This interview is the latest in an Accepted.com blog series featuring interviews with MBA applicant bloggers, offering readers a behind-the-scenes look at the MBA application process. And now…introducing our anonymous blogger, NaijaMBAgal…
Accepted: First, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? What did you study as an undergrad? What is your current job?
NaijaMBAgal: I’m a twenty-something years old Nigerian female. I have six years experience in risk assurance and one year in non-profit. I have a B.Sc in computer science and I love to dance even though I can’t sing.
Accepted: When did you first apply to b-school?
NaijaMBAgal: I first applied to business school last year. It was a disaster and I got several dings.
Accepted: What do you think went wrong that time and what are you doing this time to improve your candidacy?
NaijaMBAgal: Everything was wrong. My GMAT score was really low and I did nothing to make up for it in the applications. Also, my applications did not show my reasons for picking each school and by the time I realized that and changed it, it was round three and most of the class was already filled. I really think the timing affected my outcome.
Before applying this year, I took the GMAT again, my new score was within the 80% range of all the schools I was targeting. Also, I’m applying earlier this time. I’ve submitted my applications in round one (hopefully, I will not have to apply in round two but I will definitely not be applying in round three). Another thing I did differently this year was to ensure that I showed why I wanted to be part of each school in my application; talking to current students really helped me achieve this goal.
Accepted: Where did you apply this time? Do you have a top choice? Are you applying to “safety schools”?
NaijaMBAgal: I applied to Booth, Sloan, Stanford and Wharton. My top choice kept on changing as I researched each school, right now it’s a tie between Stanford and Wharton but that may have something to do with submitting their applications most recently.
I did not apply to any safety school; last year, I got into my safety school but could not convince myself to attend, so this year, I applied to schools that I will love to attend when admitted.
Accepted: Do you plan on staying in your current industry post-MBA, or changing to a new field/career?
NaijaMBAgal: I know it’s a cliche but I’m tired of the consulting industry which is amusing because I find a lot of people get an MBA to get into consulting. I plan to become an entrepreneur either during or after my MBA.
Accepted: What are your thoughts on the presentation essay on Booth’s application?
NaijaMBAgal: I love Booth’s presentation essay. I think it was my favorite part of the applications. For me, anything is better than writing an essay but the fact that it was a presentation made it more interesting, I should probably mention that I make a lot of presentations so I am very comfortable with the medium. I think the presentation is the best reflection of Booth’s culture, giving applicants that flexibility with a main essay is phenomenal.
Accepted: How do you think being from Africa affects your candidacy?
NaijaMBAgal: It’s like a double edged sword. On one hand I think it amplifies my profile, gives me an edge and reduces the applicant pool that my application sits in. On the flip side, there is a smaller percentage of the class available for us regardless of how many good applicants there are within that pool. Since both sides nil-off, I don’t think it helps or hurts my application – except if there are a lot of less qualified applicants in the pool then it’s good for me.
Accepted: Can you tell us about your blog? What have you gained from the experience? What do you hope others will learn?
NaijaMBAgal: When I started my blog, it was not supposed to be an application blog but a b-school experience blog but it had to transform with my plans. One of the best things that has happened since I started blogging is that I have become a part of this amazing group of people composed of fellow applicants (including bloggers) and current students. I have had people give me advice, books and templates which I try to share on my blog so that people that read my blog can use that information in their own application. I hope others can leverage on my experience to make their own admission process smoother.
For one-on-one guidance on your b-school application, please see our MBA Application Packages.
You can read more about NaijaMBAgal’s b-school journey by checking out his blog, Naija MBA Gal. Thank you for sharing your story with us – we wish you loads of luck!
Here are some highlights from GMAC’s recent Application Trends Survey:
• For the third year in a row, application volume increased for full-time two-year MBA programs. This year, 61% of programs reported application growth, up from 50% in 2013.
• Application volume also increased for professional MBA programs (part-time, online, EMBA, and flexible), as well as Master in Marketing and Communications, Master of Accounting, Master in Information technology, and Master in Management programs.
• Other specialized business master programs saw decreases in application volume. Master of Finance programs saw a decrease in application volume for the third year in a row.
• 65% of U.S. full-time two-year MBA programs reported an increase in applications from foreign applicants. Master in Finance programs received the largest number of foreign applications at 82%. This is compared to the 52% of foreign applicants who applied to full-time two-year MBA programs.
For more details, see the GMAC press release.
Listen to the recording of our conversation with Bruce DelMonico, Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions at Yale SOM, for an overview of the MBA program and insight into what the adcom is looking for.
