Don't take it off the internet or any other place. Schools are watching out and identifying a duplicate or "nfluenced"ssays means an automatic DING. I you have found an excellent para in one of those sample essays on the internet, do not forget that thousand other applicants must have found it as well and great minds think alike!

MBA, a bridge to Investment Banking?

I get a lot of questions about business school. And I try to answer what I can – but just like with the CFA, GPA rounding, and my other favorite topics, there’s a ton of bad information out there. Here are some myths you should stop believing right now:
  • That a top MBA program is a guaranteed ticket into Goldman Sachs or KKR.
  • That even 2nd tier programs will help you break into investment banking or private equity.
  • That you can easily break into fields besides investment banking as a career-changer in an MBA program.
  • That it’s a good idea to go to business school directly from undergrad.
All of those are partially or completely wrong. So here’s when business school is useful, when it’s not useful, and how to use an MBA to break into finance:

There are many reasons to attend business school: maybe you want to move into management in another industry, maybe you want to network and learn more about business so you can start your own company, or maybe you just want to take a break for a few years. Those are all fine, but I’m assuming here that you want to use business school specifically to break into investment banking or related fields like private equity.

Does Business School Actually Help You Break Into Finance?
If you’re interested in finance, there are 2 solid reasons to go to business school:
  1. You’re from a non-finance background, you’ve worked full-time for 2-3 years, and you’re using the MBA program to make a career change, gain credibility, and get better access to recruiters.
  2. You’re already in a field such as investment banking or private equity and you need business school to advance - your firm has explicitly told you that you need an MBA to move up the ladder.
If you’re not in either of those categories, business school is a bad idea and will yield a low return on time and money. Here’s why that’s true – and why you need to stop believing those 4 myths at the top of this page:

Top MBA Program = Goldman Sachs or KKR!
Wrong. Competition is tough at these firms, and in the case of top PE firms like KKR, most people actually get in prior to business school – after they’ve worked as investment banking analysts. If you think about the numbers, this claim also makes no sense: there are (tens of?) thousands of people at top schools each year, but banks and other finance firms might only hire a few hundred in each recruiting cycle. Sure, some of the students have no interest in finance and don’t apply in the first place – but plenty of others recruit everywhere and win no offers. Not only are you competing against hordes of bankers and PE guys who want to stay in finance, but you’re also competing against former engineers and marketers who are suddenly “interested in finance” as well. A top program gives you more credibility and better access to recruiters, but you have to do a whole lot more than apply and get in to win job offers in finance.

Even If I Don’t Go to a Top Program, It Will Still Help!
I hate ranking schools and banks and will never do it here, but business school is only useful if banks actually recruit on your campus. Otherwise there’s no point in going – so if you can’t get into top 10 programs (or any program where most banks recruit) then don’t waste your time and money.
I’m not going to give a list of top schools here because it changes from year to year and no one agrees on the “best” programs anyway. But use the US and international rankings compiled by other groups – if the program you’re applying to is not one of the top-ranked ones, do your due diligence first and ask students there how many banks actually recruit.

I Can Get Into Private Equity, Venture Capital, Hedge Funds, and Other Fields Outside of IB
This one’s not completely false, but it’s less true for certain fields:
  • Private Equity: It’s almost impossible to break into without pre-MBA investment banking or private equity experience. Most firms recruit 99% from investment banking analyst classes.
  • Venture Capital: This is more do-able, especially if you have experience in an industry like technology or biotech where VCs invest.
  • Hedge Funds: This is harder than VC but easier than PE because they’re not looking solely for investment banking analysts. But since the pay is higher than VC, competition is also tougher – and few hedge funds care about the MBA degree at all.
  • Corporate Development: While it’s still not “easy,” it’s definitely easier than the others on this list; pre-MBA banking experience helps but it’s not necessary.
Most career changers, of course, go to business school to break into investment banking and that’s possible assuming you’ve made the right preparations (keep reading). Sales & trading groups don’t do much recruiting at business schools because they don’t care about the degree; wealth management and related industries do some recruiting, but not nearly as much as investment banks and management consulting firms.

I Can Go to Business School Right Out of Undergrad
This is a really, really bad idea because then you’re stuck in “no man’s land” – no bank would bring you on as an analyst, nor would they hire you as an associate since you have no work experience. Business school admissions have been skewing younger and younger over the years, but most of the younger students who attend are not going for banking or consulting jobs. The Harvard 2 + 2 program might be an exception, but even there you get 2 years of work experience before completing the program. When I reviewed resumes in investment banking, most of the MBA-level candidates had at least 3-5 years of full-time experience – otherwise you don’t have enough real world experience to manage down and manage up. Banks do promote some analysts to associates without requiring an MBA degree – but that takes 3 years of work as an investment banking analyst, which is equivalent to 6 years of a normal job in terms of hours worked.

How to Use Business School to Break In
Here’s an example of how you would use business school to break into banking as a career changer:
Step 1: You study biology as an undergraduate and work for a biotech startup for 2 years after graduating.
Step 2: You get more interested in the business and policy side after you talk with friends in business development, so you leave the startup after 2 years and join a healthcare policy think tank in Washington, DC (or whatever the capital of your country is) and work there for another 2 years.
Step 3: During your first year at the think tank you apply to top business schools. You get into Wharton and decide to go there and pursue the health care management major.
Step 4: After 2 years at the think tank, in the summer before you go to Wharton you cold call extensively and work for a few months at a boutique healthcare investment bank to gain some finance experience.
Step 5: Also in the months leading up to business school, you contact all the alumni you can find who are working in healthcare and healthcare finance-related fields. You’ve spoken to dozens by the time you get to business school.
Step 6: Once you’re on campus, you continue to stay in touch with your contacts and you make weekend trips to New York and San Francisco. When summer internship recruiting comes around, you can point to a logical progression toward finance and your industry experience in healthcare.
Since you’ve done so much networking, have a great resume, and have prepared for interviews, you get a summer internship in the healthcare group at a bulge bracket bank in San Francisco, which turns into a full-time Associate offer. This is just an example of the “path” you might take – you don’t have to be from a healthcare background and you don’t have to have gone to Wharton or worked in San Francisco.
But this practice of working in another industry and then moving into a related industry in finance is common, which is why I’ve picked it.

What did our aspiring banker here do right?

Applied ONLY to Top Schools
Not all of us can get into Wharton, but it’s a waste to aim for 2nd tier schools. If this person had not gotten into a top program, she would have been better off cold calling boutique banks and networking aggressively. And if that didn’t work, she should have pursued a management role at a healthcare or biotech company and then leveraged that to move into venture capital.

Got a Pre-MBA Finance Internship
This is one of the key ways to show you’re serious when you’re using business school to rebrand yourself.
It doesn’t need to be an internship – it might just be a part-time or informal position outside your normal job, or it might be a finance-related competition, program, or conference. You just need something to show that you didn’t just get brainwashed into wanting to be in finance when you arrived on campus.

Started Networking Before Going to Business School
This goes along with the point above: you need to show commitment even before you arrive on campus.
A lot of undergraduates don’t understand the importance of networking and/or are too “shy” to do it – but this is 100% different at the MBA-level, where everyone else will be pounding the pavement aggressively.
If you’re not doing at least as much as everyone else, you’ve already lost.

Told a Convincing “Story”
I’ve seen a lot of interviewees tell awful or non-existent “stories” in interviews. That sinks your chances of advancing to the next round, because a poor first impression is nigh-impossible to overcome. So please watch the story tutorial right here and also read about how to answer the “Why investment banking?” question right here. In the example above, our aspiring banker would have explained that she started out being interested in biology, but then came into contact with a friend who worked in business development (her “spark”), which made her more interested in that. She decided to move into a business and policy role after that (growing interest), and in her new position she got to analyze a lot of healthcare deals, which made her more interested in finance and led to the Wharton program and the internship at the healthcare boutique.
She’s here today because she wants to become a trusted advisor to healthcare companies and leverage her industry background and knowledge of finance to get there.