00:01:04 – Linda answers one of the most common b-school admissions questions.
00:05:00 – Overview of the 2 year MBA at Yale SOM.
00:08:34 – Networks with Yale and the Global Network Model.
00:17:18 – What role does leadership play in determining a candidate’s admissibility.
00:22:20 – The Silver Scholars Program (sorry Linda, you don’t qualify).
00:31:16 – The video essay: Why Yale wants it, what they are looking for, how it works, & tips for staying calm.
00:44:50 – Why Yale accepts the GRE.
00:48:52 – How the SOM adcom stays “collectively on their game” even as the hour gets late.
*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.
Subscribe to Admissions Straight Talk:
1. Chicago Booth (U.S.)
2. Dartmouth Tuck (U.S.)
3. UVA Darden (U.S.)
4. HEC Paris (France)
5. IESE Business School (Spain)
6. Harvard Business School (U.S.)
7. UC Berkeley Haas (U.S.)
8. NYU Stern (U.S.)
9. Stanford GSB (U.S.)
10. Columbia Business School (U.S.)
11. UPenn Wharton (U.S.)
12. MIT Sloan (U.S.)
13. UCLA Anderson (U.S.)
14. Northwestern Kellogg (U.S.)
15. London Business School (U.K.)
16. University of Queensland Business School (Australia)
17. Emory Goizueta (U.S.)
18. INSEAD (France)
19. Yale SOM (U.S.)
20. Michigan Ross (U.S.)
1. HEC Paris (France)
2. Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (Belgium)
3. Thunderbird School for Global Management (U.S.)
4. NYU Stern (U.S.)
5. UC Berkeley Haas (U.S.)
6. Notre Dame Mendoza (U.S.)
7. Warwick Business School (U.K.)
8. USC Marshall (U.S.)
9. Melbourne Business School (Australia)
10. UVA Darden (U.S.)
A Poets & Quants article on the rankings states that at least 17 business schools declined to participate in this year’s rankings, many claiming that The Economist’s methodology is faulty. Some of these schools include Babson Olin, Toronto Rotman, Sauder School (British Columbia), Minnesota Carlson, McGill Desautels, Purdue Krannert, and, University of Manchester (U.K.), Imperial College Business School (U.K.), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Regarding methodology, 80% of the data used for the rankings is derived from surveys provided by the schools themselves. The remaining 20% of information comes from current students and recent grads.
John Byrne notes that since The Economist rankings launched in 2002, Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton have never topped the charts. This year, the schools rank at 6th, 9th, and 11th place, respectively. In 2005, Harvard and Wharton weren’t included in the rankings as they declined to contribute data. (That year, those two programs also declined to participate with the Businessweek rankings.)
Matt Symonds, who wrote a critique of the rankings, “Leave no MBA ranking unquestioned,” provides these additional points:
• Booth took the #1 spot for the third year in a row, and the fifth time in the last eight years.
• There are only six European schools in the top 25; in 2008, there were 11. This year, Cambridge Judge and Oxford Saïd both dropped 15 places, to 52nd and 69th place respectively.
• The breakdown of the criteria used to rank the schools goes as follows: personal development/education experience (35%), open new career opportunities (35%), increase salary (20%), and potential to network (10%).
• This year, more than 20 schools rose or fell by double-digits (and thus the rankings have been criticized for their volatility).
• Big droppers include University of Bath School of Management which fell 23 spots from its previous 20th place; York Schulich fell to 41st place from 22nd last year.
• Big jumpers include Kellogg and Yale which both jumped 9 places up to 14th and 19th place respectively; Rochester Simon and Temple Fox both jumped 20 places to 58th and 57th place respectively.
“Sample Questions to Ask Your Interviewer” is excerpted from the Accepted.com special report, The Ultimate Guide to Medical School Interview Success. To download the entire free special report, click here.
Since your goal should be to come up with questions that are specific to your situation, I can’t give you a list of must-ask questions without knowing who YOU are. But here are a few sample questions that you can review and tweak so that the questions are more appropriate for YOU:
If you are interviewing with med school alum or a second-year student, then you should ask questions about their experiences, for example:
• Who are/were some of your favorite professors? Favorite classes?
• What is/was a typical day like for you?
• Are there clubs or activities that you would recommend for someone interested in XYZ? What clubs are/were you involved in? How important do you think it is to be involved in extracurricular activities?
• If you could change anything about your experience at this program, what would it be?
You get the idea. You want to come up with questions that personalize you and that show you have an interest in your interviewer’s experience (if relevant).
Be specific, show that you’ve done your research, and most importantly, relax!