Got a Brand-Name Internship and Leveraged That Into a Full-Time Offer
Just like at the undergraduate level, you need a banking internship if you want to use an MBA program to break in. If you’re in a 1-year program like INSEAD where you have a much shorter timeframe for an internship, you can still follow this plan – it’s just that you have less of a margin for error.

by Mergers and Inquisitions

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The Other side of the Consulting Career

Consulting is one of the most often quoted post MBA career choice amongst the business school applicants. Strategic consulting, IT consulting, Operations consulting, and the shades of this career option goes on. It is indeed true that getting an admission into a top business school gives you a better shot at interviewing for McKinsey, Bain, Booze, BCG and the likes, however, consulting is not a career choice for everyone. While one side of consulting is great exposure across the industries, working on different projects, travel across the region, good money, nice hotels, the other side of consulting is no family time, screwed work life balance, non stop traveling, extremely tight deadlines, etc. Mark Wong from  Random Wok reflected upon his prep MBA experience with a consulting career which shows that consulting career is not the right choice for many of the applicants.

Every top MBA program places a significant number of graduates in the consulting function. The high salaries, variety of projects, and fast-paced work environment all encourage MBAs to propel themselves onto this career path. And while these benefits would be enticing to any professional, every career path has its dark side. During my three years as a management consultant, these were the aspects I liked the least and have made it very unlikely for me to return.

(Please note that my comments apply primarily to the larger management and strategy consulting firms, made up of the Big Three (McKinsey, Bain, BCG), the current Big Four (PWC, E&Y, KPMG, Deloitte), and the various spinoffs from the original Big Five (Accenture, IBM, Bearing Point, Cap Gemini). A lot of smaller boutiques have actually built their consulting firms around directly addressing the points below)

Work Life Balance
In nearly all recruiting presentations by consulting firms, there will be a lengthy section about work life balance. Some of the ones I saw showcased an extremely busy partner, who had an overwhelming work schedule, but managed to spend time with his family and had a great relationship with his kids. Strange how most other career tracks don’t make such a hard sell…

If the pre-emptive sales pitch wasn’t a giveaway, let me put it very simply: your work life balance will likely suck. You’ll work longer hours and endure more stressful deadlines than your industry peers. During my tenure as a consultant, I spent about 70% of my time in city away from home. I knew the all of the quickest routes through SeaTac airport and some flight attendants knew me by name. I lost count of the number of inconvenient times I’d receive calls from friends asking me to hang out. My response if it wasn’t the weekend? “Sorry, I’m kind of in Florida right now…”

Despite what the sales pitch may tell you, I know from what I’ve personally witnessed that a consulting career can ruin your personal relationships. For many people this isn’t a dealbreaker, because they’re willing to forfeit their social lives for career advancement. But as you get older, the sacrifice you make undoubtedly becomes greater.

My most lavish travel experience had me staying at the Ritz Carlton and the W Hotel in the Bay Area. We played golf during a team outing and had amazing dinners at restaurants I would never get into by myself. The bill for our team dinners was usually higher than my monthly rent. On the flip side, I also had a project where I stayed at a Motel 6 for five weeks. My most lavish dinner was provided by the hotel vending machine.
The likelihood of getting staffed in a great location with great venues is just as good as being staffed in the middle of nowhere. I consider myself lucky to have wined and dined in New York and San Francisco as many consultants never get to experience the “good-life” of consulting travel.

Another thing to note is that just becoming a consultant doesn’t automatically give you first class service on airlines and hotels. You have to pay your dues first. You’ll spend numerous hours dealing with delayed flights, lost luggage, and loud, family travelers before United finally gives you a free cheese plate during your flight. (The perks aren’t what they used to be) And after you start counting all those hours spent in airports, cabs, and hotels, you’ll realize that they would’ve been better spent at home. Suffice it to say, the perks and the miles never make up for the time you surrender.

The Staffing Process
One of the things that surprised me about consulting was how little control you have over which projects you get staffed on. The staffing process, which had been sold to me as “endless variety,” seemed to be better characterized as “unfair randomness.” Hoping to get on that sexy, channel marketing strategy project and utilize your marketing degree? Well, if your partners are only selling Oracle implementations, that’s what you’ll be staffed on. The consulting world is driven by the demand from clients, not by the expertise of consulting personnel.

Also, while the idea of getting a variety of projects may seem appealing at first, the scenario can quickly wear out its welcome. It’s extremely stressful to get staffed on a project, in an area where you have no expertise, if you’re already billing hundreds of dollars for each hour of your time. Yes, ramping up in an entirely different industry and entirely different function is a good skill to learn. But you shouldn’t be doing it your entire career.
So who gets the cool projects? Many times, it’ll depend on who you know, not what you know. When politics come into play with the staffing process, it only makes things worse. That dream project you’re perfectly qualified for, the one that you know you’ll knock out of the ballpark, can easily slip away simply because the project partner doesn’t know you. Each staffing decision has the potential to make you feel like you’re going through the recruiting process all over again.

Think Long-Term
Despite everything I’ve mentioned above, I know I benefited from the time I spent in management consulting. I developed a great problem solving capability and a strong tolerance for ambiguity. In my opinion, those skills alone make consulting a great career investment. The problem is that consulting isn’t a great long-term career destination.

The stats show that most consultants don’t last beyond three years, with very few ever being considered for partner. Eventually the travel, the politics, and the workload all catch up to you. If you do decide to make the leap into consulting, it’ll look great on your resume and you’ll build skills that you wouldn’t attain elsewhere. But make sure you develop an exit strategy. If you focus on building your expertise early on and plan your departure well, you’ll likely springboard yourself onto an even better career path.

Passing thoughts:

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Jun 23, 2011

First set of B School Deadlines - Fall/Winter 2011

UVA/Darden –
Round 1
Deadline: October 17, 2011
Notification: December 21, 2011

Round 2
Deadline: January 12, 2012
Notification: March 28, 2012

Round 3
Deadline: April 4, 2012
Notification: May 16, 2012

Michigan / Ross –
Round I
Deadline: October 10, 2011
Notification: January 13, 2012

Round II:
Deadline: January 4, 2012
Notification: March 15, 2012

Round III:
Deadline: March 1, 2012
Notification: May 15, 2012

UNC / Kenan Flager
Round 1 (Early Action)
Deadline: October 21, 2011
Decision Release Date: December 12, 2011
Deposit Deadline: January 9, 2012

Round 2
Deadline: December 2, 2011
Decision Release Date: February 6, 2012
Deposit Deadline: April 23, 2012

Round 3
Deadline: January 6, 2012
Decision Release Date: March 19, 2012
Deposit Deadline: April 23, 2012

Round 4
Deadline: March 16, 2012
Decision Release Date: April 30, 2012
Deposit Deadline: May 14, 2012

California / Berkey-Hass
Round One
Deadline: October 12, 2011
Notification: January 12, 2012

Round Two
Deadline: December 1, 2011
Notification: March 1, 2012

Round Three
Deadline: January 18, 2012
Notification: April 12, 2012

Round Four
Deadline: March 7, 2012
Notification: May 17, 2012

MIT / Sloan
Round 1
Deadline: Tuesday, October 25, 2011
Notification: Monday, February 6, 2012

Round 2
Deadline: Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Notification: Monday, April 2, 2012

Round 1
Deadline: October 3, 2011
Notification: December 19, 2011

Round 2
Deadline: January 10, 2012
Notification: March 29, 2012

Round 3
Deadline:  April 10, 2012
Notification: May 17, 2012

Round 1
Deadline: October 12, 2011
Notification: December 14, 2011

Round 2
Deadline: January 11, 2012
Notification: March 28, 2012

Round 3
Deadline:  April 4, 2012
Notification: May 16, 2012

For Indian Passport Holders:
Cycle 1
Deadline: September 15, 2011
Notification by: November 15, 2011

Cycle 2
Deadline: November 30, 2011
Notification by: February 15, 2012

For International Applicants:
International applicants are admitted based on a rolling deadline. The application is open from May 18, 2011 until January 15, 2012. The applicant, if chosen for an interview, will be notified within one month under normal circumstances. Within three weeks of the interview date, the applicant will be notified of his or her status.


September 2012 Intake:
Round 1
Deadline: September 28, 2011
Interview Decision Notification: November 4, 2011
Final Decision Notification: December 16, 2011

Round 2
Deadline: December 7, 2011
Interview Decision Notification: January 13, 2012
Final Decision Notification: February 24, 2012

Round 3
Deadline: March 21, 2012
Interview Decision Notification: April 20, 2012
Final Decision Notification: June 1, 2012

January 2013 Intake:
Round 1
Deadline: April 11, 2012
Interview Decision Notification: May 18, 2012
Final Decision Notification: June 29, 2012

Round 2
Deadline: June 20, 2012
Interview Decision Notification: July 27, 2012
Final Decision Notification: September 7, 2012

Round 3
Deadline: August 16, 2012
Interview Decision Notification: September 14, 2012
Final Decision Notification: October 26, 2012


Jun 21, 2011

The Ranking Puzzle!

Business School Rankings remain one of the hottest and most searched item in the entire B Schools Universe. No wonder these magazine sells so much whenever they are out with their new ranking of the year! With so many rankings around, everyone starts taking side; some quotes the ranking that puts their affiliated school in the best light while other slams the ranking for the most obvious reason - putting their school down in the ranking list. A recent article on Poets and Quants recently made a post about "Ranking the rankings" and here are few interesting observations:

1. Business Week

"Over the 12 biennial rankings published by BusinessWeek in the past 22 years, only three schools have been at number one: Kellogg topped the list five times, Wharton did it four times, and Chicago has been number one the past three times".. interesting after BusinessWeek was taken over by Bloomberg whose President is a UChig alum!
".. has since added an intellectual capital measurement, which gets 10% of the overall weight in the ranking."
"It does not include such factors as GMAT scores, undergraduate GPAs, or starting salaries, but makes the case that discriminating graduate students and the companies that hire recruiters are in the best possible position to judge the quality of a school"

" ..very small differences in MBA opinion could affect a school’s standing."
" ...the most recent 2010 ranking that placed Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business 12th, ahead of the business schools at Dartmouth, Cornell, Yale, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and New York University, among others. The finding justifiably stunned many observers. ".... " a full third of this year’s graduating class at Cox were without jobs three months later. That’s even worse than the 27% jobless number of a year-earlier, despite a fall of $6,000 a year in median starting salaries to $81,000 this year from $87,000 in 2009."

2. Forbes

" ... based on a simple but important metric: the return on investment MBA grads have achieved after five years in the market"
" It’s all about dollars and cents, measuring the worth of a degree five years after graduation."

" Forbes ranking is U.S.-centric"
"Return on investment, while interesting and important, is hardly a measure of the quality of the education or the experience you’ll have."

3. US News

" ... takes into account its own survey of b-school deans and MBA directors (25% of the score), corporate recruiters (15%), starting salaries and bonuses (14%), employment rates at and shortly after graduation (14% to 7%), student GMATs (about 16%), undergrad GPAs (about 8%), and the percentage of applicants who are accepted to a school (a little over 1%). "
"U.S. News is acknowledging that the differences are so small among these schools that it would be intellectually dishonest to say one is better than the other."

"60% of the ranking is based on data supplied by schools "
"The ranking is completely U.S.-centric "
"Why even bother to include the percentage of applicants accepted when you weight it at little more than one percent?"

4. Financial Times

"..based on data collected from business schools and from alums three years after graduation"
"..also includes a research component, weighted at 10%, counting papers written by the faculty of each school in 40 academic journals during the past three years"
"Arguably the single best global ranking of business schools "

"..data, reported to the FT by the schools, is being fudged by some schools who also include in the number their Executive MBA grads who already have high paid jobs."
" ..trying so hard to be global that it ranks many non-U.S. and European schools far too highly over institutions that have significantly better MBA programs"
".. includes in its ranking other factors that have no impact on quality, such as the percentage of women faculty at a school"
" FT’s own methodology fails to clearly explain all the data it uses to rank schools.."

5. The Economist

"..based 20% on student and alumni surveys and 80% on data provided by the schools.."
"..Takes a global perspective on business school education."

"..probably the most flawed, if not downright silly, of all the MBA rankings "
" ranking raise meaningful credibility issues with the methodology and the accuracy of the data.."
"..80% of the ranking is based on unaudited information from business schools"
"There are some incredibly peculiar results in this ranking, which raise significant credibility issues. "
"..does not provide an index to show you the differences among the schools at their ranks."

6. Wall Street Journal

"..surveyed recruiters on 21 different attributes, including students’ leadership potential and strategic thinking, their previous work experience, the faculty and the curriculum, and the career services office."
"..simple to understand, measuring only the views of the recruiters who come to campus to hire MBAs."

".. you’re surveying entirely biased people."
"stopped regularly doing an annual ranking with the September, 2007, list, probably because its flawed methodology led to quirky results and significant criticism"

So there you go! None of these rankings are black or white but they do sell the magazines!!!